Let’s chat about France some more. Talk about a country that’s become a hotbed of heavy music in recent years. Whether it’s chaotic and brutal or beautiful and sublime… or a mix of all of those things, our Gallic friends really have been on it and France has definitely become one of the most fertile and exciting breeding grounds for metal and hardcore. Not just in Europe but worldwide.
Enter Erlen Meyer, a four piece from Limoges with their self-titled album coming to us via Shels Music. Playing a heavily layered strain of violent sludge, this record is a bleak and harrowing listen from the get-go but it’s infected with flourishes of emotive catharsis that make bearing with it all the more rewarding.
If anything, the album is an endurance test though. Clocking in at 53 minutes, this is a little longer than their contemporaries’ records so there is certainly a lot at play here. Perhaps Erlen Meyer could have down with trimming off a track or two to keep this tight and concise but for the most part, this record is a joy.
With lyrics in French, and unless you’re a speaker of the language, the themes and concepts of the album remain shrouded in mystery, much like the dark, bleak and somewhat abstract artwork that adorns it. These lyrics are carried by vocals that are harrowing barks, piercing through a ghastly wall of sludge. It’s a sound genuinely poised for a violent but also mournful outburst, which is emblematic of the overall record and this atmosphere may very well be a representation of the loss of the band’s drummer Romain Djoudi, who passed away before recording time commenced.
While this is ferocious stuff overall, the album does not fear melody either in all it shapes and sizes. Sizzling beneath the surface of brutal sludging metal is a sense of lush melody that plucks a cue or two from Devil Sold His Soul or Black Sheep Wall, a notion that may have caught the attention of Shels Music, who are releasing the record. This melody at play goes back to the layers of this album. There’s so much to peel away each time and getting to its core is almost an impossible task but its MO is clear – create devastating sonic dirges. The record has also been produced by Cult of Luna’s Magnus Lindberg, which certainly explains the attention to detail in the studio job and the versatility on display.
The band’s ability to hop to and from shorter melees like first track proper ‘Nuit’ and extended elegies such as the 10 minute ‘Sans Fleur ni Couronne’ all serve as evidence of the band’s songwriting prowess. However, you can’t help but feel that the band is still a little restricted. This self-titled, as impressive as it is, feels merely like a gauntlet being thrown down and what Erlen Meyer do next is perhaps more important, where the bountiful potential of this album could be fully realised.
The album is released through Shels Music