Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Canadian Black Metal Double Post- Skagos & Gris

'Ást & Il était une forêt'
Skagos & Gris
2009 & 2007

Review by Elek Malcolm-Madill

Genre/s: Depressive Suicidal Black Metal, Atmospheric Black Metal
For Fans Of: Iyov, Xasthur, Drudkh, Wolves in the Throne Room, Austere

After a bit of a leave of absence because of my exams I'm back and should be posting again pretty regularly, and since it was just Victoria day weekend here in Canada I figured it might be appropriate to post some good ol' Canadian black metal. Coming from almost opposite ends of the country, Skagos and Gris which I'll be taking a look at individually here, are some of the best metal bands that Canada has produced in my own opinion. When I first heard the opening track to Ást I was immediately stricken by how well Skagos is reflective of their home, Vancouver Island, as it's filled with massive and and ancient trees straight out of a fantasy novel cover which Skagos' sound emulates extremely well with their use of slow, ambient drone mixed with a touch of feedback that uneasily leads into the rest of the album- masterfully transitioning through anti-melodic strings, blast beats, and screeching black metal vocals, beautiful choir-like chants, and medieval feeling acoustic pieces. Much like Skagos, Gris is also a great example of music becoming reflective of the surroundings of the musicians involved. Their name alone, "Gris", meaning "grey" in French, pretty much gives you a solid idea of what you're in for musically speaking, which understandably goes along with where they're from: Montreal. I don't know about Montreal in particular, but if its anything like it is where I live in Ottawa (about two hours away) then it's long, beyond cold, and absolutely dead- which is exactly how Il était une forêt sounds. Gris is pretty much the musical equivalent of standing naked in the middle of nowhere during a snowstorm, using insanely heavy pieces where the guitars, bass, and drums work in complete harmony with one another, none standing out more than the other as they drag you through the aforementioned snowstorm whether you like it or not. This is mirrored however the albums use of classical instruments such as cellos, violins, and even piano which work extremely well to bring an end to the album on it's final track "La dryad"- not completely breaking away from the black metal aspect of the rest of album but still bringing you back into reality a bit from the abyss of ear-splitting, melancholy that you've been sitting through- either Ást & Il était une forêt are milestones in black metal and well worth your time.

TRACKLISTING:

Ást - Skagos

1. Colossal Spell
2. The Drums Pound Every Night in a Glorious Celebration of Life
3. Blossoms Will Sprout From the Carcass
4. ...With a Warm Recollection
5. Caliginosity
6. A Night That Ends, As All Nights End, When the Sun Rises 

Il était une forêt - Gris

1. Il était une forêt...
2. Le gala des gens heureux
3. Cicatrice
4. Veux-tu danser?
5. Profonde misanthropie
6. La dryad


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