Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions is this great, but relatively small French label, that released several (mainly French) acts, which circle around the more progressive, experimental black metal sounds. It’s always an anxiety and surprise what will we find on their releases. And you can always expect something uncommon and original. Which is a great trademark of Les Acteurs de l'Ombre, even if for me it can be a total miss (Pensées Nocturnes' "Nom d'une Pipe!") or a great listening experience (The Great Old Ones, Paramnesia). Recently they unleashed some new albums and I am proud to have a chance checking them all and writing some sentences on each of them. And I start with Deluge. It’s relatively new project, which was formed only in 2013, but already had a demo and now a debut full length album titled “Æther” is released. First, I was quite sceptic when seeing the artwork, which surely is not typical for (black) metal bands, but since I cannot read the French lyrics I will put the conceptual side of “Æther” aside and focus just on the music.
And I do admit that Deluge music is damn awesome. They’re not a typical black metal band. Well, I am not sure if they’re black metal at all, even if there are many influences from this style of music. As a whole, “Æther” is far from what we usually call “traditional black metal”. For sure though the so called post metal / post black metal and even post hard core are the foundation of this music, if only by the “post” term we mean the way of creating the mood and generally when we deal with these unique song structures that are so characteristic for this style of music. What I really like in it is how the guitars are setting up the feeling, as they often have this kind of hypnotizing mood that puts you into some sort of trance. And for me this music can even be instrumental for a long time, with vocals being something additional, as long as the atmosphere is there. And well, it definitely is in Deluge! The riffs, especially when played in slower pace, have this thunderous, heavy punching strength, with some clean guitar tones here and there to set a calmer atmosphere... which is always a classic “calm before the storm” thing, as soon Deluge erupts with another distorted and massacring riffage. I am actually surprised that Deluge has so many damn fast, blasting parts, as it’s not something so common for this genre, I suppose. And believe me, “Æther” is releasing the fury and anger and is more uncompromising than most of similar albums. This is also where that black metal side of the album prevails.
It’s a long album, close to one hour of music, but it never feels too much, since Deluge does everything to bring as much variation as possible, even if they don’t really go anywhere further than a mixture of the mentioned fast black metal and post metal / hardcore riffage with some clean guitar tones here and there. But they do it well enough. You can hear that already in “Avalanche”, which is the first song here, kicking off with some seriously massacring piece, which actually do have the strength and speed of avalanche, destroying everything on its way with no mercy. But later in this song they find time to calm down, to bring a quiet, sorrowful theme… and that ends again abruptly with another riff played with neckbreaking speed. That sounds great. And I am not even bothered with these vocals, which are more like a hard core scream than black metal shriek, since they just fit the music very well.
In “Appât” I like the blasts again, but also that sick melody in it and sort of epic touch added to some of the fragments. Then we have “Mélas | Khōlé” and “Naufrage” and they are again simply awesome songs, especially the latter, as it’s so damn heavy, so damn memorable also, just crushing you into the ground. I almost regret that the band speeds up in this song again, as it becomes kind of their own cliché and maybe this song should go a bit different direction. Anyway, it’s still damn awesome, I like it a lot for being heavy, but also for the melancholic, tranquil finish. And later “Klarträumer” brings attention, as it’s a long instrumental piece, so it reminds me Pelican or this sort of bands, with some blackish riffs breaking the calmness somewhere in the mid section. This song as well as “Hypoxie“ perfectly resumes the whole album.
And well, I can say that Deluge did fantastic job with “Æther”. I mean, this album doesn’t lack anything, it is superbly performed, the songwriting is great, song structures are interesting and more so, the production is simply powerful, so every riff and other instruments are heavy and neck breaking. Great, recommendable debut, so do not hesitate to grab a copy.
Standout tracks: “Klarträumer”, “Hypoxie“,“Naufrage”
Final rate: 80/100