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 – Primal Age / A Silent Wound EP (2017)

One of the most influential bands in the history of underground French Metalcore brings forth four striking new songs, blending the best of Heavy Metal and Hardcore in a fresh, vibrant and honest way.

Delivering a huge amount of energy, power and passion for heavy music to their fans since 1993, always exploring important topics such as the defense of the animal rights, vegetarianism, ecology and the denunciation of the overconsumption of mass, French Metalcore act Primal Age marked the 90’s by being among the first European bands to mix Heavy Metal and Hardcore into their music, gaining a lot of positive feedback from fans of both styles. That amazing reaction from the audience opened the doors for the band to spread their music globally, sharing the stage with renowned acts like Napalm Death, Caliban, Madball, Hatebreed and Agnostic Front, as well as playing many festivals such as Free Edge Fest, Hellfest and Sonisphere and performing in distant lands like Brazil and Japan through the years.

Hailing from Évreux, a commune in Haute Normandie in northern France, Primal Age released their debut EP The Light to Purify in 1999, followed by the full-length albums A Hell Romance in 2007 and The Gearwheels of Time in 2010, while the year of 2014 saw the birth of a split album with French Metalcore band Absone named My Legacy / Eternal Struggle – The Best of 17 Years XVX 90’s Metalcore (And Still Going Strong). Now in 2017, they’re back in full force with a brand new EP titled A Silent Wound, featuring a stylish artwork by Visual Injuries and four original songs that perfectly represent their core essence and their undisputed allegiance to classic European Metalcore.

The opening track, nicely entitled The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization, is a frantic Hardcore chant boosted by hints of Death and Thrash Metal (and therefore an amazing choice for slamming into the pit) where drummer Mehdi Abou is simply insane behind his drums, while the sick growls by lead singer Didier are in total sync with the demonic strings by Benoit, Florian and Dimitri. Following that high-octane start, we have the title-track A Silent Wound, featuring Felipe Chehuan from Brazilian Deathcore band Confronto, another Punk Rock and Thrash Metal onslaught flawlessly blasted by Primal Age. Furthermore, both guitars by Benoit and Florian sound very tuneful and melodic, strengthening the song’s bestial vibe even more, which I believe will cause some “desired” body injuries and bruises to their fans during their live concerts.

Can the excellent Counterfeiters of the Science be labeled as “Tribal Metalcore”? It’s a fuckin’ furious and ruthless composition, in special the harsh and aggressive growls by Didier, with its unstoppable and vicious sounding being the epitome of the music by such distinct act. And featuring singers Julien Truchan (Benighted) and Koba (Loyal To The Grave), the remarkable Slayer medley named To Jeff is a beautiful tribute to the one and only Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.). You have to listen to it to feel its potency, but as a quick summary of what you’ll find in the music (or I should say a “spoiler”), it starts with a few nice words from Jeff himself, followed by the band’s excellent versions for parts of the all-time classics “South of Heaven”, “Dead Skin Mask” and “Raining Blood”, ending with a good chunk of “Angel of Death” and back to a “Raining Blood” finale. In my humble opinion, this is a superb homage to Jeff and there’s no way you can stay indifferent to its energy and rhythm.

This superb EP by Primal Age, which can be streamed in its entirety HERE, is on sale at several locations such as the band’s Big Cartel as a regular CD version or as a special red vinyl collector edition (limited to 100 copies only); at the Deadlight Entertainment’s BandCamp or webstore; at the Bound By Modern Age Records’ BandCamp or webstore; or on Amazon. After listening to A Silent Wound it’s easy to understand how Primal Age, who can be contacted through their Facebook page and whose music can be appreciated at their YouTube channel and ReverbNation, are still alive and kicking after almost 25 years playing underground heavy music, without selling out to the mass media. This French quintet definitely knows how to bring the best of Heavy Metal and Hardcore together in their music, always sounding fresh, vibrant, honest and loyal to their foundations. Add to that their undeniable talent with their instruments, and there you have the recipe for at least another 25 years blasting awesome music to their fans and to anyone who enjoys tons of heaviness with a good melody behind.

Best moments of the album: The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization and To Jeff.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Deadlight Entertainment

Track listing
1. The Whistleblowers vs World Health Organization 3:12
2. A Silent Wound (feat. Felipe Chehuan) 3:11
3. Counterfeiters of the Science 3:35
4. To Jeff (feat. Julien Truchan & Koba) 4:20

Band members
Didier – vocals
Benoit – guitars
Florian – guitars
Dimitri – bass
Mehdi Abou – drums

Guest musicians
Felipe Chehuan – additional vocals on “A Silent Wound”
Julien Truchan – additional vocals on “To Jeff”
Koba – additional vocals on “To Jeff”