Premiere: Neige Morte – Bicephaale

Neige Morte’s press materials describe them as an “obscure French entity.” That’s mostly accurate — of this band’s three initialized members, only one (vocalist Xavier Théret, formerly of Overmars) has a notable band history. I don’t remember their self-titled 2011 debut generating a ton of press heat, either.

But obscure is as obscure does, and Neige Morte’s music certainly fulfills that side of the descriptor. Most of the reviews I’ve read of Bicephaale involve music critics saying how appalled they are by its noisiness and inaccessibility. (If you ever want to sell me an album, publish a review of it in which you rant about how it’s too crazy and bizarre for any human to listen to.) Most listeners will probably agree — this is challenging stuff, and it often isn’t very musical. But there is definitely an audience for Neige Morte’s mixture of dissonant black metal and unstructured noise, and Bicephaale merits their attention.

Neige Morte hail from a lineage that arguably began with Abruptum’s early LPs: their material sounds at least partially improvised; their tones are sketchy and cassette-friendly; their instrumental performances are loose (or sloppy, if you’re a tech stickler); and they wallow in antagonistic outsider-ness. A more recent touchstone might be this year’s Jute Gyte/Venowl split, which you can currently stream over at Black Metal & Brews. Neige Morte effectively sound like both bands at once — cagey, brittle black metal nestles between cruelly arbitrary jams.

Though Bicephaale lashes out with riff-driven moments from time to time, its appeal doesn’t depend on delivering rhythmic or harmonic satisfaction the way that most metal does. Instead, its appeal is cathartic. Once you’ve endured this filth, the rest of the world will seem just a bit cleaner.

Bicephaale will be out on April 8 via Consouling Sounds.

— Doug Moore