Déluge’s Æther: The Toilet ov Hell Review
One of the many things that modern metal teaches us is that bending the lines between genres can produce some seriously excellent results. France’s Déluge proves this handily by combining the best of black metal and vitriolic post-hardcore on their debut full-length Æther.
Post-hardcore is a tough genre to define. Black metal, at least in 2015, is also a tough genre to define. The most obvious aspect of Déluge’s concoction is the raw and furious black metal signature in the instruments, while the vocal delivery contrasts with a harsh, barking hardcore style. I’ll admit that it took a song or two for me to be convinced, as I was ready for a raspy shriek or a forlorn howl. However, the almost pained screaming style fits the weight and drama built into the instrumental work precisely. The whole package is undeniably morose, building spacious chords and raw snarling on top of mournful tonalities that all work to complement the band’s name. Mental images of cascading water and flooding rain are abundant; the band drives this aspect home with frequent sound samples of rain throughout the album, acting as a unifying thread weaving through their material.
The floodgates of the album are immediately opened with the song “Avalanche,” establishing their furious approach to tonality and atmosphere. We immediately get the sense that this is not a riff-based band, reminding us of the genres Déluge is melding. The heavily trudging intro to “Naufrage” (French for “Shipwreck,” if my complete command of the French language Google Translate is to be trusted) is a standout moment of the first half of the album for me. The single-minded, unified weight of the thing is an excellent contrast to the tradeoff between atmosphere and blasting we’ve heard so far. The song later spaces out to just anguished screaming and a background guitar line, another memorable moment that I can’t necessarily tie into whatever I’m talking about right now, but it was really awesome and I enjoyed it.
“Houle,” the first single available before the September 19th release date, is the tour de force of the album. Furious blasting, bitterly somber chord progressions, and deft transitions make the nearly 7-minute run time go by in a blur. Déluge returns to a hypnotizing, sludgy approach for the outro, ending the song in a highly juxtaposed manner from the beginning. It transitions smoothly into the second half with “Klarträumer,” an instrumental work that you would be very wrong to skip. There are albums that I love with instrumental songs that I pass over every time, but the haunting beauty and brilliant pacing of this song are very much worth repeated listenings.
As a debut full-length, Æther is a bold statement from Déluge. There are times I would have liked to hear a little more variety, but I can clearly see this band growing and developing with future releases. I’ll count this as another win for the always-excellent Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions, an excellent black metal label out of France. Æther comes out Semptember 19th; physical copies can be ordered here and the digital copy can be purchased here. Check the band out on Facebook and tell them the Toilet sent you, they’ll probably have no idea what you’re talking about.