Album Review – netra / Ingrats (2017)

The perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres into a coherent stream of melancholy, might be right in front of your eyes thanks to this exquisite Urban Black Metal one-man project.

Conveying images of a grey, boring and anxiogenic city life, Urban Black Metal one-man project netra is back with its third full-length album, titled Ingrats (which is French for “ungrateful”), the perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres such as as Ambient Black Metal, Trip-Hop and moody Jazz into a coherent stream of melancholy. Put differently, the music found in Ingrats is highly recommended if you like bands such as Manes, Katatonia or Burzum, and especially if you are not afraid of trying something truly new that will defy your senses and concepts in music.

Formed in 2003 by French multi-instrumentalist Steven Le Moan in Quimper, a citiy located in Brittany, in northwestern France, netra relased its first album Mélancolie Urbaine in 2010. Two years later, netra presented the highly claustrophobic Sørbyen, recorded after relocating to the city of Gjøcik, Norway over the course of a year. In addition to that, netra also collaborated with Californian rap duo We’rewolves in 2013 to create a true hybrid between Hip-Hop and Black Metal, the EP entitled Dreading Consciousness. Now in 2017, after moving to Auckland, a major urban city in the North Island of New Zealand, Steven and his netra found the right amount of inspiration to mesmerize us once again with the Depressive Black Metal and all other styles featured in Ingrats.

Gimme a Break, a Jazz-like intro with smooth piano and drums, introduces us to the universe of Ingrats before netra’s Black Metal strikes the listener like a lightning bolt in Everything’s Fine, a dark and aggressive composition where netra manically grasps the song’s lyrics, full of anguish and hatred. Furthermore, the song’s hints of Jazz and Experimental Metal, together with some clean vocals by the end of the song, make the whole experience of listening to this multilayered tune even more exciting. In Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours, an atmospheric instrumental composition alternating between electronic music and sheer obscurity, simply close your eyes and savor its musicality, getting ready for the melancholic Live with It, continuing with netra’s wicked fusion of sounds and proving music doesn’t need to be heavy and fast all the time to be good. Its clean vocals are spot-on, not to mention the gentle balance between acoustic guitars and electronic elements, turning it into one of the top moments of the album in my opinion.

Infinite Boredom, an instrumental bridge displaying gentle piano notes under the rain, paves a gray and sorrowful path for Don’t Keep Me Waiting, a movie-inspired creation by netra where all instruments keep growing in intensity, transpiring melancholy and pain. It’s interesting to notice how the saxophone somehow “replaces” the vocal parts, with a dense background voice, as well as the song’s Atmospheric Black Metal beats, enhancing the overall darkness present in the music. And A Genuinely Benevolent Man, the most modern and electronic of all songs, blends Trip-Hop with Atmospheric Black Metal elements, with the music gradually increasing in intensity while netra delivers only a few sick growls throughout the whole song.

The hopelessness depicted by netra continues in the ambient Paris or Me, where subtle hints of Jazz and Black Metal coming from the piano and guitar lines add to this instrumental piece a delicate feeling of solitude; whereas in Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve I highly recommend you keep your eyes closed and follow netra in his walk through the dark and hazy urban streets where he lives. Bringing forward Industrial and Alternative Metal nuances, there’s no sign of happiness in the music, which can be felt through his clean but acid vocals, reminding me of some of the best creations by Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. And how about a sweet Jazz song as the closing act of this unusual album? In Jusqu’au-boutiste you’ll not only get that, but netra also offers trenchant riffs and blast beats in the best Atmospheric Black Metal style imaginable, like a sharp razor cutting our ears while the piano parts give peace to our souls, ending the album in a tempestuous fashion.

Only time will tell what’s next for the urban black metaller netra, but based on the amazing quality of the music found in Ingrats (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), I don’t think he’ll take too long to release more of his eccentric music. While we all wait for another blast of his multilayered creations, let’s keep in touch with him through his Facebook page, and purchase a copy of Ingrats through the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp (where you can find some interesting bundles like the “ultimate netra listener pack”) or official webstore in a 4 panel sleeve with 8 page booklet format or as a fantastic package containing the CD, a 11cm x 7cm all-weather vinyl netra sticker and a beyond awesome “Urban Black Metal” shirt, as well as on Amazon and on CD Baby. Now please excuse, as I’m going for a lonely walk through the dark and cold shadows of Toronto, and I guess you know which album I’ll be listening to.

Best moments of the album: Everything’s Fine, Live with It and Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve.

Worst moments of the album: A Genuinely Benevolent Man.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Gimme a Break 1:19
2. Everything’s Fine 5:24
3. Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours 3:36
4. Live with It 4:30
5. Infinite Boredom 0:44
6. Don’t Keep Me Waiting 4:32
7. A Genuinely Benevolent Man 5:10
8. Paris or Me 3:32
9. Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve 5:00
10. Jusqu’au-boutiste 5:55

Band members
netra – vocals, all instruments

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Album Review – Vindland / Hanter Savet (2016)

Directly from the French region of Britanny, here comes a Black and Viking Metal power trio that effectively knows how to blend aggressiveness, history and culture into extreme music.

