“Vacuum” is the impressive debut from a new French band called Pensées Nocturnes. It is released one year ago by the French label Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions, but I only bought it a few days ago. Anyway, from the first listen it became clear that this work definitely deserves to be reviewed! The band was formed in 2008 by Vaerohn (also guitars on Valhôll), who is the only member since then. He recently released the band’s second album “Grotesque” again with the same label, a quite different album, which will be reviewed soon…
If I should try to describe their music with just a few words, Pensées Nocturnes is a band that mixes dark depressive black metal with melancholic classical music (mainly piano, not orchestra). Of course there are many bands that have tried that in the past, but Pensées Nocturnes do it in a very personal way, maybe the best I have ever listened to! The closest band that comes to my mind is their com-patriots Mystic Forest, but then again there are many differences between the two bands. There are six long songs in “Vacuum” that lasts for something more than an hour. The compositions are overflowing with many enchanting classical interludes (a few “authentic” classical pieces, as well as many pieces composed by Vaerohn), which are simply breathtaking. Most of these parts are piano based, but he also uses violins and other strings. I think he could be a great classic composer! These interludes are followed by melancholic sorrowful black metal of the same high quality.
The production and the arrangements are exactly how they should be. Neither too polished to ruin the atmosphere, nor too raw to flatten their compositions! They have a very rich sound, especially in the parts where the classical and acoustic instruments are blended with the guitars. Their black metal, even if quite extreme and raw, is based on melodic riffs and thanks to the excellent songwriting and “clever” production, the overall result is very balanced. There are also some parts with jazz piano improvisation by Jean Coumelongue (guest appearance) in the fourth song “Coups de Bleus”. Vaerohn’s vocals now are very expressive, full of despair, agony and suffocation and they sound most of the time like a hopeless black metal cry, fitting more than perfectly with the music’s atmosphere… It’s really hard for me to choose one song as the best, since all of them are masterpieces! The lyrics are all in French, so I can’t tell many things about them.
Anyway, “Vacuum” is a surprisingly good debut album coming out of nowhere! Despite the fact that this is the first album of the band, it sounds unexpectedly mature and well composed. Even if Pensées Nocturnes is an underground band (and I believe they will remain so), the production is very good for the genre and you can’t tell that this is a one man’s band; Vaerohn is a gifted and very talented musician. Fans of depressive and experimental black metal, or those who like the marriage of classical music and metal should definitely check this band.
Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos