Decembre Noir – The Renaissance of Hope Review

Has there ever been an album cover that seems to be more of a direct contradiction of the title than this one? A man drowning his wife is The Renaissance of Hope? Seems counter to the theme, until one examines the lyrics and subject matter of this, Decembre Noir’s fourth album. Hope is a very personal subject, especially when viewed through the lens of euthanasia. The hope of the person who is finally allowed to die versus the anguish of the person fulfilling the wish. That’s the topic here for this Thuringian quintet, as they slog and pummel their way through a half-dozen songs of suffering, devotion, and hope. I just hope they can maintain the high quality of output.

Six songs and a svelte 49 minutes makes The Renaissance of Hope much shorter and more direct than 2018’s Autumn Kings, but the two albums are otherwise quite similar – pacing, tempo, and emotion all strike a familiar chord. Nothing is broken with Decembre Noir’s delivery, so there’s no point trying to fix anything. “A Swan Lake Full of Tears” opens things, and may be the most diverse song on the album. With its blend of clean and harsh vocals and its lurching gait, it’s a bludgeoning nine-minutes. “Hope/Renaissance” is a massive song, thundering along at a blistering (for doom) pace at times, and featuring plenty of excellent axework from Sebastian and Martin. This one has been steadily climbing my Best Songs of 2020 playlist all month. In fact, the opening trio of nine-plus minute songs are all majestic and engaging.

Shorter songs prop up the back half of the album, with “Streets of Transience” coming off like a deathier version of modern Katatonia and “Behind the Scenes” ending the album in stately, epic fashion. Throughout The Renaissance of Hope, Decembre Noir double down on their “martyrdom of euthanasia” theme lyrically. Each song has bleak, gripping lyrics. A couple of examples: from the title track, “How peaceful this future will be, when life recreates itself, bit by bit, and silence touches the soul of beauty.” Or from the closing number, “It’s not the quest for freedom, it is more the thirst to free the soul.” This is a lyrically deep album, and following along really does provide plenty of food for thought.

The drums displease me. But like Billy Joel, don’t ask me why.1 Okay, fine, I’ll tell you. The drum production, particularly the snare, is much too sterile and generic. There was just a touch more pop to the snare on Autumn Kings, whereas here the sound is more round, for lack of a better term. This is a minor nitpick, though, and one that may be peculiar to my oddly-formed ears. Longtime producer Alexander Dietz is back behind the console here, and once again (aside from the drums) delivers a taut, well-mixed recording. Lars’ vocals churn through the mix, as do the guitars when Lars is not singing. Song arrangements are still strong, and Kevin’s drumming remains as invigorating as any doom act.

Once again, Decembre Noir have delivered a compelling and emotional album. The shorter length makes it easier to digest, despite song lengths. While the band doesn’t exactly stretch its wings here and seek any new territory musically, what they do they execute in stellar fashion. Billed as “a glimpse of hope in a time of darkness,” The Renaissance of Hope is another high quality release from these pros, and their fans will be more than pleased.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Lifeforce Records
Websites: decembrenoirlfr.bandcamp.com | decembre-noir.de | facebook.com/DecembreNoir
Releases Worldwide: November 13th, 2020

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  1. Sorry, everyone. We were playing Billy Joel in the house and this song is stuck in my head now.
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