Déluge – Ægo Templo Review

Stereotypically, we consider the land of France the world of baguettes, berets, and plenty of “hon, hon, hons.” But in reality, this is the country that has given us some of the wildest acts to grace metal, like black metal’s actually-Satanic Deathspell Omega, the prolific Les Legions Noires (Belkètre, Vlad Tepes, etc.), the blackened industrial shapeshifters Blut aus Nord, or blackened hardcore abusers Celeste and Mur. 2020 has offered solid brews of black metal/hardcore cocktails, with AOTY contenders Calligram or the lyrically divisive Svalbard offering vastly different but nonetheless solid interpretations. How does Déluge hold up?

Déluge is a French black metal/post-hardcore quintet, a demo and debut full-length Æther under their belt since their 2013 formation. Perhaps most similar to acts Downfall of Gaia or Celeste, Déluge’s sophomore effort Ægo Templo is content channeling the worship of hyper-melodic post-rock-influenced post-hardcore or screamo acts like Envy, So Hideous, or Suffocate for Fuck Sake. In this way, their sound is an antithesis to Celeste’s in particular, utilizing similar styles but a dichotomous atmosphere. While their fellow countrymen create a sound of how it feels to drown in a shallow muddy puddle with waves of distortion and unending pummel, Déluge instead opts for ebb and flow dynamics with an emphasis on the epic and beautiful in the aural representation of a watery grave. Save for unique interpretations of tide-like organic dynamics and balanced attacks of darkness and light, Ægo Templo wears its heart on its sleeve for nearly an hour of Deafheaven– and Bâ’a-worshiping fluff that never quite finds its footing.

To be fair, tracks like “Abysses” or the title track showcase the best of Déluge’s watery style, balancing their Deafheaven or Bâ’a worship with tidal dynamics. Featuring overwhelmingly evocative passages of somber plucking, clean singing, and doomier pace, movements feel as natural as the ebb and flow of the tide. Tracks like “Baïne” and “Gloire Au Silence” feature kickass riffs that emerge from the twinkly with a mean game face, while “Abysses” and closer “Vers” benefits from a nearly funeral doom pace to slow things down. Individually, Ægo Templo’s elements are solid, with desperately and furiously versatile vocals, stunning drumming, and solid guitar work. Its production is also crystal clear, as the overwhelming melody never feels compressed, the drums are punchy, and the riffs are crisp and hefty, balancing all its influences in a well-mixed album that sounds as moist as it was intended. Overall, it is a supremely listenable album, with lovely melodies and crisp production as its selling point.

However, we know that metal is more than pretty sounds. Furthermore, Déluge has issues with its bloated runtime, passages of cringe-worthy tricks, and excessive Deafheaven or Bâ’a influence. Opening tracks “Soufre” and “Opprobre” are straight-up Sunbather worshipers, while “Digue” and “Vers” sound too much like unreleased tracks from Deus Qui Non Mentitur. A true party-crasher is its moments spoken word, a risky enough endeavor in regular black metal (lookin’ at you, Faustian Pact). Throwing it into an inherently ham-fisted post-black/post-hardcore template kicks the unbearable into high gear, derailing tracks like the already painfully empty “Gloire Au Silence” and giving the otherwise solid “Baïne” a disappointing ending. Clean vocals, similarly, are generally pretty solid albeit unspectacular, but are too weak to carry the emotional passages of “Digue” or “Soufre.” A jarring tonal shift dooms “Digue” and “Béryl,” as there is no transition between the former’s emotional melodicism and the latter’s Amenra-esque dark flavor. To cram the summation of Déluge’s whims into a nearly hour-long experience is also tedious as hell, as they show that their scattershot songwriting can’t keep up.

To be fair, I can point out a part in each song that sounds good. But Déluge’s issue is that they cannot maintain solid songwriting to keep listener attention for its protracted runtime. If they made an album full of songs like “Abysses” or the title track, this would be an easy 4.0. But because of the fluff crammed from wall to wall with no subtlety, Ægo Templo is ultimately a wearisome and exhausting listen. While ideally a melodic antithesis to Celeste’s brooding blackness, it does not reciprocate bulletproof composition, and is held together by the shoddy duct tape patchwork of its highlighting moments. Ægo Templo is nowhere near the level of genre greats, even if its creators can be if they cut the fluff.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
LabelMetal Blade Records
Websiteswearedeluge.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/delugebandofficial
Releases Worldwide: November 6th, 2020

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