There have always been those who discredit the depressive black metal sub-genre without taking a good enough look into the scene. Personally, I’m not a big fan of traditional heavy metal and I usually dislike most power metal, but I don’t write off the entire genre and its bands because I know someday, someone will come along and challenge my beliefs. Not so long ago, in terms of power metal, Pyramaze’s ‘Melancholy Beast’ did just that - though I have always had a soft spot for Iced Earth too, particularly ‘Horror Show’. I developed such a deep love for that record that I decided to take a more in depth look into the genre as a whole because, surely, the whole scene would have more to offer me than just Pyramaze, though I do love them. Similar bands were bound to be somewhere on the horizon, bands I could shower my affections on also and, as expected, there are. Given my hatred for the majority of power metal and the fact that I still managed to find something I could really dig my teeth into, I will never disparage the entire genre, though some small generalisations are applicable.
Considering this, a world where we could all find positives in a negative ridden genre, or sub-genre would be ideal because frankly, it becomes tiring having to trawl through hundreds of negative reviews about bands that only disparage the material because of its preference to a certain genre, or again, sub-genre. Though every aspect of the metal genre has its traditional, with black metal focusing on atmospherics and darker lyrical themes, for example, there are always bands, no matter how mainstream or obscure they are, that rebel against the traditions and supply the audience with a slice of something different. In regards to depressive black metal, bands like Pensées Nocturnes and so on have made it their personal job at breaking down certain genre roles by experimenting and, in the case of Pensées Nocturnes, the one man band decide to fuse classical with depressive black metal. In this case, with Canadian crusaders Sui Caedere, which means “suicide” in Latin - how apt - the band have mixed subtle doom elements with the depressive side of black metal and the results are both beautiful and harrowing.
I’m a big fan of Monarque, the band’s vocalist, who also participates solely (apart from on the live circuit where he has session musicians to give him a helping hand for performances) on a band with the same name, so when I noticed that he was contributing his distinctive vocals on this bands debut, ‘Thrène’, I just knew I had to be apart of this new movement and wanted to sample the atmosphere at any cost. Having only discovered his other band, Carrion Wraith, this year also, Monarque has been a busy man as he has also released his sophomore record for his band of the same name recently, too. His talents, as anyone can see for themselves, are hotly pursued by musicians in Canada and for good reason. His distinctive vocals are some of the best in the business. They’re excellent at providing the listener with a sense that he truly feels the emotions he’s singing about, this isn’t just another band to make up the numbers, or rake in the money - this is about a passion for black metal music and giving us grateful fans a chance to share the burden of his heavy heart. Not forgetting the other musicians on this project, which includes some well established and talented people.
The multi-talented Morphee, who provides services on the drums and guitar - a central figurehead of the instrumentation and overall sound and L.Efferus, who provides the bass work. These talented souls have participated in other bands, as aforementioned, too. Acts like Ciel Nordique and Veneficium, who released a suspenseful debut last year themselves. The description for this band claims that they’re a black/doom metal hybrid, but the doom aspects cannot be felt as much as the black aspects, which was unexpected. In actual fact, there is little doom to be had, so prepare yourself for an almost entirely black metal driven record. This fact culminates in songs like ‘Sérénade Triste’, which coats the general atmosphere with a very Burzum like sound, especially in relation to the heavy distortion on guitar and the neat ambient work supplied by the programming, which aligns the Burzum guitar style and mixes it well with the ambiance like paints, with the guitars as one colour, the ambient sections another and when mixed together, we have an entirely new, refreshing colour. This is everything I expected and more. Ambiance, Burzum inspired at points, creative, never too repetitious, dynamic and even has time to punctuate the beauty with the ever impressive vocals of Monarque.
Despite the distortion, the production is well suited to the instrumentation and areas like the bass are audible and well used. Thankfully, we’re not dealing with amateurs, we’re dealing with professionals who know precisely how to make a black metal record with much to spare. Again, thankfully, these musicians know that to pull of this style on a wider scale, they need to incorporate elements that aren’t often associated with the clichéd style of depressive black metal - which is where the sparse acoustics came into play and the stereotypical Burzum vibe is lost, only to be drawn out again at a later stage for nostalgic reasons and as a mark of respect to one of the true innovators of the genre. There are even piano sections - though, don’t worry, for those of you who didn’t appreciate the dynamism of Pensées Nocturnes, Sui Caedere do not venture into classical music too far. ‘Le Soulier de la Morte’ is a challenging, but beautiful example of Sui Caedere’s music. It extracts all the pain and loss of a typical black metal song and enhances it with beautiful passages which are juxtaposed to the empty feeling the vocals leave inside of us. Given the inclusion of the inspiring piano passages and slow paced, electrified guitar work, the passion is reignited as we weep alongside the atmospherics. A definite highlight of the calendar year.