When Bosse-de-Nage‘s All Fours released in 2015, my familiarity with post-metal started and ended with the clusterfuck that was Deafheaven‘s Sunbather. All Fours, needless to say, caught me completely off guard. It was raw and intense, evocative without overacting, and certainly more committed to metal than the internet’s collective bitching led me to expect. That record stuck out in a year where I consumed more music than any other in my life, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Further Still has some big expectations to live up to.
“The Trench” swats you out of the air like an anti-aircraft battery. Its snare cannonade batters your eardrums into submission, softening you up while its fusion of post-black and hardcore fills you with holes. Bosse-de-Nage allow you little time to breathe as H.’s octopus-armed drum performance punctuates every moment with post’s typical drum forwardness, amped up on several cups of coffee-flavored meth. B.’s coarse screams grow more fervent and ragged as M.’s guitars drive ever fiercer into the tumult, faster and faster. Just when H.’s arms cannot churn any faster, the song slams shut, the silence as pointed as the violence that preceded it. Such is Further Still.
Bosse-de-Nage lack the sprawl of Ghost Bath and the thematic schizophrenia of Deafheaven, though elements of both do surface on the record. The band places emotional weight within the music, as most post-whatever bands do, but the music is still evocative in its own right. Where some post-black bands ply in bright melodies or subtext-laden imagery, these Californians offer energy. The commitment to forward momentum rivals that of Converge and Oathbreaker, as does their pastiche of charred nerve ending and tattered dreams. In a way, Bosse-de-Nage create something surprisingly standard, a well-rounded offering that spreads its chips evenly and wisely. This simplicity, if it can be called that, works in their favor. The black metal and hardcore work with a cohesion that many offerings lack; Further Still never whipsaws you from one end to the other, making the listening experience all the more steadfast.
On the flip side, you know what you’re going to get by the time you’re past the midpoint of “Dolorous Interlude.” This makes the sustained beatings of the B-side more predictable, though no less enjoyable. The final two tracks, “Vestiges” and “A Faraway Place,” suffer the most in this respect, though perhaps this is less an issue of predictability and more one of fatigue; this might have been solved had the flecks of brightness, like the Astronoidian passage on “Crux,” been developed further. By album’s end, there are simply no more crevices to pry out another speck of misery.
A lot of this is made up for in the strength of Further Still‘s execution. B.’s vocals are coarse and ugly, imbued with raw emotion that elevates the shrouded brightness often hidden away in the storm of abused instruments and gnashing teeth. The production itself is lithe and successful, balancing the necessary strength and vulnerability. But H. (Succumb, ex-Slough Feg) deserves a standing ovation for his performance. Post-metal drumming, with its forefront presence and distinctive sound, can become too similar, even from one act to the next. Fortunately for Bosse-de-Nage, H. is one of, if not the most capable drummer in the space. He earns every bit of the extensive leash the production gives him and then some. The man isn’t just a machine, he’s the damn Terminator, giving you a thumbs up even as the friction of his drumsticks burns the skin right off his fingers.
Bosse-de-Nage took some time to find their stride—All Fours was their fourth album—but now that they’ve found it, there’s no stopping them. Further Still may not push Bosse-de-Nage‘s sound beyond bounds previously set, but what it does offer is of no less quality than you’d expect. It’s got enough spine to hang with the metal crowd, and if you’re looking for something crusty and mean, it’ll cover that base too. In a crowd full of controversial headline makers, causing more hullabaloo than they’re worth, post-black metal needs more bands like Bosse-de-Nage.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: The Flenser
Websites: bosse-de-nage.bandcamp.com | bosse-de-nage.com | facebook.com/blackbossedenage
Releases Worldwide: September 14th, 2018