HDR - 016 : The Foetal Mind - The Grand Contraction


Released: December 16th, 2010
Details: Pro-Manafactured-CD, 4 page booklet/standard jewel case - Limited to 500 Copies
Genre: Black Metal


From: Cosmos Gaming
Published: December 13th, 2010

The Foetal Mind is a French black/doom metal band that formed in 2007 and released five demos before releasing a full length last year. Less than a year later the group has returned with a new album entitled The Grand Contraction, which finds them making some major stylistic changes. The effort is mostly an instrumental one as the band lost their vocalist shortly after the release of the first full length, but this transition has resulted in a stronger sound and by focusing solely on instrumentals The Foetal Mind has managed to avoid some of the pitfalls that plagued their earlier demos.

While it isn’t quite clear exactly when vocalist Lord Dreef officially left the band, he must have been with the group for a little bit of the recording process as the first song or two features his vocal arrangements. His style combines clean chanting and harsh screaming and while it does suit the songs well there isn’t anything that makes him distinguishable from everyone else. Once the first couple of tracks have passed, things begin to change and the musicians focus entirely on their instrumental arrangements without worrying about vocals. It is during this time that The Grand Contraction becomes much stronger as the instrumentalists explore textured melodies and ambient interludes. By not having to fit their arrangements to a particular vocal style, the band seems to have been willing to take more risk and as a result their songs have a lot more twists and turns and sweeping atmospheric melodies that really grab you. The bonus tracks, available by download when you buy the album, have a similar feel and have an even lighter tone than the rest of the album. Although The Foetal Mind still claims to be influenced by doom and depressive black metal, I would argue that their new material feels more like post rock with a metal tone/mood and this new direction works quite well.

It may have only been a year since they released their debut, but this group has already gone through a pretty radical transformation and have become much stronger songwriters than before. It is unclear whether they will remain an instrumental band or will find another vocalist down the road, but no matter what they decide to do it seems likely that they have found the style that suits them and will be even better in the years to come. If you’re into instrumental metal and post rock definitely check this album out though, as it has some mesmerizing arrangements.

Reviewer: Chris Dahlberg


From: Thre Nodies
Published: January 12th, 2011

It’s no secret, that artists often search for new ways to express themselves and to evolve in musically ways. The Foetal Mind are also looking for different spheres and are leaving the former path of black/doom metal, but also the album’s title seems to spoil intern changes. Since the vocalist left the band, The Great Contraction is published as an nearly pure instrumental record. For further details you should just read on!

Last year, Lord Vaahal and Lord Trowe parted with their vocalist Lord Dreef, which probably was the initiator for the huge amount of instrumentality on this record. Only Big Crunch, which you might know from Melancholic Epiphany (Read here!), is accompanied by vocals.

Big Crunch follows as second song after the Introduction and leads into the record. Introduced by drums and rhythmic guitars accompanied by a melody, the Big Crunch kicks in when the leading melody and the vocals are called into action. You could quickly be reminded of Opeth or even In Mourning, at least in terms of orchestration. The vocals are in french and screamed with a high pitched voice. While guitar and drum lines are kept the way they were before, the lyrics are varying and even clean vocals are used. After another upheaval there’s an acoustic melody and additional clean vocals, which turn into a whispered voice. The song ends with low-pitched growls, very slow melody and drums to remind you of their doom metal roots.

As mentioned, every track after the second is without vocals, but the charm of the record is still incredible, what surely can be broken down to the composition. Although you might notice a certain lack of those vocals from time to time, all of the songs are great and nearly perfectly done. A good example for one of this songs might be the fourth track The Great Contraction itself. The style of composition and melody still might remind you of Opeth, and the parallels to the Big Crunch are greater, than they were in the third song. Although there would be space for vocals, you won’t miss them, at least after the change at the midway through the song that will lead into mid-tempo spheres.

So there are basically two styles of instrumental on this record: Those where you could imagine a vocal line which could easily be transformed into a “real” track, and those which function as an “classic” instrumental. The highlights of The Great Contraction surely are the songs of those second style, although you might have to pay more attention to them. It happens a lot, that the arc of suspense gets broken up a bit, only to be reinforced right after.

Purely instrumental records with “metal” orchestration surely are quite rare, and you might have reservations that the record would be boring after a really short time, but through the ingenios style of composition, and therefore a really diversified record, that won’t be the fact. The production is as clear, as it could have been, although you could hear some background noises, which were caused during the recordings.

The Foetal Mind really surprised me. The orchestration and composition improved a lot in comparison with their debut Supreme Cheminement. Although my personal favorite still is Big Crunch the instrumental part of the record is more than convincing. The flaws surely are the background noises on several tracks and that there is a difference between the production of Big Crunch and the rest of the record. The Great Contraction is a great record, first and foremost if you want to relax or if you just want some good ambient sounds while you’re working.

