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PENSÉES NOCTURNES

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • France


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Pensées Nocturnes biography
Founded in Paris, France in 2009

PENSÉES NOCTURNES is a French one-man experimental/ avant garde black metal act formed by Vaerohn in 2008. Vaerohn is also a member of pagan black metal act VALHÔLL. PENSÉES NOCTURNES released the debut album "Vacuum" in 2009. The second full-length studio album "Grotesque" was released in March 2010.

( Biography written by UMUR)

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PENSÉES NOCTURNES discography


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PENSÉES NOCTURNES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 10 ratings
Vacuum
2009
3.89 | 8 ratings
Grotesque
2010
3.04 | 4 ratings
Ceci Est De La Musique
2011
4.00 | 5 ratings
Nom d'une pipe !
2013
3.44 | 9 ratings
À boire et à manger
2016
4.50 | 4 ratings
Grand Guignol Orchestra
2019
2.96 | 4 ratings
Douce Fange
2022

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PENSÉES NOCTURNES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Douce Fange by PENSÉES NOCTURNES album cover Studio Album, 2022
2.96 | 4 ratings

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Douce Fange
Pensées Nocturnes Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars In the world of modern black metal, perhaps no other nation has produced so many innovative experimental artists as France with the best known examples of Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord and Peste Noire leading the way however they have hardly been the only ambitious black metal acts emerging from this part of the world though with other bands like Escotrilihum and Véhémence expanding the boundaries of black metal even further. One of the strangest newer acts to emerge from France has been the crazy PENSÉES NOCTURNES which has essentially been the solo project of Vaerohn since 2008.

While black metal may have started out shedding all traces of traditional sounds that have gestated throughout time, modern black metal has catapulted forth by hybridizing with many of the traditional folk sounds of various cultures of the world ranging from the Central Asian sounds heard in Darkestrah to the Nordic sounds of various Scandinavian third wavers. PENSEE NOCTURNES has unapologetically mined the world of French traditional folk music, dark cabaret and most French sounding musical style of all, musette and stringing it all together in a black metal frenzy.

Vaerohn returns in early 2022 with the seventh PENSEE NOCTURNES album DOUCE FANGE (Sweet Mud) and unleashes another unthinkable mixture of circus music, jazz, musette and even tango with his usual blend of classical fueled depressive black metal madness. This is the kind of experimental black metal that will drive purists crazy. The pompous romp of tango fueled accordions with black metal blastbeats and over the top dramatic vocals that sound like the lamenting of a circus tent set aflame, PENSEE NOCTURNES' propensity for super exaggerated juxtapositions of such elements is an attention getter for sure but given the fragile tightrope act of such metal hybridizations, it's a very difficult juggling act to maintain over an entire career.

As with many similar styled bands that use black metal as a contrasting element to more traditional folk styles that also add in ingredients from other disparate genres, what begins as a recipe that incorporates adequate supplies of the metal part of the equation for the voracious consumers of head banging music, often the metal aspects get tamped down in favor of the folky elements. Such is the case of DOUCE FANGE. While PENSEE NOCTURNES began its run in a rather unique way on the 2009 debut "Vacuum" which crafted a classical music mix of high octane black metal, on 2013's "Nom dune Pipe!" Vaerohn switched gears and offered the first true mix of black metal and the traditional French sounds of musette. PENSEE NOCTURNES has been a wild ride of carnival music fueled hysteria ever since.

While incorporating all of the elements that made PENSEE NOCTURNES what it is today, DOUCE FANGE seems to have gone for the jugular by adding even more ethnic sounds. The most glaring example is the Argentinean sounds of the tango on the album's first single "Le Tango Du Vieuloniste." This track despite its exquisite musicality supplies an ample dose of cartoonish absurdity and showcases an example of what it would sound like if Astor Piazzolla had hooked up with Yann Tiersen and perhaps early Summoning. Add some spoken word dialogue from some undisclosed source, plenty of frantic screams and a never-ending supply of black metal weaving in and out of the carnavelesque jocularity and DOUCE FANGE comes off as an even more avant-garde experience that will leave the uninitiated listener pushing the stop button in no time at all.

