Ophe – Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude

Ophe is the solo project of Bargnatt XIX, guitarist/vocalist with French outfit Område. His main band is a proposition which entangles an array of styles and experimentation into avant-garde soundscapes and has grabbed our imaginations since the release of their 2015 album Edari and even more so with its startling successor Nåde two years later. So you can imagine we were only too pleased to take a look at Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude, the debut Ophe album when Bargnatt (Christophe Denhez of Nerv, Mur, and In The Guise Of Men) got in touch. Despite having embraced the ambience hued climates of post rock, industrial, electronica, and avant-garde metal merged by Område though, ears were not prepared for Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude.

Certainly living up to its tag of experimental avant-garde black metal, Ophe’s sound is much more expansive than that. It is a ravenous maze of sound and adventure set in a tempest of emotion and atmospheric dissonance. Whether it is something you can say you physically enjoy is still up for debate but as one fiercely captivating and relentlessly tempting challenge it is inescapable.

From opener Somnum Sempiternum the senses are taken on a turbulent sonic flight; a buffeting of winds around perpetual rallies of rhythmic antipathy the initial engagement. Bargnatt’s vocal currents are just as harsh within the intensive but controlled cyclone, rasping breath on sonic causticity and melody flirting with discord and dissonance. As invasive and toxic as it is an infectious hue merges within the emotional and aural trespass adding to the imagination sparking incitement that has already brewed. The track continues to grate and tempt across it’s almost nine minutes, never giving enough to mercilessly seduce but never coming close to leaving ears searching for alternative calms. Though a one man project, the album features the sax borne craft of Val Dorr; it too an almost schizophrenic, to use the press release’s description, protagonist in the midst of the blackened ambient storm.

Decem Vicibus is a calmer but no less dark investigation. Its tenebrific air wraps around mellow bordering on whispered vocals whilst alongside a hellacious scene unfurls hue by hue, cry by cry until the listener feels like they are trapped experiencing the visceral drama of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. The solemn chimes of church bells only add to the track’s deceitful incantation before XVIIII provides its own individual portentous peace complete with sax squeaks but only leading to a rabid smog of emotional disharmony clad in a web of musical unpredictability.

Whereas its air is thick almost acrid, the following Missive Amphibologique D’Une Adynamie A La Solitude has a clearer atmosphere but one just as sinister as guitars, bass, and sax host a dance of emotive dissidence. The best track within the album, it is a weave of rhythmic temptation and melodic seduction but each a welcoming vice flush with the animus of torment the vocals openly share. The track is superb, the moment the imagination ignited feverishly and even with an arguably over long presence enthrals from start to finish.

The album closes with Cadent, an elegant melody woven piece with clean vocals and harmonic reflections. All the while though, darkness lurks providing a threatening undercurrent which does not have its day but adds dark intensity to the beauty.

It is a fine end to an album which might have to fight to be called actually enjoyable yet we did indeed enjoy every moment of its tempest filled bitter atmosphere if some moments more lustily than others. For something to turn your calm, emotions, and thoughts into captivated turmoil Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude is a certain quest to explore.

Litteras Ad Tristia Maestrum Solitude is out now via My Kingdom Music; available @ https://ophe.bandcamp.com/


Pete RingMaster 28/03/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright


2015 saw the release of an album which deserved far more attention than it got and warranted every syllable of praise offered its “visual and aural telescope.” Edari was the invention of French duo OMRÅDE who now return with its equally startling successor Nåde. That first full-length made ears and imagination pay attention, the second simply demands it and repays with what will surely be classed as one of the major adventures of the year.

OMRÅDE consists of vocalist/guitarist Bargnatt Xix, known elsewhere as Christophe Denhez of Nerv and previously Mur and In The Guise Of Men, and drummer/keyboardist/programmer Arsenic, christened Jean-Philippe Ouamer and the skin hitter of Idensity and formerly of Nerv. Together they weave a collection of avant-garde soundscapes nurtured from everything around the ambience hued climates of post rock, industrial, electronica, and avant-garde metal, and that is simplifying their fascinating explorations of sound and emotion. It is a mix which created a compelling proposal in the cinematic adventure of Edari and now the even more aurally haunting and stirring Nåde.

