Review Summary: The anti-venom to love and zeal...
When Deafheaven released Sunbather
back in 2013 it sent shockwaves through the extreme metal community. The idea of bringing black metal and ‘prettier’ soundscapes isn’t exactly anything new, but Sunbather
managed to reach the loftier heights the niche of this genre had to offer. Since then, most acts in a similar vein have focused largely on the atmosphere that comes with their soundscapes, rather than throwing two worlds into each other, like spaghetti on a wall - hoping for the best of what’s considered. For the one-manned, Unreqvited's fourth record Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse
picks up where Mosaic I: l'amour et l'ardeur
left off, continuing in this very essence of sunbathercore
with particularly satisfying results.
Even when compared directly to its predecessor, Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse
is a more guitar, tenebrous driven affair. In giving this album a more rhythmic, guitar-based focus, the album’s layerings build into the layered synth and all-encompassing atmosphere. Considering the rather positive overtones found within the first record’s title, Love and zeal
it makes sense that the translation behind Mosaic II...
(hate and distress) would bring the yin to the yang before it. The album’s opening track “Nightfall” paves the way for the thoughts mentioned above, as surging riffs and typical Unreqvited lush melodies weave into an onslaught that churns the very air, drubbing the listener in the process. The mood, though, is clearly darker; transformed and more fitting to the act’s post-atmospheric-blackgaze landscape. It’s here that “Nightfall” quashes the usual moods found within the very stereotypes of black metal. Not unlike a dream tip-toeing the edge of a nightmare that offers simultaneous hope and despair with its use of simple, repeated arpeggio patterns and building synth work. If anything Unreqvited is guilty of packing a lot into a track and in turn, the entire of a record.
Given just how pigeon-holed music like this has been in the last few years, there’s a generally jaded set of expectations that get lost in a whirlwind of tremolo riffing and jagged black metal cuts. Neither dynamic one-two punch of “Wasteland” and “Pale” however conforms to a single genre, adapting to boisterous icy metal and twinkly melodic shoegaze in a single stanza with enough gusto to satiate even the most die-hard Alcest fans, while leaving plenty of room for more wailing screams or smooth croons to fill some sizable vocal gap throughout the album.
Taking into consideration Mosaic II...
’s shortcomings, it’s hard to look past the “Transience” trilogy that closes the album. Sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the ambient, occasionally minimalistic and somewhat electronic shorter pieces that expand on the gazey nuances found before them - but the tracks’ placement is baffling. Had these tracks been placed throughout the record (rather than its end), the graceful melancholy would have broken the near overwhelming wall of sound found in the album’s first half. For Unreqvited, this experimentation could have done with better track placement.
Despite the darker atmospheric nuance to be found within Unreqvited’s latest musical chapter, there are moments of tranquility, longing and hope that don’t stick to the foundations that came before it. Light choir is often wrapped in layers of synth work or smothered by cutting riffs. As listeners, we may still be stuck firmly in the expectations left by other premier albums, but there’s still a few moments where all the style-flattery and genre appropriation starts to pay off - Unreqvited are making steady headway in that particular department. Put simply, Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse
is an expansive piece of music with flaws that are outweighed by the sum of its parts. It’s not perfect, but it’s wholesome, satisfying and forward thinking, giving us another perfect example of why sunbathercore
will remain relevant for at least a little longer yet.