Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Des torrents de coups
02. De tes yeux bleus perlés
03. Nonchalantes de beauté
04. Draguée tout au fond
05. (A)
06. Il a tant rêvé d'elles
07. Elle se répète froidement
08. Le coeur noir charbon

Having walked a singular path since 2005, CELESTE are long overdue some attention. Purveyors of a scabrous, cross-pollinated sound that hinges on the darkest of sludgy hardcore and the blistered-retina aggression of black metal, they have released five previous albums and earned a solid reputation as one of the European underground's most intense propositions. Pleasingly, the French band's big label debut does nothing to dilute the grim extremity of their music, with only their strongest and heaviest production to date denoting any kind of step towards accessibility. In truth, this is an ugly and uncompromising record, aimed squarely at the snarling nihilist in all of us.

Blackened hardcore can be reduced to cliché as easily as any subgenre, but CELESTE are resolute in their dedication to warping templates. "Des torrents de coups" lives up to its title: a flurry of blank-eyed violence and deeply grubby riffs, it thrums with the same berserk energy that makes CONVERGE so compelling. "De tes yeux bleus perlés" is equally formidable: a slow-motion tornado of muscular brutality, its title may suggest a love song, but there is zero compassion on offer in the midst of a thrillingly hateful avalanche. On a similar tip, "Draguée tout au fond" ("dredged all the way down") snaps seamlessly from ultra-aggro verses to what can only be described as a chorus, albeit fueled with choking quantities of vitriol and with a melody hewn from purest bile. Elsewhere, "Il a tant rêvé d'elles" wades into a bubbling lake of melancholy, via a crestfallen, post-metal wall of sound. A grand finale to savor, "Le coeur noir charbon" surfs in on a viscous wave of old-school death metal, before veering off on an eerie, frostbitten tangent, as atonal riffs cascade and peripheral ambience whispers wicked threats. The song's final, monolithic crescendo is magnificently heavy.

There is a tendency among the post-everything set to rely on prettiness and a sense of the epic to lure the punters in: not so here, because CELESTE make even their gentler interludes spit and hiss like a cornered cobra. The finest thing here by an inch or two, instrumental "(A)" begins with rolling clouds of fractured ambience before mutating into a lumbering, double-kick powered, atmospheric colossus. It's a weirdly affecting moment on an album that, for the most part, bulldozes over your hopes and dreams with evangelical zeal and brute force.

Author: Dom Lawson
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