Reviewer: Daniel Dervaric
Rating: 88/100


From: Doommantia
Published: January 17th, 2011

The Foetal Mind are a two piece band from France made up of Lord Trowe who plays most (if not all) of the instruments and Lord Vaahl who programs the dreaded drum-machine. Prior to getting this CD in the mail from Hypnotic Dirge Records I did some research into the band and was put-off the band somewhat by the negative reviews they had received for their demos leading up to their first album, "Suprême Cheminement" released only a year ago. It is not often you see albums or demos with a review rating of 0% so I wasn't a little pessimistic over what this album would sound like. Thankfully this album titled "The Grand Contraction" is not too bad at all but it has a number of irritating flaws that I will go over here shortly. The bulk of this album is instrumental as there is only one song ("Big Crunch") that features any real vocals and if there is style of choice it can only be described as ambient- black- doom- death but doesn't sound typical of any of those genres.

After an intro piece, "Big Crunch" kicks the album into gear with the only track that is anywhere near what is to be expected from a black metal meets doom hybrid. The vocals which are sung in French are screaming, blackened and aggressive while the music is very much in the tradition of other European black metal bands. After that though, the album heads off in a very quirky yet charming direction. The only band I can think that comes anywhere near the sound of this band is perhaps, Opeth but even then that is a vague comparison to make. The style and sound here is pure orchestration but delivered with a minimum of instruments and only the most basic of production values and the sound is horribly thin most of the time. Despite that, the band has a quirky way of composing their songs. There is melodies but they are very non-obvious ones - while the music sometimes explores different tangents that more often than not work. It is not till you get to the title track 4 tracks in and the following "Esperit Nosible" that the album starts to sound like a convincing piece of work and the rest of the album from then on is pretty good, it just takes a few tracks to get used to the sound of this album.

The second half of the album also has what I consider to be easily the albums best tracks. "The Collapse, Positive Destruction" and the 8 minute "Nothingness" all highlight the diverse range of composition that the band has. The downside is in the production which is average at best and it has several annoying background noises that keep popping up that really gets on the nerves after a while. It is very hard to say what kind of listener will appreciate this but I would say it is the ambient, dark rock fan that will most likely gravitate to what The Foetal Mind are trying to do. One point I must make also is on the spine, Foetal is spelled Foatel. Is this a mistake or are just trying to freak me out, I don't know but if it is an error, it is a major screw-up. Also one thing I found to be pretty cool is everyone who orders a copy of this album will receive an email with a link to download an additional four bonus tracks from the "The Grand Contraction" recording sessions so that is a great incentive to buy. This is out on Hypnotic Dirge Records, one of the most underrated labels on the planet. You people really need to support labels like these. Despite some overwhelming flaws, most of this album is very interesting and seriously mesmerizing so I will be keeping an eye out for this band in the future

Rating: 7/10


From: Funeral Rain Zine
Published: January 19th, 2011

The Foetal Mind hail from France, a land known for depression, oppression, and rebellion, and from all of that comes French art. Whether it’s music, painting, poetry, it doesn’t matter: French art mirrors France in so many ways. And The Foetal Mind are no different. I would definitely label this mostly instrumental album progressive, as it pushes the boundaries of what so-called black metal and doom are, mixing the two with some drone and DSBM touches. It’s a slow-moving journey through the genres, taking the listening audience through emotions that range from slightly melancholy to outright depressed, leaving a wellspring of catharsis and inspiration at the end. Instrumentally, Lord Trowe is intensely talented. The Foetal Mind show off some astounding riffs with great leads and solos peppering the album, making it something that fans of many genres will like.

One of my favorite songs, “Instrumental”, has some electronic sounding drums and a hypnotic doomed prog riff over it that just blows my fucking mind. My absolute favorite song on the album, “Big Crunch”, has some of the best funeral doom vocals I’ve heard, courtesy of Segomaros I’d recommend the album for fans of Arch Enemy, Legions of Crows, Monarch, Paradise Lost, and more. If you like metal you should like The Grand Contraction.

Reviewer: Dustin Wade
Rating: 8.5/10


From: Alternativ Musik
Published: January 19th, 2011

***This is a google translated version of a German review. You can read the original HERE

There are moments where you really want to solidify before only awe in which one because what is offered. A case in any event is The Grand contraction , the second plant of the French Black Metal The Foetal Mind. After all is hard to believe that they create, their good debut once again in the shadows to make certain. Although one can hardly compare the two albums actually only: Was on the debut even more slowly, hear depressive Black Metal, will launch into The Grand contraction in melodic realms. Black Metal is the whole thing really just due, at least from the mood and the shrieks and Grunzgesang. But otherwise it is difficult for the CD at all attributable to a metal genre.

This indicates already at times that people are not addressed, listen to the Black Metal. Even fans of other metal genres are found on the CD certainly pleased. Thus, the disc is generally very dark, but the darkness is offered in several ways: The riffing generally very epic and fast changing but also happy in doomy passages, or even in a game which could be more usually associated with traditional metal, so some points to remember almost Black Sabbath.

The clean production also ensures a more warm sound and that in the dark atmosphere but there is much light passes through. What is clear is that The Foetal Mind with The Grand contraction not only genre boundaries, but also their underground status actually stored and have made a record, the really popular bands loosely abgräbt the water. A truly mature work, is second to none.

