French black metal demolishers Neige Morte get dangerously icy on weird new album ‘Bicephaale’

Neige MorteNot all music was designed with the intent to be instantly approachable for all listeners. It would be a pitifully boring world if every piece of music that came out was easily absorbed, processed, and filed away in the mind in an instant. Imagine if there were no records or bands that took time to understand and get behind. I’d want no part of that.

Luckily, the world is not that way, and thankfully we have bands such as French black metal aliens Neige Morte that exist to make us question what we understand music to be. They don’t follow easy formulas. Hell, they don’t follow formulas at all, unless you consider ones that blow up in the laboratory and poison all of those around. Pretty sure they’d grasp those ones pretty hard. This band needs time to set up in your head, and don’t be surprised if you’re a little off put by Neige Morte if this is your first experience with them. They’re not easy to get,and it might seem like their strange, cosmic, sprawling black metal is coming off the rails from time to time. Sometimes it feels like they’re feeling their way as they go. But they always have an idea of their purpose and a reckless intent that make their music so bloody good.

Neige Morte coverThe band has their second full-length “Bicephaale” ready for human consumption, and as you might have gathered from what’s been said so far, it’s a mind-altering slab of weirdness. The album title means having both male and female traits (also means “double-headed,” which makes some sense), and the record spits out dark, menacing, icy sounds that could freeze your blood cells and screw with your mind. The group is comprised of three hellish souls who go by mysterious initials, instead of their full names. On vocals is XT, whose work goes from violent and destructive to just deranged and psychologically off center. It can be scary at times. On guitars is SA and on drums is XT (formerly of Overmars), who combine to create a cacophony of horrors and blazing tyranny that is oppressive and shockingly impressive.

The record opens with the fittingly named “500 Jours de Haine” (meaning 500 days of hatred), that has guitars hanging in the air like a swarm of nasty hornets, and the whole thing rips open with wild, inhuman shrieks, sickeningly grinding guitars, and weird melodies that lurk underneath and disarm you. The song teases a halt, but the bubbling continues, with monstrous belched growls, ominous guitar work, and noise that pulls the track to its conclusion. “Death Shall Have No Domain” starts with echoed drums and grunted vocals that spill into mucky guitars that deliberately drag things through the mud. The song eventually spills into a strange composition that might make more conservative listeners shake their heads in confusion, drunken, sludgy playing, and eventually some destructive speed to change paces. The guitar work is even really jazzy at one point, with the soloing sounding like Steely Dan, which is impressive and pretty damn cool. “Eaters of Worlds” is up next and begins fast and bizarre, like they do so often, and the ferocious growling and razor-sharp soloing really let the track catch fire. The band’s experimentation really hits a high point in this song toward the end, which is both breath-taking and terrifying. You don’t quite know where these guys are going, as they seem to be reaching their way through the darkness, but it’s exhilarating.

“Eater of Soul” is treated both with explosive power and dissonance, bringing to mind Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, but the guitars then grow muddy and and begin ringing out in piercing noise. XT begins to speak, though it sounds as if his voice is coming to you backward, and from there the song kicks back into high gear with static-filled chugging and fury. “…Et Vacuité du Combat” (combat of emptiness) begins with swirling feedback, warbly music, and vocals that come out like madness and chokes, like blood is welling in the back of XT’s throat. He sounds like he needs medical attention, and maybe he did. The song seems as if it originated from suffering in a dark, damp basement somewhere, as the song is full of torture, drawn-out damage, and crazed shrieks. The cut is tricky and bizarre, lets some melody into the room, but gets ugly again before the whole thing signs off. Closer “Plenitude…” lurches ahead into the darkness, with clean guitars haunting and trickling over everything before it again returns to the more beastly side of Neige Morte, as they hulk and blast their way through this final track that lets them push off one last blast of sickness and horror and leave you with your head spinning.

Neige Morte are an abrasive, corrosive, divisive band that certainly won’t rub off on everyone the same way. And that’s a great thing, because they provide a mysterious, deadly element to black metal, a genre that could use more purely dangerous bands such as this one. “Bicephaale” is a sobering document that brings the mystery back to metal, and I’m sure the fact they’ll repulse as many as they attract will thrill these dark souls to their core.

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