“Dark” is my thing. Dark dreams, dark thoughts, and dark music make me who I am. For most that know me, this comes as no surprise.1 For those that think you know me: surprise! But, as of late, my dark place has become a living hell. I could always escape there when things got tough and it was always a place I could go to avoid judgment from this pathetic, untrusting world. But, four months ago, things turned real dark. Too dark. And the little room in my head wasn’t dark enough to handle it. I broke. I broke in the most nightmarish way. The way in which you find yourself with a gun to your head, weeping. “This is the right thing to do,” you tell yourself. “The pain will be over soon.” I know many of you have felt this and know that dark place. And you know how hard it can be to come back from. Yet, here we are. Neither happy nor sad. Just… doing our best. Against my better judgment, I took the plunge and grabbed Vous Autres‘ full-length debut, Champ du Sang, in hopes that I could make my little room comforting again.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the French are fucking weird. The scariest black metal I’ve ever heard has come from France and Champ du Sang is another on that list. But I don’t mean “scary” as in “scary.” Vous Autres is “scary” in a different way than Blut aus Nord and their haunting atmospheres. Or Spektr and their ever-closing black tunnels. Vous Autres is a killer of good times, lurking in the shadows and striking when you least expect it. Every riff and every atmosphere is a surprise and none of them feel good to a broken heart. Considering my mood, you’d think I’m making Champ du Sang out to be something greater than it is. But that’s furthest from the truth. Champ du Sang is that great.
“Great,” though, comes with a hefty price for the listener. As the eight-to-ten minute epics, “Sans Lendemain,” “Vos Ce Ciel Noir,” and “La Tristesse De Tes Déboires,” can attest to. All three are as suffocating as a lover’s hands wrapped around your neck. It catches you off guard and you struggle to understand why a creature of such beauty would be doing this. The panic burns through your mind and you realize you can’t breathe. As your eyes redden with tears, you’re dragged into a landscape set ablaze by screeching lightning, earth-shattering thunder, and the resulting smoke is you accepting your fate. As slow and gloomy as Triptykon, these three tracks are truer meloblack than I’ve heard all year. The ascensions and decensions, the suffocating atmospheres, the relentless rasps (that become stronger as the album progresses), and the crushing drum work2 make this trio impossible to ignore.
Between songs so captivating and melancholic they’re damn near impossible to describe, come tracks like the haunting, pummeling, Gojira-like “Pauvre Animal, Simple Pantin” and the echoey, reverberating builds of the Triptykon-esque “Tes Jours Passés.” The latter not only has the slow-building qualities of “Vos Erreurs Consternantes,” but it introduces distant clean vocals to the mix. While “En Souffrance Devant Dieu” and “Le Gouffre Est Devant” are nothing to frown at—with the former’s massive kit work and the latter’s ball-busting riffs—they are, while minimal, the only faults I can find with the albums smooth fluidity. But those aren’t even real problems. Hell, even the compression from eight-minute epics to a two-in-a-half minute instrumental closer doesn’t stall Champ du Sang. Together, each track adds its own subtle diversity to round out this horrifying hour-long trek.
Though having richer dynamics and a living drummer3 could add more texture to their sound, the compression doesn’t bother me and the crisp perfection of the drums makes Vous Autres‘ form of artwork even more beautiful and powerful.4 Does Champ du Sang make me giddy and happy? Hell no.5 But their passion and honesty are real and my dark friend hasn’t felt this good in a long time.
- And, boy, aren’t you tired of hearing about it. ↩
- Though the drums are most likely fake. ↩
- Not saying the drums are fake but I can’t find any credits for them. ↩
- Which’ll make me feel like shit if an actual human being sat behind this kit. ↩
- Fuck, that depressing artwork is enough to kill me. ↩
- Technically, the album has been out since March 1st on the band’s Bandcamp page, but Sleeping Records (as well as Sludgelord Records) picked it up and released it today. ↩