Whereas the first album felt like looking across a broad canvas of universes there is much stronger intimacy fuelling Nåde, like ears and thoughts are peering in on the tempestuous fortunes and emotions of a single soul representing the surroundings and lives within a noir lit and suffocating climate. That is not to say it does not venture through worldly landscapes too, just they all feel cored by the same instinctive melancholy and depressive clad spirit. Influences upon the project include the likes of Ulver, Manes, and God Is An Astronaut, essences certainly seeping across the new album along with an equal infusion of Nine Inch Nails/Palms scented shadows and suggestiveness.

Nåde opens up with Malum and swiftly has electronic beats and guitar coaxing ears as Denhez’ vocals share the song’s heart and beleaguered emotions. Pretty much haunting thoughts and psyche from its first breath, its inner psychosis is just as swift in stirring the imagination as vocals hint at a soul trapped yet seemingly revelling in the inevitability of inescapable turmoil. Strings and brass soon after bring their seductive shadows and flames respectively to the blossoming atmosphere and body of the song, a cinematic wash in tow yet that personal dispute continues to voice things. It is a stunning piece of music and vocal insight, instantly surpassing anything on that impressive first album and just the start of a uniquely stirring journey.

The following XII has a gentler touch, its hazy atmosphere jazzy and sombre yet with a warm glow which only attracts like a night’s final brandy. Keys tease as Leo Sors’ guesting sax woozily blows with suggestive prowess, each flame embracing reflective vocals and in turn a hotly simmering funk shuffle. With Bernard-Yves Querel adding his guitar, the track at times is something akin to 6:33 certainly with the emerging depths and mercurial intensity of the track; ears and imagination enthralled and sucked into its unpredictable enterprise and dark instrumental theatre. Whereas the first was physically provocative, the second is emotionally inciting with just as rich results before the outstanding Enter beckons the listener into its melodically woven, progressively shaped, and increasingly virulent proposal. With a snarling brooding within the guitars and an unstoppable catchiness lining its brewing rapacity, the song is a lively cauldron of infectiousness and trespassing anxiety, each conflicting with and accentuating the other.

Hänelle is pure heart ruptured melancholy, another track which builds in intensity and intimate drama on every level from an initial smoulder nurtured as much by Jonathan Maronnier ‘s clarinet as emotional shadows while Styrking Leið is a haunted croon; a siren like lure of vocals and keys and if slower to tempt as its predecessors simply growing into another lingering highlight especially with its increasing visual potency and emotional desperation. The song sees Edgard Chevallier guesting on guitar while next up The Same For The Worst features additional vocals from L. Chuck D in its jazzy intoxication with Julien Gebenholtz’s bass a captivating pleasure all on its own. Becoming more fevered and intense with emotion as sounds share a volatile almost bedlamic restlessness, the track has ears and thoughts gripped. Certainly it is not the easiest listen within Nåde but boy is it one of the most rewarding and impacting.

The final pair of tracks ensure captivation and pleasure is as burning as ever. Baldar Jainko is as similarly intensive as the previous track, its heart and scenery a sharing and conflict of peace and faith with emotions and suggestiveness working on personal and worldly levels. Closing track, Falaich, is almost apocalyptic in tone and touch; an epilogue or portent of our emotional and physical destructions and apathy to it which is seriously gripping from start to finish and only increasing the vice as it provokes the darkest thoughts and richest enjoyment.

It is easy to suggest that if Edari impressed and impacted on you previously, Nåde will blow you away and for newcomers to OMRÅDE, the moment when music might just become much more than ear pleasing.

