Disparaître – Urchig Review

I’ve moonlighted as a metal reviewer for a couple of years now and I never cease to be amazed that bands – and black metal bands in particular – seem to have a burning wish not to make it easy for fans and reviewers to find them, nor to find out anything about them. Ok, I get it, you might not want your real name out there. I’ll give you that. So maybe you come up with some sort of creepy-weepy pseudonym to go by and, perhaps, splash the cash on a black cloak, maybe some face paint and. if there’s any change from that, possibly some barbed wire to wrap round a good stick that you can waggle about menacingly. Alright, I can get on board. But then there are bands … or projects, I don’t know, like today’s subject Disparaître, where there’s really very little out there. No proper Bandcamp page, no Facebook page that I can find, obviously no website, and even Metal Archives has nothing beyond a nationality: French. So I’ll have to rely on the promo sheet received from the label, Naturmacht Productions. And what, you may ask, does the promo sheet say?

Well, not much: “The third offering of Disparaître dives into thick atmospheric spheres of a wintry walk in solitude through misty mountains.” Apart from track titles, release date etc., that’s it. That’s all I’ve got. And, to be fair to Naturmacht, it’s accurate. As far as it goes. On its third outing – the preceding two being a self-titled demo in 2018 and last year’s Demo 2Disparaître channel every ounce of the cold, bleak isolation that that cover image evokes in you. Urchig (German for Rustic) is a three-track study in winter grandeur, frozen wastes and soaring mountain peaks. Obviously, this mural is painted in atmoblack tones, in shrieking, howling rasps, in sustained chords and harsh tremolos, and in furious blasting work on the drums. Added to this is a lush, almost symphonic, gloss that dusts the record like a fine powder of snow falling on already frozen wastes and bringing the scene to life. Indeed, it conjures a little of Paysage d’Hiver and more than a little Grima.

Although Disparaître’s palette is familiar in the main, there are moments on Urchig where the atmoblack mold is briefly flexed, like the big post metal, Isis-like riff that drops halfway through opener “La voûte étoilée,” or the point just shy of two minutes into closer “Tschäggätta,” where the atmospheric intro suddenly roars into life with a riff briefly reminiscent of Skeletonwitch. Album centerpiece and longest cut, “Nachtspinnärinnä,” is a carefully crafted beast of a track, which slowly builds from an eerie opening to an echoing chamber of atmospheric black metal, onto which an ethereal synth is laid, lifting the opening third of the track before an otherworldly, unsettlingly discordant melody settles in like a crushing frost.

Although atmospheric black metal at its core, Urchig’s sound is subtly modulated across its modest half-hour runtime, lifting it above the run-of-the-mill atmoblack and close to the majesty of something like Frigoris. At its best, this type of music evokes a range of emotions and moods, not only forlorn misery, and Disparaître achieves just that. Yes, the genre tropes of softly howling winds (opening of “Tschäggätta”) and slow-build atmospheric outros (“Nachtspinnärinnä”) are present but there is much more here than clichés. The addition of influences from the likes of post-metal bring that little bit more to the table, as do subtle moments, like the fragile, almost inaudible keys that briefly surface some 4:40 into “Tschäggätta.” Sounding surprisingly rich and balanced, Urchig was a genuine pleasure to listen to, for all the misery soaking through it.

On its ‘full-length’ debut, Disparaître offers a skillful, well-written and compelling album. Painted on a canvas bearing all the hallmarks of its genre, there are just enough flourishes and unexpected brush strokes to give Urchig that extra, and undefinable, je ne sais quoi. Revolutionary? No, but refined and satisfyingly smooth in its bleak fury. While I’m tempted to go full 4.0ldeneye on this, I’m held back slightly by Urchig’s length, or lack thereof. What’s here is great but there is a half-decent case for classing this as no more than an EP. It’s not a case I’m going to argue, however, because, whatever this is, it’s damned good but there isn’t a huge amount of it. I feel slightly constrained, therefore, in what I can award it. Either way, for fans of the genre, I strongly recommend spending some time with Disparaître.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Website: disparaitre.bandcamp.com/releases
Releases Worldwide: May 16th, 2021

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