Reviewer: Tristan Osterfeld


From: Blastbeat Magazine
Published: January 25th, 2011

***This is a google translated version of a Dutch review. You can read the original HERE

The Foetal Mind is a doom / black metal ensemble from the south of France that was born in 2007. After releasing 5 demos they released 'Supreme Cheminement' in 2009. The Grand Contradiction is their new disc and will have to meet all their expectations. Time to take a closer look at this thing.

The first title of the album is 'Big Crunch' and I get the same idea that these guys are promoting KitKat rather than metal. (Note from Skog - The Big Crunch is an astronomical concept stating that the universe will not continue to expand forever, and will eventually contract itself resulting in a Big Crunch - the opposite of the 'Big Bang') The music sounds reasonably good. A beautiful doom grunt alternates with raspy black metal vocals. All instruments are well in the mix and the lead guitar is great party responded. Melodic and slow. However, there is a downside to this album, and that's the clean vocals. Get these false and monotone vocals. Pity, because it invalidates the music. The pieces are clean polyphonic singing, do have the atmosphere that they should contain.

The band really makes me think of Forgotten Tomb, which is certainly a compliment towards The Foetal Mind . Trailing black metal, heavy doom and on top of a great party that lead melodic and contagious. A great combination not so far removed from their Italian colleagues.

Reviewer: Gruis
Rating: 7/10


From: Lunar Hypnosis Blogspot
Published: Jaunary 30th, 2011

Beginning life as a lo-fi bedroom depressive black metal band, The Foetal Mind of Perpignan, Languedoc-Roussillon, France issued five demos between '07-'09 before inking a deal with Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge Records and issuing their debut, 'Suprême Cheminement' in late December of '09. The debut contained many of the typical characteristics found in depressive black metal and was ultimately a very boring record for me.

This late December 14th, 2010 release titled, 'The Grand Contraction' however is surprisingly quite different in style, in fact they've shed almost all of their past characteristics in favor of something quite rich, refreshing and at last something that's absolutely memorable.

Largely the work of one, Lord Trowe as he plays all instruments (with the exception of a guest drum programmer & vocalist) and writes all the music, The Grand Contraction sees the project moving in a highly melodic and mostly instrumental direction. With the exception of the second song, 'Big Crunch,' which is a more black metal driven piece (and the only song with vocals), the remainder of the album is a entirely instrumental and the results are fantastic.

I can't say for sure but a lot of these songs sound as if they've been inspired by Agalloch as it reminds me of a lot of the instrumental parts found on their albums, 'The Mantle' & 'Ashes Against the Grain,' while other portions of this album give a kind nod to post rock music and of course portions of this album still retain the dark depressive doomy black style of the bands past, though certainly refined.

What really stands out is that the songs have varying tempos and moods and some songs tend to fully develop over the course of several minutes. I much enjoy the way some songs start out slowly with atmospheric synths or slow guitar work and gradually build up to epic territories or become chaotic with a blink of the eye just to return to calmer melodic sounds in the end. The mood often shifts between sounding hopelessly depressing to optimistic, dreamy, evil, threatening or to a more dark mysterious sort of sound which brings to mind some of Akira Yamaoka's work on the Silent Hill soundtracks, which I pick up on songs like, 'Silence' & 'Instrumental.'

Lord Trowe has obviously been practicing extensively since the last album because some of these riffs and solos are absolutely colossal in their delivery. In particular I just adore, 'The Collapse' since it has everything I mentioned above through out its six minute duration, while, 'Nobody' has a lot of what makes this album so grand too. It's all about melody and mood and this guy pulled it off flawlessly this time around. I'm fairly certain that once you hear this album you'll be enthralled with what you hear coming out of your speakers and you'll be playing these songs over and over again with such melodic and catchy riffs as well as the brilliant solos.

It surely will be interesting to see where this band goes from here especially if the compositions grow in length and they remain instrumental The Foetal Mind could very well be a huge name in the French metal scene in the near future. As for now I absolutely recommend checking this album and artist out and supporting this great record called, 'The Grand Contraction.'

Reviewer: Joe Mlodik


From: Lords of Metal
Published: January 31st, 2011

The ever expanding and one time shrinking universe is one of those accepted theories in this sublunary, set up by scientists. It is a fascinating – yet not so cheering up – fact that speaks to the imagination. In addition it happens to be the theme of ‘The Grand Contraction’, the second album of the French band (from Perpignan) The Foetal Mind in which Lord Trowe rules the roast. Lord Vaahl supports him on drums (but there is some programming as well). Yet this album has a quite good production, surely in comparison with earlier work where bestial screams resulted in putting this band in the black metal category.

