Reviewed: May 2022
Released: 2022, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Kat Knite
In 2005, the people of Lyon, France watched the emergence of a brand-new dark art as it formed in the hardcore punk scene, taking the shape of a new sort of synthesis which combined the elements of black metal, sludge metal, and post-hardcore, with hints of doom and death. After meeting in high school, Guillaume Rieth (guitar), Antoine Royer (drums), and Antoine Kerbrat (bass), joined forces with vocalist Johan Girardeau, who also played in screamo band Mihai Edrisch with Rieth. On bass now is the multi-talented Girardeau, who took the reigns after Kerbrat left, with Sébastien Ducotté adding another layer to the refinment of the bands sound with a second guitar.
Refusing any other bands as influences for their unique voice, the group birthed their own prototype for the 17 year long journey to date and six-full length albums so far. The darkly ethereal and aptly named Celeste are still here in 2022, and they bring us a brand new vision via Nuclear Blast Records – Assassine(s). Distinct and dissonant guitar riffs, far away yet enveloping tones, and remarkable drum patterns that skillfully break through the dynamic give the record a really powerful drive that pulls the listener from within, accentuated by Girardeau‘s distress filled growls all the way through. Assassine(s) tells a sad tale bound to evoke a visceral reaction even out of those who cannot put a sentence together in French (such as myself).
‘Des torrents de coups’ has the element of noise without being overpowering, intriguing in a frightening way which goes beyond the sonic qualities and into the emotion of the music. Royer maintains a heavy groove on the drums and provides the solid basis necessary for the dissonance of the other instruments to shine rather than get lost – one could say the drums in this case are the silver platter upon which the melodies are delivered. A timely breakdown in the track gives a nice moment to breathe, before ‘De tes yeux bleus perlés’ carries the album forward in a dizzying flurry of chromatic fluctuations. By ‘Nonchalantes de beauté’ I am certain Royer‘s talent on the kit is what will truly be the takeaway for me by the end of Assassine(s), the way he plays so full of depth and resonance to match and take one step further the slow, sludgy, and satisfying feel of the song. At halfway through the record I find myself metaphorically submerged in water, peacefully drowning out the chaos of the outside world as I lay still at dusk in a bottomless bathtub dragged exponentially deeper down by ‘Draguée tout au fond’. Then, light as a feather, instrumental track ‘(A)’ returns me to ascension with its spacey, atmospheric intro, and as a soft and distant rhythm leaks in that atmosphere expands until I am adrift and wandering about an abyss bombarded by asteroids. Chaos pummels through in the vein of other tracks by the end, a stunning progression to the overall story with enough melody laced through to keep me reeled in. ‘Il a tant rêvé d’elles’ kicks it up a notch next – chunky, badass, and yet another track to revel in for the way each instrument is combined, followed in suit by ‘Elle se répète froidement’, which has a similarly robust texture and extraordinarily elegant shadow to its severity. Finally, ‘Le coeur noir charbon’ finishes in sweat, working its heart out in the most perfect and artful way to exhaust the world of Assassine(s), heightened by additional female vocals laid atop the track during the breakdown and echoed as if within a melancholic chamber of the mind.
Truly a beautiful work by Celeste, Assassine(s) is powerful, connected, incredibly introspective and a genuine exercise in cathartic pain. Get your copy HERE and fall away into this grayscale wonderland on a lonesome night.