Pensees Nocturnes - Douce Fange
Les Acteurs de L'Ombre
9 songs (49:49)
Release year: 2022
Official Bandcamp, Les Acteurs de L'Ombre
Reviewed by Goat

Stepping back, thankfully, from the deranged clown world of 2019's Grand Guignol Orchestra, Pensées Nocturnes mainman Vaerohn has here refined his take on experimental post-black... metal? It's still barely recognisable as the same genre as even Deathspell Omega or Blut Aus Nord, countrymen who have pushed the genre boundaries in distinct and diverse directions. Comparatively, Pensées Nocturnes begin this, the seventh album from the project, with accordion and spoken (female, French) vocals on Viens tâter d'mon Carrousel, building into sung then screamed vocals, backed by a dense keyboard and drum battery. From the cover art you can see a reflection of depressive French declinism, a butcher and cock feasting and drinking with the ruins of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, and that's reflected in the music, which takes in everything from depressive black metal to French folk. Almost like a French version of Sigh, or a more Parisian - and not avowedly fascist - Peste Noire, the band (a one-man project led by Vaerohn with various guest musicians including Hell Militia's Saroth and Moonreich's Romain on guitar) weave together the various musical strands in a much more cohesive way than on the previous album.

And in a more fun way, too, Quel sale Borreau opening with a jazzy bass count-in and taking in everything from folk to funk with the guitar-and-saxophone-backed blackened racket, but managing to feel like an actual piece of music rather than a collection of wacky moments (not least thanks to something of a reinterpretation of Charles Mingus' Haitian Fight Song!). The dropping of the circus motif gives a little more room to move, and allows for the deranged likes of PN mais Costaud!, something of an intriguing diss track directed at the other PN who the band often get compared to (including in this review, of course; as both are alcoholic French folk-imbued blackened metal the comparison is obvious!).

Elsewhere, the formula allows for a carnival-esque chaos on Saignant et à Poings if not outright angst on La Tango de Vieuoniste and neoclassical references on Fin Défunt (Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5). You get the sense that there are plenty of other jazz and classical easter eggs hidden around for those musically literate enough to appreciate them; artistry hidden behind the drunken ranting. Which, again, is ultimately the problem when listening to this; Pensées Nocturnes don't make it as easy to listen to them as, say, Solefald do. There's far more general craziness and much less skilful use of hooks to ease the ears of the delicate metalhead, and it does take several listens to get a grip with, let alone become comfortable. Clearly well-played (the musicianship on La Semaine Sanglante alone is terrific, technical without being too showy) yet clearly eccentric; those who enjoy the wackier side of extreme metal will enjoy this a lot.

Killing Songs :
Quel sale Borreau, Le Tango de Vieuoniste, La Semaine Sanglante
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Pensees Nocturnes that we have reviewed:
Pensees Nocturnes - Grand Guignol Orchestra reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Pensees Nocturnes - Nom d'une Pipe! reviewed by Charles and quoted 83 / 100
Pensees Nocturnes - Grotesque reviewed by Charles and quoted 88 / 100
Pensees Nocturnes - Vacuum reviewed by Charles and quoted 84 / 100
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