AMESOEURS – Amesoeurs (2009)

Amesoeurs - Amesoeurs It took a lot of time and even more lineup changes for the first (and presumably, only, considering the band have now broken up) album by French ensemble Amesoeurs to materialize. What was once a mere twinkle in the eyes of Niege (the driving force behind Alcest) has now coalesced into something tangible, and now that I’ve had a chance to absorb it a few times, I can hear all the stress and turmoil that went on behind the scenes in the aimless nature of the album. I don’t mean to say that the material on the album isn’t any good (that’s certainly not the case), but it does go off in many different directions, and it never quite fulfills itself in any of them. While this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem for metal albums of a different nature, it is a problem for Amesoeurs, in that the album is based heavily on creating an atmosphere. And it’s hard to get lost in a record if your invitation keeps changing itself around.

Just about every type of atmospheric metal is on display here at some point or another. Sometimes (not often, though), it feels a bit unconvincing, as is the case with Video Girl a pleasant song that feels a bit too modern to be included with the rest of the material here (despite Niege’s assertion that the album is, in fact, “a kaleidoscopic soundtrack for the modern era”) – the song could plausibly be a Lacuna Coil outtake, and none would be the wiser. Fortunately, the other modern material fares better, like the title track, as well as Les Ruches Malades. Both of these songs feel rather inviting (for underground metal, anyways), but they do carry a darker edge to them, especially when the guitars become more prominent and menacing. Elsewhere on the album, there are odes to Agalloch (the eleven minute closer, Au Crépuscule de Nos Rêves, and the album’s best offering), some brooding, semi-Burzum bleakness (Recueillement) and even pre-Gothenburg death metal (the opening death throes of the ominously titled I XIII V XIX XV V XXI XVIII XIX – IX XIX – IV V I IV). I’m of the opinion that any one of these elements, if they were to be singularly expanded upon into an album of their own, would make for an undeniable metal classic, but in its current state, Amesoeurs is merely a good collection of songs – not terrible, but certainly not a mandatory listen.

It’d be great to hear another, more focused album from these musicians, though I doubt that’ll ever come to pass – the band broke up largely because they couldn’t agree on a unified future path for the group to pursue, so maybe the one album is all for the best. After all, any subsequent albums done in this vein would risk retreading ground that the band have already clearly established here. And no one wants that. It couldn’t hurt for fans of Alcest or Jesu to take a listen to Amesoeurs, but everyone might be better served just listening to the two aforementioned bands instead. And believe me when I say that it damn near kills me to write that.

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