French extreme/post metal outfit Celeste have been on a path of destruction since their inception back in 2005. Their introduction to the scene was made by the release of their debut EP, Pessimiste(s), a work that showcased their unique blend of sounds. Ranging from black metal and sludge, to post-hardcore, the music of Celeste kept coming with conviction and purpose from one record to the next. Following an excellent string of albums, they are now releasing Infidele(s), their fifth full-length, which also appears to be their most ambitious work to date.
All the works of Celeste are influenced by the darker philosophical concepts, something that is apparent in the titles of their works. Pessimism, nihilism and misanthropy, all find their place in the intricate identity of the band. And despite having a sound that is very difficult to be pigeonholed, the one overarching element in their music is the sense of darkness and despair that it brings. These motifs are clearly illustrated by the gloomy aura that rises in the opener “Cette chute brutale” and against an upbeat foundation in “Sotte, sans devenir.”
The main point that is highlighted in this release is the melodic aspect of the band's sound. Despite having this affinity towards melody, the production of their previous work was slightly holding them back. Here however, they return with a more pristine sound, contradicting their earlier, raw presentation and allowing the sorrowful and melancholic qualities of their music to appear. Drenched in bitterness the lead work of “Tes amours noirs illusoires” display the coupling of melody and darkness, in the ultimate pessimistic tendency, transfiguring the ambiance with its presence.
This is a band that lives in shades, and that is the most intriguing part about them. Standing between the progressive side of sludge, without the need of going into the repetitive heavy riff mode or the glacial pace, and the adjacent brutality of post-hardcore, they mould the two together in order to bring a cohesive end result. The weight of sludge combines perfectly with the brutality and conviction of post-hardcore, awakening an animalistic groove for the powerful continuity. Around these two pillars lies the black metal scope, which covers with its thick veil the music. The traditional riffing of the genre is mutated alongside the heavy groove to provide a continuous narrative, and perfect the bleak sense of the music. It is a chameleonic form that this influence takes in Infidele(s), at times appear bitter and abrupt, as in “Sombres sont tes deboires,” moving with a cyclothymic quality, and then becoming more brutal and aggressive, in “Entre deux vagues” or completely dissonant in the explosive “De l'ivresse au degout.”
Bringing these worlds together can be a daunting task, and there are many bands that can fail in the process, but Celeste really have the recipe nailed down. The narrative of the album as a result is cohesive and uninterrupted, delivering a beatdown from one track of the next, but also offering the occasional moment of respite, either through the slower pacing or the injection of melodies to the core. It also shows how accomplished of a band Celeste is, capable of not only composing music to fit these different styles, but follow up with a top notch performance through the various twists and turns of the album, always paying respect to the stylistic characteristics of each genre.
It is the combination of all these elements that make Infidele(s) such an enticing record. The way the record works as a whole, the power and majesty of each individual tracks, the configuration of styles and playing and of course the darkness that it transmits.
8.1 / 10
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