The past decade or so has given rise to a fungal bloom of microgenres that has, since, become something of a punchline. So it wouldn’t come as any surprise if nobody were in a hurry to acknowledge “post-black” metal as a phenomenon worth recognizing. Still, in the aftermath of the Norwegian second wave, black metal has evolved to become something much broader and more unpredictable than the lo-fi blast beat menace from which it sprang. Much of it, in fact, seems to draw parallels with post-rock, a genre that, itself, earned its share of groans out of sheer obtuseness. Where once scant few bands would have thought to combine the orchestral grandeur of Godspeed You! Black Emperor with black metal, a group like Portland’s Agalloch has found a compelling bridge between these stylistic ideals. And Bosse-de-Nage, a Bay Area-based group whose demo was actually released by Agalloch’s Aesop Dekker, mine their own USBM path through spacious instrumental movements, streamlined post-punk melodies and abstract spoken-word passages.
Following a pair of somewhat obscure but nonetheless impressive full-length releases in the last two years, Bosse-de-Nage’s Profound Lore debut, III, achieves a critical mass of raw, primal aggression and arty elegance. As with any of black metal’s greats, the band is drawn to a certain level of depravity, albeit one inspired by the likes of the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire, as opposed to, well, Satan. But there’s another, more surprising influence that crops up in the band’s music, namely Kentucky post-rockers Slint, whose sing-speak delivery and artful abstraction loom large in Bosse-de-Nage’s approach. This is dark, sometimes harrowing music, but it’s crafted with an overwhelming commitment to detail and innovation.
Bosse-de-Nage aren’t keen on offering up many personal details about themselves, which is neither surprising nor problematic. If anything, the mystique only serves to bolster the intrigue behind a moody storm of complex beats and minor key melody like “The Arborist,” an unexpectedly transcendent triumph like “Desuetude,” or a chill-inducing soliloquy like that which opens final track “An Ideal Ledge”: “there’s a ledge somewhere set against a deadly precipice, which Spring’s nostalgic winds never reach.” For as much as Bosse-de-Nage harken back to long-lost icons such as Weakling, theirs is a much more malleable form of black metal, and a reminder that no sound born of such powerful inspirations can stay bound by tradition for long.
Stream: Bosse-de-Nage – “The Arborist”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.