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Somniate - We Have Proved Death review

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Band: Somniate
Album: We Have Proved Death
Style: Black metal
Release date: July 2023

01. I Am Here And You Are Distant
02. A Lamb At False Dawn
03. The Statue Of Mirrors
04. Black Soundless Sugar
05. Non-You
06. We Have Proved Death

Metal bands have drawn extensively from fiction literature for lyrical inspiration; however, there’s probably not many that have look towards Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar for such inspiration. Czech black metallers Somniate have nevertheless produced a fierce concept album based off of this post-apocalyptic novel.

I can’t claim to have read this book, but from reading synopses online, its postmodern vision of a communal Eden in a post-apocalyptic world, and Somniate’s exploration of the unexplored darkness of the destroyed world that existed prior to said apocalypse, offers fertile ground for a black metal album that revels in darkness and dissonance, while allowing hints of levity and melody to seep in. We Have Proved Death follows Somniate’s 2020 debut, and like its predecessor, it is a very compact package, running for just under 33 minutes. While the album is brief, the band have been economical with their integration of ideas within it.

Somniate certainly don’t feel an overwhelming need to cram intense content into all of those 33 minutes, however; We Have Proved Death flows together like a single song, and part of that is assisted by ambient intros/outros, one of which comes at the beginning of opening track “I Am Here And You Are Distant”. Even after the initial windswept sounds and droning guitars are superseded by metallic sounds, it’s a song that builds slowly, revelling in ominous textures based in modern black metal, weaving arpeggiated chords and cultish chants before an eventual burst of full-blown blasting aggression. What’s arguably more fascinating that the gradual build towards this explosion of violence is how the song fades in the end; the drums disappear, and tremolo layers shift in tone towards the kind of sad-tinged melody one would more expect to hear in blackgaze, before slowly fading out.

It's an evocative and atmospheric opening track; most of the others here place a bit more emphasis on aggression and dissonance. When thinking of bands to compare this album to, I feel inclined to opt for Regarde Les Hommes Tomber before anyone else, but I’m not sure how much of that is influenced by the vocals, which at their angriest effectively capture the ‘howling into the wind’ tone (as so effectively described by BitterCOld) of RLHT’s own frontman. Beyond these menacing vocals, We Have Proved Death broadly fits within the modern black metal scene that RLHT are part of; there’s light dissonance employed frequently across the album, and slightly cacophonic tremolo riffs powered by prolific blast beats. Alongside that, there’s more measured riffs bolstered by thick-sounding double bass rolls.

At the same time, there are some moments that offer a bit more light or melody. “A Lamb At False Dawn”, which reminds me in moments of some of Tombs’ work, has a semi-melodic guitar refrain that appears periodically throughout, while “The Statue Of Mirrors” shifts midway through from an intense onslaught to a lighter midsection that has almost a pop-punk feel to it, while after this point, the blasting and tremolo have more of a meloblack feel. There’s also a few little idiosyncrasies that pop up in moments. “The Statue Of Mirrors”, before that sudden left turn at the halfway mark, has a weird swing-style drumming fill that pops up a couple of times, while the drumming also adds something of a slick jazz feel to the ominous long introduction of “Black Soundless Sugar”, which also has a blues-influenced guitar solo (the only real solo I can remember on the album, as well). This particular song also stands out for some doomier moments, as well has having a frozen chill to its later tremolo riffs.

While these lighter or more unusual moments help keep the album fresh (although, with such a short runtime, it might not need it), and the more atmospheric inclinations in the opening track and the middle of “Non-You” round it out nicely, the blistering aggression at its black metal core is emphatic in its own right. The title track, comfortably the shortest track here, unleashes hell from the off, attacking with an onslaught of powerful riffs enhanced by arpeggiated textures. 2023 is turning out to be a stronger year for black metal than the last couple have arguably been, and We Have Proved Death is playing a substantial role in that being the case.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8

Written on 26.07.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 1   Visited by: 10 users
24.08.2023 - 10:51
Rating: 7
A Nice Guy
I like this album, thanks for your review. It has an interesting dissonant approach, and some eerie atmospheric parts which I quite like. I find the drumming and vocals especially excellent but the tone and production works really well too. Of all the tracks "Non-You" stands out most for me, it's dissonant and manic but also very melodic, and the vocals remind me of Mgła, it's a great track indeed

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