When it comes to listing French metal bands, a few specific acts tend to leapfrog their way to the top of the list. Il y a Alcest, le Gojira, le Deathspell Omega, et autres choses de ce genre. Less globally powerful yet closer to my heartsack are acts such as Hacride and Eryn Non Dae., as well as the recently discovered Bind Torture Kill. If I have a point, I suppose it’s vive la France. Regardless, Eryn Non Dae.‘s follow-up to 2012’s Meliora is something I’d long dreamt of, and thanks to France and the promo bin I – with humble objectivity and tact – get to demonstrate to you bitches once again why Muppet taste is best taste. Spoiler alert: this album is fucking glorious.
Before we wander too much farther into further Francophilia, a quick reassurance of objective integrity: I’m, like, totally objective yo. I didn’t snag Abandon of the Self simply because I knew that it was likely to be good, but more importantly because many of you cretins are likely to be woefully unfamiliar with END.; proselytizing the lesser gods of the underground has long been my greatest joy in life, and I cherish being granted the honor and privilege of doing so on the scale that this site affords. I take the task quite seriously, since scoring without objectivity rarely does bands or readers any good. I’m admittedly about to pile praise on a band I’ve previously professed to love, but it should be stressed that this review comes from the ears rather than the heart. Well a little from the heart, but let’s talk about the fuckin music already.
Abandon of the Self is trvly a multifaceted gem, shining just as brightly in its own sinister ambient darkness as it does in its moments of fiery, furious mayhem. Intertwining chaos and calm is hardly unheard of by now, but rarely have I heard an album utilize aforementioned dichotomy to the measure of successful effect that END. have attained on their 3rd full-length endeavor. Transitions between opposing sonic realms are handled with all the patience necessary for said tactic to really pay off, and by Jørn does it ever pay off here. By the time “Omni” explodes, you don’t just know it’s going to happen, you need it to happen, it’s the only thing that makes sense and life will surely be meaningless without it. Matthieu Nogue’s vocals fit into the picture more like a bone in a finger than a hand in a glove, gracefully gliding between pensive, pessimistic poetry and the from-the-guts hardcore bellowing of Thränenkind-era King Apathy to function as an organic extension of the instrumentation, rising and falling deftly as one with the same. Knowing when to tease and when to please is crucial to avoid dragging out such suspense, instilling passages into musical blue balls, and END. are here to satisfy.
Perhaps even more satisfying than what END. create with their sonic palette is the array of sounds itself. Placid darkness is painted with master artistry by Franck Quintin and Yann Servanin, immersing the listener in eerily beautiful clouds of vibrant ambience awash in dusky post-metal tones. When things are set ablaze and the fog becomes smoke, the listener is treated to blissful, incendiary asphyxiation in a harsh haze of blackened heaviness. A trvly stifling wall of sound is constructed when the going gets heavy, but the carefully crafted contributions of the rhythm section – namely Julien Rufié and Mickael André on drums and bass, respectively – are never silenced or overshadowed in the mix. The fact that their presence can be detected at all amidst the maelstrom in the middle of “Fragment” testifies to the sound mindedness of Abandon‘s mixing mentality, but that they can be heard so clearly while doing more than merely keeping the time is evidence of a band that understands the importance of crafting every inch of an album with attention to detail from the ground up.
While I’m not surprised that it turned out to be an excellent album, I must admit that even I didn’t foresee Abandon being this exceptional. If Tool were permanently furious and colored their creations in Ulcerate cacophony and ROSK-y tranquility instead of actually sounding like Tool, Abandon of the Self is easily on par with what you’d be left with, and with that I am vindicated. Selfish and wrong I may or may not sometimes be, but this time I was right – I swear I’m right! – and I knew it all along.