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Pensées Nocturnes > Vacuum > Reviews
Pensées Nocturnes - Vacuum

Vaerohn is a genius and his album a masterpiece - 95%

New Musical Earth, September 19th, 2011

I still remember the first time I heard this album, a great event because I had just entered the world of black metal depressive and Vacuum was one of the first works he had heard. The impact it brought to my feeling was great, because I'd never heard anything of that style, my ears never before had the pleasure of capturing so much suffering, so much gloom and despair into music. Screams, cries and wails perfectly recreated by an artist who seems to be losing his sanity as the songs unfold, sometimes fast and powerful, slow and depressing at others.

But the undeniable quality of this album lies not only in these elements. Vaerohn adds a personal touch that essentially distinguishes the work of others of the same style: the fusion of genres. Pensées Nocturnes could be characterized as that band that fuses styles exquisitely. In Vacuum is not only present the DSBM, as they also have role neoclassical music, blues and ambient music to some extent, so that all the songs captivate you in a different way. In addition, I also want to emphasize the rhythm game conducted in all the melodies. Although at first it may seem simple (because of slow passes strong, strong to slow and so on), it is actually much more complicated because the interaction between the instruments is very neat. While some instruments are emerging and gaining prominence, others are fading and being in the background.

I could analyze the songs individually, but I don´t see it necessary because I think I have explained the factors that make this album a worth listening work and to praise.

Written by

impressive debut - 80%

gk, September 20th, 2009

Pensees Nocturnes is a one man black metal project from France that deals in the depressive side of things while combining it with a strong flavour of classical music. Vaerohn is the man behind the project and Vacuum is the debut album.

The music generally is of the depressive suicidal black metal variety but where Vacuum scores over a lot of its contemporaries is in the fact that Vaerohn incorporates pieces of classical music into the black metal that are allowed to stand alone and yet feel like an integral part of the song. Vaerohn composes long involved songs that generally flow nicely between what is essentially your typical depressive black metal mixed in with these wonderfully melancholic classical pieces. That’s the basic essence of Vacuum. Average song length is around 12 minutes and this is not music to be played in the background and forgotten. This is very well thought out and superbly arranged black metal that plays by the rules but also stretches the boundaries every now and then.

The first two songs Lune Malade and Flore set the tone with black metal sitting alongside some melancholic classical music very comfortably and these two songs are pretty much flawless. The transitions between parts, the elements of classical music and the inherent melody in these songs work beautifully together to create some very hypnotic black metal. Dés-Espoir starts off as the most aggressive song on the album before a mid-song interlude of classical music breaks things up and the music takes on a slightly chaotic note with myriad changes and instruments fighting for supremacy.

Three great songs into the album and Vacuum throws its first and only curve ball in the form of Coup de Bleus which ditches the classical background for a full fledged dive into the blues and mixes it with he black metal to create a jarring and at times just plain odd song that really doesn’t gel with the rest of the album at all. This song is just strange and for me, totally ruined the mood that was set in the first half of the album. Luckily, Epitaphe and Repas de Corbeaux round out the album in style with the music following the set template of black metal mixed with classical music. Epitaphe has a bit of welcome savagery to it while album closer Repas de Corbeaux is another lengthy and melancholic workout that ends the album on the same sad not that it began.

Vacuum is not perfect. The aforementioned trip into the blues doesn’t really work in the context of this album and Vaerohn’s vocals while going for the usual black metal rasp occasionally sound completely over the top and comical. At the same time, as far as debuts go, Vacuum is supremely impressive and Pensées Nocturnes is definitely a band to watch out for.

Originally written for

Dark musical entity with plentiful instruments - 80%

marienbad, July 23rd, 2009

Pensees Nocturnes, a new musical project from ever so interesting France, offers a nocturnally melodic and darkly multi-layered musical trip called Vacuum. The album is definitely an entity because there aren't any clear points where a song begins or ends. And even more, this is not only or precisely black metal from the more depressive tone but also a mixture of metal music with plentiful and dominating orchestra of classical instruments. It works and makes it also unnecessary for the album to be included in any clear definition. So let's call it music.

