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Univers Zero - Heresie CD (album) cover


Univers Zero



4.26 | 269 ratings

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4 stars Spectacular, Historic Horror Music

Univers Zero's HERESIE has the historic distinction of being considered one of (if not THE) darkest album ever recorded. While I doubt that it quite makes that mark, it may be the most musically successful of any of the albums in contention. UZ is an extremely talented band, and many of the darker albums by other bands border on the ridiculously bad. In contrast, HERESIE works and works very well. It maintains my interest for its full 51+ minutes. The three songs have distinct ideas yet fit together cohesively. And most of all, there is a sense of variety and movement that puts this album leagues ahead of other intentionally horrific works.

That is not to say this is easy listening. It is extremely demanding on the listener. There are noisy sections simulating a brutal murder, complex time signatures, extreme dissonance, and dark melodies far beyond Phrygian. In fact, on my first listens I thought the album was just too consistently dark. Too much drone, too much doom, too much wallowing in the cold mud. Over time, however, my appreciation has grown. I've noticed just how many angles the band takes on their spooky subject matter. Though never light and happy, there are quicker, anxious sections to contrast the doomy drag. There are repeating melodic themes to contrast the more atonal shrieks. There are free time sections and straight time sections.

The 25 minute opener "La Faulx" takes the longest to develop, but its cultish vocals make it the scariest song of the record. Much of the song paints a scene of deep depression, impending doom, and hopelessness. There is less "lead" and more pure "mood" to this track than I'm accustomed to in UZ. It's as if this were a soundtrack rather than an independent piece of music. Certainly, if there is anything to fault on this disc, it's the length and lesser degree of focus on this first track. In fact, there is a section at about 20 minutes where the song seems to fall apart completely and stop for a few seconds. It recovers for a short energetic section before finishing in plodding, doomy form.

Both of the "shorter" tracks also start slowly but evolve into quite frenetic sections. "Jack the Ripper" is a nice example of telling a story without words. Moving from forboding dissonance to atonal anarchy, clearly the band had envisioned the killer stalking his victim through dark alleys before completing the gruesome act. The use of pure music to create an almost narrative scene is quite successful, and even enjoyable. (Naked City's LENG T'CHE is an example of attempting the same mission on an even more gruesome level, but in my opinion failing.) There is a clear sense of setting the scene, reaching a climax, and releasing tension. Good storytelling.

The final song "Vous Le Saurez En Temps Voulu," composed by keyboardist / guitarist Roger Trigaux, is the most traditionally classical of the three. It reminds me more of the debut album, 1313, which is one of my all time favorite records. It feels more specifically like a musical experience rather than the soundtrack to a horror flick. For more pure music fans like myself, this tends to be the favorite. The song relies less on atmosphere and more on composition.

While my initial reaction to this album was 3-4 stars it has now elevated to 4-5 star status easily with the repeated listens I do for reviews. Though I am not a horror film fan, I can appreciate darkness and this is done so well it's hard not to give it its due. Only the overlength of the first track prevents this from getting a masterpiece rating from me.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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