Review Summary: Man's opposition to the Divine in his quest for the Absolute
The urge to start another French black metal review with a FrancoFlex rant sure is tempting. Instead, let's talk about a band's creative process for a second. Most often, bands tend to develop first and foremost their musical ideas before matching the soundscape with a concept. On the other hand, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber first decided their music would deal with humans' will to move beyond transience. It was only after this conceptual development the musical style that would best suit this vision was decided upon. The band wanted to nail their sound before coming up with a release. They thus worked a whole year in a dark rehearsal room only lit by a candle, composing their songs without any vocalist.
With this in mind, it's no surprise the first track is an instrumental one. The prelude, groundbreakingly titled "Prelude", announces what's coming during the next forty minutes: black metal exploring sludge swamps. Although blackened sludge releases are almost dime a dozen nowadays, RLHT chose to build their sound upon sludge's looming aura to unleash black metal anger. “Prelude” presents both the respective density and atmosphere of these two genres. When on subsequent songs the vocalist brings his voice to shout prophetical calamities, a newfound apocalypse is added to the band's music. While the shorter cuts are slowly building doomy crescendos, longer tracks like "Ov Flames, Flesh and Sins" and "A Thousand Years of Servitude" show the atmospheric black metal rush brought back to earth by the sludge. Despite these genres fighting to establish dominance over one another, they both convey rage and hate, musically matching the dark lyrics. The liturgical aspect present on the cover and in the band's name (translated as See How Men Fall
) is thus found in the furious music: this is a fight between Man and the Divine.
The stories told here are thus about men who wanted to make themselves equal of the gods, and who were punished by both the elements and God himself. Even though fables about the fall of mankind have punctuated human existence's babbling, there remains an underlying modernity to these old tales. Greek mythology, for example, was a way to express human feelings in a somewhat esoteric way. Similarly, extreme metal is a contemporary style allowing the depressed and the pessimistic to develop an out-of-reality aesthetic. The dark epicness conveyed by the enraged music is but an escape from everyday life. This underlying theme gives coherence to the record, which has to be listened to as one entity as the songs shine within the context of the album. It's not without flaws though, the band sometimes falling into a uniform soundscape, which makes it difficult to discern each song during the first few listens. While this isn’t the end of the world, this is not to be ignored as this defect is repeated in their career. Their somewhat same-y association of sludge and black metal nevertheless finds its meaning in the uncompromising fervor exhibited throughout the record.
Although this matched-up-by-the-music apocalyptic concept was and still is impressive, the band remains to this day stuck in the genre's underground. If they still have to wait for the laurels, they have nevertheless managed to seduce a few diehard fans along the way thanks to the sonic ferocity of their style. While this musical approach will be extended in the next two records, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber mastered as early as 2013 their imagery and aesthetic of blackened sludge. The way they narrate the demise of our race intensely persuades all of us that we are doomed to fall into the ineluctable hellfire.