(Andy Synn sharpens his knives for this incisive review of the new album from Celeste, out Friday on Nuclear Blast)
We have all long been fans of France’s Celeste here at NCS – myself in particular, as I’ve been an avid follower and collector of their music ever since their first album – and we’re clearly not alone in that, as the band’s profile has risen, slowly but surely, with each new release, culminating in this, their “major” label debut.
Of course, changing labels hasn’t actually changed the band themselves, and you’ll be pleased to know that Assassine(s) is just as aggressive, atmospheric, and addictively abrasive as the rest of their catalogue.
It does, however, raise a familiar quandary… how exactly does one categorise a band like Celeste?
Looking back over their career thus far you can see that they’ve been called a lot of different things over the years – Black Metal, Post Hardcore, Blackened Sludge, Post Metal, and so forth – none of which are necessarily wrong, even if they’re not totally right either.
But, a rose by any other name, right? After all, they’re still the same band, no matter how they’re tagged, and it seems to me that what you choose to call them says a lot more about you, the listener, than it does about them.
And, if that’s the case, then it’ll be interesting to see exactly what this review says about me once I’ve done writing it.
To cut a long story short (which I’m sure a band who’ve named their new album Assassine(s) would appreciate), the group’s sixth full-length is a further evolution and refinement of their signature sound – rather than any sort of drastic reinvention or regression.
Certainly, it’s still brimming with both rage and anguish – just one listen to immersive, anxiety-inducing opener “Des torrents de coups” should make that painfully clear – but it’s obvious, to my ears at least, that this is a much more measured, and more… dare I say it… mature album overall than any of its predecessors, one which is less about simply ripping your face off and more interested in helping (or forcing) you to face your own demons.
That’s not to say it doesn’t go hard when it wants to, as although they may not be as blast-propelled as the songs from their early albums, the pneumatic, rhythmic riffing which drives tracks like “De tes yeux bleus perlés” and “Draguée tout au fond” still provides all the necessary power and propulsive energy you might ask for, while also serving as a perfect example of the band’s newfound focus and finesse.
And yet, the prevailing sense that I get while listening to Assassine(s) is of a band more interested in mood and texture than ever before, to the extent that there are multiple moments scattered across this record which recall the very best bits of Amenra, in all their brooding atmospheric density and raging emotional intensity.
Nowhere is this more obvious than during colossal, cathartic closer “Le coeur noir charbon”, where the band’s judicious blend of blackened fury, moody melody, and captivating atmosphere – augmented and accentuated by a few unexpected twists I won’t spoil here – produces perhaps its richest and most rewarding fruits.
In the end, the answer to the question I posed at the start of this article is surprisingly simple. It doesn’t really matter how you categorise or define Celeste. Because this is a band who are always themselves, no matter what you call them or what they sound like. And this is as true on Assassine(s) as it has always been.
thanks for this ,love the sound