The driving force behind any band is their desire to create, to share the inner workings of their collective minds and to leave behind a part of themselves when they cease to exist. Some artists within only a few years manage to fill pages and pages on Encyclopaedia Metallum with thick, extensive and mightily impressive discographies. Décembre Noir wandered a different path and although being around for a fair few years, they’re only now releasing A Discouraged Believer, launching the bands death-doom approach and setting you on a journey that feels oddly spiritual in its lament. It seems Germany’s Décembre Noir are set on delivering a hulking sound that grabs the proficiency and melody from Katatonia, the mix of darkness and accessibility I’d associate with Paradise Lost, slow destruction like that of October Tide while reeking of the horrible journey only masters of dejection (My Dying Bride) would dare visit. Plenty enticing right?
Décembre Noir bursts from your speakers with the title track, and as I understand it, the flow of the album veers away from random, carefully constructed to tell a story of disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty as experienced by a disheartened sole – A fitting title to that end. The track is brutality delivered in very distinct, well-timed slow bursts. Bursts broken by passages of delicate tragic melody, heavily played drumming, sharp destructive knife-like guitar work, entrancing cello delicacy and Lars Dotzauer’s blend of monologued, brooding cleans and death drenched roars. Lars Dotzauer’s big enticing vocal moments are well embedded throughout the album standing out with intensity similar to that of Jukka Pelkonen (Omnium Gatherum) and there’s not a single track where his delivery doesn’t hit its mark with bullseye accuracy.
The rest of the album instrumentally exhibits a tightly focussed band and at no point does the weight of the journey cause the album to sag and become uninteresting. For the most part A Discouraged Believer is really just a big old bludgeoning melancholic tea party with the dejected influences of October Tide, Katatonia, My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost on the guest-list. You’re either going to find Décembre Noir‘s melodies engaging and capable of conjuring up profound emotions or you’re going to be deterred and bored to death by the bands lack of delivering anything beyond what’s already available.
A Discouraged Believer was produced, mixed and mastered by Alex Dietz & Project Mayhem (Heaven Shall Burn) with a tasty brisk production and pleasant attention to the dynamic range that has each track flowing with the liquid smoothness of blood from a severed artery.
This album vexed me, on one hand I love it for it’s melodies and sadness, but on the other Décembre Noir aren’t introducing anything particularly new to the death-doom genre. How do you rate that? What A Discouraged Believer delivers across its seven tracks successfully satisfies my craving for raw and dripping emotion and my top tracks ended up being “Thorns” with it’s opening strings reminiscent of something off Obscure Sphinx‘s Void Mother, “Stowaway” with it’s churning monologue and “Escape to the Sun” with its haunting beauty and the beast vocals. Definitely done before, but done right.