It’s no secret that here at Bleak Metal we (um…..me) are pretty into Bosse-de-Nage and their dastardly enigmatic ways (check out a review of ii and also iii which I did for SPB). The mysterious band have been consistently producing some of the most interesting and intriguing post-rock/punk infused black metal of the past couple of years and November sees the release of a split record with Deafheaven – a band that similarly challenge the concepts of black metal and what it really means.
For this release, Bosse-de-Nage recorded a brand new track – “A Mimesis of Purpose” – and Deafheaven deigned to take on something no one ever expected – a Mogwai cover. Yep. And holy shit, do they ever do this melancholic masterpiece justice.
Deafheaven’s side of the split comes first, and the intro of “Punk Rock” and the full track “Cody” are taken from Come On Die Young (1999), the second full length from Scottish post-rock group Mogwai and their record – which is evidently a huge influence on the band. Listening to the original piece will give you a sense of where Deafheaven have been and ultimately, where they are going. There’s a beautiful sadness that flows throughout “Cody” and it’s a deeply affecting ode to lost love, friendship and hope.
Deafheaven take the structure of the song and twist it into something that is entirely their own by adding a new dimension of utter hopelessness – incredible considering how darn sad the original track is. Beginning with gently picked guitar notes, “Cody” soon segues into a wonderful and tangible sadness. A mournful essence seeps through the cracks left by George Clarke’s voice – a voice which has never sounded so completely full of despair and one which draws around you, filling you with total desolation whilst the sweeping tones of guitar build soar behind the misery.
The aura is one of profound and consuming despondency and there are a great many passages that are enough to break even the strongest of minds. Guitar inflections that contain a deep sense of anguish within their electronic tones echo over a landscape of sorrow and passages of true poignancy beat from beneath the howls of pain spilling forth from Clarke. “Cody” is genuinely moving, and Deafheaven have somehow created something quite original out of another artists work whilst retaining the songs intent and mood. Those clever bastards.
Bosse-de-Nage’s contribution is “A Mimesis of Purpose” and the beginning flits between stark screams of utter desperation and deeply unsettling spoken word passages – a similar tactic used on their full length of this year, iii. Whilst “A Mimesis of Purpose” has those signature Bosse-de-Nage nuances- the militaristic drum beat, constantly shifting time signatures and curious dissonance, it also feels new and fresh and unlike what we’ve heard from this band before.
Bosse-de-Nage revel in their difficulty, and this song is no different in that respect, but “A Mimesis of Purpose” has a little something that pushes the evolution of this band into ever more unusual territory. It’s exciting to hear a band change and take on new aspects and this shadowy collective are astounding in their ability to diverge from even their own path at times and here they even throw in a divine violin line that evokes a sweet atmosphere of times long past. Of course that serenity doesn’t last long with this band around and forceful screams soon penetrate the somber nature of the initial steps of the track.
“A Mimesis of Purpose” is deftly experimental and Bosse-de-Nage include a nearly, sorta, kinda punk gang vocal during one passage whilst later the ferocity of the drums near the finale is broken by a gorgeous choral/synth/maybe a female voice (I’m not too hot on what things actually are, you may have noticed) which gives the track a heavenly facade that masks the deeply unnerving nature of the band rather gracefully.
Deafheaven and Bosse-de-Nage are both outsiders of their chosen genre for reasons untrve, and it’s surely written in the stars that eventually these two would come together. Their subject matter is often deeply personal and their approaches to black metal unique – and that’s exactly why you should get on board.