Dark Sanctuary – Les Mémoires Blessées – 3.5/5
One of the first things that strikes you about this album is the immense production; lavish and thick toned without ever feeling imposing it retains a delicate morbidity that oozes with heartfelt sorrow and depression that many contemporaries can but aspire to. Leaning heavily on the neo-classical side of things, comparisons to Elend’s use of choral harmonies or Chaostar’s haunting atmosphere are not far wrong, but ultimately feels deceptively simplistic and subtle by comparison.
The keyboards delivering a very much hidden role in the proceedings, they often remain in the back delivering the most basic of chord progressions, acting almost as a bass guitar would in other artists, thickening the tone in a manner that requires conscious thought to discern from the rest of the instrumentation. Constantly complementing this effort is the use of harrowing vocals; with a genuine emotion being carried with each fragile note, they prove capable of transcending any barrier that may be imposed by the elegant native French language which the lyrics are written. At times layered on top one another to lend a choral effect; this is a vocalist that deserves the highest reputation in recognition of her prowess.
Powerful piano lines, never feeling overtly complex as to feel ill fitting, they find themselves largely consisting of a single chord played in a bombastic manner, complemented by a riff consisting of a few repeated notes to deliver an effective rhythm. Whilst this forms the core of their sound, subtle hints at other instruments emerge, the occasional use of violin to break up the vocal harmonies in particular. Each track slowly emerges, gently building up in momentum, usually without feeling excessively long, though it is rather hard to gauge. Often I’ll find myself waiting for the climax, the big crescendo in the piece, but it never really comes – it never really manages to make any form of impact.
But sadly, that isn’t my main gripe with this piece. Somewhere between the mid-way point and nearing the end of this 73-minute epic you come to realise how startlingly little variety there is to the proceedings. Most of the tracks open with that same piano riff, always similar in pitch and tempo, waiting for the vocals to come into play with their ever-consistent tone. Where things get mixed up a little – the more tension-inducing drummed introduction in “Laissez Moi Mourrir,” or gentle acoustic guitars in “L’adieu A l’Enfant Part II” for example, – they demonstrate that they aren’t constrained by their capabilities, but I can’t figure out why they couldn’t demonstrate this throughout. Don’t get me wrong; this is an incredibly talented artist that is capable of performing a very specific unique style, but sadly that style is so specific it becomes tiring before the album ends.
Highlights: L’adieu A l’Enfant Part I, Part II, Laissez Moi Mourrir