Les Discrets stands on high ground in the French post-black metal scene. Fursy Teyssier is leading his mournful outfit towards all those melancholic crevices hidden in his mind and releasing all the sorrow to drown a nation. Ariettes Oubliées is like a grey, wet cloth covering your face on a sunny day. You can feel the warmth of sun on your skin, but the suffocating darkness won’t let go. You slip into oblivion and forget everything else.

Les Discrets sounds like a gothic bastard child of Justin K Broadrick and Kevin Shields, with a twist of black metal to spice it all up. The guitars and vocals have tons of echo and the song structures are long and wide. What Les Discrets gain in professional handling of instruments they lose in song writing and building a bigger picture. The record is versatile, yes, giving the songs room to breathe with rises and falls, abrupt changes in structure are around every corner, but the overall mood of the album is disappointingly homogenic. Darkness feels more vivid with spots of light as contrast. Acoustic pieces are scattered here and there which gives the record the needed variation, but the mood is yet again very depressing. The record tends to work best in small doses.

No matter how you look at it, shoegaze always wins. There is nothing like those fuzzy bass lines, echoed guitars and groovy drums combined. Ariettes Oubliées needs more of this! Now we merely have to survive on the dosage offered on the second track La Traverseé and it goes without saying that this one has it all. The release could even fall into the “most exciting records of the year” category if it were packed with the same intensity and outright genius craftsmanship as that particular track. Now La Traverseé is merely a good album. A bit torn to all sides but enjoyable none the less. The overall sound of the record is heavy with lots of black metal double bass drums and so on, but Teyssier’s sometimes even angelic singing keeps the release clear of a direct heavy brand. The language barrier is off course also a problem for those who not understand French. A shame in this case, because the music is very much reliant on the mental imaginary it sets out to create.

The band does not only focus on the audial but on the visual as well. Fursy Teyssier, the lead singer of the band, also works as an illustrator and animator and utilizes his skill well also for this project. In his own words, Les Discrets is just another faucet for his creative force. The album’s special edition comes packed with an art book, depicting the moods of the album, the perfect approach to get people to buy your album in this day and age of almost limitless download possibilities. Simply offer the listener more and you will prevail.

Ariettes Oubliées is by all means a very intense record and demands of the listener a right mood set and plenty of time to enjoy it, a highly recommendable release for fans of dark, cinematic and mellow metal.

8+ / 10