Released: 2015, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
In spite of their moniker, after listening to the third full length from France's Necroblaspheme, it's hard to imagine that this is the same band who's first demo was titled “Foetal Sodomy” and debut album Introducing Pure Violence carried that garish sentiment forward. Granted that was more than a decade ago, but the metamorphosis this quintet have undergone is really quite astonishing.
Belleville is far, far removed from the gory old school trappings of the band's early days. Indeed, it's heady blend of post metal, death metal and black metal - with an ample splash of industrial/ambient effects - is a hell of a lot more inventive and intriguing than the crass theatrics of “Foetal Bondage Concept” or “Beyond Sodomification” - whatever the fuck that means. Don't think I really wanna know.
Belleville boasts the breadth and dynamism of Killing Joke, the crunch and heft of Gojira and the unconventional arrangements and scale of Deathspell Omega or Alcest, without necessarily sounding much like any one of them. The band alternate between desolate quiet, brooding grooves and blast-beat fury - with occasional fits of shrill or droning anthemics - often within the body of each song.
The music is constantly shifting shape, but the band maneuver with deliberate ease so it's rarely a jarring change, making for a natural ebb and flow that again flies in the face of death metal brute force. Granted there is plenty of punch to go with all the finesse, given frontman Yann's laryngitic yowl and big riffs and bracing black metal sprints from guitarists Lychar and Hugo throughout, it's just not the be all or end all.
The band began moving toward this with their second album Destination: Nulle Part – seven year ago! – and showed enough daring on their 2011 EP XXVI: The Deeper, The Better to cover Simon and Garfunkel's “The Sound of Silence.” Here, it all seems to have come together, making Belleville a challenging, dare I say, sophisticated effort that is certainly worth investigating, despite what trepidation the Necroblaspheme name or past might instill.