The debut LP of elusive and covert Canadian trio La Torture des Ténèbres (Acadian Nights - released in April this year) was a fierce tour de force in harsh, cold black metal. Noise, feedback and ambient guitar drones combined to create an amazingly chaotic sound that was a real shot in the arm amongst a sea of slickly produced shoegaze and melodic sounds that choked the genre. Since then the band has been highly prolific, releasing a second full length in May (Choirs Of Emptiness) and now a third full length, due for release in late December on Vomiting Choir Records, Civilization Is The Tomb Of Our Noble Gods.
Civilization... takes a slightly different approach to the previous two releases, but still maintains that rage and fury. The chaotic, clattering songs with deep hidden melodies are still there, but it’s way more refined. The whole album, from the imagery, cover art and promo videos, is conceptual in an interesting way. Opening with droning feedback and clips from 1933’s Baby Face on Column Of Astrological Memories sets the tone before the fearsome blast of The Great Escape From Capricorn City. The intense yet ambient guitars sound eerily symphonic and orchestral; the soundtrack to a hellish version of the 1927 film Metropolis.
The Doom Of New Orleans and Machine Flesh Of The City Girl introduce some more bassy tones to the highly trebly sound that the band is known for—there is a melancholic mood here at the album’s halfway point. It's as if the Lily Powers character from the Baby Face film is at peak frustration in a time of uncertainty, but the fleeting hope is still there.
There are snippets of old audio sprinkled throughout the release, one of the more striking examples is when Into The Metropolitan Abyss - First Movement stops abruptly halfway through to play a short section of former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 at Madison Square Gardens. According to reports Roosevelt’s speech "…criticised those who, in his view, were putting personal gain and politics over national economic recovery from the Great Depression". In an abstract way, this speech resonates with LTDT and their aims with this album—namely to be independent of the giant forces that surround us and come to our own conclusions about our lifestyles, ideals and choices.
This album is like if the Voyager Golden Records (1977) had the sound of the bustling 1930s; building, noise, traffic and uncertainty all compressed into sound. There are not a lot of bands that can pull off this, so it’s a treat to hear it.
Scott Bishop is a regular host on RTR FM 92.1's Critical Mass, which airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) in Perth, Australia.