I shouldn’t do that anymore after listening to ‘The Grand Contraction’. The fact is, this album is mainly instrumental and due to its fluttering sounds and the creation of strong moods and atmospheres it verges more to post rock or at best it might be something for open-minded post black metal aficionados. With the intro it is still possible to go in any direction and ‘Big Crunch’ is the only track with vocals. Segomaros is responsible for this once-only contribution. Thus ‘Big Crunch’ is melodious doom/death metal with excellent guitar leads, semi-acoustic fragments and a wide range of vocal diversity: low-pitched grunts, primordial screams and (a bit clumsy) clean vocals. Initially the transition to instrumental songs seems to be a pro. ‘Silence’ (a stunner with beautiful clear guitar sounds, later getting heavy and still kind of doom-like in despite of its fluttering timbre) and the title track are magnificent moments of an intriguing band. By the way, a kind of doom vibe lasts during the whole album. During ‘Esperit Nosible’ the name Long Distance Calling pops up, while bass lines going in crescendo and weird drum patterns in ‘Instrumental’ retain our attention. After that the album becomes one huge jam session. Not bad at all, but one hour is a bit too long of the same kind.

On the other hand ‘The Grand Contraction’ is a perfect match to close your eyes and be led away on this wide palette of slightly psychedelic sounds while creating a very relaxed atmosphere. Thus I think that Lord Trowe and co will more appeal to an alternative audience in future, than being praised by fans from the black metal scene.

Reviewer: Vera
Rating: 75/100


From: Funeral March Magazine
Published: Funeral March Magazine; Issue #7

The Foetal Mind is a French band, formed in 2007 and has since then released a bunch of demos and here is their second full length album. I have not heard their earlier works so I got nothing to compare this to. But this sounds good, very nice and clinical sound. It is quite melodic and rather heavy, feels slightly depressive and that is something that I like! Everything sounds very good and it is well performed and produced. It is a very emotional album, listen to it yourself and experience it. I really like this record and recommend it if you want something nice to listen to at dark nights, alone, with some candles lit.

Reviewer: O.O.


From: Metal Reviews
Published: February 8th, 2011

After netra’s latest, reviewed a couple of weeks ago, comes more adventurously-minded French metal courtesy of the ever-intriguing Hypnotic Dirge. It seems harsh to mention that the name of the band- The Foetal Mind- is misspelt as The Foatal Mind on the sleeve of the CD itself. Hopefully it’s just the promotional copy they sent me… If not, that would explain the loud ‘Oh shit!’ I heard emanating from the direction of label HQ in Canada.

Still, what lurks herein, musically? This is a promising construction, but not the finished article. A gloomy but polished, mid-paced doom base comparable to Daylight Dies, Paradise Lost and the like mingles with more extreme elements (particularly the blackened vocals). It’s a sizeable album- 11 songs lasting an hour- and it could do with far more concision, especially on some of the longer pieces. Things sometimes feel bogged down, like the slow, mournful instrumental passages of the seven-minute Espirit Nosible, in which the riff changes regularly but never really with decisiveness, like a mapless funeral parade on a rainy winter’s day. It takes six minutes for a really strong idea to surface, in the form of a sublimely despondent twin lead melody which to an extent makes it worthwhile.

Indeed, a great deal of this is instrumental, vocals (generally belching and harsh, giving this an extreme metal weight) only surfacing occasionally. In the absence of anything other than middling tempos this means that a great deal of interest-generating responsibility lies with the aforementioned flourishes of melodic activity in the lead guitars. But they themselves are not exactly extrovert, often blurred and faded coyly into the background, making for long passages in which very little seems to be happening. Then at other points, as with the title track, the creativeness of the songwriting is plain to hear, but there's just something in the construction- the jangling feel in the clean guitar breakdowns, perhaps- that feels not quite well-executed enough. Thus it is, unfortunately, that the progressive influences which inspire the band to take an admirably open-ended approach to songwriting also become the real weakness. Climactic epic Nothingness could constitute an expansive and exciting doom metal jam, but I think compositionally and instrumentally The Foetal Mind just aren’t quite ready to give it the flair it needs. Funnily enough, there is only one tune formally described as an Instrumental- and this is a welcome disruption, presenting a downbeat industrial interlude which is indeed closely comparable to compatriots and labelmates netra.

This is an ambitious record with a distinctive approach. There are undeniably strong moments, as with proper opener Big Crunch, which woos you with delicately tuneful, spacily tinkling introduction, before plunging into a classic 90s Paradise Lost churn, and later on sinking down to the very depths of funereal blackened doom. Following quickly, and in exciting counterpoint, comes the pretty prog jam of Silence, but it's after this that things start to get a bit samey. Certainly, The Foetal Mind are certainly worthy of the time of gothic doom-loving souls, but I think (and hope) they will release better albums than The Grand Contraction in their career.

Reviewer: Charles
Rating: 70/100


From: Metal Believe
Published: February 14th, 2011

Here's a great instrumental album, released by this unknown band with the best fitted name and logo for a brutal grindcore band. This is the 2nd album of this French group; in fact, this is a project of the talented musician Lord Trowe, who plays all the instruments, except the drums, provided by Lord Vaahl. With the exception of the first track, "BigCrunch", all the songs are instrumental tracks only. I suppose "Big Crunch" is a reminescence of the early days of the band, when it had a vocalist. Nevertheless, it's a great atmospheric and melodic black metal song, reminding me of the mighty Summoning. The rest of this material is pure art, in its very beautiful form. The atmosphere of the songs is overwhelming, the black metal riffs are broken by shiny solos, the guitar tone kills you with its doomy feel, only to be continued with heavenly solos. It's like a soundtrack of your inner thoughts - the music changes quickly like our thoughts. But what makes this product a great piece of art is the final feeling of "sun", the defeat of darkness and the triumph of light. The musicianship is superb, the solos are very haunting, and the interludes of acoustic passages contributes to the whole doomy atmosphere. From my point of view, this is the best instrumental album of 2010. To pinpoint a highlight would be unfair, as every single track has its own beauty, waiting to be revealed. Buy this modern piece of art, or stop calling yourself a "metal fan"!

