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Smohalla: Resilience

The debut full-length from French avant-garde black metal troupe Smohalla is an incredible work. The obligatory atmospheric intro 'Quasar' hangs in the ether, combining swirling electronic sounds with piano, drums, and haunting voices, a controlled yet stirring piece and provides the first of a myriad of intriguing moments that form Resilience. The ghostlike voices drift into the chords that open 'Au Sol Les Toges Vides', a track that blends countless disparate sounds into dramatic passages that flow through the remarkably complex structure. Ostensibly chaotic, it's as if the music is being blown on gentle breezes, seduced by the whims of the wind, the fluidity being both the result and the effect of Smohalla's incredible compositional skills. The opening riff of 'Le Repos du Lozard' has a jazz/prog element, the track being a little more straightforward than the previous track but no less effective, the occasional electronica and industrial influences in particular adding a further atypical sonic dimension to the track. Where the guitar work of 'Oracle Rouge' is magnificently disjointed and angular, 'Marche Silencieuse' slows the album down, returning to the near-tranquillity of the haunting and disorienting nature of the first track, the relative calmness making it all the more dream-like and disquieting. 'L'Homme et la Brume' upsets the serenity with a barrage of avant-garde black metal riffs and the grandeur of 70s prog with its spacey, near-cosmic rivers of torment, desire, and a host of emotions flooding in and out of each other. The waters are stilled by 'Aux Mille Dieux' with a subdued introduction that segues into what can only be described as the closest to an actual "song". The characteristic lofty and experimental nature of the album persists, but here the music has found a plateau, a fleeting stability within the realms of insanity from which to eye the tempest. The mid-paced tempo lingers for 'Nos Sages Divisent', an atmospheric piece of considerable weight and depth that closes the album with layer upon layer of cacophony, chaos, and an uneasy calm that closes the circle opened with 'Quasar'. Words fail.

Resilience is one of, if not the best avant-garde albums of 2011. To describe this as post-black metal would be a gross disservice as genre-tagging or categorisation would limit and diminish the music as a totalising experience that demands and deserves countless returns. Experienced diachronically and synchronically, Resilience has great depth and unending strata. Those as-yet-unfound nadirs and planes are there to be discovered at the behest of the listener, the subject who discovers itself within the experience. Art, true art is created with the death of the author, and Smohalla die a little more with every listen.

Track Listing:

  1. Quasar
  2. Au Sol Les Toges Vides
  3. Le Repos du Lozard
  4. Oracle Rouge
  5. Marche Silencieuse
  6. L'Homme et la Brume
  7. Aux Mille Dieux
  8. Nos Sages Divisent

Added: November 11th 2011
Reviewer: Jason Guest
Related Link: Smohalla's website
Hits: 2471
Language: english

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