Sombres Forêts – La Mort du Soleil

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Review by Jason Guest

Sepulchral Productions

Dark and brooding, intricately complex, ornate and intensely atmospheric, album number three from Quebec’s Sombres Forêts, La Mort du Soleil is, like À L’âme Enflammée, L’äme Constellée from label-mates Gris (reviewed here), a stunning piece of work. This fifty three minute journey is as serene as it is staggering. While on the surface this may appear bleak and devoid of consolation, the multi-layered and elaborately arranged music that is contained within bestows upon the listener a curiously affirmative sense of solace. Though the ominous shadow of the all-consuming void and the truth that life, that existence itself is without direction, meaning, or the vaguest of purpose, when immersed in this album, there is a comfort in that very futility. It may not be pleasurable, but neither is it painful.

Opener ‘Des Épaves’ slowly stirs us from our slumber with a reverberating gentle acoustic passage complemented by an angelic and haunting chorus cast upon a tender breeze into the maze of treated sounds and backward guitar noise. With ‘Étrangleur de Soleil’ comes the storm, Annatur’s poetic lyrics shrouded in suffering and a poignant fragility and vulnerability sit at its eye. ‘Brumes’ is cast across an equally dynamic track, feeling as much a self-contained track as it does part of the greater whole, both nine-minute tracks sailing their way across the turbulent seascapes and through wave after insurmountable wave of trial and tribulation. Weathered and withered, like the acoustic guitar of ‘Des Épaves’, it’s the gentle piano that underpins ‘Au Flambeau’ that provides sustenance in its unending sorrow.

With the subtle and dream-like ‘L’éther’ shining a little brighter than the previous tracks, that faint glimmer of hope sits on the horizon’s dusk, slowly sinking into its cold coagulate. With ‘La Disparition’, the cacophony of Annatur’s nuanced orchestration is blended with the tribal and the meditative as the angelic vocals heard in the first part of the album make a pronounced emergence against the sombre and stormy skyline. With closer ‘Effondrement’ to complete the cycle, the tempestuous voyage comes to a close with a wash of backwards noise crashing down on to the tranquil shore of a simple, melodic piano that leaves us with as many unanswerable questions as we began with. Ethereal, ephemeral, and expansive, La Mort du Soleil is vast. Annatur’s musicianship as well as his compositional skill is outstanding. In crafting such a voluminous piece, Annatur pushes the black into the blissful as its parameters collapse and a realm of unending possibilities stands before us. Each track a masterpiece by itself, La Mort du Soleil is incredible. Highly recommended.

Sombres Forêts – La Mort du Soleil9 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Des Épaves
  2. Étrangleur de Soleil
  3. Brumes
  4. Au Flambeau
  5. L’éther
  6. La Disparition
  7. Effondrement