Last week we ran a look-back at Eryn Non Dae‘s striking 2009 album Hydra Lernaïa, and then followed that with an interview of the band’s terrific bass player Mika André. In the interview, we asked Mika if he would recommend some other French metal bands that we might not know about here in the U.S. of A. He obliged, and of course we had to go check them out. Two of his choices hit us in the sweet spot. You might dig ’em too, so here goes:
DOPPLeR (pictured above) is a three-man band that hails from Lyon and appears to have been playing since 1998 — and their years of experience show in the music. The line up is Yann Coste on drums, Xavier Amado on bass, and Yoann Brière on guitar/vocals. Their latest album, Songs to defy, was released in the fall of 2008 by SKrecords. So much for the hard data. What do they sound like?
Here’s a string of genre labels, all of which roughly suit some of what’s going on in Songs to defy: progressive, experimental, noise rock, hardcore, punk, tribal. But while you can slap a genre label on some bands and that tells you about all you need to know, it doesn’t work here because, as the album title suggests, these songs defy labels. (more after the jump . . .)
The rhythms are intricate and at times verge on math metal in their shifting complexity, while the guitar work spins out variations on a theme as the drums settle into extended tribal beats. Proggy melodic soloing is counterbalanced by frenzied chaos, crushing riffage, and hardcore shrieking (though this is primarily sophisticated instrumental work; the vocals are not prominent in the mix and appear only episodically). At the same time, the music almost always retains a unifying groove that makes the songs memorable despite the thematic experimentation.
How does all this make sense? Somehow it does. Check out this sample from Songs to defy and see if you don’t agree. It’s called “We are not sick . . .” But I beg to differ: This band IS sick!
If you like what you hear, there’s more on the band’s MySpace page, plus a link to buy the album. And after we talk about the next band, you’ll also find a cool DOPPLeR performance video.)
Zubrowska, like Eryn Non Dae, is a band from Toulouse and they’ve been around since late 2001 (with a few line-up changes along the way — their former drummer, Samuel Santiago is now playing with the almighty Gorod). Last year, the band recorded its third album, called Zubrowska are dead, at Fascination Street Studio with Jens Bogren (Opeth, Paradise Lost, Soilwork, Amon Amarth, Pain of Salvation, and more).
The band isn’t yet signed to a label and the album hasn’t yet been officially released, though you can stream four tracks from it here. And it appears that Eryn Non Dae’s bassist, the aforementioned Mickaël André, has signed on to play live guitar with the band when it tours this coming summer.
Yeah, yeah, I’ll stop with the hard data. You want to know what these dudes sound like.
Sorry to tell you this, but I’m having trouble slotting these dudes into a genre classification, too. In the main, this is fast, angry, crushing music. At first, they sort of reminded me of Converge, except without the non-stop guitar pyrotechnics. But then some really deep, death-metal style vocals started trading off with the high-register hardcore howling and the blast beats kicked in. The pace is also variable, ranging from Formula One racing around the track to brief, mid-tempo melodic breakdowns, and then back up to racetrack speed again.
All the musicians know what they’re doing, the songcrafting is intelligent and creative, the execution is top-of-the-shelf, and I really do like the pairing of the two vocal styles. If these dudes were based in America, they’d be raising eyebrows here for sure. Definitely worth a listen. So, have at it:
And now here’s that video of DOPPLeR playing “6 centimetres” live. Be forewarned that the first minute and a half is a sample of some dude (Werner Herzog?) talking about the Spanish invasion of Peru.