Royaume des Ombres
Atmospheric Black Metal
The Swiss one-man black metal band Borgne this year releases its fifth full length album, and despite it’s formation all the way back in 1998, Royaume des Ombres will be my first exposure to the band, and the description of the band’s music as inhumane industrial/black metal certainly excited me a little, yet shrouding the band in a fog of mystery at the same time, with that atmospheric black metal-inspired album artwork.
The industrial aspects of Borgne‘s music on Royaume des Ombres are immediately clear with the atmosphere in the music right from the opening track Fall of the Lost Souls, and the album will be one that is extremely atmospheric from the start till the end. With Fall of the Lost Souls setting the mood right for the rest of the journey, Borgne begins their onslaught proper. While Suffer As I Paid My Grave displays a more traditional black metal sound, all the while the band maintains a somewhat oppressive atmosphere with the doom-pace of the music, and at times it almost feels as though Royaume des Ombres were an endless funeral march. Furthermore, track lengths on the album typically last more than 10 minutes, and the pace and rather repetitive music serves to put the listener into a trance that is hard to break out of.
It is rather hard to believe that Royaume des Ombres is the work of a single person behind the band, as band mastermind Omenos easily proves his ability not only as a songwriter able to write songs that fuse various elements together, but also as a musician as well. Tracks on Royaume des Ombres often feature transitions between aggressive black metal segments and dark ambient segments, and these are often arranged in such a way that one complements and even enhances the other, resulting in a more fulfilling journey, with the keyboard, ambient segments providing the heavy atmosphere on the album. Orchestration and the choir on tracks like Suffer As I Paid My Grave is also cleverly utilised, and provides a dramatic effect in the music.
While nothing overly technical on the album, Omenos’ ability as a musician shines as he handles all instrumentation and orchestration on the album. Furthermore, Omenos’ vocals are gruff and tortured, as he painfully drags out the lyrics, and this serves only to make the entire experience of the album to be more punishing.
The production on Royaume des Ombres also makes for a rather epic listen, with the guitars often sounding rather distant and the high prominence of the synths in the mix. Royaume des Ombres is an extremely powerful album right from the very first listen, and like all good albums, each additional listen serves to further expand the experience as one soaks up the atmosphere of the album.