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Interesting that bands still want to release singles, let alone split singles. Two depressive black metal bands from France and Sweden respectively feature on this split with one song each. Their styles complement each other well, each act having a very raw sound with atmosphere in the background.
French act Feigur leads the way with a medium-slow track "Le Mâne" where the mood of the music seems heavy and oppressive. The whirring guitars have an exposed open-wound texture and the vocals are very anguished if overly melodramatic and sometimes just plain hammy. Lead guitar solo has a piercing shrill tone. The song splits almost in two unequal halves with a quiet, sorrowful and almost meditative instrumental interlude. A comparison can be made between Feigur on the one hand and Alcest and Alcest-related band Amesoeurs on the other: Feigur have a harsher sound, and the singing is equally as harsh and screechy, but somehow I feel that if any one of Neige's acts were to perform with Feigur, in next to no time the two would be playing together as one unit in which nothing comes across as off-kilter for either Neige or Feigur.
Lustre's contribution "The Final Beauty" can be just as uncompromising and unforgiving in its industrial-grade sandpaper BM guitar approach. The guitars raise a rhythmic noise cloud shaped by tremolo guitar and powered by steady if unremarkable percussion. Those pure-toned synthesiser melodies can be too obtrusive in the mix, pushing the black metal riffs and melodies backwards into the background. The song is repetitive and some listeners will find it boring. There is a sense that Lustre might not have known how to take this song into a different dimension, one not perceived by normal human senses.
I have to say that though he has the better sound, Lustre ultimately loses to Feigur in having a highly repetitive song that doesn't seem able to go in a definite direction that might take the listeners on deep spiritual journeys and find out something about themselves they hadn't known before, like resilience in the face of personal suffering or chronic stress. Feigur combines harsh, keening BM with moments of melodic-guitar self-examination, amid an atmosphere of isolation, loneliness and gradual loss of hope. Yet there seems to be a resolve to pull oneself together, forge a new path and confront one's crises, however dark they are. Lustre's music does have a slightly robotic quality to it, due perhaps to over-reliance on preprogrammed percussion and rhythms, and this might alienate listeners in a way not intended.
This is the result and the consequence when the French and Swedish black metal scene gather under one depressive cloud of gloom. From what I have noticed in the past decade, placing the sight over the French and Swedish modern black metal scene, I've observed that it is growing with numerous remarkable atmospheric/depressive black metal projects despite the existence of other useless junk in the scene, so to speak. Obviously, listening to depressive black metal became incredibly boring, for how repeated the riffs are, and periodically the same minor and major chords are used by most of the bands, yet comes the music that takes you with a journey and conquer the space in your fragile mind, and it takes you to a vision of hope, then overwhelms you with hopelessness and gloom. This is what happened to me after placing my hands on this piece and giving the chance for my ear to hear it and my mind to embrace the essence behind it. I have been waiting for music like this especially after listening to Feigur's "I, Pestilence" and Lustre's "They Awoke to the Scent of Spring", and thankfully this release was like a cold breeze blew across my heart and soul.
To compare both of the bands, Graf von Feigur's Feigur have rawer touches than Nachtzeit's Lustre. Nachtzeit's main conceptions are focused with atmosphere, ambiance, and the guitar's distortion with keys to cover the background of his music, while Feigur's music has less atmosphere, more solo guitars, repetitive rhythms, and apathetic drums as most of the bands are. Both of the songs are offering an insight into both of Feigur's and Lustre's music with elements derived from the modern depressive/suicidal black metal scene and classical essential touches that are mostly audible in Lustre as it was previously played in the past releases.
However, the first song in this split is "Le Mâne" by Feigur; 7 minutes and 33 seconds of typical depressive black metal. There's nothing new in this song offered by Graf von Feigur, but still it's an overwhelming track with an enormous feeling of longing, melancholy, depression, and grief. I am personally gratified with this song, especially the arpeggio part in the middle of it. The track's composed skillfully and the drums gust in the ears while the guitars drone in the mind. The vocals are suicidal, even though the screech and cries of the vocals are typical and perhaps most of you have possibly already heard the same in another project, I still recall and respectably bow to the sorrow and pain of Graf's screams.
The second and last song here is "The First Beauty" by Lustre. It reminded me a lot of his previous songs such as "The Light of Eternity, Echoes of Transcendence and Like Flowers of Gold". This piece somehow is faster than their third full-length, which was released previously before this split. The vocals are echoed and delayed, coloring the background of the song. Moreover, it's giving the song a majestic feeling in addition to the atmosphere and keys. The rest of the instruments are audible, yet it feels like your ears desire more guitar gain, but this is Nachtzeit's signature, his rule to overcome the cage of the mind with brilliant atmospheric soundscape, and I'm inert to argue about that.
Overall, this is a fair piece of a split. It has both of the relaxant and dramatic sides. Unfortunately, it's limited within 13 minutes and made me lust for more, but perfectly suiting the mood. If you've ever come across bands like "Inverna, Wedard, Sieghetnar, Wehmut, etc..." and found them on the same path as yours, then this split is what you need; a totally suitable piece for you if you're willing to drift your thoughts into a journey of bleak visions. If you're willing to release yourself from the cage of reality, then this is the right remedy for you.