Isnt it ironic that a band whose name means kindred spirits in French is broken up? As depressing as that fact is, at least Amesoeurs has finally left us one full-length to remember them by.
The bands Ruines Humaines EP from 2006 was comprised of three absolutely killer songs that can be only described as residing somewhere between organic black metal and 90s screamo. Now, as strange and antithetical as that sounds, it works... beautifully. Hear me out. Built on a foundation of blast beats, buzzsaw production, and tremolo picking, the EP was also infused with tons of melody ranging from somber to upbeat - literally an emotional rollercoaster - clean guitars, and vocals ranging from gut-wrenching black metal shrieks to bewitching female-sung melodies.
What is great about Amesoeurs is that it is not only much more substantial than the bands other two releases - an EP and a split - but it is also more highly evolved into an esoteric, highly emotional masterwork for our times. The production is considerably less murky, and much less blackened, than the EPs that came before, but without sacrificing any of the bands atmosphere or immediacy. Although the updated version of Les Ruches Malades (originally from the split with Valfunde) features a cleaner production, it also lends the song a bit more punch.
The full-length also leans much more towards shoegaze or post-punk than any previous release (especially the second half of the album), but sounds very little like the lilting pastoral melodies of the perhaps better known side project Alcest. There are even hints of Cure-esque mope rock (see Amesoeurs). But there are still some rather straightforward metal songs, like I XIII V XIX XV V XXI XVIII XIX - IX XIX - IV V I IV, with that distinctive French black metal edge. There are only a few true blast beats on the album, but they are worth the wait, and there are some really cool clean guitar riffs to bridge the gaps between them.
One thing that struck me as fairly unique about this album for the world of heavy music is that clean vocals are more often paired with fast parts (see Heurt) and the screaming is paired with the slower parts (see Recueillement). Far from a formula, this type of dynamic blew my mind because it turns the usual heavy verse/melodic chorus routine we are so used to hearing on its head.
This album treads through many genres without really sounding like any one of them on its own. I doubt it will please the orthodox black metal camp, the screamo snobs, or the shoegaze fans who cant handle the screaming. It is a brilliant piece of music, but it takes a somewhat open mind to appreciate. This band simply refuses to be penned in by any one genre, but instead uses a whole palate of depressing, haunting, esoteric, atmospheric, and downright beautiful music to create an album that reflects the bleak realities of modern urban life better than what many exclusively black metal or exclusively shoegaze bands are capable of.
9.1 / 10
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