La Fin De L’ère Sauvage, the first demo from French band Woest, is an ugly piece of music. The industrial black metal contained within the record is harsh, aggressive, and possessed of a nihilistic, corrosive atmosphere, as if playing it will somehow cause your speakers to decay. Steeped deeply in a ritualistic aura, this record is an uncomfortable experience, that revels in the dark shadows it conjures as it combines black metal mysticism with dystopian industrial sounds.
Given that La Fin De L’ère Sauvage draws upon the hypnotic and mesmerizing rather than the belligerent and overtly destructive, it brings to mind bands such as Beherit as much as it does any of the standard industrial black metal comparisons (Mysticum, Red Harvest, and so on). The sound is bass-heavy and largely mid-tempo, the songs moving with a post-apocalyptic stomp and damaging weight; yet there’s also melodies within the mix, adding an interesting (and important) counter-point to songs such as ‘Tout s’écroule’ – I especially like the almost post-punk bass melody to ‘Noir’. The inclusion of such melodic elements is vitally important – the core sound of Woest is so dark and ominous that, without them, the demo would risk becoming overbearingly oppressive.
With that said, it must be emphasised just how dark La Fin De L’ère Sauvage is. Much like early Swans, this is not music you are supposed to enjoy. Instead, the demo feels like a challenge to be overcome, with there being something cathartic in making it to the end of its 39 minute duration. This is not to imply that the demo is a bad one – as it’s not, by any stretch of the imagination – but rather, that is is filled with music that is intentionally challenging, communicating a bleak artistic vision. There is something primal being putting across here, something that Woest absolutely need to get out of their system for the sake of their own health.
La Fin De L’ère Sauvage may not be a demo I would turn to often, but I suspect that it is not meant to be. Instead, it is music for those darkest of times, for utter isolation and nihilism, when you want something negative and captivating to take you away. Judged against such criteria, it is an absolute success. It will be interesting to hear what the band make next, as Woest walk a fine balance between hypnotic black metal and industrial devastation, and if they could build upon this demo, then they could produce something very special – and dark – indeed.
La Fin De L’ère Sauvage is available via Bandcamp on digital, CD, and cassette.