Released: 2008, Sepulchral Productions
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Having rechristened themselves Gris after releasing 2006’s NEURASTHENIE under the band’s previous moniker, Niflheim, the bleak tandem of Icare and Neptune return to ravage the senses with IL ÉTAIT UNE FORÊT. Despite the name change, this is still grim, depressing stuff that crawls along at a mournful pace (the six tracks average nearly ten minutes each) and evokes all the harsh, atmospheric doom and gloom that NEURASTHENIE did.
While keeping true to its black metal minimalism, the title track is epic and grand. Icare’s pained shrieks are chilling and set the perfect tone for the music. “Veux-tu Danser?” follows a similar path with the vocals, as Icare weaves a truly visceral listening experience. Neptune’s buzzing guitar leads waver between slow, controlled melodies and savage chaos throughout. Easily the best track on the record, “Profonde Misanthropie” possesses such amazing atmospherics through the screeching vocals, plodding rhythms and intense guitar tone that the listener is faced with an uphill battle against being sucked into Gris’ desolate view on humanity. On the other hand, “La Dryade,” a ten-minute instrumental featuring violin, piano and flute is not metal at all but a brilliantly-played classical/folk piece. The song is classy, beautiful and a surprisingly effective finale to the abrasive sounds that preface it.
Gris is without a doubt one of the best black metal bands to have ever graced these ears. For fans of atmospheric, minimalist black metal with shades of folk, IL ÉTAIT UNE FORÊT will be album of the year. Simply brilliant from start to finish.
KILLER KUTS: “Il Etait une Forêt...,” “Veux-tu Danser?,” “Profonde Misanthropie”