Hailing from France, Silhouette is a black metal outfit that recently debuted its first full-length album “Les Retranchements” on Antiq Records on January 28th, 2022. Formed in 2019 by Achlys (songwriting), on first listen it seems the band blends elements of post-black and atmospheric black metal with delicate female vocals. “Les Retranchements” immediately conveys the gothic influences from bands like Theatre of Tragedy, The Sins of Thy Beloved, and Trees of Eternity. If you are familiar with these bands then you might get carried away by the weight of emotions. Even though most of the focus is put on the beautiful voice of Ondine, guitarist Xes weave melodic riffs and Yharnam ads snarling black metal shrieks.
As the opening track “Ascension” begins, the lamenting vocals are joined by clean guitars, and segue to following song “La première Neige” which continues on the same rhythm. Most of the songs have fair instrumentation that somehow elevates the soaring female vocals, Silhouette creates a sound that is akin to gothic rock style but when the music shifts to black metal it falls apart miserably. The snarling vocals are not up to the quality and they sound like some wailing screams. According to the band “Les Retranchements” is described as atmospheric black metal but I can hardly find any of these elements except for the snarling vocals.
“Au Seuil de l’oubli” feels like a typical dark gothic rock sound, some of the heaviest parts featured on this song are where you can hear some blast beats. Overall the performance is okay but not as amazing. Despite the fact that the guitars add some heaviness, the melodies are put very forward and have an ethereal quality of gothic rock. Personally, I don’t mind such kind of music when bands intermix the gloomy mood and soft female vocals. The lead guitars are melodramatic and provide enough space for the ethereal vocals of Ondine to shine, the drums have a rock-solid pace.
The guitar riffs are smoothly vibrant especially when the slow chords are strummed it creates a dreamy aura, nothing quite bad about the whole musical presentation because the instrumentation is tailored to the angelic tone of the female vocals. At the end of each song, the slow dramatic instrumentation continues to the next song as if the texture reel fine silk. Then we have a slow interlude on the fourth track which is quite similar to the album’s intro, the guitars and the drums provide a background for the female vocals again. The album title track “Les Retranchements” begins with annoying male vocals that add nothing to the song even when the guitars apply the tremolo-picked riffs they sound very simple.
The whole drawback of the album is that the guitars lack the technique for playing proper black metal riffs. But when the female vocals are brought to the center stage, they bloom into a beautiful dreamy tone that blows you away. The best way to describe “Les Retranchements” is the eloquence of melodies and uplifting choruses that express the emotional scale of the music. As for the drums, they are standard and create a good balance between the melodies and the vocals that sound powerful and catchy. In the sixth track “L’étreinte de la chute”, the guitar provides tremolo-picked riffs but they sound very simple. Perhaps the fastest moments of the album are found here. The snarling vocals on this song sound better, even the tremolo riffing is somehow fair and the pounding drums carry the sound.
Silhouette definitely plays its unique style but as I said they don’t play the traditional style of black metal like it’s meant to be played. In the end “Les Retranchements” have a strong orientation to melodic/gothic style these haunting elements are seamlessly delivered by the talented female vocals. Silhouette’s full-length album might have its own quality but the music isn’t too bad either and there is a potential for the band to improve, though I’d label them as a gothic band with some elements of post-black metal. For people looking for music similar to the likes of Trees of Eternity, The Gathering and Draconian.
Release Date: January 28th, 2022
Label: Antiq Records
- La Première Neige
- Au Seuil de l’Oubli
- Les Retranchements
- L’Étreinte de la Chute