The album starts with keyboards only to be joined by other calmer instruments for couple of minutes. Acoustic guitar sounds most often nice and this is not an exception. Soon an electric guitar shows up, followed by a burst of drums and the shriek-style vocals that are maintained throughout the album. The singing style is somewhat close to that of Burzum. Otherwise it really feels and sounds a bit like My Dying Bride which is no less than one of the more miraculous bands in the area of musical darkness. This is a valid thought especially when the two guitars play their own notes and melodies on each other. It is very potential way of creating truly melancholic feelings. Still this is only a distant hint, there is nothing too close to the British band or most other bands simply because the use of non-metal" instruments in Vacuum is so plentiful and dominant.

The first really powerful moment appears after about 11 minutes when an amazingly solitaire synth shape or wall starts to dominate the calm moment after the first song. This part sounds like an endless winter (naturally night time) and the kind of atmosphere that can be heard by Paysage d'Hiver, which takes them to extreme lenghts. If it was more raging or menacing, it could be compared also to Darkspace. This moment in Vacuum is quite short but very effective and the dramatic effect is heightened further with the introduction of distorted and slowly arising guitar chords with violins a moment later. There are some extremely beautiful acoustic guitar moments that are not too often heard in this kind of metal. The obscure Folkvang seems one of the relevant companions.

It is definitely a fact that what makes dark and even depressive music so compelling is the level of beauty it can achieve. This point also prevents the music to create only agonizing effects in its listener. Yet this kind of music requires a broad interpretation of sonic images, thoughts and worlds because the painfully presented vocals alone can make it feel unpleasant. It is also why darkest of metal music feels too intense and uncomfortable for many listeners. Stunning beauty can be found in the melancholic landscapes, nature, solitude and nostalgia once been interpreted through creative process, musical or other.

There is also a faster, more blasting composition further in the album. The song before the last one is mainly fast and sounds good amongst the album. Present also in the latter part of Vacuum, speech and whispering sound extremely good with music like Lunar Aurora and Dornenreich. There is also a stranger, more experimental song, Coups de Bleus, that brings the twisted, absurd or even darkly humorous soundscapes of The Axis of Perdition and Blut Aus Nord to the mind. There are many different ideas in Pensees Nocturnes' album and they all are handled quite well. Nothing sounds gratuitous or unnecessarily tricky. Weird is a nice thing to be possessed with style.

The debut album is a powerful piece of work with moments of pure drama. In some way it resembles Wolves in the Throne Room even though that band is more minimalistic with distant vocals. That band is among the most dramatically effective extreme metal bands at the moment. Now it seems Pensees Nocturnes managed to really handle all the wonderful and beautiful classical instruments without making them sound out of the place. Perhaps the most intense thing, however, in this kind of metal is how much can be achieved with monotonous, repetitive, yet extremely effective, carefully considered use of guitars and perhaps synths. Now there are plenty of things going on in Vacuum, varying from the playful to the melancholic and occasionally even to the aggressive, and perhaps we hear some new additions or omits with the future compositions. Less can be more but also more can be a lot.

Classic Black Metal - With Classical. - 95%

Perplexed_Sjel, April 16th, 2009

Unique is defined as; “having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable”, as well as “limited in occurrence to a given class”. This one would could sum up French one man act, Pensées Nocturnes, roughly translated to Nocturnal Thoughts. However, the review submission rules state that a few sentences will not be sufficient enough to warrant inclusion into the Archives, so I will do my best to describe this reflective record as best I can. Its strange how challenges are presented to the reviewer, though it seems that the musician composed his music with consummate dignity and ease, two words not often associated with black metal, let alone the depressive sub-genre. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the bands record label, Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions about the prospect of writing a review for this rapturous record, entitled ‘Vacuum’. I was previously unaware of this band, since they’re fairly new onto the scene, so I welcomed the challenge with open arms. Having accepted the labels request, I began to listen to ‘Vacuum’ with an open mind and, despite noticing the depressive tag, the band were instantly intriguing. Never before have I come across a black metal band, specifically a depressive black metal band, who incorporates classical music into their own instrumentation and themes. I’m not a big fan of classical, but I do appreciate the immense talents it takes to compose classical music. Having listened to this debut a number of times through, I am now enlisted as a classical fan - particularly when its blended with metal! This remarkable take on metal music eventually culminates in a terrific rendition of a Chopin classic where, although the piano takes center stage, other elements combine with it brilliantly to make Pensées Nocturnes an underrated, yet phenomenally gifted musician.

