Celeste, a member of the still-burgeoning French black metal scene delivers its fourth full-length album, a solid, double-disc offering. I first looked into it expecting something more uplifting (as the name Celeste suggested something more, I don’t know, celestial) and got a pleasantly unpleasant surprise. Apparently the band has roots in hardcore, but I would be hard-pressed to point out specific examples of it here. It shows up maybe in some of the vocal stylings and the intensity of the music, but for all intents and purposes, “Animale(s)” is a near-perfect double dose of blackened death metal.

For a two-disc album, “Animale(s)” features amazingly consistent songwriting quality. The riffs play with unnerving dissonance and chromatics amid pummeling kick drums. There are a handful of tremolo riffs and blastbeats thrown in, but the band does not dwell on them for long. Instrumental track “(X)” focuses on a slower dirge that builds with ferocious intensity into a faster-paced blackened climax. The chugging pseudo-breakdown at three minutes into “Dans ta salive, sur sa peau” turns into a repetitive meditation as secondary guitars play the tritone above. The opening track on the second disc, “D’errances en inimities,” features dissonant, sinister riffs played with the blackened-death sensibility of Arkhon Infaustus. The use of contrasts creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and dread. Celeste is a band in pursuit of a clear vision.

Another remarkable thing about this album is that there is no filler. There are no ballads, no extended ambient tracks. Celeste delivers a full two discs of their particular brand of terror without compromise. The instrumental tracks are just as focused and intense as the standard tracks with vocals. One album’s worth of this stuff would be lethal, but two discs of music at this level with consistent intensity and quality is mind-blowing. The one exception to the intensity might be the subdued outro on the second disc, which doesn’t alleviate the tension so much as merely draw the curtains on the whole disturbing affair.

Fans of black metal that focuses not on speed but on darkness and brutality will ravenously devour both discs of this filthy stuff. All others, take warning: there is no respite from the relentless advance. Celeste has crafted their death-infused blackened hardcore into a devastating, two-album musical assault on body and soul.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J. D. Anderson
December 23rd, 2013


  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    this flirted with my year end list, but i could not pull the trigger as it all sort of blends into one long track after a while

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