19 Jan 2021 - Pat O'
It’s a very tough time for any band to survive in the current climate, and especially without the opportunity to play live music and gigs. So, one would hope that the fallout from that would see bands and artists spending time in the studio writing and creating some aural wonders for us all to absorb. Thankfully that was definitely the case with Alpha Du Centaure. This band grabbed my attention, without any preconceived notions of their sound, or their journey in getting this album released.
This quarter from Lyon in France released Paralysis in September of last year. Prior to this, they had an EP released, entitled “La Couleur de mes rêves”, which received very positive feedback, and gave them some much needed coverage in what’s a busy and saturated scene. They play a mix of “blackgaze”, “post-black” and “atmospheric post rock”. It’s mature, emotive, melancholic and above all else, it’s a compelling listen. And like I said, it needs to be something a bit special to gain the attention that it has.
The opening track, “Sarramauca”, with its rolling drum intro, is joined by some simple but effective rhythm guitars with a sweeping lead guitar brushing over it, before effortlessly changing tempo and transcending into a crescendo of crashing drums and chunky riffs. A memorable melody which you find humming and playing out in your head long after you’ve played it.
“Ces jours qui disparaissent” follows in a similar vein, with some quiet interludes buried in amongst some crashing blast beats and heavy haunting, wailing guitars. It’s almost trance like, as you listen and soak up the atmosphere and imagery the music radiates.
The title track Paralysis is a giant of a tune, that immediately got me thinking Set and Setting, and that is a huge compliment by the way. It’s bold and brash mid-tempo intro suddenly breaks into an onslaught of high hats, cow bell and cymbals with driving guitars in unison. The music is heavy, blackened and powerful and really gets the fire blazing. At over nine minutes long, there’s some much-needed interludes scattered along the journey, to allow you to catch your breath for a moment or two before being hauled back into a chasm of glorious shredding, fleshy bass lines and crashing drums.
“Harmonie du soir” is a much more tranquil affair, and is a welcome comedown after the power and gallop of the first three tracks. Rich melodic guitars and calm percussions drift and meander along. Like the rest of the album, it’s crisp and clear in production, with nothing muffled or distorted.
The final third of the album tends to follows the same recipe, which is a good thing if you were as transfixed as I was on the first four tracks. Similarities will be made to other bands in this “blackgaze” and “post-black” genre such as Show Me A Dinosaur and Violet Cold, but if that’s the case, Alpha Du Centaure are in very good company.
This is a very strong release, packed with energy, haunting melodies, and heavy overcast atmospheres. These guys have talent in spades. I cannot wait to hear what lies in store on their next release. Maybe some synths, occasional vocals or spoken samples might creep into the next release, and give it another dimension. It’s also worth hitting their bandcamp page and grabbing a vinyl release if that’s your thing.