Like a creatively rabid merger of Cancer Bats and At The Drive In with plenty more intrigue and varied explorations in tow, Sans Éclat the new album from French hardcore band Death Mercedes is a masterful provocation which simultaneously invigorates the imagination whilst despoiling the senses in a sonic rage. The ten track fury is a challenging incitement and at times an uneasy companion with malevolent intent but one constantly rewarding perseverance and determination with an exhausting and thrilling passion clad tempest.
Hailing from Paris and containing members from the likes of Amanda Woodward, Cowards, and L’Homme Puma, Ravi, Death Mercedes since forming in 2011 has ignited eager attention with their striking presence and sound, their music a boiling brew of crust, scream, punk with plenty more rich spicery. Their seven track debut Du soleil refroidi two years ago marked the card of a great many to the potential of the band; a promise which it is safe to say Sans Éclat takes to a whole other level to provide a probing fuse to much greater awareness of and acclaim upon the band you can only suspect such its power and craft. Recorded with producer Francis Caste (Kickback, Comity, Hangman’s Chair), the Throatruiner Records released album sculpts short but deeply potent landscapes of sonic antagonism and melodic seduction shaped into tracks which test but even more so powerfully evoke and feed the senses with captivating abrasive adventure.
The album immediately opens with one of its peaks in the striking shape of Leurs Choix Désarment. The bass of Adrien Cadot and drums of Loïc Salmon instantly intimidate the ear with bulging hard hitting rhythms, their touch a persistent punch on the senses. Alongside them the guitars create a sonic lashing which is raw and acidic but composed enough to accentuate the menace in the air as vocalist Julien Henri unveils his coarse squalls, initially part spoken here and constantly across the album a presence soaked in causticity. With the lyrical narrative presented only in French throughout Sans Éclat, it is left to the music to represent the sentiment and passion behind the words for us less learned folk, which it does with ease as guitarists Bruno Chaouch and Antoine Goubard create a canvas of provocative and emotive depth and colour to support the expressive delivery of Henri. It is a dramatic start to the release soon backed by the rest of the album.
Borgne Et Aussi Aveugle from its first note next bustles and bruises the air with rhythms and sonic invention ruining any peace. Merging imaginative melodic hues with voracious vitriolic squalls, the track creates an enthralling and threatening short expanse of irresistible enterprise, hardcore at its best veined by a melodically bred sonic incursion which steals the imagination. The mixture is another incessant constant across the album, the likes of the predatory Chien Infidèle with its senses burrowing groove and vocal storm brought by Henri and Chaouch, and the angst loaded L’Inconnue De La Seine employing both extremes in exhaustive and inventive brawls upon the ears and emotions whilst Encore Et Encore traverses a transfixing violent path with exciting melodic hues and evocative calms along its less than two minute investigation.
There are admittedly times where tracks hold a surface similar to each other which only full concentration can filter out the nuances as with Eternel Gagnant Du Sans Eclat, a track which as expected is superbly crafted and thrust through the ears but lacks something special or arguably different to other tracks to spark up senses and passions. Next up Du Soleil Vert On En A Tous Bouffé and its successor Ta Fin Du Monde have no such issue, both immersing into a richer melodic exploration without letting the depth of spite and attitude dip. The first of the two provides contagious bait from the lumbering yet swinging tones of the bass alongside a groove which seizes a full submission from its first call whilst the second song opens with a delicious melodic enticement punctuated by the ever thumping rhythms of Salmon and the mordant delivery of Henri. Its passage becomes a fire of intensity and intrusive passion the further into its heart it searches but all the time there is charming warmth which entices from inside the brewed torment.
From one highlight Death Mercedes provide another with the following Trop Tard, a gentle melodic and sonic croon in comparison to previous songs, courted by again drama clad drums. Brief but lingering it passes the album’s finale over to Cafard De Bar, a closing sonic tsunami of passion and intensity which scorches and scars every aspect of the listener.
With a suggested need for more vocal diversity and an even more distinct surface abrasion between some tracks, Sans Éclat is not quite the finished article but as full in promise as it is in thrilling imagination. Death Mercedes has produced a confrontation which marks them out as a band going to lofty places and in doing so has uncaged one of the hardcore treats of the year.
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