Neige Morte- “Bicephaale”

Neige Morte

France has long been a region I look to when considering unorthodox and groundbreaking black metal. With pioneering acts like Moevot, Belketre, and Mutiilation in the early nineties leading the way for other French enigmas like Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, one can easily see how this unassuming country could birth such a strange and hideous beast as Neige Morte. While this is Neige Morte’s second release, it seems that they flew under most radars (including mine) the first time around and I’m glad they stuck around to release the peculiar horror that is Bicephaale, which has proven to be one of the most challenging albums I’ve received for review.

The challenge Neige Morte presents with Bicephaale is an enjoyable one, but it would be unwise to expect the average listener (or even devoted fan of the genre) to process this album with even a small handful of listens. Even yesterday I lamented to my better half that no words in my vocabulary would adequately describe this album for my readers. Still, I’m forcing my way out of writer’s block to share it with you guys because Bicephaale is a highly rewarding album that deserves to be heard by every one of my readers. Primal, confusing, and seemingly rooted in ritual and fear, this album strikes the listener at a deep level. Within the ten minutes of opening track “500 Jours de Haine,” the band seems to have already driven itself to the brink of madness, yet the chaos only grows broader and wilder as the album continues. Instead of going for the throat at all times, Neige Morte attacks like a bird of prey, stalking and searching for a weakness over a lengthy period, only to suddenly shift towards the unexpected as soon as the listener becomes familiar with a pattern.

While elements of Neige Morte’s music can find parallels in other modern works (last year’s Cultes Des Ghoules album is probably the only thing that comes close in terms of strangeness), it’s safe to say that no album in my collection is quite like Bicephaale. While it’s become quite common for bands to rely on horror, dissonance, and obscurity to create some kind of intrigue or mystique, there’s something happening here that just can’t be forced. Neige Morte isn’t hiding from the listener or hanging out in caves trying to be creepy, they’re just genuinely interested in creating music that challenges boundaries of genre and forcibly expands the listener’s sonic palate. This will not be the album that wins over the masses, but it will be an album whose fanbase is dedicated. Some of us just eat up the weird, angular takes on black metal, doom, and whatever else an artist feels like throwing our way. This album is for us.

Bicephaale is now available for purchase from Consouling Sounds. A full album stream has been hosted at Invisible Oranges. If you’re too lazy to click that link, I’ve included a song from the artist’s bandcamp here for your enrichment.