Published Apr 08, 2014While Norway is unquestionably the spiritual birthplace of black metal, the strangest, most challenging and often most sublime specimens of the genre have recently been emerging from the dark forests of France. Groups like Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord push the limits of the genre, plumbing the depths of the bleak, the conceptual, the atonal and the complex. Neige Morte clearly intend to engage with the same aesthetic range on their sophomore effort, Bicephaale, but lack the conceptual ability and technical skill to take them as far as their vision can reach.
They succeed at creating an alien atmosphere by employing a vaguely industrial tone, and the improvisational, unpredictable style of the compositions also effectively keep the listener at arm's length. The problem becomes that there is nothing to counterbalance this alienation, no access point or profound engagement, even in the form of fear or discomfort. "Death Shall Have No Communion," for example, makes use of unusual tones and surprisingly eloquent dissonance, but is bogged down with gummy tones and musical wandering that eventually seems aimless.
A lack of execution hampers Bicephaale, and is made all the more frustrating for the moments of success, when you catch a glimpse of the vision Neige Morte were aiming for. (Consouling Sounds)