By: Al Necro

Pénitence Onirique |  facebook |  bandcamp | 

Released on September 16, 2016 via Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions

French black metal multi-instrumentalist Bellovesos is Pénitence Onirique and his new EP courtesy of Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions is curiously entitled V.I.T.R.I.O.L.  For fans of Sumerian black-thrashers Absu, this has nothing to do with the latter band’s similarly titled Barathrum EP.

Pénitence Onirique’s release was waiting in the promo cue when I saw it. Something must have spurred my interest, as the generic tag ‘black metal’ was hardly distinctive enough for a description to encourage coverage. What I’ve re-discovered with a listen of V.I.T.R.I.O.L is that it is still highly enjoyable exploring music for the many surprises that are in store for fans who want to hear something new without the burden of pre-conceived notions. Clearly, I had no idea just what this release would sound like, and the commendable listening experience has proven to be a pleasant surprise. It’s always encouraging to find interesting bands that play a haunting superset of styles.

I would hesitate to compare a band of similar sound to Pénitence Onirique, but will venture with one still. The lush, dense wall of sound made by the tremolo-picked guitars, occasional leads, and drums all remind me of avant-garde black metallers Lychgate. There is a strong use of melody and atmosphere on V.I.T.R.I.O.L and the modern enhanced production may deter fans of circa second-wave black metal, but Pénitence Onirique’s release clearly communicates a love and yearning for orchestral elements, atmospheric black metal, and melodic black metal to merge seamlessly. Like a potion filled with ingredients doused in the process of fermentation, different elements emerge from the canopy subtly, so that when the fluid flows out of the vessel which holds it, the mix is like a thin but deceptively potent amalgam of ingredients, like acid rain.

The drums sound almost industrial-heavy on occasion, and the rung notes are somewhat beautiful if not eerie. The bass is quite audible from my headset and together with the drums delivers a punch that most atmospheric black metal bands don’t utilize often. Intriguing, at times enigmatic, with arrangements that don’t strike as predictable, Pénitence Onirique’s V.I.T.R.I.O.L is recommended for avant-garde black metal fans and modern black metal fans that appreciate music that sets a bleak mood, perfect for a somber winter’s day.

The keyboard washes also accentuate the razor-thin guitar riffs well. The vocals are harsh, never clean and melodic, and never sound too somber or depressing. A quality release, vorticular like a funnel cloud sweeping across the open sea, Pénitence Onirique’s V.I.T.R.I.O.L may fall short of black metal majesty, but succeeds at introducing the band to fans of modern black metal in commendable fashion.

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