December 20, 2012

Bosse-de-Nage - III

Review by Justin C.

Profound Lore had a stunning list of releases this year, including the third full length from the mysterious black metal band Bosse-de-Nage. Searching for information about the band yields little. They don't bother with promotion, touring, interviews, or even names. There's nothing to distract from the music, and it's well worth your attention.

Bosse-de-Nage combine black metal with a healthy dose of post-rock that's very reminiscent of Slint. Ferocious metal with pained screams gives way to quiet, almost stately interludes in which the instruments are given a chance to breathe. The vocals sometimes become spoken word performances, and the lyrics are as interesting as they are strange. The opening track, "The Arborist", tells a surrealistic story in a second-person narrative. It explains how "you" have made a deal with a shadowy figure to be placed into a hole near a tree, where you are expected to meditate. Bickering with other people in other nearby tree holes proves to be a distraction, although the ending seems to be happy, depending on what the protagonist hoped to gain. What is this story about? Does it describe a communing with nature that we've failed to accomplish? Is it an allegorical story about isolation? I really have no idea, but since the first time I heard the song and read the lyrics, it's often come to my mind at unexpected times. I enjoy surrealist writers like Kafka and Borges, and much like their work, I enjoy thinking about the story told in these lyrics, even if an easy interpretation isn't at hand.

Even if you ignore the cryptic lyrics, it's hard not to be swept away by the beautiful melodic lines that weave throughout the songs. Sometimes they're just one thread in a wave of furious music, and sometimes they're allowed to come front and center in a quiet section, but they're always compelling, even anthemic. Most arena rock bands would love to be able to write melodies like this and play them so convincingly.

I don't feel like I can do a review of this album without mentioning the drumming in particular, because it's simply astounding. I'm willing to bet that the drummer, whoever he or she is, has had some serious jazz training in the past. The technical skill is obvious, but the sense of musicality displayed is something you hear from only the best drummers. The patterns, beyond just keeping the beat, shift and move in a way that's fascinating to follow. I would listen to an album composed and recorded by the drummer alone, and as a guitarist, that's not something I find myself thinking very often.

This album took me a while to get close to, but repeated listens are both worthwhile and highly recommended.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. Thanks for explaining what second-person narrative is. "You" truly know your audience.

    1. Relax. I didn't think that was particularly condescending, Justin was just highlighting something he thought was important about that song because it's not entirely clear who you are in it.

    2. The very first (minor) altercation in the Metal Bandcamp comment section, and it's about explaining second person narratives in contemporary black metal lyrics. Br00tal :) Happy holidays to you both.

  2. Tune in next time when I get all grim on the subjunctive mood and predicate nouns.