Friday 14 February 2020

Angellore - Rien na devait mourir (2020)

Country: France
Style: Atmospheric Doom Metal
Rating: 9/10
Release Date: 14 Feb 2020
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Anyone who's spent more than five minutes listening to extreme metal knows that there are almost as many subgenres as there are bands. Angellore are a doom metal band, but they've attracted a few subgenres: atmospheric doom and romantic doom being just two. I'd suggest exquisite doom, because this third album for them is a beautifully constructed piece of art, achingly so.

Some albums prompt me to close my eyes so that I can be carried away by the music, some make me move like I'm being shaped by it and some carry so much energy that I need to find the nearest mosh pit and share it with the world. This album I want to put on a shelf and admire. I'm not even sure I want to tell anyone about it, because then it won't be mine any more. It feels very personal. My precious.

It's at once surprisingly accessible and ruthlessly non-commercial. Opening track A Romance of Thorns runs over twenty minutes on its own, taking us on an emotional journey from quiet sections, starring crisply clear vocals and polite instrumentation that sound like a pristine Alpine snowscape looks and feels, through atmospheric parts that feel rather like gothic mansions half lost behind swirling mist, all the way to frantic sections that are like an unloading of emotions in black metal style.

In short, there's a heck of a lot here, perhaps appropriately given that the album title translates to Nothing Should Die, which is elegantly simple but impeccably deep. It starts as a choral chant that adds a solo piano, moving to symphonic swirl and doomladen escalation. When it finds its first groove, it's a gothic one in the vein of Tristania (from a track by whom they found their name); Lucia's crystal vocals pairing with Rosarius's plaintive guitar to set a achingly beautiful mood. After all, while nothing should die, we're pretty sure someone or something just did.

There are so many vocalists at work here that it's easy to lose track. Lucia is surely the female voice, as Rosarius and Walran are both male, but these latter two are listed as both clean and harsh and I have no idea who is who. One of them is presumably the harsh voice that commands godlike from on high and one of them is surely the peaceful voice that sounds like it's singing poetry to a lover in a forest grove, but they could be the same person or a combination of the two either way around. I don't know.

I just know that both sound great and they're so wildly different from each other and from Lucia that they feel like characters in a play. This is great music to listen to but it's easy to wonder what it looks like. Add to them a pair of backing vocalists, because bassist Celin and drummer Ronnie provide their voices in here somewhere, and a choir, which is billed as the Funeral Choir. What's more, on top of the regular instruments, we hear oboe, cello, Celtic harp and flute. At least one of those musicians adds another voice, which may well be the distraught one or the whispering one or...

While Angellore are French, they sing in English, at least on this song, but I completely failed to get past how this sounds to what it actually says. I should add that the lyrics are acutely intelligible for the most part, only some of the more extreme sections harder to figure out. It's just that it's easy to get so caught up in the depth of these sonic pictures that it's hard to focus on the words that sit within them.

This is running long already and I'm sure you've got the point, so I'll just mention that Angellore are a combination of the gothic tastes of Rosarius and the folk leanings of Walran into a doom project. A Romance of Thorns is full of the gothic, while Dreams (Along the Trail) drifts more acutely into folk. Later songs continue to find their own individual balances between the two, adding death growls and black metal blitzkriegs as the songwriters see fit, styles duetting on Drowned Divine. There's even a potential single in Blood for Lavinia, a more straightforward gothic rock song.

The album, coming five years after its predecessor, La latinie des cendres, is also highly generous. There's over an hour of immersive music here, just in the regular version of the album, spread over a mere six songs. There are highlights everywhere, each song finding new textures. Arguably, they leave the most exquisitely mournful song until last, Que les lueurs se dispersent. A pair of bonus tracks on the double vinyl edition add almost twenty further minutes. This is a must if you're into both goth and doom and it's seriously recommended even if you're merely interested.

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