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Vindland-Hanter-Savet2016Breton, the old native Celtic language spoken in Brittany, a cultural region in the north-west of France that became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532, also referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain), might not be the most commonly used language anymore by the Bretons, but it still plays an important role in this distinct region of France. One of the most interesting usages of Breton in modern days is undoubtedly in music and arts, like what you’ll find in Hanter Savet, the brand new album by Black/Viking Metal power trio Vindland.

The lyrics, song titles and even the album title are all written in Breton, showing how much this talented band based in the city of Paimpol is connected to their roots, therefore making the whole album more organic and heartfelt. The band was formed in 2004 and, after releasing a demo, an EP and after playing a few concerts, the band split up. In 2010, however, the band was reformed and started working on what would be Hanter Savet, and based on the potency of the music found throughout the entire album I believe this time Vindland are here to stay, delivering a well-balanced mix of the brutality found in Black Metal with the epicness and emotions of Viking and Folk Metal. Although you might not understand a single word sung by the band, I’m pretty sure you’ll have a good time listening to this Breton opus.

The aforementioned aggression of Black Metal and the burning passion of Viking Metal are already united in the opening track, named Orin Kozh. The voice by frontman Romuald is that type of devilish and strident growl perfect for extreme music, supported by a musicality that’s always evolving through time due to all tempo changes without sounding tiresome or being too lengthy in duration. Treuzwelus continues the attack from where the first song ended, presenting several Folk and Pagan Metal elements in a very creative form, with Marc being precise and energetic on drums and, consequently, providing all support Romuald and Camille need for their vocals and galloping riffs, respectively. And Serr-Noz brings forward a melodic atmosphere that captures the listener’s mind and takes him on an epic Black Metal journey, with Camille discharging a high level of excitement due to his amazing guitar lines. Moreover, its magic aura only grows in intensity as the music progresses, with innumerous elements from all types of music added as a “bonus” to the listener in the background.

vindland-bandIn Pedenn Koll, its smooth intro works as “the calm before the storm” of Melodic Black Metal that suddenly arrives, with highlights to its infernal growls contrasting with the harmony built by the guitars and to another outstanding performance by Marc on drums; while in Skleur Dallus the heavier riffs by Camille, which sound a lot closer to traditional Heavy Metal, ignite this rhythmic Pagan Metal hymn. Furthermore, the music only keeps expanding its boundaries until it embraces you completely, with even its serene breaks having a lot of energy flowing. The high-end Folk Metal composition Morlusenn displays a characteristic sonority from Scandinavian music, but with the band’s own French touch, and despite focusing a lot more on its instrumental parts it’s important to say the anguished growls by Romuald sound truly amazing and are exactly what the music needed.

The band’s versatility becomes evident in Skorneg Du, as they mutate from Folk Metal to pure old school Black Metal with Viking Metal elements in a 7-minute battle chant that lives up to the tradition of the Norsemen, as well as in Skeud Ar Gwez, an epic 11-minute aria that starts in a very progressive and atmospheric form that lasts for over three minutes until it explodes into a feast of Extreme Metal. Albeit technical and professionally composed, in my opinion the music takes too long to take off, and maybe a shorter version of it in a similar format as all other songs would have been a lot more effective. And closing the album we have the bonus track And The Battle Ended, a re-recording of the original song from their 2009 EP named Ancestors’ Age, still containing the brutality and harmony of the original version but with an updated sonority following the band’s current approach.

In summary, the region of Britanny couldn’t be in better hands in terms of heavy music than with this excellent power trio, and Hanter Savet is a very good example of how history, culture and aggressiveness always work really well when combined in music and arts in general. If you want to know more about Vindland, go check their Facebook page and YouTube channel, where you can also listen to Hanter Savet in its entirety, and if you want to purchase the aubm simply visit the Black Lion Productions’ BandCamp or Big Cartel.

Best moments of the album: Treuzwelus, Serr-Noz and Skleur Dallus.

Worst moments of the album: Skeud Ar Gwez.

Released in 2016 Black Lion Productions

Track listing
1. Orin Kozh 4:32
2. Treuzwelus 6:20
3. Serr-Noz 5:55
4. Pedenn Koll 4:39
5. Skleur Dallus 4:59
6. Morlusenn 4:58
7. Skorneg Du 7:06
8. Skeud Ar Gwez 11:30

Bonus track
9. And The Battle Ended (2016 Version) 5:37

Band members
Romuald – vocals
Camille – guitars, bass
Marc – drums