This shrewd band are one they may meet much ridicule before they’re listened to. I imagine some will look down upon this band because of the sheer invention that has gone into creating it. It isn’t every day you come across a depressive black metal band looking to reinvent the sub-genre, to give it some credibility when it is currently suffering from a lack of talent (or so the masses tend to say). Ridicule will meet this band and this band will meet ridicule, head on and they will triumph over adversity. Why? Well, Pensées Nocturnes aren’t your average bedroom band. ‘Vacuum’ is very well produced. It doesn’t allow distortion to completely dominate its themes, or soundscapes. The distortion is, indeed, toned down in order to allow the multiple areas of instrumentation their own creative slot amongst the soundscapes. From violins, to cellos and piano interludes, Pensées Nocturnes has it all. It isn’t an easy feat composing classical music, and its even harder to incorporate it into black metal, AND its even harder to make a success of it. This style is NEW. That’s right, its brand new. There is a chance, with some recognition and an open minded approach, that this record and this band will spark a revolutionary in the underground. No hyperbole intended. No longer will bands be suited to playing no-nonsense styles of minimalistic black metal, where the distortion and poor production makes it sound like the guitars are slowly evolving into blenders and the bass has slowly drifted off into a vast space, never to return again. Oh no, Pensées Nocturnes may have engaged black metal and introduced it to a creative outlet called classical. This spectacular one man band have initiated a idealistic and visionary revolution that may actually induce some life back into a scene that many consider long since dead.

The success of this record doesn’t hinge on the creative, or dynamism as there are straight-up black metal sections for the typical fan. Remember, this is also depressive black metal. It does contain the standard tremolo leads, that drag us back again into the distorted pits of hell. The vocals, which are sparsely used, which surprised me greatly upon first listen, are clichéd but that’s the only way we’ll have them. Rasps of pain and sorrow fill the soundscapes that like to venture in and out of stereotypes. The distortion and tremolo leads, alongside the rapid double bass and fast paced bass section make us believe again that we’re in actual fact listening to a black metal record. At times, it takes some proving since Pensées Nocturnes are incredibly dynamic and strong in every sense, no matter which genre they play in. Whether its the typicality of the instrumentation (all of the above - tremolo style, fast-paced, action packed etc) or its the creative spark that slices open the listens mind, pouring out those negative pre-conceived notions and burning them with the flames of hell, Pensées Nocturnes transform into a shape shifter, a band that can slide in and out, in between, and around each genre and sub-genre they associate themselves with. The musicianship, especially when you consider this is a ONE man creation, is awe-inspiring. His ability to create down-beat classical music, and fuse that together with a depressive style is classy. From the rendition of Chopin’s classic, ‘Chopin Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1’ displayed on ‘Dés-espoir’, which is beautifully visual, drawing out perfect landscapes and loving relationships, as well as being relaxing and reflective. Vaerohn, the band’s creator, has a deceptive gift at making classics, like Chopin’s, his own.

He fuses Chopin’s original music, with black metal music - from the bass, which runs alongside the painfully exquisite piano, to the semi-acoustics that add a new and previously untouched texture to the already sufficiently beautiful soundscapes. Then we’re confronted by a new, yet outstanding and mildly unusual, ‘Coup de Bleus’ which doesn’t sound like any of the previous songs. This track has a light-hearted jazz feel to it, unlike the previous songs, which each express a fair amount of pain, though this song does spill out over itself into a more generalised black metal sound with some of the aforementioned elements becoming central figures once again, but soon there after, Pensées Nocturnes switch back to the style and ooze class. Listening to this song at times, in particular, can make me feel like a rich man, smoking my hefty cigar by the fire of some expensive bar, quietly sipping away at my glass of whiskey. The obscurities of the black metal influences, and the delights of the classical elements all mould into one mammoth piece. Whether you analyse the joyful bass section, which is ever present and always audible, or the lesser associated instruments with black metal, this record is a modern day masterpiece. Although I don’t doubt that it will never be as successful as Chopin, this music, this band and this man have the ability to be able to rejuvenate a dilapidated scene all by himself and through simple changes - evolve the genre, make it more than anyone ever thought it could be, transform and change it into something that can accommodate another genre of music, one almost exactly the opposite and house them together. In doing so, Pensées Nocturnes have produced one of the best black metal records I’ve heard in years. Eccentric, brilliant and genius.