Nåde  is released May 26th via My Kingdom Music.

https://www.facebook.com/Omradetheband    http://omradetheband.wix.com/omrade

Pete RingMaster 26/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

In The Guise Of Men – Ink EP


The Ink EP from French metallers In The Guise Of Men is a release which makes a totally convincing and thrilling first encounter that only increases over numerous more plays but all the while it is playing an insidious little game where before you know it the six track feast of sound has evolved from a very welcome guest to a rabid addiction. It is an instant mouth-watering encounter which emerges as a necessity in the soundtrack of the day and passions, and though maybe you can debate its originality at times, the EP is a rousing provocateur which not only satisfies every want but feeds a hunger you did not even realise was lying in wait for a release like this.

In The Guise Of Men first set upon French stages in 2003 and reinforced their emerging presence with a five track debut EP two years later. Sculpting a sound which draws on a flood of metal and heavy rock flavours, the band has not exactly kept their homeland’s music scene busy the years but certainly had it attentive to their presence when they did hit the stage, events which has seen them alongside bands such as Crossing The Rubicon, Aside From A Day, and Anorak, and with a more intensive attack of dates this year. A change of line-up in 2012 was followed by the band entering the studio for their second release and a mighty encounter it proves to be. Recorded with Cyd Chassagne (Magoa), Ink hits hard and with imaginative antagonism, constantly treating the ears and passions to a persistently shifting and adventurous fire of at times recognisable but wholly inventive sounds. It has a presence which merges essences of the likes of Faith No More, Karnivool, Drowning Pool, Downer, and Meshuggah as examples just to simplify things, and leaves a raging appetite for the impacting mix.

Opener Suicide Shop leaps at the ears from its first breath, djent spiked riffs a jagged nag on the senses whilst a dark grouchy 1457645_591172264290068_393570665_nbass growl immediately lights up thoughts. With equally energetic and agitated rhythms behind the excellent flowing melodically cast vocals, though they come with plenty of snarl and growl at times too, the track is an engagingly rapacious introduction. It has a twisting intent to its intensity and drive, a continually hungry want to turn on its invention and the listener to tease and stretch their imagination. It is a dramatic and striking start which soon ignites an appetite for the release, a swiftly emerging greed which is soon wholesomely and resourcefully fed by the following track.

Violent Overthrow again has no need or wish to slowly coax in the listener to its persuasion, riffs and rhythms forcibly shaking up the senses with their predacious craft and energy whilst the guitars equally cast an inspiring and riveting web of sonic and melodic enterprise which scorches the air and expands the tempestuous sonic narrative at work. With a staccato gnawing of the ears and a heavy weight intimidation provided by bass and drums, the track is a glorious storm which steered by the continuing to impress vocals takes the passions to another level with ease which its successor Drowner reinforces with its excellent nu-metal and almost at times industrially honed adventure parading another expanse of structures and corrosive riffery to devour with the ardour of a hungry pack of wild beasts. There is very little if anything to take issue with the release over as this song in particular proves; its light and dark dangers all given clarity to express the individual skills of the band’s members whilst their coming together makes a seduction of the listener which is inventive and dramatically resourceful.

Both Sale Paradise with its glorious vocal and melodic croon which soars across the senses as evocative flames sear their edges, and the potently expressive Blue Lethe lead thoughts and emotions on a varied and exhaustive dive through gripping textures and predatory enterprise. Distinctly different in guise but like all the tracks bred from a linking passion and creative fire which leaves only hunger and rapture in their wake, the pair and especially the second of the two casts another incantation in the release’s spellbinding call on the passions.

The closing Dog to Man Transposition is a final triumph to complete an outstanding release. Running ears and senses ragged with another immense attack of lethal rhythms and flesh chewing riffing, not forgetting that wonderful persistently stalking bass sound, the song is a towering last confirmation of the greatness of EP and band, especially with its just as potent melodic tempting. It leaves In The Guise Of Men and the exceptional Ink EP a fire in the ears and alongside the other tracks an encounter which demands and eagerly receives a long term affair. Let us just hope it is not another seven years before their next creative rampage.




RingMaster 16/12/2013

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