Thursday, December 10, 2015
Maïeutiste - Maïeutiste (2015)
Granted, for some listeners, the wealth of aesthetics here might prove too scattershot and unfocused to really immerse oneself. The slower, drearier sequences create an obvious contrast against the faster, blast beat-driven segments, but beyond that the black and doom tags are threaded liberally with elements of thrashing or melodic death metal licks. There are ambient-honed interludes using double bass strings and deeper chants ("Purgatoire"). Saxophone. Anything that sticks. Moody jazz progressions are interlaced with explosions of metallic aggression ("Absolution"). And it never feels as if it's cheap, as if the band is writing 'different' for different's sake, because so much of the actual composition is well-comported, intelligent and interesting. When they're scathing along a pure black metal axis it captures a lot of that mid to late 90s vibe when the Scandinavians were evolving their individual sounds to incorporate more progressive inclinations and complex melodic textures, but that is by no means the defining 'sound' to this album, just one of many weapons on exhibit.
Even the vocals are all over the place, for better or worse. Stock black rasps and deeper gutturals are juxtaposed with soaring, folksy male cleans and whispers, and while individually these don't feel too distinct in the wake of the many other bands that have used them all, it almost seems necessary to match up with the versatile palette of instrumentation. There is a risk here that Maïeutiste would collapse under the weight of so much eclecticism, especially when you consider the sheer length of the debut, but this is staved off by the general quality of the individual riffs and the overt amount of effort they must have expended putting it all together. Overly ambitious? Over extended? Perhaps, to some orthodox extreme metal listeners who prefer everything wrapped tidily into their chosen lifestyle package with a bow on top; but I can't help but feel admiration for how these Frenchmen conduct themselves and their orchestra of kinetic woe. There are awkward if not jarring transitions, and some licks fall slightly behind others in overall impact, but the album is just so substantial and cleanly produced that it's worth checking out by fans of Ne Obliviscaris, Cormorant, Enslaved, Opeth and Vintersorg-era Borknagar.
Verdict: Win [7.75/10]