It goes without saying that PENSEE NOCTURNE is an acquired taste and shouldn't really be thought of as a black metal act at all despite black metal sounds being a part of the recipe. This is an example of an avant-garde metal eccentricity completely escaping the playbook of any pesky definitions and artistic expression solely for the purpose of being artistic, a very French trait which has produced some of the world's most enduring artists of many trades.

For my tolerant tastes i actually have an appetite for this exotic musical specimen that is part cheese, part bombast, part timeless authenticity and 100% insane! In comparison to previous albums DOUCE FANGE seems to have fallen off the rails a bit as i found 2019's "Grand Guignol Orchestra" to sound a bit more balanced but i have to admit that this crazy concoction certainly is not without its appeal. Perhaps my least favorite PENSEE NOCTURNES albums but certainly engaging enough to appeal to my freakish avant-garde sensibilities. One of the drawbacks here is that the black metal has become too watered down with an assault of psychedelic organs, circus music effects and a nonstop display of uplifting folk moods in direct opposition to depressive black metal bleakness. It certainly offers a unique brackish water effect but seems to be the least focused album of this unique scatterbrained act so far especially when stray saxophone squawks enter the scene without any clear context.

3.5 rounded down

 Grotesque by PENSÉES NOCTURNES album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.89 | 8 ratings

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Grotesque
Pensées Nocturnes Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars After Vaerohn caught the attention of the avant-post-black metal world under the guise of the project PENSÉES NOCTURNES with the debut album "Vacuum," he returned for a second round of artistically designed depressive black metal that hybridized with classical, jazz, blues and even novelty circus music. GROTESQUE released the following year in 2010 continued the momentum laid out on the debut but took even greater liberties in creating an even more twisted, highly surreal and torturous sonic journey than presented on "Vacuum."

Once again Vearohn plays all the instruments ranging from the typical buzzsaw guitar feed, bottom dwelling bass and percussive drive but also dishes out romantic classical piano runs, symphonic touches and even the occasional accordion thus expanding the world of black metal into the more traditional musical realms of Vaerohn's native France, but as gimmicky as this may seem Vaerohn executes these juxtapositions of disparate sounds quite gracefully as the wrong ingredients strewn together with a bad recipe can result in disaster. Overall there is less black metal on this one and more avant-guide epic classical sounds but they often overlap into a very surreal strangeness not present on "Vacuum."

While it's hard to believe that heavy metal which branched off of blues rock in the 70s could become the 21st century's answer to classical music, the truth of the matter is that the genre has steadily evolved in both compositional complexity as well as avant- garde experimentation and nowhere have these two aspects come into fruition more than in the French metal scene. PENSÉES NOCTURNES on paper may sound much like what other metal bands like Carach Angren or Limbonic Art have achieved with highly symphonic and classically charged black metal darkened by ugly guitar and occult themes but Vaerohn takes these sounds to a whole other level and displays an uncanny sense of expertise absent in many other acts. My guess is that he was classically trained in the most experimental aspects of the classical music world.

GROTESQUE lives up to its title. While it continues the Shining influenced depressive black metal style with slow plodding rhythms, psychotic outbursts and the insane asylum escapee vocal angst, it changes the tone to an even more depressive and detached setting that finds the classical piano runs less Chopin-esque and more abstract as well as a more meandering sense of compositional development which ultimately makes this a scarier and deeper penetrating experience for those who can stomach its unorthodox approach. The overall feel is utterly creepy with spidery arpeggiated guitars, tremolo picking and vocals buried in the mix to simulate a dungeony effect augmented with all kinds of sonic surprises.

With circus march entering the scene on tracks like "Vulgum Pecus" and "Eros" it often seems like a Hector Berlioz "Symphonie Pathetique" dance of demons that have congregated in the modern world and have shapeshifted into the metal paradigm but Vaerohn also manages to incorporate psychotic bluesy bits as on the opening of "Monosis" that sound like what Captain Beefheart would've conjured up had he delved into the darkest recesses of modern metal. One of the major reasons PENSÉES NOCTURNES is so successful in its relentless pursuit of the experimental world surely stems from the fact that the production and mixing processes are impeccable as somehow the black metal is allowed to organically evolve from seemingly unrelated musical territory.

