It has been a fair while coming but French metallers Blinding Sparks recently unleashed their debut album, Brutal Awakening, and it is a jewel of a proposition; a flawed one maybe but a real treasure nonetheless.
Sarreguemines hailing Blinding Sparks came together in 2009, producing a clutch of demos before unveiling the Renaissance insipide EP in 2014 or 15; as with other moments in their early days, the date seemingly varying. Nevertheless, its post rock adventure lured strong attention and provided a spring board from which Blinding Sparks really took off in sound, reputation, and presence. As Brutal Awakening swiftly shows, the band’s sound has evolved into a rapacious alternative metal fuelled proposition but one embracing an array of flavours with an imagination which is as unpredictable as the album’s character.
Brutal Awakening opens up with Don’t Need A Name, a track instantly prowling the senses as keys shimmer. The muscular rhythms of drummer Nicolas Kieffer and the imposing snarl of the four strings cast by bassist/guitarist Claude Hilpert are as predacious as they are infectious, vocalist Jeremy Conrad joining their trespass with his gravelly tones, again part threat part invitation. The song mellows a touch before returning to its invasive temptation, the song, featuring French singer/actor Laurent Bàn, revealing mercurial enterprise twist by turn.
It is an adventure which fuels the whole of the album, next up Arch springing a web of grooves and vocal irritability across rhythmic predation. As Conrad’s vocals match his and Hilpert’s guitar in contrasting fierce and melodic textures with clean prowess, Johanna Flauder adds her warm tones, she impresses immediately and within every track shows she is much more of a presence and important hue than simply a backing singer. Vocals return to their raw state as the cycle begins again, nurturing thoughts that though Conrad is potent with each, personal tastes hope his ventures into his far stronger cleaner delivery are more concentrated ahead, a thought the album continues to nurture.
The punk infested My Dog Will Piss On You follows, its metal ferocity rabid and addictive with its death, alternative, and groove metal collusion matched in nature by the varying and richly enjoyable vocals, singular and united. The track is superb, a glorious nagging on the senses arousing attitude and spirit with every raucous exploit before Deathbeds calms things with its melodic, slight Latin spiced croon. Anthemic beats and melancholic strings respectively drive and wrap the song’s emotive stroll, Conrad and Flauder vocally magnetic as Hilpert and Kieffer lay down their own virulent bait. Both tracks are magnificent, instinctive bait to ears and quickly matched by the catchy seduction of A Trois, a song which arouses involvement like a puppeteer.
Not for the first time within Brutal Awakening, ears are reminded of Russian band Biting Elbows, this time by the melodically fired In Front Of My Mirrors. Its caustic touch and acidic melodies are perfectly tempered and complemented by the searing tendrils of guitar and invasive beats, the song tantalising at every turn with a quality more than exploited by the tenacious and increasingly volatile This Useless Fate straight after for another particularly stirring moment within the album.
The cantankerous often choleric For An Eternal Rest as good as bullies ears into submission next, its thoroughly enjoyably trespass escalated within successor I Fuck It, a track in breath and attitude more than living up to its declaration. Each leaves real greed for more, both with great vocal contrasts and the latter with its ravenous grooves and evolving maniacal drama.
That earlier mentioned diversity in the band’s sound is relentlessly in full charge but each track has a character unique to Blinding Sparks; the dark hearted, noir lit psychosis of A Tough Road For The Heart emphasizing the point. It might not quite match up to the heights of other tracks within the album but has to be the most compelling and fascinating moment within Brutal Awakenings, its nightmare simply beguiling.
Make You Happy sees Bàn guesting once more, the song another which is so easy to fall into if without inciting the lust others may have teased while the mighty assault of The Straight Line welcomes the voraciously scarring throat ripping tones of Océane Thomas. The track steals the show, Thomas and Conrad instinctively dynamic together; add the more composed yet as potent presence of Flauder and the rabid sounds of the trio and you have aural manna for certainly these ears.
The album closes with the brief serenade of The Last Song, a melodic seducing to drool over as band and release leaves as captivatingly as they entered. Brutal Awakening is a masterpiece, as suggested one with aspects which are not so much issues as potential to be realised, but simply one of the most enjoyable assaults heard in a long delivered in a roar living up to its title.
Brutal Awakening is out now.
Pete RingMaster 23/01/2018
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