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After being completely spellbound by Niflheim's NeurasthÃ©nie, I was eagerly anticipating the bands second monster, Il Ã©tait une forÃªt... This is, without a doubt, some of the most depressing and soul crushing black metal to ever grace my ears. It's not your atmospheric riff-happy black metal a la Peste Noire, but the type of shit to slit your wrists to. Enigmatic melody, eloquent in nature, and simply destructive beyond hope. This truly is an album to wash your soul with.
If you enjoyed anything done by Niflheim, you will surely enjoy this album. Production is, like the previous reviewer noted, top notch. Fantastic. Outstanding. Everything sounds beautiful and no instrument dominates the mix. The vocals are absolutely astounding. They're a mix between dreadful screaming (or morbid moaning) black metal shrieking, and soft, spoken lyrics. They are definitely a large part of the music and a high point of the album. The melodies in this album are precisely what makes it what it is. They are beautiful, mournful, and poetic without being overly cheesy or drawn out. To sit in solitude and confine yourself from life and its obligations recreates this album, especially in the first track Il Ã©tait une forÃªt... and final track La Dryade. Both are easily the best songs on this album. La Dryade is a painful 10 minute epilogue, wrapping up the album and leaving the listener in utter despair and isolation. It's purely instrumental, using a piano, a guitar, and a cello. Somber, to say the least. Il Ã©tait une forÃªt... is a very well composed song. The vocals for the two minutes are utterly devastating. No lyrics, no spoken words, just the vocalist hurling his angst at the unsuspecting listener. The song doesn't let up until the first break, where it seems the allow glimpses of hope and happiness to seep in. Low and behold, it does not.
A fantastic album from start to finish, a true Canadian masterpiece that deserves unabashed praise. This album, along with their first, requires the listener to devote their attention and emotion to sound of an emphatic, if ever fleeting, suffering. Gris definitely has a bright future, as clearly portrayed by their first two studio albums. I only hope they can keep up the fantastic work and continue creating some of the gloomiest despair ever recorded.