Rating: 10/10


From: Metal Team UK
Published: February 16th, 2011

The Foetal or Foatal Mind according to the CD packaging spine, are a duo made up of Lord Trowe (all Instruments) and Lord Vaahl (Drum Programming). The French combo did have a third member Segomaros who provided lyrics and vocals on the first proper album track ‘Big Crunch’ but it would seem as far as the band are concerned he is no more. This means after the ‘Crunch’ itself we basically have an album that is wholly instrumental which is quite a shame as after the depressive strains and contrasting doom laden gruff growls and higher barks there is a big void here. I like the track as it has a bit of a funeral doom mindset running through it and is really accentuated by the hoary growls but after this despite the instrumentation being played well I am simply not engaged and wonder why the band did not go and wait till they had another vocalist before releasing this album, perhaps I am missing the point but the meandering guitar leading into the drum laden slow battery of a song like ‘Silence’ really needs something to come in and scream over the top of it. It would seem the band have recorded 5 demos and a full length before this one, some of which I guess have featured former vocalist Lord (they really do like lording it up) Dreef. It’s obvious as ‘Silence’ progresses and we move into the title track that Lord Trowe can play the guitar but this has all the appeal of a virtuoso guitarist showing off with his soloing and is incredibly tedious all too quickly.

The other problem is that songs sound like they have been recorded at different times in different places as the production is all over the place. None of it is bad or anything but the volume levels are not consistent from song to song and a couple of times I have found myself jumping up to either turn my amp up or down. It’s somewhat amusing that half way through an album that is nearly completely instrumental there is a track called ‘Instrumental’ it’s stating the bloody obvious and by now I am at the stage that this exercise in depressive music has simply become depressing.

On researching this lot on Metal Archives I did notice that previous demos had got some shockingly awful reviews, which having not heard cannot comment on but judging what they say this lot must have progressed a lot. However they are incredibly far from being anywhere yet and seriously need to get the stability of a singer as without one this album is wholly dull and I feel like I need matchsticks propping open my eyes to stay awake and listen to the hour long thing. If that were not enough anyone buying it gets a link to download four bonus tracks, something I am afraid I will not be doing as I have had quite enough as it is.

Reviewer: Pete Woods


From: Nocturnal Cult Webzine
Published: February 27th, 2011

The sophomore album from France's The Foetal Mind is a musical journey through depression and suicidal despair. Sadness reigns across the numerous melodies of The Grand Contraction and brings to mind for me Katatonia's penchant for take a guitar oriented melody and crushing all joy from it. Clean guitar melodies merge with fuzzier riffing on Big Crunch illustrating the nod Katatonia I mentioned. The raspy black metal vocals and clean vocals fill the voids with added layers of melancholy. Somber rolling riffs slowly gallop after arcing high notes pierce the blackness as Silence gets underway. A bleak melodic lead haunts the soundscape within the cold embrace of the song. A bass guitar pulses on the title track, like the beating of the heart as blood slowly drips from the wrist. Sorrow permeates all the melodies that flow out of the fabric of the song. By this time on the album you will have noticed the sparsity of vocals throughout, which allows the songs to reveal their moods and quit despair through instrumentation and songwriting. A more upbeat, but no less dramatic feel dominates Esperit Nosible. Instrumental is possessed of two personalities. At first is a bass guitar driven song that mildly reminds me of the final track from Diabolical Masquerade's debut. Then the song shifts into a hypnotic western guitar over a trip-hop beat that makes me think of a weird hybrid of Earth and Portished. So many clean guitar melodies fall out of The Collapse and they are swimming with feelings of frailty and emotions of tear-ridden isolation. The song is my highlight for the album. The album closes out with another trip-hop beat, but this track is more in line with a full-on electronic/ambient soundscape that what we were exposed to on Instrumental. The Foetal Mind have stripped their new album of almost all vocals and instead filled it with melodies and unending despair and frantic isolation. This is a place where your mind can dwell within its internal sadness.

