Les Acteurs De I’Ombre Productions 2009
On the promo sheet for these French avant-garde black metallers they are described as “tortured.” I would say that description fits the music like a velvet glove. Pensees Nocturnes perfectly fuse contemplative and sorrowful black metal with classical instrumentation and vocals that are the epitome of agonizing moans of despair. On album opener Lune Malade we are led into a downward spiral into a pool of utter hopelessness as traditional black metal riffs meld themselves to sparse uses of acoustic guitar, beautiful synths, tremulous violins and bold yet stark horns. A somber acoustic guitar dances forlornly with violins, piano, and numerous other instruments at the beginning of Flore. Des-Espoir references Chopin’s Nocturne, Op 55, No. 1 as a source of inspiration. Not only is Vaccum creative but it is also musically varied as Coups de Bleus mines the inherent and soulful suffering of Blues music while alternating guitars and a muted piano drag the listener through a seedy underworld of internal searching and longing. Then to complete the contrast and mutual emotional impact cold black metal riffs consume the song’s middle passages. Hypnotic riffs form the core of the album’s closer, Repas De Corbeaux and bring to mind the mesmerizing fog of Xasthur and Velvet Cacoon. Acoustic guitar and string instruments work themselves into the song’s structure and serve as a teary respite from the metallic harshness. All these various instruments combined in each track might make it seem that there is too much going on within Pensees Nocturnes music however this is far from the case as they are slowly layered and usually fade quickly in and out of the track so the music is not dense. Also there is a unification of theme and mood with all the various instrumental combinations. Vacuum is adventurous and confident yet is a well of consuming emotional torment. Each note is designed to ellicit a feeling of sorrow and despair while ensuring that the listener feels utterly alone within their grief and at this Pensees Nocturnes succeeds. It is hard to fully put into words all the different angles and styles that are incorporated into this album so it must be felt on an emotional level. Vacuum is beautiful and painful and anyone looking to torture themselves with sadness will do well to wrap themselves deep within its folds.