Sunday, November 26, 2023

Penitencé Onirique - Nature Morte (2023)

Penitencé Onirique is another French black metal act with its post-black influences anchored rather solidly in the more traditional elements of the genre, and their first two records had some great aesthetics when it came to packaging and style, even if the the music itself wasn't constantly winning me over. There was a slight step up in quality between V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and Vestige, and Nature Morte ups their ante yet again with an even more measured and memorable of melody, atmosphere and aggression, not to mention the curious and creepy, thorny floral photography which stands out as a little unique and artsy, yet perfectly melded to the flavor of the songwriting itself.

This one had me right as I got my foot in the door with its excellent intro to "Désir", a swell of percussion and cinematic ambient/orchestration that surged relentlessly into the blasting. It's actually this constant hovering of the symphonic vibe right on the edge of the searing intensity that really rounds out Nature Morte, there is always something tantalizing to the ear, and while I couldn't tell you that every riff is strikingly unique or catchy, there are more than enough to fit that latter category, and the tunes are paced very well to provide potent breaks or balanced against the blazing speed of some of their attack. A spacier, slower tune like the title track works equally well, and allows a little more verve to the bass lines and power to the drawn-out, impassioned rasps, with some really climactic moments that nearly knocked me out of my chair.

There's not a lot of experimentation, necessarily, but for example they have the dramatic instrumental "Lama Sabachthani" which is a lovely respite from the more relentlessly-paced material, and it's just further proof of how well balanced this whole disc is. I was stunned into submission through most of its 46 minutes, the perfect template of tempering a more traditional BM style with epic atmospherics and mildly progressive overtures to keep it present in the listener's conscience, Hands down one of the better French black metal records I've come across this year, and a formidable elevation from the material that preceded it, not that there was anything terribly wrong with that, but if I'm recommending albums from this niche, I'll direct you straight to this as one of the stronger examples in that second tier beneath the more internationally respected (or infamous) groups from that scene. An awesome album and more importantly, a worthwhile experience.

Verdict: Win [8.5/10]

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