Silhouette – Les Retranchement

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label: Antiq Records
Released: 2022
Buy Album: Bandcamp
Band Website: Facebook

 

Band line-up:

Guitars, composition: Achlys
Vocals, lyrics: Ondine, Yharnam (Glum urphonel) Bass: Grise
Rhythm guitars: Xes (Horror Within)
Drums: Zhand (Eternal Hunt)

Tracklisting:

1. Ascension
2. La Première Neige
3. Au Seuil de l’Oubli
4. Interlude
5. Les Retranchements
6. L’Etreinte de la Chute
7. Outro

 

 

 

Review:

Silhouette are a French black metal band on Antiq Records, who will be releasing their striking debut album ‘Les Retranchement’ on CD format, on 28th January, 2022. The group were conceived in 2019 as a one-man band, but it was later expanded to develop a synergy between clean female vocals and the more traditional BM screams. Their lyrics deal with subjects such as lost ones, fantomatic shapes from which only fragments remain. With their dramatic melodies and stormy instrumentation, the band creates a journey to the ghosts of the past. 

As the album starts off calm with clean(ish) guitars and soft female singing, the blast beats in the second track certainly came as a surprise. It’s not often I say that in a black metal review, in fact that may be a first. Sadly the novelty of such singing does wear off after a while, but the way the vocalist has a mellow and even full of life delivery over the mostly far heavier instrumentation does pull you in for a long time. In terms of mood I’m reminded of Lacuna Coil. Maybe Silhouette could have added more clean male singing like LC sometimes do, to fight off some of the predictability, but the music never gets truly boring. Sadly though, the male’s clean voice when it is rarely heard, isn’t particularly good and he sounds like a regular guy off the street. Arguably the songwriting isn’t up to LC levels for the most part, but Silhouette do create haunting atmospheres. It may be a bit OTT and sweet for some at times, but if you like bands such as HIM, these guys may be for you. 

As the music is so focused on the female singer, it seems the instrumentation has been relatively neglected. The distorted, BM guitars and such are far from bad, but are very typical and forgettable. You mostly get the standard tremolo picked ideas, and bleeding multi-string ostinatos. It’s maybe just a bit of a shame the way the chunky and slightly overdriven guitar stabs of the intro and the ending section of the outro aren’t expending upon more, as they too offer something at least newish to the genre. They kind of have the spacey sound of some of Tool’s work. Even cleaner guitars than that are used at other times occasionally, but they lack that intriguing crunch. Having said that, I guess you could overdo that stuff, too. It’s complicated, this reviewing stuff, no? The ending might be a bit anticlimactic for some, but I found it to be gentle in a way that is obviously unusual for the style, and very poignant. 

In conclusion, this album is a bit if a repetitive blur at times, but it certainly has something captivating about it for the most part. It could well be the most full of life black metal you’ll ever hear, it may even remind you of Enya, in a crazy way. For that reason alone, the music REALLY isn’t suggested for Mayhem fans, so is it recommended for pop lovers? Dear God, no. You would think the weird middle ground would sound somewhat freakish, but again, it’s pretty good stuff. Not exactly unique, bands such as The Gathering create similar tones if utilising slower tempos, but still Silhouette are far more intelligent than those people who are satisfied simply by blast beats, tuneless screeches and cliched everything. Give it a try! 

Review by Simon Wiedemann

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