MOURIR – Disgrâce (2022)REVIEW

Disillusionments in absentia — A frantically scrabbling loop from a jarred beetle, running ’round the rim of its suffocating container while the sickly, idiotic eyes of the captor stare back with insidious curved brow, we come to know the smirking of the inane and cruel when under their control. Toulouse-borne modernist black metal troupe Mourir abstract and abscond any nostalgic fantasy of nineties music within their emotionally bare, oft nihilistic haranguing against humanity on this sophomore full-length, instead they present the bleak future and the cruel stupidity of herded humanity for what they are as a point of focus. As ‘Disgrâce‘ flows miserably from the impressive French quartet by way of an impressive live-in-studio feeling directness they express their disappointment, disdain, and regret with a distinct personal touch. As a product of containment, a frustration for captivity that finds the line drawn between the prideful absurdities within the nature of man and the disgraceful reality they’d unnecessarily create there is some untamable resonance easily appreciated within the case this exceptional recording relates.

Mourir formed as a quartet in the south of France circa 2019, featuring artists from well-known sludge, doom, and black metal acts within said region. I’d originally seen this band as a continuation of Plebian Grandstand bassist Olivier Lolmède‘s solo project Vermine, who’d managed a self-titled album in 2016, and I suppose the line is easily drawn from point A to point B ’til we consider that their debut full-length under this name ‘Animal Bouffe Animal‘ (2020) was written as a quartet (members of Drawers, Indigo Raven, etc. included) rather than solely gleaned from the maestro’s mind. That debut was stunning as a first release even if we consider there was a direct predecessor setting up the guidelines for its avant-black metal inspired work, which was recorded live in studio with a somewhat open-air, almost atmospheric sludge style of production which remains a bit underrated outside of certain circles. At the time I’d suggest the album had managed to “extend the ferocity of a blackened sludge metal band like Lord Mantis or Wolvhammer and curb the rhythms away from chunking doom without losing the spittle of harsh noise or the out-of-breath exasperation one might expect from a raw black metal act.” that is to say their sound had a modernist touch, a post-metal sense of meander which likewise featured a certain frustrated nihil or, beautifully exaggerated emotion expressed through its weaving rhythm work and exceptional sometimes over-the-top vocals.

There was some hesitation in approaching ‘Disgrâce‘ too readily since in my mind Mourir had a herculean task in following up a record which’d immediately defined them by way of zero visible rough edges, it was slick and absolutely entertained within a flowing, dynamic and refreshingly unhidden state, a real confidence in presentation. While listening to Mourir‘s debut and contrasting their past with the presence of this second album it won’t make sense to draw an enormous, gaping void between the two experiences but rather to determine what this record says differently, perhaps both literally and in terms of their directorial focus this time around since the vistae have changed and the mood inarguably darkens.

Listless is the first word that comes to mind as the nine minute stride and stumbling menace of opener “La Pluie, Le Torrent, La Boue, Le Vent, La Lave” sours from a sepia tonal wallop to greying, dire black bluster at its peak. Up front it is worth noting that each piece on this album persists with highs and lows, dynamic performative range we rarely see in traditional black metal spaces, and in this sense qualifiers such as “atmospheric, avant-garde, modern, dissonant” etc. should indicate that we are on uneven ground, frequently experiencing the shifting weight of rhythms for effect and song structuring which is effectively illustrative and tuned to completely musical thoughts (read: statements) rather than plainly satiating the “post-music” sensation. The lyrics are quite direct here in their communication of prose, the writer witnessing the collapse of civilization and environment (the title translating as “The Rain, The Storm, The Mud, The Wind, The Lava“) with disappointment, repeating the French word for disappointed (crestfallen but frustrated, in context) at the climax of the piece. The connection between the lyrics and the song itself are beautifully sewn, naturally felt and I would encourage even a cursory auto-translation of the lyrics since this album will easily reveal the ‘voice’ of Mourir even if you’ve no knowledge of the French language.

The first ~18 or so minutes of ‘Disgrâce‘ conjure an azotic black metal experience, a continuous thread, or ranting loose set of observations which absolutely burn at the throat with disillusionment and frustration, I’d read those first three pieces as very much mired in a hatred of the human animal, the unthinking hordes and their comptrollers but also some reflection upon the nostalgia for the self, taking a dip into the frailty of good memories during personal bouts of darkness (see: “Que De Chemins Minables). This is a complete and commanding halfway point for the record secured, a Side A which translates to an icy and seething mood conveyed in three parts. As such this will feel markedly different than the spiking highs and dreamy lows of ‘Animal Bouffe Animal‘, it’d almost feel “off” to not experience those first three songs in order as they’re butted-up against each other and expressed in (again) a thread which shouldn’t be interrupted. We are reassured that Mourir are still working towards some manner of grand finale as the aggression of “Bâtards Égarés” introduces the second half, the shortest and perhaps most functional tonal walkway for the full listen. I’d found it somewhat forgettable to start but it does a fine job of kicking the mood back up after the dissolving spirit, a distaste for the prideful charlatan, which “De pisse et d’orgueil” illustrates.

Avert the eyes, and risk losing the plot. — The best song and my favorite piece of the lot, “En Flamme”, serves a fine example of how Mourir are able to create incendiary moments from their somewhat unpredictable or at least involved meandering rhythmic nature throughout this second full-length. Yet there is a sort of “blink and you’ll miss it” feeling to the experience, wherein the assumption is that the listener will stay on the edge of their seat, eagerly receiving the captivity of the full listen in order to parse the finer details which are less obviate and separated out into types of songs than previous. Within this song we find an abstraction of the usual post-metal underpinning modern black metal guitarists typically use to flag down forward-thinking, modernist black metal ears; Though the song begins by rushing in with tangled urgency and using noisome guitar runs to create a sense of directive and melody-lite the final third of the piece finally breaks the narrator, snapping within a fatalistic high point. The shrieking endpoint of said piece presents as the loud before the quiet of “Somme”, which begins to build its own steady-rising peak with respect for the heated exit before it. The combined effect of these pieces flowing together speaks to the insightful lilt these folks have applied to their sound on ‘Disgrâce‘, but it could easily be heard as one of many moments without some investigation or rapt attention from the listener.

Rather than hammering out a follow up on the exact same tip as their brilliant debut Mourir have chosen to bolster of the “in the moment, in this performance” type of pinned-down expression which reads best when immerse. Immersion turned out to be key for my own enjoyment to start, again, most notably within the rhythm guitar thread and erratic, tangentially confrontational vocal work. You will recognize the band’s developing signature here but in a mode focused on expressing turmoil, disillusion, and increasingly personal narratives of self-examination. I’d not say that we’ve gotten a direct follow-up or the same sort of record this time around and that’d resonated with me perhaps because I’d walked into ‘Disgrâce‘ wanting a new exploration rather than another one. The experience will likely end up charming the attentive listener and perhaps glazing over the cursorial modern black metal engager, from my point of view this is a reasonable level of interactivity from a gorgeously curated/designed work. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Total Dissonance Worship
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

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