It’s always good to see artists breaking away from their comfort zone. After all, who are they if not the people who put themselves on the line and stretch themselves beyond limits just to discover, just to remain on the edge? Having your own field is good, but after you’ve mastered it, you can either rest on the laurels of your past accomplishments as an artist, or you can start somewhere new, tread new paths and discover new ways of fulfilling yourself. This is the kind of approach which the French quartet Ovtrenoir adapted.
RELEASE DATE: 29 January 2016 LABEL: Consouling Sounds Records
What could come out of a collaboration between a well seasoned photographer who shot pictures of Michael Gira of Swans, Savages or Chelsea Wolfe with a designer creating stunning, dark graphics, movie posters and clothes prints? Ovtrenoir’s debut EP “Eroded” despite being band’s first studio effort is a piece of music where a listener can feel experience and maturity in every sound. It is a work where everything is in its right place, every sound fits, every sustain is just as long as it should be. Yet, this is not a work of some sort of careful engineer who records music with a measuring tape in his hand. The album flows naturally and the perfect proportions of Ovtrenoir’s sound are acquired not by careful planning, but by long years of experience in different art fields now adapted to music. The musicians simply know how to make a piece of art with value.
“Eroded” starts off with “Fires” which begins as a grim murmur soon to be accompanied by a steady ground-shaking drumming. When all the instruments join in and Lacalmontie starts screaming with his powerful voice you can feel as if you are a part of some sort of insane ancient ritual. The whole album is filled with dark, spacious and menacing riffs supported by a crushing rhythmic section. And to be honest, the riffs are truly fantastic. Ovtrenoir’s composition prowess is something you easily notice from the very beginning of “Eroded” up until the last sound fades out. The EP is in fact, for most of its duration, based on the work of guitars – they set the pace of the tracks and their mood. Ovtrenoir’s abilities to create unsettling soundscapes reveals itself on longer tracks like “Fires” or “Outrenoir” which include long instrumental passages filled with apocalyptic loud wailing juxtaposed by clockwork drumming and crushing bass. These tracks allow musicians to reveal and expand on their darker side. On the shorter tracks like “Erased Sunken” or “Consume” they, however, give in to their intense rage, but in a controlled manner. Shooting out massive and heavy chunks of riffs does not mean losing control over what’s going on in a song. Again, a sublime advantage given by years of past work.
The experience, however, has its consequences. While “Eroded” is a very good record, it fits perfectly into boundaries of the post-metal/sludge genre. It does not try to push the music to the new unknown territories, it stays within the defined zone. However, when I looked at the history and former musical/artistic affiliations of Ovtrenoir’s members I understood that this band is in fact an experiment in itself. Stylistically and aesthetically, “Eroded” fits into the dark art created by each of the Parisians, yet it allows them to explore territories which they did not occupy before. It is interesting to see how completely different backgrounds merge together and how the past experiences of each member are allowed to speak on a different platform which Ovtrenoir is. Their debut EP serves therefore as a sort of recon into what they can do as a band. And, well, they can do a lot. “Eroded” is a proof that Ovtrenoir are already a mature band ready for a take off to explore the unexplored and maybe even redefine how we think of the genre.