Label: The Flenser
There’s often a tendency for post-black metal bands to focus on the “post” part of the equation, with the more memorable sections of their music being the more expansive and, for want of a better word, “pretty” sections. This has been as true for Bosse-de-Nage in the past as it has for any other post-black metal band; but now, on Further Still, those moments are relative calm are all-but abandoned, with the songs instead being tight, controlled bursts of fury. If most other post-black metal pulls from post-rock, shoegaze, and Cascadian black metal, then Further Still is post-black via way of Battles in the North and the most furious of post-hardcore. It is vicious, unrelenting, and impossible to deny its power.
The first thing that stands out on Further Still is just how intense it is. That the album will be one filled with pain and emotionally bloodletting is immediate right from the start, with opener ‘The Trench’ going right for the throat with its anxiety-fuelled attack. Much of this is down to the drumming. The rhythm section has always been a highligh of Bosse-de-Nage records, and that’s as true here as it ever was. Frantic, restless beats are unleashed, full of accents and flourishes. Most impressively, despite how many notes seem to be forced in to each moment, the drums never come across as being needlessly expressive. This is no self-indulgent flailing, but instead a crucial part of Bosse-de-Nage’s sound, and it’s as impressive a performance as any they have previously put to tape – which is saying quite something. This should do for post-black metal what Ben Koller’s performance on Jane Doe did for hardcore, in terms of demonstrating just how drumming in their particular genres can be re-defined.
Of course, the drums are only one part of the equation, and though they do an impressive job of not only propelling the songs forward but also of expressing emotion, the other members of Bosse-de-Nage also put in a performance to match. The guitars are as graceful as they are furious, moving between delightful melodies and vicious riffs with grace and deft. This is perhaps best demonstrated by ‘Listless’, where they move from opening stabs of almost discordant chords to a more traditionally post-black metal melody in the blink of an eye. The sense of emotion they carry is incredible, at once graceful and all-destroying, filled with sorrow and wrath in equal measure, and practically never ceasing in their hyper-speed devastation. Likewise, the bass has a strong place in the mix, carrying the melody as often as it does providing an anchor to help ground the songs. The bass in particular provides a very strong post-hardcore feel, and lends further emotion to an album already heavy in it, most notably on ‘My Shroud’.
The vocals are key to this emotional feel of Further Still, though; shrieks are expected for post-black metal, but few albums of the genre have been graced with vocals as tortured and desperate as this. The weight of pain and hurt they carry is incredible, and they make the album an almost ceaseless hammering of cathartis and pain.
It can’t be under-stated just how intense a listen Further Still is, though. The inclusion of an interlude track half-way through the album is vital; the way that the album constantly pours out its pain and hurt makes it an exhausting listen, and one not to be taken lightly. This is the kind of album that is impossible to have on as background music, or for passive listening; it demands engagement, grabbing hold of the listener by the throat and forcing them to confront their pain and failings. And yet, if you can stand up to its scrutiny, the sense of catharsis that Further Still offers cannot be over-stated. It is an album designed to challenge the listener, both sonically and emotionally, but if you can stand up to its fury, the rewards are well worth it.