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is this actually groundbreaking or am i a hxc noob - 94%

RapeTheDead, April 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Profound Lore Records

I distinctly remember the first time I heard this. Not because of the circumstances, as it was merely through a link that a friend shared on some social media website, but because of where I was at with the whole post-black shebang. I was disillusioned with the whole affair. After falling in love with the nature-inspired soundscapes of Cascadian black metal and dreamy French stuff like Alcest and Amesoeurs, I watched bands that took more from emo and post-hardcore (as opposed to shoegaze and post-rock) explode in popularity and my instinctual reaction was repulsion. I was fresh off of hating Sunbather like the contrarian that I am, because I didn't really see adding a bit of extra emo-ness to a mix that many bands had been perfecting for at least half a decade as revolutionary or exciting, much less when it's bloated and overlong music with cringeworthy lyrics.

If you couldn't tell already, I still think Sunbather is pretty terrible, but I don't have quite the vitriol for it that I did, and I owe that entirely to Bosse-de-Nage. Aesthetically, these guys are right in line with Deafheaven. The mixture of post-hardcore and black metal, the San Fran hipster look, the uncompromisingly pretentious lyrical content, all of it is the exact same as a band that, at the time, I genuinely hated. But I didn't hate "A Subtle Change" as it ripped through my speakers in that watershed moment when I first heard it. The fuck was going on? The two bands did a goddamn split together, why does one suck ass while the other blows me away?

I've gotta get what a few writers have already mentioned out of the way: the fucking drums. To be fair, even when my opinion of them was at its lowest, I always thought Deafheaven's drumming was impressive, but Harry Cantwell is on a whole other level immediately. The hell was this guy doing drumming for Slough Feg? Not to rag on them or anything but you can't help but feel like their style would hold a drummer like this back. Every fill is just rich and powerful and placed at surprising yet fitting times, the blasting keeps the intensity high but never overstays its welcome, and the more hardcore-based template gives them lots of room to breathe and wander. while injecting a healthy, punkish energy the whole time. I shit you not when I say that this my favorite drum performance on any album, of any genre, period. I can't overstate how amazing it is.

That definitely played a huge role in why All Fours appealed to me, but good drumming can't save a bad album and this was only one track I was hearing. "A Subtle Change" remains my favorite song on this album even dozens of spins later, but the other songs pull their weight, which is all the more impressive given how much ground this covers. "The Most Modern Staircase" gives you a pretty good sample of the full range of motion this has, being this long climactic closer. It's also one of the few tracks that gives me a similar vibe to more DSBM-influenced postblack like Woods of Desolation, for whatever that's worth. Each song explores a different variation on the themes present in the closer, unique enough that describing them would just turn this into a track-by-track review. Cantwell alone makes any songs entertaining with his smooth, rolling fills and quasi-punk-rock sort of energy, but the guitars draw from a wide enough range of influences to make most songs worthwhile. Because of how varied the tracks are, it's inevitable that some songs are going to be better than others. "In a Yard Somewhere" is one of my personal standouts (among the others I've mentioned) and "Washerwoman" is a clear weak point off the top of my head, but I imagine everyone's gonna have a different favorite and least favorite. I also think the album starts off a little bit slow even though "At Night" actually introduces the album really well, but that might just be because of how much I love "A Subtle Change".

The vocals might be a tough sell for some, especially if you're approaching this as more of a black metal fan than a hardcore fan. They're curious for a lot of reasons, but the thing that most often stands out about them is how desperate and emotional the delivery is...but then you read the lyrics and they're just a bunch of absurd stories that probably have a bunch of literary references I don't get. I can't say I really vibe with the lyrics or that they shake me to my core, but whereas Deafheaven had whiny and emotional lyrics with a pretentious delivery, Bosse-de-Nage has pretentious lyrics with a whiny and emotional delivery. I don't know why that makes it better, but it does.

One should approach my analysis of this album with a bit of caution, though, because I've got much less of a background in post-hardcore than I do black metal, so I may be missing a shitload of influences. I may just be seeing this as revolutionary because I don't actually listen to a lost of post-hardcore. Maybe the stereotypes they're throwing in are just blowing my mind because I haven't heard them yet when in reality people have been doing this shit for a while. Maybe this isn't reinventing the wheel when you get right down to it, but the execution of everything is so spot on that in this end, this is one of the best post-black metal albums I've heard (whatever "post-black metal" means, anyway) and is a much bigger milestone for the genre than many people seem to realize.