Ataraxie - _L'Être et la Nausée_
(Weird Truth Productions, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (9.5 out of 10)
Ataraxie is not a funeral doom band -- at least not on this album, and not in the traditional sense, unless you'd want to dub Disembowelment's _Transcendence Into the Peripheral_ a funeral doom album as well. Both bands display super massive slow parts as well as super fast, grinding moments; to call it merely funeral doom (or simply any kind of doom metal) would be an act of severe reductionism, due to their style being way too eclectic, hosting many musical approaches that are often alien to the monolithic and usually strict aesthetic boundaries of funeral doom (and I'm not just referring to the music's pace, which can be at times pretty upbeat).

_L'Être et la Nausée_ could be many things to many people. When it's slow, it is so fucking slow and dragging; when it's fast, it is a lightning fast driving mad bulldozer seemingly going out of control, wrecking everything in its path; when it's melancholic (when is it not?!), Ataraxie shove it like a dagger straight into the heart, twist it inside and grimace while they do so; and when it's tranquil, it is an endless sublime bliss you don't want to wake up from and face the real monsters of everyday life, but instead dwell within this warm, protective womb of dark solace against the horrors of life in perpetual déjà-vu...

This is a complex, harrowing and unfriendly album (a double album that is, comprising two CDs). You won't 'get' it after listening to it once; hell, I didn't 'get' it even after listening to it ten times back to back. This is one of those challenging albums that I guess will always remain a challenge, an enigma of hostile sounds and acrid compositions that are so alienating, hard to swallow and intimidating due to their emotional and intellectual burden, you don't even want to start dealing with them. Why should you? Isn't your life hard as it is, without adding the extra weight of this black boulder of negativity upon your narrow shoulders?

Those who dare explore this unique recording must be prepared for a roller-coaster of sounds and sights and emotions, for the album mixes shamelessly yet successfully mountain-moving heaviness and gentle strokes of deep ambiance; sloth-like velocity back to back with fast paced drumming that verges on blast beats; death metal's darkest paradigms of abysmal atmospheres hand in hand with atmospheric hardcore's routine; monstrous growls parading with clean singing and heartfelt, eardrum-tearing shrieks of pain and sorrow.

Granted, all this can sound like a mixed bag of aimless music exhibiting a plethora of stylistic dichotomies that ultimately may seem absurd. But rest assured, Ataraxie are such a clever band of musicians, they don't allow that fallacy to happen. They stitch all parts of this sonic jigsaw puzzle together, placing each piece perfectly in its place and finely tuning the whole surreal, somber, decadent and twisted picture with an unmatchable suffocating atmosphere of total despair and hatred, equalizing everything to become a uniform dark beast of metal and death and broken, bleeding hearts.

_L'Être et la Nausée_ is one of the most complex albums I have heard. Not only is its emotional burden a high bar to climb over, but its seemingly abstract patterns and alien nature all make this an almost impenetrable album. If you do manage to pierce through the album's thick crust of hostility and twisted melodies -- and I do not guarantee that you will -- and if you do succeed in cracking its code, you will be rewarded with a massive, sweeping experience. You will then understand what the true meaning of sonic art is; the essence of uncompromising, true-to-itself, devoid of any kind of niceties, unapologetic, creative to the hilt music of the underground; the essence of counter-culture, the meaning of artistic integrity, and most importantly, the fathomless depths of human creation.

Is _L'Être et la Nausée_ the best album of year 2013? Probably; it certainly has all the qualities to be crowned as such, even if you wouldn't know what the hell I am talking about after listening to it for the mere first couple of times. All you have to do is become intimate with it and -listen-.


(article published 3/1/2014)

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