Reviewer: Bradley Smith


From: Pest Webzine
Published: March 3rd, 2011

Hypnotic Dirge Records slowly but surely establishes a powerful name in the underground movement by having this talent of discovening interesting bands and projects, and The Foetal Mind is a band that makes no compromise to that rule. Black Metal is a bit too much to label this second full-length album of the French The Foetal Mind, so a post Black Metal with strong Doom atmospheres label would fit this better. Their music is not offensive in any way, it's based more on the dreamy, meditative side of music and that's mainly because this album is on the major part instrumental, the vocals playing a less important or better said less present role. There's a good understanding between instruments, and the compositions are catchy, places somewhere between dark and light, but there seems to be no connection between them, or it doesn't sound like there is one, and I would have liked a more in depth conceptual basis for such a music. The sensation is like you're having a dream, someone wakes you up, then you're starting another dream, then you're up again, so you don't have enough time to finish any of the 11 dreams presented by The Foetal Mind here. A big promise for the future, The Foetal Mind, although composed by young musicians displays good potential on The Grand Contradiction, so we'll have to wait and see if their music becomes more curdled and mature.

Reviewer: Adrian
Rating: 8/10


From: Metal Crypt Webzine
Published: March 31st, 2011

I was pretty sure, looking at this disc, that it was going to suck balls, as the art design made it look like some kind of noisecore/screamo garbage, the only ray of hope being the cool spiky and completely unreadable logo. Then I read this is billed as "Black Doom" which I am also suspicious of, as too often that is just another word for 'depressive/suicidal' BM, which is becoming ubiquitous and lame.

But no, this is actually kind of awesome, though it does take a while to get going. You have to sit through the dull intro track and then the rather standard "Big Crunch" before "Silence" kicks in and it becomes fucking kickass, with big sweeping riffs and some balls-out melodic lead work. It continues through the rest of the album, and while the compositions themselves are pretty loose and don't really go anywhere, the riffs and guitars in general are pretty fucking cool. There is too much post-metal feel to this in the latter half, and this makes me pull back a bit from really liking it, but when they lay off the doodling and rip, they rip mightily. Much better than I expected.

Reviewer: Sargon the Terrible
Rating: 3.5/5


From: Violent Solutions Webzine
Published: April 7th, 2011

***This is a google translated version of a French review. You can read the original HERE

There's really only in our beautiful country to see tumbling down projects so different! Different, The Foetal Mind is not least by the axiom that governs its formation. Initially, it is the intention of one man, Lord Trowe which will be joined by Lord Vaahl who will handle the drums and programming. Until then nothing abnormal, but if I tell you that the guru is a guitarist and that he wanted to play the Guitar Hero! At first, it surprised a bit! Almost an entire album instrumental oscillating between Black and Post-Black with a few grams of heaviness! The Metal instrumental is already not the type most commonly used but then in Black ... It's like trying to find a blue flower Gonzo!

After an intro composed of ambient sounds and rising water to below low plunging the listener into a world of intra-uterine, the first title to launch on large ornate riffs arpeggios. This "Big Crunch" nods between Doom / Death and Post-Black very melodic. Moreover, it is the only way we will be pleased to hear human voices that alternate growl, singing loud and pagan choir. Yes, because if there are traces of Funeral, you feel a big button Folk / Pagan in this break.

Who said music instrumental generally said developing long while gold rose, this is not the case here. The pieces are not necessarily long, the structures are shown some restraint. We are very far from the expansion plans in all directions. This is not Pop formats but it's still structurally sound without too much digression although it goes without saying that Lord Trowe gratifies us with some illuminations guitar but again we did in the sober and not in the display notes to the "looks like I'm a killer too with my guitar."

Despite this finding, it appears that the listener eventually soar because quite often we detect an orientation or Shoegaze Post-Rock evokes what may propose Alcest. Moreover, there are fast enough that the drumming is more Rock than Metal. Indeed, no blast on the horizon, you will find only a few accelerations to the double. Speaking of that, the sound of the snare has finally hit me lightly on the nerves. Apart from this concern is the prod what is correct.

I must admit having had some sweat when I realized it was an instrumental journey. I saw myself suffer delusions and self-indulgent masturbatory a guitarist and in fact it's still not real songs with melodies rather catchy. The trap we start quite slyly and we fall into the trap quite easily. Maybe even a little too easily because they ended sprawled on the couch daydreaming about who knows what fantasies. Certainly, there was the scenery but our attention has just made the trunk along the way especially when we stumble on a few passages somewhat repetitive or unnecessary short lengths.

Finally an album pretty amazing which is very pleasant. I would have preferred to take a slap but nothing being transported is a success. It may perhaps lead to OMNI pretty huge in the future.

Even more interesting ...

Reviewer: Dark Rabbit
Rating: 13/20


From: Metal Revolution
Published: April 12th, 2011

The Foetal Mind is a French band, formed by Lord Trowe (all instruments) and supported by Lord Vaahl (mainly on drums and programming). The Grand Contraction is their second album, containing 11 ordinary tracks (inclusive an ‘Intro’ and ‘Outro’) and with additional four bonus free download tracks.

The Grand Contraction is almost largely an instrumental album, but with powerful, catchy and atmospheric riffs. This album in general is very much a guitar-based album that should please all metal fans regardless of genre. One can hear a few different and quite diverse moods and atmospheres. It reminds me of some so-called post rock bands, but also a bit of black/doom & death metal. The band shows their musical diversity and abilities on various levels. To start off with the vocals; most of the time they’re either low-pitched grunting, or screaming and even clean ones. Guitar work is highly melodic and catchy drawing comparisons to the Amott brothers and Arch Enemy.

