French post-metal quintet Fall Of Messiah aren’t afraid to gaze into the maddening abyss and ponder the more depressing nature of existence. The group have often veered towards toying with more macabre psychological exercises, something their 2016 breakthrough Empty Colours showcased vividly. Four years on and with the world continuing to spin dangerously off it’s axis, it’s no surprise Fall Of Messiah’s latest record Senicarne see’s the group tackle their biggest and bleakest subject to date.
Roughly translating to ‘rooted’ in French when read in reverse and ‘old flesh’ in Latin when read forwards, Senicarne documents how neither human relationships nor nature is safe from the ravages of entropy. It’s a record that observes how the threads of human connectivity and roots of nature wilt and fray over the passage of time, an album documenting that no matter how tightly intertwined such threads are, they are abound to be loosened with age. It’s a mighty topic to comprehend - let alone to articulate musically - but yet the band quickly prove they have the means to do the topic justice with their sobering soundscapes and invasive blasts of post-hardcore emotion.
Opener ‘La Reppublique Du Vide’ proves to be the perfect entry point. A brooding post-metal landscape of wildflowers blooming from weltered foliage, it’s a substance filled instrumental harbouring a desolate sense of beauty, an allure that takes a violent form with the proceeding ‘Contreforts’. More in line with Converge and easily reminiscent of fellow frenchmen Birds In Row, this is where the razors edge of the record takes bloom. The sudden introduction of throat tearing vocals is utterly unexpected and only highlights the subject of decay in a way frighteningly vivid.
The way the record suddenly swings from delicate instrumental illustration to the jolting emotion of deafening post-hardcore givens the impression that Senicarne plays out like a pendulum – swinging from genre to genre in an expected fashion. It’s not really the case however. Following on from the brilliant, almost early Architects technicality of lead single ‘Young Pines’, the vessel for Fall Of Messiah’s latest musical documentation does primarily prove to be shimmering and expansive post-rock landscapes. However that urgency - the invasive, deafening emotion synonymous with the post-hardcore progenitors such as Envy and Heaven In Her Arms - drives and lies at the core of such instrumental work.
In honesty, saying this is instrumental music for classic post-hardcore connoisseurs would be accurate. Even at it’s most placid and tranquil, Senicarne quivers with frothing human emotion. Fall Of Messiah channel this emotion via crashing rhythms and cascading melodies that hammer the subject home, delicately siphoning this volatile concoction of anger and anguish to ensure the record doesn’t crack with pressure. The interlude nature of ‘Sand Mountain’ and following 'Sequoia’ is a great example of this. Despite the band writhing submerged in the waters of the likes of Caspian or Maybeshewill, a maelstrom of their design lies overhead, one that threatens to downpour at any moment. This sense of unpredictability allows the record to bare it's barbs into one's attention, ensuring it remains poignant at all times.
Whilst incorporating the contemporary blackgaze fervour of bands such as Alcest and Deafheaven, closer ‘The Loneliest Whale In The World’ see’s the band offer catharsis as the end arrives, a respite that could said to mirror the quiet of the final stage of entropy. This isn’t just a phenomenally sprawling record that see’s Fall Of Messiah delicately distill their emotionally ravaging craft equally over nine tracks, it’s an album that allows one to ponder the nature of questions that many aren’t willing to brave.