"Letting Go...": A review of Putamen Insula's "Condoléances"
Dear readers of my blog,
Here comes a detailed review of the third and maybe final studio record of one of the most unique experimental depressive black metal band I've ever heard: Putamen Insula. Enjoy and support the trio on Bandcamp, follow them on Facebook or catch them up during one of their rare live shows in Montreal on May 15th 2015 (@ Poisson Noir) or between July 30th and August 2nd (Rrröööaaarrr Festival @ Casa del Popolo, Katacombes, La Vitrol & Sala Rossa).
"Condoléances" is the third studio record by experimental black metal band Putamen Insula from Montreal that recently announced that this release marks the end of an era or even of the formation in general. On these final six tracks, the band moves further away from its crust punk influences and even from depressive black metal as it is traditionally known. These three eccentric weirdos underline their unique reputation in the scene by breaking completely free as they create something which is incredibly tough to categorize. They may even invent something completely new in the extreme metal genre.
The charismatic desperate, throaty growls and shrieks are the only remnants of the band's first releases but the album also features occasional occult clean vocal passages. The guitar sound is surprisingly clean and harmonious but not in a catchy or joyous way but in a hypnotizing and longing tone. Occasional doom metal or even distorted drone influences can still be found but all tracks are dominated by mid-tempo passages that could rather be described as depressive rock music. Some melodies even remind me of bands like Katatonia to give you an idea. The guitar tones and vocals are incredibly haunting while the rhythm section is less present but varies still between downing, elegiac and stolid passages and a few rare up-tempo parts that sound monotonous, plodding and slumberous. This is not due to a lack of technical capacities but adds in fact much to the intended depressive atmosphere.
I must point out the opening tune and my favourite track on this release called "Vers les ténèbres" which is a song with a lot of soul. The elegiac and melancholic guitar melody is so intense that it sends shivers down my spine and carries the song alone. The simplistic yet efficient melody simply won't let you go. Some depressive and dull up-tempo breaks add some more depth between the different melodic verses. The vocals are absolutely incredible as they really sound as if they came from a tormented mind which is crying out its malaise in unchained despair. The entire tune is a haunting striptease of a deranged soul and probably one of the very best attempts at creating a soundtrack for emotional negativity.
All elements perfectly complement each other and harmonize better than ever before. Lyrics and vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar as well as drums and percussion create a coherent, emotional and haunting negative atmosphere. This album might have less outstanding tracks than the two predecessors but it works even better as a whole. This is the kind of record to listen to in one shot as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. "Condoléances" is probably Putamen Insula's least accessible and diversified release. It definitely requests more attention than the previous outputs. After all, it's though the band's most intellectual, profound and structured record. It sounds different from everything the band has done before but it still includes the bleak feeling of pure despair that characterizes the band's entire discography. In the end, a final rating wouldn't be anything more than a blurry idea for such a special album and that's why I didn't chose any. Personally, I might prefer the diversity of the previous release which was close to perfection in its own style but I think I do understand this record here as something different that goes beyond the limits of the previous outputs and the genre as a whole. You simply should try it out on your own and open up your mind if you dare.
It would be an irreparable loss for the great black metal scene of the province if the band really decides to call it quits this year but in terms of quality, this courageously genre-breaking and at the same time progressively genre-defining record would be a conciliatory farewell and an eternal milestone of a unique kind of music created by these isolated, misunderstood and overlooked artists. Artistically, this is probably already the most relevant extreme metal release of the year, so make sure to get your hands on this rare masterpiece and show this underground trio some well-deserved appreciation.
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