Saturday, March 14, 2009

Amesoeurs - Amesoeurs (2009)

It has certainly been a rocky road for Neige on this project. Launching in 06 along with the rest of the hopeful post-black metal scene, the Ruines Humaines ep was an exciting taster, full of skram-inflected snarls and bittersweet melodies. A year went by before another song popped up on a split release, showing a a new, punkier direction that was as surprising as it was interesting. Purists lamented, fans clamoured for more - Amesoeurs were set to make a big splash in the scene with their planned debut. Yet, after another year, it was announced that internal troubles (of ye old grim soap opera variety) meant that the band would be no more after the album was finished. Death through jealousy and personal issues - how tragic! And now it's here - was it worth the wait? Did sitting around in suspense for each episode of news pay off? Will Neige escape the tyranny of his lover for Audrey? Although I can only offer speculation on the last one, I certainly know how I feel about the first two.

Amesoeur's debut certainly starts off well enough. "Gas in Veins" opens the debut up on a strong note with an instrumental piece that melds the familiar Amesoeurs' sound with a pinch of shoegaze noise and a spoonful of post-rock dynamism. It's a dark, serious song that gives off a thorough sense of character and intent. It paves the way for the previously seen "Les Ruches Malades," whose bashfully sweet post-punk features have been dolled up with a more professional (although not necessarily better) production to fit in with the album. It's still an excellent song, and it saddens me to say that nothing else on this album really lives up to it. "Amesoeurs" is the only other great song to be found here, with a decidedly Cure-esque style that carries a good amount of 80s glory to it, but that's pretty much all the good that I can say about this debut.

For whatever reason, very little of the compelling style of their early material remains, and what little there is is buried in dead-end ideas and missed opportunities, relegated to nice moments in otherwise uninteresting songs. "Heurt" follows "Les Ruches Malades" awkwardly with a quick step into black metal territory, riding a flurry of blastbeats before it eventually slows things down again. Yet, while it jars with the first two songs and ultimately finishes with a weak mellow section, it's still rather enjoyable on its own, striking a nice compromise between agression and poppy melancholy. "Faux Semblants" stumbles aimlessly for the majority of its existence, but manages to end on a fantastic note that should have formed the backbone of the song, rather than a nightcap. "Video Girl" is a pleasant song with a higher level of cohesion than most here, but even it never feels like they took the idea to completion. The album is unique - there's no doubt about that - but it misses the target more often than not.

On top of those issues, there are some parts that just don't belong. "I XIII V XIX XV V XXI XVIII XIX – IX XIX – IV V I IV" is a decent enough song, yet it feels more like a Peste Noire reject than anything. It's not an angrier take on the Amesoeurs style - there are no post-anything leanings, no thoughtful elements or emotional movements. It doesn't even have a meaningful context in the flow of the album, as it has no bearing on the peaceful instrumental piece preceding it or the calm "Video Girl" that follows. Another cut on Amesoeurs' arm shows up as the "secret track" on "Au Crepuscule de Nos Reves." The actual song here is pretty good, much more in the vein of Ruines Humaines than the rest of the album. Yet, being the creative kids they are, Amesoeurs decided that it needed three minutes of silence and a hidden section of mediocre industrial pointlessness. Now, I'm not solely irritated by the presence of a secret track alone. Yes, I hate when they are incorporated in this fashion (for fuck's sake, people - just put another track on your album that isn't credited anywhere), but the large issue I have here is that it is completely meaningless. Put in a recording of Neige arguing with his girlfriend, a spoken sample, Audrey singing alone...if you must do this, put some god damn thought into it. I'll probably edit the song and cut off all but the beginning, and I shouldn't have to do that. 

Aside from those two hiccups, this debut mainly suffers from an overall lack of consistency and purpose, which serves to diffuse the mood and distract from the unique ideas to be found. The flow stutters between ill-paired tempos and themes, making it all feel rather dashed together and poorly thought out. I had hoped that, being their debut swansong, the band would put a lot of effort into making it flawless, but the album merely sounds like the result of a splintering band. As a normal debut, this would herald refinement through future material; sadly, this will only stand now as a monument to lost promise.

Verdict: Indifference (6/10)


is this your life? said...

I could control's so long D:

autothrall said...

You can lead me to the waters of Life and Love, but you cannot make me drink the Amesoeurs.

I wonder how the English feel about you placing this review of this...FRENCH band in the midst of all their glory.

is this your life? said...

Well, considering I will be giving Caina's newest a much higher score than this received, I think they won't choke on their tea too much.

Oh, and that was also supposed to be "couldn't."

Dreadkommander Nekrokreuz said...

Well.... damn. Guess I can uncross my fingers now.

JD said...

Love the art, for what it's worth.

is this your life? said...

Yeah, the cover art is fantastic.