Album Review – Dreams of the Drowned / Dreams of the Drowned I (2019)

Take a deep dive into the first full-length album by an Avantgarde Black Metal one-man band from France, representing years of wandering in a necromantic attempt to keep the fire of some long-time missing aesthetics burning.

Created in 2007 in Évreux, a commune in and the capital of the department of Eure, in the French region of Normandy, by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Camille (from Smohalla and Stagnant Waters), Avantgarde Black Metal one-man band Dreams of the Drowned is finally releasing its debut full-length album, entitled Dreams of the Drowned I, a decade after the band’s 2018 debut demo and the 2019 EP Thanatotropic Principle. A mixture of Experimental Black Metal and anarchist European witchcraft, the music by Dreams of the Drowned is highly inspired by bands such as Ved Buens Ende, Killing Joke, Emperor, Blind Idiot God and Amebix, with Dreams of the Drowned I representing years of wandering in a necromantic attempt to keep the fire of some long-time missing aesthetics burning, dealing with obscure topics such as atypical mental states, the feeling of loss, the forest, and the will to reclaim long-gone connections and power from within.

Ominous, atmospheric sounds emerge from the crypts of Hades in the instrumental piece Dream I, setting the tone for the hypnotizing Conciliabules, where Camille beings extracting Stygian notes from his guitar and bass while his vocal lines couldn’t sound more avantgarde and grim, resulting in a sonic onrush of modern and thrilling sounds and tones that will certainly disturb your peace of mind. The Revolutionary Dead is even more atmospheric and eccentric than its predecessor, with Camille going full Black Metal on vocals, roaring and gnarling deeply and rabidly, accompanied by the nonstop rumbling sounds coming from all instruments.

In Real and Sound, the main riff feels like a modern and obscure version of Judas Priest’s classic “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”, sounding very experimental and not as Black Metal as the other songs, all boosted by its wicked lyrics (“Longtime buried, my inner worlds without ends / Real enough, as long as I feed them / Reconstruct through invisible, through immanence / Where seems there’s none, I’ll grow as many senses as I can / Swarms of wounders? Crutches of faith / I’ll wash my time of those void-filled taints which prevents it to be / Let the wanderers see what they chose to see / The wounded put the S back to their realities”), whereas in Vieilles Pierres our talented multi-instrumentalist Camille slows things down a bit and sounds as mournful and eerie as possible, delivering another solid fusion of Atmospheric Black Metal with more avantgarde nuances and ending in an ethereal way before he comes crushing with the pulverizing Avantgarde Black Metal hymn Crawl of Concretes,  with the poetic words flowing from his vocals exhaling madness, despair and rage (“Oh precious trees and smells, priceless paths / Sceneries of inner legends… / I knew it alive, I knew it lived in these green brown darknesses / Felt it swarming with earth magick, felt it thrive in harmonies”).

In the somber Danced there isn’t a single second of peace or hope for our minds, it’s just an avalanche of darkened sounds blasted by Camille in the form of Avantgarde Black Metal infused with hints of progressiveness, with a classic Black Metal aura generated by the song’s unstoppable blast beats. Furthermore, madness just keeps growing in intensity until the song’s slashing finale, setting the stage for Dreams of the Drowned’s cover version for the song Midnattskogens Sorte Kjerne, originally released by Norwegian Avantgarde Black Metal entity Dodheimsgard in their 1995 album Kronet Til Konge (take a listen at the original version HERE). Featuring Norwegian musician Aldrahn (from The Deathtrip, Thorns and Urarv) on vocals, who’s by the way the song’s original inceptor, this is indeed a sensational version by Dreams of the Drowned, maintaining the song’s primeval core essence intact while at the same time adding his own devilish twist, with the guitars sounding truly mesmerizing. And in order to give a proper conclusion to the album and beautifully close the circle, Camille offers the phantasmagorical instrumental outro Dream III, showcasing strident guitars and low-tuned bass that will pierce your skull ruthlessly.

In summary, although Avantgarde Black Metal might not be considered an easy listen to the average fan of rock and metal music, Dreams of the Drowned I ends up being a recommended album for newcomers to the cryptic and eccentric sounds of the genre, partially thanks to the above average production of the album, making its overall sound a lot clearer and sharp than several similar bands and albums, but mainly due to the undisputed creativity and dexterity presented by Camille in each and every song. Hence, don’t forget to pay Camille a visit on Facebook, subscribe to his YouTube channel, and if the music found in Dreams of the Drowned I truly soothes your soul and captivates your thoughts, you can purchase the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Duplicate Records’ BandCamp page. Because, in the end, by showing your utmost support now to Camille and his Dreams of the Drowned, I’m pretty sure he won’t take another ten years to provide our avid ears more of his dark and enthralling music.

Best moments of the album: The Revolutionary Dead and Crawl of Concretes.

Worst moments of the album: Vieilles Pierres.

Released in 2019 Drowned Anthems Records/Cult Of Nine Records

Track listing
1. Dream I (Instrumental) 3:05
2. Conciliabules 6:32
3. The Revolutionary Dead 5:47
4. Real and Sound 6:28
5. Vieilles Pierres 6:48
6. Crawl of Concretes 6:57
7. Danced 9:22
8. Midnattskogens Sorte Kjerne (Dodheimsgard cover) 8:43
9. Dream III (Instrumental) 3:08

Band members
Camille – vocals, guitars, bass, drums, synths

Guest musician
Aldrahn – vocals on “Midnattskogens Sorte Kjerne”

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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