Adding to the surreality factor is the fact that the compositions are more jittery. The time signatures are fairly erratic like a quantum dance tortuously trying to find equilibrium but never finding resolution. The darkwave ambience is also more abstract as it flutters in unrelated counterpoints around the metal outbursts and classical symphonic elements and then when least expected unknown variables rear their ugly heads such as the accordion segment on "Monosis" which at 9 1/2 minutes is the album's longest track. Alongside this unexpected instrumental insert is also an unusual guitar accompaniment and then the whole thing alternates with the depressive black metal bombast. Very, very weird stuff indeed.

In the end, GROTESQUE sort of comes off as a very bad nightmare set to music. It flitters along logically and then like the disjoining aspects of dreams sort of engages in illogical leaps into alternative dimensions and sometimes returns and at other times just sort of moves on and becomes something else altogether. This is truly avant-garde metal at its finest that seems like it was a truly some sort of musical vision that arose from the subconscious and tricked out into some sort of sonic reality in the 2010 timeline of the metal music world. This will ultimately be too loosely structured for many but there are more than enough melodic hooks that float around albeit in unpredictable manners like a colony of bats exiting their darkened cave to hunt of their prey in the night. Personally i love this kind of stuff. Despite the extra symphonic, classical and novelty elements, GROTESQUE delivers the darkened black metal goods but takes the surreality level up several notches.

 Vacuum by PENSÉES NOCTURNES album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.83 | 10 ratings

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Vacuum
Pensées Nocturnes Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars France has been killing it in the 21st century when it comes to innovative, creative and out-of-the-box extreme metal that includes not only the big names of Deathspell Omega, Gojira, Peste Noire and Blut Aus Nord but many less known bands that have found a cult following including the tech death of Gorod, the avant-goth surrealism of Öxxö Xööx and the atmospheric out-there-ness of bands like Alcest and Akphaezya. Add to that list yet another band that simultaneously delves into several disparate arenas. The Paris based PENSÉES NOCTURNES isn't really a band at all but rather the solo project of one Valhôll (aka Vearohn) who after releasing a single Pagan black metal "solo" album under the Valhôll moniker in the form of "A la Mémoire de Nos Ancêtres" decided to switch gears and start releasing albums as PENSÉES NOCTURNES.

While PENSÉES NOCTURNES has become more synonymous with black circus metal music with a wild avant-garde approach of crafting soundtracks to your favorite goat sacrificing rituals by clowns and possessed barkers, on the debut VACUUM, the circus musical aspects while present are supplanted by the darkened dreary doom and gloom of depressive black metal most closely related to the melancholic wrist slashing music of Sweden's Shining complete with the same plaintive and agonizingly tortured vocal style, however PENSÉES NOCTURNES crafts a more ambitious mix of musical influences that includes Chopin inspired piano music as the basis of classical melodic developments that provide the canvas to paint the blackened guitar distorted tremolo picking, buzzsaw riffs and blastbeats upon.

Add to that a highly sensitized touch of symphonic neoclassical darkwave to create the proper lunar atmospheres and you have the recipe for a highly sophisticated slice of suavely crafted yet brazen black metal that strikes the perfect balance between the utter damnation of pitch black with the threads of light shimmering between the cracks of reality. In addition to the classical underpinnings, PENSÉES NOCTURNES delivers a diverse sense of style beyond the dominant depressive black metal overcast. The opening "Lune Malade" showcases the circus themed music that would become more prevalent on more recent releases and "Coups de Bleus" skillfully transmogrifies a piano-based blues into a screaming frenetic madman's unintelligible litany.

"Epitaphe" begins with simple, soft and subtle acoustic guitar arpeggios, clean vocals in French with female backing vocals. It almost sounds like a cyclical post-rock sort of intro when the violins kick in but also has a folky vibe to it before bursting into black metal. After a healthy dose of some of the most frenetic guitar work on the album, towards the end the violin based post-rock cops a waltz type of swagger with a touch of circus elements and finally fades out as a whispering wind howl. "Repas de Corbeau" sort of just continues the flow as it breaks into an atmospheric black metal with more deranged vocal utterances. Overall the tracks lengths are quite long with every one of the six tracks extending past the eight minute mark with the intro surpassing the eleven.

