Pushing the black metal blueprint ever further from its roots, San Franciscan four-piece Bosse-de-Nage deliver a record of complex intensity and distraught emotion with third full length iii. The enigmatic group very rarely play live and are averse to revealing their true identities, yet iii is a deeply personal collection and portrays an increasingly downward spiral and a descent into isolation, introspection and removal from existence. Playing with the ideas of life and death and the meaning they hold, Bosse-de-Nage build on their previous two records, i and 2011’s impeccable ii, with superbly laid out abstraction and a wonderful connection to the absurd. Where ii was more direct in its rage and harshness, iii takes its bittersweet time; softer passages whisper through the cracks of monumental noise and Bosse-de-Nage embrace these nuances with as much distressing passion as they do with their more bold moments.
Bosse-de-Nage’s approach to the black metal palette takes in varying sounds; they are not a band to continue in the vein of their forefathers and here they tread a wholly different path by incorporating indie-rock elements, the echoing sound of post-rock guitar, and the drum beats of the martial-industrial movement. B.’s vocal style has matured from the constant shrieks of ii and we find his delivery dipping and flowing with the waves of music, softly spoken at times and seemingly narrating a downfall, the execution is almost as though he is telling a story – albeit a story you wish you had never heard – and yes, those grating wails are still present but they feel more measured this time around and take on a venomous identity when cried out over intricate guitar work and pulsating rhythms.
Beginning with the vehement “The Arborist,” Bosse-de-Nage launch into iii with a bizarrely abstract melody lying beneath the furious pace of H.’s drum work which rolls in delightful flourishes, incredibly fast blasts and snatches of crashing cymbals. “The Arborist” holds sinister tones in the spoken word section and the immediacy of the punchy riffs complements the extreme narrative force that Bosse-de-Nage always bring to their records. Lyrically iii is as strange and unusual as previous works, the words conjuring images of breakdown and instability whilst the music clings mournfully on to a solid structure. The antithetic clash of the two combine to give Bosse-de-Nage an extraordinary presence and their mastery lies in the evoked collapse of the mind juxtaposed with rhythm and organisation.
“Desuetude” kicks with a post-punk beat and a lively bass line (D.) that marches in line with the howls of pain from B, his voice containing an urge to expel all anguish and despair. The urgency is plain to hear – it’s as if at any moment the entire world could cave in and B. absolutely must get his words out before the inevitable end. iii is staggering in its introspection and the true nature of the text (as Bosse-de-Nage lyrics could easily belong to a long forgotten work by surrealist Eluard - a track from ii borrowed heavily from this French poet) is as personal as it is devastatingly absurd. “Perceive There a Silence” continues in a similar style, the martial drum delivering a relentless beat before breaking into a sublimely delicious tempo. Echoes of a bittersweet calm punctuate the track and follow Bosse-de-Nage into the militaristically nuanced “Cells.” Almost completely spoken, this track is a gentle reminder that Bosse-de-Nage deal in ideas that are far bigger than you or I could imagine. Eschewing the traditional lyrical elements of black metal, this band speak in grand metaphors and as with i and ii, literary influences filter through their work. The hypnotic and repetitive style of all six tracks on iii serve to ground the record in tone and essence; yet to know that reality would surely induce an existential despair, as it is clear to hear in the wildly tormented vocal delivery and stuttering moments of conflict.
“The God Ennui” is certainly the pinnacle off iii. Lazy strikes usher in the gently melancholic beginnings and an aura of deep-seated gloom washes over the piece. If ever definite sadness was present in Bosse-de-Nage’s work, it’s here. B. laments over the sweetly rhythmic and bass heavy tones and this track is initially the most “post-rock” sounding of the record. Minimal in execution, “The God Ennui” is listless and curiously poignant, but of course nothing ever stays the same in the world of this quartet and soon we’re bombarded with flighty drum lines and sweeping guitar (M.) progressions that propel the track into ever more depths of a deep depression and onwards to the final track, “An Ideal Ledge.”
Beautifully despondent “An Ideal Ledge” falters through screams and cries of utter pain and sorrow-laden guitar lines build with an enchantingly sombre climb to the zenith of torture. Moments of quiet reflection infuse the track with a sensation of solitude and hesitant steps are taken by the instruments behind the occasional scream of torment, edging closer to the boundaries of sanity and treading the fine line between life and death.
Bosse-de-Nage have constructed a record of profoundly human feeling and accordingly the music sways between harsh terrain and gorgeous melody, echoing the divide in the mind of one not at peace with the world. The band are a mystery and their subject matter is terrible in its individual and private take on psychosis and misanthropy, and iii will take you on a journey of destruction to the very depths of the soul. Be prepared.
9.5 / 10
Posted Jan. 9, 2005, 11:43 a.m.
Above this Fire's debut effort for Life Sentence Records entitled In Perspective is now available for pre-order though RevHQ. The album's street date is March 8th. The tracklisting ...
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