Behind your Fear – Anthropocene Review

I always find a return to one’s roots fascinating, especially after a long period of time. It always feels like there’s a story there. If an artist leaves the metal scene voluntarily, then what’s changed for them to come back? And if they always wanted to return, what made them leave in the first place? Stefanie Duchêne sang for gothic metal band Flowing Tears in the 90’s and early 00’s, making some small waves by bucking the trend of Nightwishcore sopranos, but when she left that band she did not return to the style for decades. Now, 20 years later, she fronts Behind your Fear, hoping to reclaim her seat. Does she still know her way into the hearts of metalheads or did she get lost along the way?

The obvious point of comparison for Behind your Fear would be Oceans of Slumber. After all, not often can a metal band or its vocalist be described as sultry, but Duchêne’s warm timbre readily envelopes the listener like a darkly romantic blanket, and the textures and pacing are similarly smooth and evocative. Comparisons of their respective songwriting styles is where the similarity breaks down, however. The compositions on Anthropocene are rather stripped down rather than indulging in fanciful detours, often aligning closely to standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structures. Along with the accessible hooks and simple but effective riffs, it makes for music that hews as closely to rock as it does to metal, and I could see tracks like “The Mask” or “Hollow” meet radio requirements.1

That is not a judgment of quality, however. Simple it may be, but Anthropocene is extremely effective in getting your head bobbing and your heart sobbing. “One Day” and “New Ways” focus on catchy riffs with a lot of punch, but the band’s just as capable of touching piano-led balladry (“Heartbeats”). Duchêne doesn’t have incredible reach, but she knows just how to play to her strengths. Her most impactful moments emphasize her powerful copper-toned mid-range, utilized to project beautiful yearning and melancholy. Straightforward, crunchy riffs fill the spaces between, with no time wasted on bloat. Even the scant bits of solo serve largely to bridge gaps and keep the flow of the song smooth as clarified butter. The sound is completed with a dummy thicc fat bottom end, which the production leans into. The bass lands with satisfying thuds and the tom-heavy drum forces sway into your body.

Behind your Fear’s unambitious approach is a double-edged sword, though. While it’s undeniably effective and presents as extremely sure-footed, it’s also punching beneath its weight class, moreso considering some of the personnel here has experience in such lauded acts as Melechesh and Dornenreich. There’s a sense of playing things safe, never really pushing for something special that really hits hard or truly yanks the old heartstrings around. As such, it’s never going to be the record you put on when you want to dig deep into some cathartic grief and have a good cry.

In a way, this feels like punishing Anthropocene for what it’s not, rather than reward it for what it is. And considering her extended break from the scene, one can hardly blame Duchêne for playing it a little bit safe for her comeback full-length. But part of me still hopes for something that digs deeper, hits harder, and wrings my tear ducts like a moist towel. Everyone in this band has the chops to achieve such an album, I’m certain. Until then, Anthropocene is an excellent proof of concept for Behind your Fear. Welcome back, Ms. Duchêne.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 30th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Perhaps not now, but certainly 20 years ago.
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