Review: Clair Cassis - Clair Cassis II
Needs Space To Let The Atmosphere Develop
Clair Cassis's self titled debut was fantastic. This band has the same members that Velvet Cacoon did, with the addition of a drummer. The album had a similar sound to Velvet Cacoon, with some crucial differences. The songs where shorter, more melodic and had more conventional song structures (by black metal standards, of course). This turned out to be a great idea, the atmosphere remained wonderful and the songs were memorable. With this one they still have most of their style down. However, the substance is just not there - it feels like they completely forgot about the songwriting part. Most of these songs are very short, which doesn't make any sense given their style. The songs don't have time to go anywhere or develop a sense of atmosphere.
This is generally slow to mid paced, although some fast sections are thrown in. Its not a big secret that slower songs usually tend to be a bit longer, especially when its metal we're talking about. With Clair Cassis II, only one song breaks the three minute mark and half of the songs are under two minutes. Its not like the songs on the debut album had massive song lengths, but they where long enough to let the songs develop and build an atmosphere. Some of these songs seem like samples of songs. They don't really have a chance to have much of a personality at these short lengths. They end up becoming quite dull. "Bronzed Ash" is really the only decent song. It does have a nice atmosphere and some cool swelling bass lines. However, it doesn't reach its full potential because of its short length.
As part of the shortening process, they have largely left out the atmospheric passages. Gone are the ambient intros, the slow ethereal bass lines that would sometimes come to the foreground as well as the frequent accompaniment by an acoustic guitar (the instrument in which the songs where originally written on). These atmospheric sections gave the album personality and provided the release with balance. With most of that gone, as well as a focus on songwriting, the songs become largely uninteresting. Although they mix the tempo up a bit, the monotony remains. It certainly doesn't help that the riffing is generally uninspired. Also, Josh's groggy rasps are all to sparse. If his vocals frequented this release a bit more, then maybe it would have been a bit more appealing.
This is a pretty disappointing release. An amazing album has been followed up by a lacklustre EP. It is always irritating when bands don't try on EPs just because they are not major releases in their discography. Why bother releasing music if its not going to be good and your not going to put your heart into it? It almost feels like they just threw this together in an hour during a practice. While they definitely have a style perfected (one similar to the album but minus much of the atmosphere), the songs have a nasty tendency to not go anywhere. If you liked the debut, it wouldn't be advised checking this out wanting more. All you'll get is half-assed songs that don't even really feel like songs.