A dead king is a perfect king
Putamen Insula is another Québec black metal jewel and shows how eclectic the scene is. If you read my other my stuff, you noticed some reviews for Décombres and Neige Éternellle, two traditional black metal bands with roots in the Second Wave. But this trio is quite versatile and very different from most of its peers. Led by Sovannak (vocals and guitars) who's also in a new black/punk band called Oppression the band is clearly a beast with many faces. Their sound is original and during this awesome release, they're showing their love for both depressive raw black metal and French punk à la Bérurier Noir. While never blurry and disjointed, they can move the listeners with ease with their varied approach to the dark arts rooted in cynicism, hatred and fun (yes, you read that well, the band is having fun playing their music and it's really obvious). But the main focus is an avid social justice commentary, two songs are about environmental radicalism and that's interesting.
There's an omnipresent misanthropic feel to be found on ''Souriez'' (Smile in French, sarcasm is always fun, eh?). The atmosphere is gloomy but nonetheless inviting. A certain amusement or pleasure emanates from the album, a livid enjoyment of the despair of other people. The lyrics are in French, while they're pretty good, the band can easily transpose their vivid ideas with their sound and that's obviously a great quality. The production is just raw enough to give the needed sonic landscapes that the songs deserves. The band often tries its hand at a humongous instrumental approach, that's really demonstrated through track four to six. It relies on the songwriting process, the cool and interesting riffs more than anything and that's a plus in my opinion. That intertwined with appealing concepts made "Souriez" a very entertaining release, I'm now pissed to have missed the release show! It's always appreciated to explore the depth of this band who's not relying on a certain aspect to grow, they care about everything. But there's still cool vocals, they're vitriolic and are often buried beneath the mix, rightfully so as it gives a raw edge to the music and adds to the despair. Half of the awesome raw black metal duo Verglas joined the band in 2012 adding a crazy maniacal rockish vibe to the recording. The drums are driving the music and are a good companion to the superb simplistic approach of Sovannak's riffs.
Musically, It's beyond groovy and the musicianship is pretty damn strong. It's brandishing some jazz, classical and avant garde touches at times showcasing their diverse and rich sound. The song ''Thugs In Leather and Spikes'' has some awesome instrumental moments such as the first 2 minutes which are basically jazz with smooth drumming. When the song starts to be metal, it has crazy rock and roll leads reminding me of surf rock à la Beach Boys. I can't emphasize enough how great the drumming is, it's full of details and experimentation. So is the bass playing (sad that the bassist left the band recently). There's nice basslicks and it's a bit more in your face than your middle of the road black metal band. It's really needed since the music is usually mid paced and the riffs are not thrown like a Panzer division tank in your face. The track ''Traditions matinales'' has this sweet post black influences without being totally wimpy like many of these bands cough Deafheaven cough. I usually admire and love bands who can evolve in many world, in many scenes while being in symbiosis with their influences. Melding punk rock to black metal, groovy rock and roll to an almost crusty approach of raw social commentary, Putamen Insula is succeeding at creating a powerful slab of hate. There's seven chapters to the story, they're all semi long tracks (from 5:30 to 8 minutes). The second half truly made the album for me, you can safely hear the adventurous side of the band here. If you're looking for an heavier, cleaner alternative to bands such as Raspberry Bulbs or Bone Awl, check them out.
It's a shame the tape is already sold out since it's very underrated and one of the best black metal releases of 2013. Please do a second pressing, guys ! It's both beauty and hatred, the songwriting is top notch and the musicianship is surprising. Putamen Insula asks for nothing, they give you everything and leave nobody untouched. Your body, your soul, your opinions, all crushed. Mange de la merde.
Putamen Insula's Facebook page
Putamen Insula's Facebook page