Review by Nokturnal_Wrath : Depressive black metal is a genre that is first and foremost concerned with creating a depressing mood through a somber, melancholic and often bleak sound although it is fair to say that some bands are better able to convey this. Where as a lot of bands fall foul to tired and old cliche there are still a few bands who are able to fully capture the essence of depression and imprint it firmly in the sonic framework of the music. Of course the way in which these purveyors of melancholy achieve this drastically differs between bands. Hypothermia and Life is Pain create their depressing atmosphere through an overall monotonous and harrowing sound that carries with it a deathly cold aura. Shroud of Distress incorporate certain elements of shoegazing into the sound in order to make it more melodious than the standard affair but still as, if not more depressing than other bands. Many different ways can be used to create the depressive feeling whether that's through an overall monotonous sound or an injection of a profound sense of melody. There is no one single way to achieve the desired effect and many bands often miss the mark and they end up looking desperate and pathetic. Grisâtre have done what very few others have achieved and that is to create the purest representation of the genres primary aesthetic.
No other band has captured perfectly the feelings of unforgiving loneliness and isolation that Grisâtre have presented here on Esthaetique. Esthaetique is an unbearably bleak and desolate album and has struck to the core of what the genre should be. Not a romanticism of depression and certainly not a glorification of self harm and/or suicide. But pure unforgiving loneliness, it is that simple. It seems like a lot of bands try to present depression as something to be over dramatized and romanticized, showing it as something to be praised. Grisatre show depression for what it is, an absence of positive emotions and the feelings of being drained and worn out. It carries with it the sole intent of making the listener feel worthless and alone, if more bands were able to perfectly convey the atmosphere as well as Grisatre then there is no doubt in my band the reputation of this sub genre would no doubt be improved.
The depressing sound is created through a droning wall of brutally distorted riffs and powerful tortured vocals that strike out from the depths of darkness inflicting as much pain on the listener. The riffs despite being repeated a lot never get boring because unlike some bands Grisâtre have the song writing skills to counter act it. There are times when Grisâtre's shoegazing side rears its head adding a lot to the atmosphere and ensuring it is kept interesting throughout. The clean guitar breaks are unimaginably depressing and the need arises. The keyboards also are a welcome touch, they're not cheesy and cliche desolate, thankfully they are kept sparse throughout, adding a lot to the atmosphere when with an irritating sound like a lot of other bands. Rather they sound very Burzum inspired, they sound very mournful and cold. Vocally Esthaetique is leagues in front of a lot of other bands, they are fairly subdued within the mix but are nonetheless very vicious and agonizing.
Everything on this album feels subterranean, as if it was recorded in some long lost forgotten underwater cave. The overall sound feels distant but at the same time invasive. I would liken the atmosphere on Esthaetique to being in the ocean, not a colorful ocean but a dark and deep ocean of murky waters. Within the ocean there's an unseen entity hidden in there, you can't see it but you can feel it. You can feel it reaching out to you pulling you slowly into the abyss and there's no way to escape from it. Once this album has you enthralled by its brutal atmosphere you will remain trapped within Grisatre's twisted view of the world.
Any fan of depressive black metal certainly needs to look into Esthaetique as it is the perfect embodiment of a genre that often falls foul to parody and cliche. The low production values may no doubt be a hindrance to most listeners but for those who are able to withstand it then Grisâtre is a name well worth checking into. Esthaetique is the bleak reminder that we are born alone into this world and we leave it the same, one of the few albums able to make me feel dead.
released March 21, 2012