Saturday, 23 June 2012

Review: Clair Cassis - Luxury Absolute 

Drugs, Fine Perfume And Graveyards

Clair Cassis's last release, an EP called Clair Cassis II, was a major let down. It came after a magnificent debut album, and seemed pale and lifeless in comparison. There were a few problems with the EP - the songs were ridiculously short (especially when genre is taken into consideration), the atmospheric passages had all but disappeared and the songwriting was dull. While this EP doesn't reach anywhere close to the highs of the debut, it is a vast improvement over the last EP.

The thing that saves this release from being as bad as the last one is the fact that they brought back the atmospheric sections. Without them, this would seem utterly lifeless and pointless. While the short song syndrome remains, the first song "Antique Sea Smoke" reaches a healthy 3 and a half minutes. Unfortunately this does not give the song the necessary time to grow as it consists of two movements. The first being black metal and the latter being driven by an acoustic guitar which is so subtle it could bass for ambient.

The guitar tone is a lot better - droney, hypnotizing and somewhat grainy, it beats the hell out of the dull guitar tone on Clair Cassis II. It should also be noted that the drumming is a lot more interesting here. Largely driven by hi-hats and cymbals, it provides a stable backbone for the music while never becoming boring. While
largely minimalistic, it is pleasing to the ears. Yet another problem that plagued the previous EP is the rareness of Josh's hazy rasps. Thankfully they appear a bit more in this one.

This EP feels closer to the aura surrounding Clair Cassis, thanks largely in part due to the atmospheric parts. The ambient and acoustic parts really bring back that fog over the ocean vibe. The song names, such as "Under Sleepy Grey Elms" and "Tiny Bourbon Cedar Stars", fit perfectly with Clair Cassis's image. The band is self described as "luxurious black metal inspired by drugs, fine perfume and graveyards." These song titles fall perfectly in line with Josh's idea of word painting. He feels it is pointless to try to express intellectual and serious ideas through the medium of black metal. Not being the type to write about cliché metal topics such as Satan, gore and evil, he prefers to use his lyrics and song titles to portray an atmosphere. He implements this technique successfully; it ends up contributing to the overall atmosphere of the music.

This is without a doubt a vast improvement over Clair Cassis II. However, it is not without its faults. The songs are still too short, they need more room to create atmosphere. While this is largely like the debut album, the songs here are not as catchy, which is a downside. Also, Angela's bass work is a large part of what made the debut so unique. Unfortunately it is not all that prominent here. If she added a few of her majestic overpowering bass lines to this EP, it could of gone from good to great. The atmospheric parts here are great, the subtlety ends up working to Claire Cassis's advantage. While this EP is not without its flaws, it is still good. Certainly not great, but worth a listen for anyone who liked the debut album.


And for no other reason than the fact that I like it, heres a picture of Angela the bass player:

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