I was looking forward to this release. Décembre Noir are a band that I have heard many positive things about, and songs from their 2016 release Forsaken Earth have found their way into my playlists, much to my pleasure. The five piece band from Erfurt in Germany now bring us their fourth full length titled The Renaissance of Hope. While the title suggests themes of hope, the topic of active euthanasia is not exactly light fare. But as the band points out in their promo text, hope can be diverse, and so is the music on this release.
The six songs that span over 48 minutes deliver a very varied mix of melodic doom and death metal. I was actually surprised by how well doom metal and melodic death metal can be blended. While the mostly slow and oppressive sounds and riffs clearly have a doom metal vibe going on, there is plenty of death metal and melodic death metal riffing mixed in here. One thing that is clearly an influence from doom metal though is the song lengths, which is my biggest gripe with The Renaissance of Hope. While the atmosphere created is great and the riffs are heavy, the songs overstay their welcome a bit. Sometimes less is more. Another thing that I am not overly fond of are the too-well-done vocals. I know, that’s an odd thing to complain about, and Lars is an extremely talented vocalist, but for me these vocals sound a bit too technically perfect and somewhat sterile – I would prefer a little lesser skilled vocalist if that brings more grit and emotion to the songs.
Those minor complaints out of the way I have lots to praise on this record. While I had to interrupt many a playthrough of this record due to its length and a choppy schedule on my part in these last days, I always had the riffs stuck in my head for hours after my last listen, and could not wait to get back to diving into it. The riffing by Martin and Sebastian on guitars and Stephan on bass is brutal, and the melodies thrown in are simple yet incredibly catchy and effective. My biggest tip of the hat goes to Kevin on drums though, who throws out catchy grooves like clockwork and has a plethora of awesome fills to spice things up, most present on album closer Behind the Scenes.
Besides the aforementioned trimming that would benefit some of the longer-than-needed parts, the songwriting is splendid. Quiet parts and heavy, technical riffings alternate with a hypnotic rhythm, and the heavy, full production supports the atmosphere. This is certainly not a happy party-record filled with hit singles for your gym-playlist, but if you are looking for a profound mix of doom and melodic death metal, this is a hard recommend.