Impatient Yet Resonant - 82%

reconcile, April 4th, 2009

The night is a time of grief, a time of uninhabited and awe-inspiring darkness. Anguish and sorrow gush out around the edges of the night, dance around the darkness like children on a playground. Apathy is nonexistent yet omnipresent; rain and wind roam freely beyond the bustle of banalities. Pipes drip without recognition or care. Cars pass without passengers or drivers. Umbrellas and paper float peculiarly in the wind. Stranded individuals glide upon the rain drenched sidewalks, never glancing at one another, never receiving or rewarding acknowledgement. The night is a breathing entity that consumes; without prejudice, without thought. Vacuum is an eloquent ode to the night, complementing its resilient and unforgiving complexion. Resounding and renovating as it bounds melodies and sorrow to feverish rhythms and despondent vocals, grand hall piano interludes and sensual overtures riddle the album like calculated bullet holes.

Vacuum is an eclectic album, consisting of many different sounds and venues that the melodies pay homage to. Predominantly, the album is driven by remorse and melancholy, but a lingering sense of permutation tinges the atmosphere throughout its entirety. Vacuum is heavily inspired by the bleak yet endearing sounds of classical tunes, a minimalistic symphony for the desolate, morose individuals that berate existence. Scattered throughout the album are piano interludes and classical instrumentation, both being utilized quite well, but not without their depreciation. The opening track trembles in like a record, instantaneously sweeping us away with a string and piano-laden melody, yet just as quickly transitioning into the shrieking hate-filled fields of depressive black metal. The black metal fragments of the album are just as the listener would expect. Higher pitched vocals and resilient, overbearingly toxic riffs that ricochet off one another, bounce around the album sporadically and systematically, almost unnaturally. The atmospheric segments that these bits collide with seem to be superficial paradigms, like sidewalk chalk in the rain they stand individual without support, yet when the rains begin to fall their value swiftly fades away. It almost feels contrived the way some of it is incorporated. It doesn't seem to enhance the musical quality or the listeners tone, simply another unnoticed extra in some obscure foreign film.

The one stand out track that really irritated me, and ultimately brought about a change in thought, was Coup De Bleus. I found it be the one track that really deprived me of understanding the entirety of the album. Depressive black metal is an extremely variable genre subject to instantaneous and sweeping changes, like street lights from red to green it can change on a dime. But in doing so, you put at risk the listeners overall textual feel of the album. You risk removing them from the world and atmosphere you've so meticulously crafted, and quite possibly ruining the entire experience. The opening three tracks of Vacuum are fantastic epitaphs of depressive black metal; layered and atmospheric, treacherous and dreary. The instinctive flow of classical tunes and black metal riots clash and embrace in a soaring vacuum of isolation. And then Coup De Bleus begins, and you begin to wonder if you haven't been transported back to the 1930s, sitting in a gloomy cafe with intellects and men in suits. The track has a heavy blues feel to it, almost optimistic and hopeful, like I want to order another coffee and snap my fingers along. The track does pick back up into the depressive black metal arena, and it almost really does feel like a brand new song, but in that it loses its scope. It's too fragmented and impatient with itself, losing its direction too many times in a song removes the listener completely. Other than this one stand out track, the rest of the songs feel at rest. They tend to caress one another like Mozart or Beethoven would, certain distinct melodies appear to dance about in other tracks, making the entire album feel as though it is one instead of multiple.

Pensees Nocturnes's debut album is one of many ideas, each taking two steps forward and one step backwards. The classical bits are very well done, incorporated unconventionally into the music as stagnant bits of emotion, breathing deeply and exhaling throughout. The albums bleeding melodies exude sorrow; weep down upon the entirety of the album like melting icicles atop a tin roof. Depressive black metal is seen as a genre that's stagnating, as more and more bands throw their material into a cannibalized genre, innovation is in dire need. Bands like Pensees Nocturnes affirm that this stagnation isn't as static as it seems, that renovation and innovation aren't as distant as we believe. Because even distance is relative, even hope is subjective, because the vaccination of existence is endowed within albums like these. They inoculate each and every listener with despair and futility, slowly breeching through insecurities and dreams, past the drivel and nonsensical fragments of meaningless emotions and thoughts. As you begin to reflect and ponder, reminisce and conceive, you realize existence has already passed you by. And now you are here. Now you are here. Now you are here.