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I have a heavy addiction to the avant-garde, but also a revulsion to heavy music so soaked in pure cheese that all dynamic and form are lost. It's an extremely hair-thin balance: one step over the line, and what would be an avant-garde masterpiece can easily turn into a cringe festival. Breaking the mold and norms of both metal and music in general is not an easily achievable task -- doable, yes, but not without risk. It feels to me, sometimes, that being successful in this space requires writing music that functions on standard levels of melody and cohesion but also retains elements of chaos and spontaneity. The final product should be more about discovery than pleasure, in other words.

There are harrowingly few projects that come to mind when I consider what constitutes "real cutting-edge music" -- France's one-man outfit Creature is definitely one of them. Very definitely. There's a new full-length on the way now -- it's called Ex Cathedra and we have a delicious taste for you streaming below now.

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"Neo Habilis" is the perfect song from Ex Cathedra to showcase what this album is all about -- it doesn't offer any spoilers but really demonstrates why Creature rules in the avant-garde domain. Horns, soaring screams, and devilish guitar licks all coalesce in varying degrees to reach that "fanfare" type of triumph, a battle-ready feel that doesn't feel wartime or stupid in that way. Project mastermind Raphaël Fournier exercises his vast knowledge of instrumentation and composition throughout Ex Cathedra but none of it feels flashy or showy, just downright impressive.

It comes down to catchy songwriting that doesn't rely on cheap hooks or the standard assortment of "things people generally like" -- instead, Creature finds a sound that you had no clue you'd be into. Like the rest of the album, "Neo Habilis" can be a lot to absorb at once, and maybe that's the only downside to Creature as a project. But, given enough saturation in this music, if you're keen to do so, the mastery will become crystal clear in no time.

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Ex Cathedra releases June 26th via I, Voidhanger Records. Physical preorders available now, as well as digital.

Photo credit: Claire Bouthegourd

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