Album: All Fours
Label: Profound Lore
Bosse-de-Nage is a San Francisco-based black metal band. Their previous album, III, launched them from relatively obscurity into sharp focus. When III was release, back in 2012, their sound was being described as post-black metal, with its insistence on using drumming patterns more popular in hardcore and spoken-word passages to break up the harsh wails. Regardless of how it was described, it was a hit, and many new fans began paying attention to Bosse-de-Nage.
We finally have our hands on their follow-up, All Fours. The first thing to notice about All Fours is the drumming, which is still some of the more stellar drumming in all of black metal. It is a much different style from say Deathspell Omega, another black metal band well-known for its intense and frenetic drumming, but what sets Bosse-de-Nage apart is the use of drumroll patterns. It’s quite unique in black metal and it adds an energy that you don’t normally find. The first song, “At Night”, showcases some of those intense moments very well, a great introduction to what Bosse-de-Nage plans to bring to this album. It brings heavy drums, a well-produced bass that doesn’t get lost in the mix, relentless guitar, all topped off by Bosse-de-Nage’s signature vocals, which are half-way between a wail and a growl. The tragedy in the vocals covers everything in a depressive, bleak sheen.
Another thing that Bosse-de-Nage rocks the boat with is its lack of what have become known as a staple of black metal, tremolo-picking riffs. Instead, the guitars tend to be more straightforward. Even in a song like “A Subtle Change”, where the intro riff is done in a fast-picked style, each note is meant to be heard, rather than blend together in a whirlwind of noise. The band doesn’t mind slowing down and allowing the bass and drums to be heard. When they want to bring speed, another mainstay of black metal, they rely on the drumming to bring that speed, rather than the standard guitars.
Sound considerations aside, All Fours is an excellent album, and a great follow-up to III. Bosse-de-Nage has kept the intensity high and managed to find new ways of painting their bleak picture. The only thing missing, when compared to III, is the lack of some slow, devastating pieces, like “Cells” or “An Ideal Ledge”. Perhaps Bosse-de-Nage is attempting to temper their bleak music and bring some sparkles light to their sound, like the soft piano notes in “A Subtle Change” or the violins to cap off the album on “The Most Modern Staircase”.