VACUUM is quite the accomplishment from a compositional point of view. While it delivers the black metal goods quite effectively, the true genius is in how all the melodic elements intricately entwine as well as the careful attention paid to the tempos, dynamics, timbres, tones and other subliminal features. It never occurred to me before but the vocal style initiated by Sweden's Shining and adopted by PENSÉES NOCTURNES at this stage actually does sound like a tortured circus clown who has lost his marbles and on the road to becoming a deranged psychopath. Overall this is an excellent debut that incorporates beautifully melodic constructs into the otherwise completely bleak sonic din without ever sounding cheesy. The line between brilliant and cringe-worthy is a thin one in black metal and in the case of VACCUM, i find all is well.

4.5 rounded down

 Ceci Est De La Musique by PENSÉES NOCTURNES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.04 | 4 ratings

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Ceci Est De La Musique
Pensées Nocturnes Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Ceci Est De La Musique' - Pensées Nocturnes (6/10)

I am no stranger to the world of French black metal. I have long considered some of the world's best experimental and progressive black metal to share its national origin with fine wine, cheese, and the guillotine. Although names like Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord, and Pest Noire first come to mind, Pensées Nocturnes also finds a place on that list of French black metal acts that aren't afraid to test conventions. As this project's third album certainly testifies, Pensées Nocturnes are a weird band with a strangely unique sound in black metal. All the same, while 'Ceci Est De La Musique' holds some truly haunting secrets for listeners to unlock, the mystique is marred with a mess of disconnected ideas and unfulfilled potential.

'Ceci Est De La Musique' is French for 'This Is The Music', and as the sombre album artwork goes to indicate, 'This' is not the cheerful variety. Like many artists in black metal, Pensées Nocturnes' Vaerohn manifests his madness and dark emotion in the music, be it through the chaotic sounds, jittery song structure, and the man's almost inhuman howls. 'Ceci Est De La Musique' is notable for being a one song album. At fifty five minutes, this is a dense composition with plenty going on throughout. Generally however, Pensées Nocturnes' music falls into two camps; the first being a form of depressive black metal, and the second being a more avant-garde take at classical music, most notably influenced by the work of Frederic Chopin. The classical orchestrations sound quite authentic and fleshed out, ranging from an all-out symphony sound, to a more traditional French tone of accordions and baroque pianos. This classical element runs parallel to the black metal, but very rarely do the two ever mix. Instead, Vaerohn will often have a classical passage erupt directly into a depressive black metal onslaught. While the parts of this album work well on their own, 'Ceci Est De La Musique' suffers from the patchy way it is all put together.

'Ceci Est De La Musique' is much like an avant-garde art film; there are plenty of beautiful ideas, but the way they are all put together is puzzling, and- in this case- ultimately underwhelming. Besides the aforementioned point about the album's two main styles rarely ever truly coming together as one, 'Ceci Est De La Musique' flows in a twisted, rhapsodic manner. Pensées Nocturnes throws a series of interesting passages at the listener, but the sequence in which they are presented feels random and disjointed. If Pensées Nocturnes had even developed a few of these ideas into larger themes, than this album would have felt more structured. Instead, the composition as a whole has little rising action to it, wandering around within this interesting style that Vaerohn has constructed. Just as a brick wall will fall to pieces without mortar, such is the same with this album.

Pensées Nocturnes is not a symphonic metal band by the typical definition; their use of orchestrations seems more geared to accentuating the feelings of despair and confusion rather than to sound 'epic'. Paired with an eerie black metal sound, it is a shame that the execution of this sound does not work out as well as it should have. Pensées Nocturnes is a very intriguing project, and 'Ceci Est De La Musique' has so many excellent ideas, but it is structured incoherently enough that it loses some of that magic.

Thanks to UMUR for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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