La Merde - La Vie en Noir
Purity Through Fire
Ambient Rock
12 songs ()
Release year: 2021
Reviewed by Alex

In their debut album La Vie en Noir Belgian duo La Merde (which means dejected or profound The Shit, based on your personal point of view) promised to combine folk, darkness and industrial electronics. Buoyed by this description I have approached La Vie en Noir with somewhat of a preconceived notion. I was expecting something along the lines of In Extremo with industrial explosive rhythms. Why? I don’t know, I probably shouldn’t be forming my opinions based on the apt descriptions the promos come in with. In fact, Voor ons Zielezaligheid, with its harmonica and something of a bagpipe sound and angsty grunts, did hold the tension, but the aforementioned explosion never materialized. Instead, with the acoustic strums (Le Miroir), detached clean vocals (Under a Black Sun) and percussion-less, otherwise set to the heartbeat rhythm, chants (Waar de Eerste Sterren Beven) La Vie en Noir took a decisive turn into the ambient folk rock direction. Marketplace minstrel feeling of Le Miroir is as close as La Merde comes to In Extremo, and this is a lot more along the lines of certain October Falls moments, German Nebelung or US Aerial Ruin.

At the same time, the second run through La Vie en Noir revealed an interesting tendency about La Merde I should have spotted sooner if I wasn’t that focused on what I expected to hear rather than what La Merde actually presented. Acoustic, strummed and piano driven pieces (Trompeter, title track) alternate with more medieval and threatening LITL, pregnant with anticipation Am Rande der Nacht, and almost evil to start with A Flower that Once Has Bloomed Fo. Dead Among the Dead slips into the swamp with its frogs croaking, and La Vie en Noir ends with a long and glacial He Gladde Mom der Dood, but this alternating dichotomy between archaic old and fleeting new, between totally ambient airy and cavernous darkness is the distinguishing feature of La Merde. Having re-read the promo sheet (now till the very end), the band combines their appreciation of nature with a feeling of impending apocalypse, and that made me understand La Vie en Noir better. I still wish somewhere in there the promised apocalypse actually lands, as many of these compositions are full of promise that something dramatic is about to happen yet it never does. There is an immense amount of build up in La Vie en Noir, but there is no zenith so to speak.

The album is vocalized very sparingly, but in multiple languages. There is French, German and Flemish. There some dispassionate spoken words here and there (Dead Among the Dead, German in Trompeter, French in the title track), recorded voice that startles in Trompeter, yet La Merde can’t stir it up with their voices either, and prefers to let their instruments do the talking. I still don’t quite understand where the industrial aspect is here, but the soft vs harsh contrast is achieved using piano and floating synth vs instruments more grounded (like French horn in LITL, for example).

Very surprising to see this on Purity through Fire, where black metal bands normally seethe, but the label promises to seek darkness in all forms, and they probably hear it in droves in La Vie en Noir.

Killing Songs :
Wading through Black Waves, Trompeter
Alex quoted 72 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Aug 10, 2021 3:52 pm
View and Post comments