Towards the very end, the album becomes one big jam session, but again; I wouldn’t say it is bad, but rather innovative. All things mentioned above, makes The Grand Contraction a perfect match in order to relax, as the main atmospheric feeling here is the one of relaxation and alternative sounds. The Grand Contraction proves why this band/project is considered to be one of the premier underground metal acts in France.

Rating: 73/100


From: Burning Black Webzine
Published: April 17th, 2011

The Foetal Mind is a French duo formed by Lord Trowe and Lord Vaahl in 2007; the band released several demos and a full length entitled “Suprême Cheminement” before this brand new opus… Haven’t even heard about this band before I had practically no clue about the style on this records until I put it on my CD player… nice was my surprise when I listened to the second track “Big Crunch” (the first real song after a two minutes ambient intro); the band plays here a technical, intense and aggressive Black Metal, with great emphasis in pseudo-melancholic melodies, clear sound and infernal vocals that seems to be taken from hell itself… strangely, this is the last track in which we will hear such vocals, the rest of this album is completely instrumental, mixing the already heard technical sound with a cornucopia of atmospheres, velocities and effects, resulting in a very interesting musical piece; you can easily find at this records several styles of music, from traditional Heavy Metal, Black, Doom, Technical Death Metal to Post Rock and even some minor Electronic influences as well. All this impressive musical display is complemented by a flawless production, which allows you to enjoy perfectly every shade and minor detail of this intricate and beautiful work. Due to the complexity and technical level of this album I think this album isn’t for everyone, many straight Black, Death or Doom Metal fans may find this work too technical with the consequent sterility associated to this kind of composition, but for those who enjoy the technical and composing skills taken to the extreme, “The Grand Contraction” will certainly represent a very interesting musical experience…


From: Deaf Sparrow Webzine
Published: April 29th, 2011

Take a trip down memory lane and notice how black metal sounded when it was first envisioned by the forefathers. Listen to black metal and its dozen incarnations today and it is obvious that one would have had to posses the vision of Yoda and the musical taste of Mike Portnoy to realize that it could ever become something as slick, soft, shiny, proggy, futuristic, safe and ultimately, sterile, as French trio of ‘lords’ The Foetal Mind interpret it.

As they have it, their version of black metal is slick and shiny because its production is clinical, compressed and rather clean. It not for one second lets the vitriolic essence of the subgenre peek out. A case against them could be made in this point also, but black metal, as The Foetal Mind have it, has its supporters and they are not few, so who are we to argue?. The marriage between the style and this type of production work makes sense. Guitarist Lord Trowe plays like he is shooting a laser gun against a thousand asteroids, after all. He shoots and he shoots, there is no chance to miss. In other words, the main constant in The Grand Contraction is his high sounding guitars and there is no way his work will go unnoticed. His starlight / starchild instrument anchors this record and turns it into a shooting star of sorts, unfortunately, one that dims rather quickly once the emotion dissipates after a few seconds. To stay in the production critique, the instrument that suffers the cruelty is the drums. Well-played and all, the lightly crashing cymbals are a treat for fans of the style but the skins lack power and when the gallop gets going, it turns into this rigid and stoic soulless delivery that only adds to the band’s pre-packaged sound.

It is not unfair to say that The Foetal Mind are a soft band. Their songs after all, aren’t hard or heavy. If anything, they are implicitly metallic. It is more unfair to call them out on their classification as a black doom band, as some mediums have them. Their compositions are largely instrumental works of proggy typicality. “Espirit Nosible” is a seven minute capsule of everything this band is; succinct and melodic, atmospheric but transparent and light weight. No joke about it; Satan would be offended. And by the “Instrumental” in the middle, the other lord Vaahl (drums) and Segomaros (voices) have gone quiet and been inspired by trip hop and post rock. Later on, the music dwells too long in crystalline guitars, a practice that has been done to death.

If The Grand Contraction indicates where The Foetal Mind is heading that means this band will have shed their metallic costume entirely by their next offering. Shit, they are past the most vast moments of post metallers already and if our calculations are right, in a year or two, they’ll be sounding like the Grateful Dead gone Star Wars bonkers. It is good and all, but only for fans of tamed prog metal.

Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Ignacio Brown


From: Hierophant-Nox Webzine
Published: July 31st, 2011

If The Foetal Mind’s debut, “Suprême Cheminement”, saw this French act probe the boundaries of depressive black metal with its curiosity-pricking collection of diverse influences, follow-up “The Grand Contraction” is where the rulebook of that genre is tossed aside. For much of the album, a progressive, introverted spirit reigns, resulting in some remarkably dreamy, shoe-gazing tracks. That’s not to say The Foetal Mind have abandoned their sense of drive – dynamic, gutsy melodies still characterise their song-writing style, and bring a sense of coherency and vigour.

If you’re wondering why I find an album both driven and dreamy, the answer largely lies in the fact that “The Grand Contraction” is, bar one track, an instrumental affair. Some have criticised The Foetal Mind for not waiting until they had a new vocalist before proceeding with this release, and in truth, “Big Crunch”, with its alternating depressive howls, ritualistic clean singing and forbidding whispers is one of the most engaging compositions on the album. Still, I’m not in the camp that finds this to be a major problem, largely because Lord Trowe’s expressive, passionate guitar performance amply fills the void.

