Review from Black Belle Webzine

Posted by Nick Skog on Saturday, October 13, 2012 Under: Album reviews
From: Black Belle Webzine
Published: October 11, 2012
Original Link

 One of the most unusual and unique offerings ever to be encountered here at Black Belle Music would have to be the sophomore full length album 'Soerbyen' from French one man entity Netra.

Another project on the versatile Hypnotic Dirge Records roster Netra is the work of Steven LeMoan-all music and vocals- and where this remarkable creation plys its trade is in the very incongruous meld of genres between experimental black metal and trip hop/electronica.

My experience with Netras previous album 'Melancholie Urbaine' and the demo of the same name prior to that is virtually zero so I'm approaching this latest platter with no real idea though the concept of black metal merging with trip hop and electronic styled music does tend to generate its own preconceived notions.

'A Dance With The Asphalt' begins this weird and wonderful journey in reasonably ordinary fashion, laying out a spread of swirling spacey ambience that is met by a procession of guitars, programmed beats and a solemn but redolent clean male vocal tone, at first deep and pensive then soaring and atmospheric.

Spellbinding melodies run through the framework of the piece until one minute forty or thereabouts and then Netra reveals the dark stormy side of its constitution, eradicating this demure opening phase with a seething blast of black metal riff dissonance.

A humming bass undertone undulates relentlessly beneath the groove of this riff and all of a sudden tremolo squalls and macabre BM screaming are also in residence, quite an awesome turn of events really, well and truly piquing interest in this quirky French creature at this point.

Snarls and scowling utterances issue in French amidst the raging tempest of instrumentation with some profoundly melancholy vibes to much of the tremolo based guitar work as it rolls around harsh hollow howls.
It is a bizarre conglomeration of sounds, made even more so by the introduction of dancing keys which ultimately outlast the guitar abrasion to accompany just the stately beats and swirls of ambience to the tracks end.

The next track up 'Crawling' possesses no elements of metal, black or otherwise whatsoever.

Home to cautious trip hop beats, bassy emanations, organ melodies and new wave vocals this one focuses a lot more on what Netra can do with the electronic, its one concession to guitar utilizations being an intriguing bluesy lead that spirals up out of programming pulsations and while I'll concede this is not especially my type of music it has plenty in it that make parts irresistibly hypnotic.

Title track 'Soerbyen' is an instrumental composition that usurps its introduction of pleasant key plods with slow drum thumps and portentous bass sounds prior to merging both sets of passages together, traipsing at a very leisurely gait.

Minimalist in nature but not without atmospheric auras 'Soerbyen' then unveils a plaintive lead guitar shape that meanders in lazy clouds overhead before the drums kick up a little into something of an ultra-stoned Prodigy waltz.

This is a strangely mesmerising piece and one that manages to pull off the appearance of both having not much going on in it and yet a great deal at the same time.

Consequential items have more of the metal components of the perplexing Netra machine pushed to the fore with 'A Kill For A Hug' spitting out a waspish stream of guitar in a long winding riff over clattering percussive traits and a bassy rumble, and 'Streetlamp Obsession' has LeMoan wheeling out a whole bunch of his tricks from the aggressive razoring riff assaults to crazy soloing displays, from recurrent keys to cool bass lines and electronic beats whilst threading dialogues in French throughout.

The lengthier compositions on 'Soerbyen' afford Netra ample opportunity to flex creative muscles, to span genres and fuse them with impunity and bold experimentation, particularly on tracks such as 'Concrete Ocean' and epic album closer 'I Shall Slay the Monkeys'.

Both these songs stretch out well beyond the eight minute mark with the first of these, 'Concrete Ocean' getting underway with innocuous peals of tune and standard beats pulsing in time before wisely getting out of the way of oncoming tremolo picked recurrence and inhumane demented black metal howls.

Mostly the sparse spread of vocals that are put to use among the dissonance and occasionally repetitious structures of the song are this screeching BM lunacy but for a short stay a cracked robotic method takes the reigns before lead guitars peel off on prolonged solo exhibitions.

'I Shall Slay The Monkeys' rounds out a most fascinating and truly individual album by taking elements of all the things that make Netra such a unique proposition and coalescing them all together as it spans almost to nine minutes.

All the requisite synth soundscapes, trip hop stylings, experimentations and loitering bass in conjunction with a sinister mocking vocal are present and accounted for in this closers starting passages and then approximately two minutes after this things get about as heavy as they've been the whole album.

Some of the best riffing and guitar passages of the entire opus exist here, spitting fire as horrendously furious hollow vocals scream the litany 'I hate people' (guess we can all relate to that), old school type frenetic black metal with a horde of experimental sounds milling amongst the intoxicating riff work.

Unfortunately (from my own perspective) this savage speedy onslaught is only a transitory phase and though heavy chords reappear later on in the piece it doesn’t quite regain the violent intensity it had before, instead it returns to drums, solemn key notes and synth material, even eventually usurping that with flexes of bass and some semblance of guitars so faint they're barely audible.

I'll close this review for Netra's 'Soerbyen' in much the same way it began; the album is unique, unusual and a highly creative individual body of work.

It is nothing like the sorts of industrial black metal one might expect from Dodheimsgard, Aborym and so on if these bands spring to mind at the thought of electronics combined with black metal for though it combines elements of black metal with abundant electronic/industrial aspects it cannot be classified as that genre (indeed any genre would be hard pressed to fit Netra definitively in).

It is basically an entity unto itself which creates its own rules and own laws and follows only the guidelines it has placed upon itself.

Aficionados of any of the genres utilized here may not be overly excited if they aren't fond of bold genre melting pot mixes but people with a broad and open musical mind will gain plenty from the intriguing universe of Netra.

Reviewed by: Jamie Goforth

In : Album reviews 

Tags: netra sørbyen sorbyen melancolie urbaine black belle webzine alternative trip-hop black metal 

                       NETRA - SØRBYEN 

Released: September 29, 2012
1000 Copies
Alternative Black Metal/Trip-hop