It’s strange how much an album can grow on you after several listens; this was certainly the case with Erlen Meyer’s debut full length. This French quintet has constructed a dark, foreboding soundscape, drenched with loss. Days before this album’s recording, the band lost their drummer and friend Romain Djoudi to a motorcycle accident. Such a tragedy only cements this self-titled record as a personal and emotionally driven tribute. The results of which are very well honed and mastered.
Musically, Erlen Meyer bleeds out a post metal river filled with sombre melodies and a sludgy dissonance. This contrast twists and turns beautifully; take ‘Nuit’ for instance, it’s as if dwindling life signs are fading into a metallic blackened chasm. The band has that ability to lay out the atmosphere and put you under an uncomfortable ease that is chilling and eerie. There are small moments as well that keep your eyes fixed on the unseen notes and imagery. The rolling drums that dominate the landscape following the slow build up on ‘Sans Fleur ni Couronne’ takes one off guard, whilst ‘Temple du Cri’ lumps out with a tapping bassline halfway through. A thrilling highlight is the voiceless reflective interlude entitled ‘Les Caprices de Remington’ featuring a dripping atmosphere and deepening piano tone.
In regards to the vocals, it took this reviewer quite some time to get acquainted with them. The screams are satisfyingly throat shredding sure, but on first listen it sounds patchy at times. However, over multiple listens, you find that it works. As a vocalist Olivier Lacroix is spine tingling, not just in his screams, but also when he switches to an almost spoken word tone that keeps you listening and nodding.
I can full heartedly say that overall Erlen Meyer have released a solid debut full length. The French post metallers know how to utilise a knife to tease the tension sparingly. Sombre trudging melodies, sludge influenced metal backdrops, and eerie versatile vocal tones provide just under an hour’s worth of daring and chilling soundscapes.
‘Erlen Meyer’ by Erlen Meyer is available now on shelsmusic.
Words by Aaron Lohan (@ooran_loohan)