While tracks such as “Silence”, with its gloriously distorted, collapsing opening riff, draw on classic, Nordic black metal for inspiration, you can never trust your own preconceived notions with this band, as the explosive soloing that ends that particular song proves. The title track is very doom-inflected, but it builds and opens out into a kind of post-rock vastness, as does the impressive though redundantly-titled “Instrumental”. Layers of guitar, ranging from gutsy, punchy riffing through clean, pooling arpeggios to some soaring, airy solos mean that there’s plenty for the brain to chew on. The sheer variety of elements that come together here remind me of fellow countrymen Artefact, who also create endless atmosphere and excitement with nary a thought for a vocalist.

Interesting, thoughtful, pretty, forceful, gloomy and seductive though it can often be, “The Grand Contraction” is far from perfect. The programming throws out classy shapes, especially on “Positive Destruction”, but the tones used can be shrill and thin. The diversity of the ingredients can make some tracks seem a little schizophrenic; “The Collapse”, although blessed with a vast atmosphere, has a Frankenstein’s monster feel at some points, stitched together rather than naturally flowing. Still, I found a lot to like, and if you’ve ever found yourself wishing that the ‘post’ black metal landscape could summon up a guitarist with more virtuosity and flair, this might fulfil your desire.

Rating: 80/100
Reviewer: Ellen Simpson


From: Forbidden Magazine
Published: October 1st, 2011

French trio The Foetal Mind administers a healthy dose of melody and musicianship on their second full length, The Grand Contraction. Crisp and well orchestrated drum programming provides a solid foundation for a sea of swirling guitar layers in this well-nigh instrumental release.

Since I didn’t take the time to Google Translate the predominately French liner notes, I can use only the wall of sound that is The Grand Contraction to interpret sole-songwriter Lord Trowe’s vision. The harmonies, rhythms and general progression of The Grand Contraction are all solid, although, at times feel empty without vocals, which make their painful presence felt and well received for only the track ‘Big Crunch’. Although I am sure the song’s context deals with a philosophy as grand as existentialism, it’s title reminds me of a chocolate bar.

What really grabbed my ear was the guitar work from The Foetal Mind. A few cock-rock guitar solos aside, the mire of dual guitars weave an intricate web that ensnared my attention from the start. The use of gradually increasing dynamics is an all-too-present cliche, but The Foetal Mind does it quite well, keeping the performance at an uncompromising high standard. Occasionally, the listener will observe a syncopated triplet from the lead guitars and rhythm section, displaying, for better rather than worse, the attention to detail given to The Grand Contraction.

This release is a good example of when over-produced and meticulous studio production works in favor of the actual songs. Listeners will not hear a different guitar effect every 45 seconds or a poorly replicated orchestra carrying a dull melody on The Grand Contraction. While the general atmosphere isn’t dark enough to depress me, it does allow me to interpret the many facets as I see fit by remaining largely instrumental and exploring the depth of the recording as well as the width.

Reviewer: Sleepwalker


From: The Pit of the Damned Webzine
Published: April 7, 2012

***This is a Google Translated version of an Italian Review. You can read the original HERE

A pity! Yeah, really a pity that this work is almost entirely instrumental (only "Big Crunch" is actually sung or rather screamed), because otherwise "The Grand Contraction" I park fare better in terms of voting, of course. "The Grand Contraction" is the second "son" for the French duo, which after its debut in 2009, "Suprême cheminement", think about it (at this point I would say, bad) to release this work: besides the usual futile intro, the album just stick with "Big Crunch", a song that immediately puts on display the marked melancholic duo, led by Lord and Lord Trowe Vaahl. The Foetal Mind license plate production is in line with those of the careful Hypnotic Dirge Records Canadian label, with the emotion and pathos, the center of the proposed trans combo. And so, here are our tumbler, with a certain freshness, fluid songs that unfold with a sound of disquiet over the banner of the audience, through music contraddistinde soft melodies and tones while heavy, which may sometimes flowing into or even in the drone doom. Not only because the essence of instrumental compositions, brings more than once to associate the sound of us, at some post-rock, although the still riffing guitar has the classic vein of black metal pollution, as happens in the wonderful "Silence", where the guitar has frescoes typical orange of the autumn or in the more corrosive "Espirit Nosible". The depressive component feels very strong in other songs, acoustic interludes, where ample space (the title track for example or the somber "Instrumental") and this does nothing but increase my regrets regarding a job if he had enjoyed Also the performance of a good vocalist, and some atmosphere more like shoegaze, would surely have given a hard time to Alcest or Les Discrets, and certainly deserved a lot more of my attention. To review the production of the disc, which presents the traces with volumes of recording set to different levels. A sin, a shame because The Foetal Mind definitely have to do caliber technical and stylistic havoc. My advice is to shop around and look for a vocalist with balls!

Rating: 70/100
Reviewed by: Francesco Scarci