Album Review: L'Homme Absurde - Belong
Reviewed by Robbie Maguire
There appears to be an exciting and vibrant strain of blackened creativity emanating from the fertile breeding grounds of Russia within the Post Black Metal scene of late. Quite why this particular country is enjoying such a rich vein of form is unknown. One thing that is certain is the originality, quality and beauty of many albums coming out of the Russian underground in the past year looks set to continue in 2020. Leading the charge are 'L'Homme Absurde' (The Absurd Man, in case you were wondering) who with their self released third album 'Belong', have produced a cleverly crafted and commanding album.
Opener '0' at first appears at strange choice to begin proceedings with its dark ambience and programmed drums. However, the calm-ish intro lures you in and proves a clever foil to the blackened metal which follows. With track two, 'Rot' the band nail their black metal influences to the mast and hoist it high. There is an instant catchiness to the pummelling driving rhythms and a hefty tone which is complimented by the harrowed, despairing vocals which sit comfortably in the back of the mix.
Post Black Metal is such a densely populated sub genre of extreme music where stagnation is very possible. Progression and development by not necessarily being over 'progressive', sees the more adventurous and creative bands avoid falling into the blackened mire. Lead single 'Belong' strongly continues the upwards momentum. Trademark blast beats and icy guitar bustle for position with strutting, djenty riffs. It has a sublime and infectious feel to it and for six mins, you are taken on a crash course in what makes extreme heavy music so good and why we all like it. Such is the strangely uplifting nature of the song you can even forgive the fade out at the end!
There is a simplicity to the songs but that is not to be disrespectful of the song writing or delivery and craftsmanship. If anything it is rare to find a band that can deliver an album that is interesting without the need to overcomplicate or overcrowd the songs. 'Post' Black metal bands can sometimes trip themselves up for relying too much on that emotional punch or creating a unique multi layered sound. 'L'Homme Absurde', intentionally or not have produced an album with the right amount of feel but not feeling too over sincere with the emotional side. 'Belong' can at times sit comfortably in the traditional Black metal camp, yet confidently also being at ease in the Post Metal world.
The album somewhat loses momentum briefly with 'Separation'. A strong song but maybe following 'Belong' was always a tough ask. Getting things back on track with its delicate Post rock sensibilities is 'Departure'. The fleeting warmth of the intro gives way to a punishing and almost hypnotic groove. The inclusion of clean singing stands out from the anguished screams and is an all too brief but welcome addition. The blackened deathlike energy continues with 'Burn' which with its varying tempos has a strong progressive feel at its core, as does 'Forsaken'. The tech infused djenty angular riffing also hinting at an interest in heavy musical styles not always that common in Black Metal. These riffs fade out and make way for album closer 'Sanctuary'. Again, a song with additional clean vocals which duel with the hellish shrieks. Bookending the album nicely is the return of the ambience and programmed drums as heard on track one '0'.
In this day and age where whole albums can be bypassed and the best songs 'cherry picked' by fans, for a band to produce an album that flows, works and feels like an album as opposed to merely a collection of songs is a great thing. Sure some of the songs are stronger than others, but there is a real depth to 'Belong'. It has its own identity and the punchy length of the album means it certainly doesn't hang around longer than it should. It genuinely feels as though you've experienced so much more in its short duration, again the simple, uncomplicated nature of the songs is the key to that. With 'Belong' 'L'Homme Absurde' haven't rewritten the rule book but then they don't have to and I am sure that's not their intention. What they have done is take a whole host of influences and combined them with their own unique style to create a very strong and commanding album. An album that continues the recent tradition of Russia being at the forefront of an exciting and creatively fruitful 'Post Black Metal' scene.
L'Homme Absurde release 'Belong' on 17th January.