Celeste - Morte(s) Nee(s) (2010)
Celeste is a 4-member French black metal/doom act currently on Denovali records. They have released 1 EP and 3 full-lengths, of which Morte(s) Nee(s) is the latest.
One of the first things I noticed about Morte(s) Nee(s) was the vocal effort. The band's singer has a really unique sounding technique; its a blend of black metal and hardcore but the drive lies in a lower part of his voice so that it approaches a more punk oriented sound, and the tiny hint of a french accent add up to a genuinely interesting performance. They're also mixed well enough to where I can hear some of the french lyrics from the titles (although I don't speak french xD). Unfortunately, there is little more than tremolo-picked atonal and minor key melodies sparsely separated by death metal breakdowns as far as the rest of the act is concerned. The formula repeats on most of the tracks with little to no variation. There is some sense of build and release within each track but little to none over the album as a whole. An exception is the menacing doom track "(S)", which features some terrifying samples and a sludgy rhythm and sub-bass that provides a nice break from the blastbeats found within most of the rest of the album.It leads into a slight downshift in tempo and agro on the second half of the disc, culminating in a plodding, slow end on the last track, but it isn't enough to justify classifying it as a true doom album.
Its clear from the outset that Morte(s) Nee(s) aspires to a black metal production aesthetic. The focus here is on heaviness rather than brutality, so the guitar and bass overlap a great deal. The kick drum cuts through nicely but the rest of the kit does a similar wall-of-sound act with the bass and melodies. Even the vocals fade into the rest of the band on the decay, in true black metal style. Once again, however, the black metal elements are a catch-22; most of the time the meat of the guitars sound thin and distant and the highs blend with the cymbals to create sort of a "white-out" effect that might be just the ticket if you really, really love black metal (on an aesthetic level) but can get pretty annoying upon listening to the disc all the way through. Its different from a Swedish-basement borne black metal cut because it has a definite professional "sheen"; it sounds as if in mastering the standard technique of applying a little boost to the upper-upper range (14-20K) was used, and in my humble opinion, tasteful mastering shouldn't be a part of black metal lest we get results like this. In general the effect doesn't mask the melodies and rhythms, so everything is still hearable. On a more positive note, the vocals are always at home and sit perfectly well inside the dark roar of the rest of the band.
Morte(s) Nee(s) is an interesting specimen originality wise. The album is a combination of some really original elements (the vocal style, the "pro-black metal" production) and some questionably executed canonical ones. (mostly in composition). It passes the litmus test of "I haven't heard anything that sounds extremely similar" but the elements that give it originality can be somewhat niche based. I would recommend this disc to anyone who has a fondness for both black and doom metal (could you call it "blackened doom"? who cares.) as it does do transitions between elements of both rather seamlessly. I would avoid it if all you listen to is OG black or death stuff, of if you decidedly dislike the blacker forms of heavy music.
Production - 6
Composition - 7
Originality - 7.5