Bonjour Tristesse – Your Ultimate Urban Nightmare (Lifeforce)

Wednesday, 25th July 2018
Rating: 8.5/10

“Hello sadness” in French, Bonjour Tristesse is an apt name for the creation of multi-instrumentalist and sole member Nathaneal. The man also spends his time in post-atmospheric mongers King Apathy (once known as Thränenkind), showing that clearly, there are two sides to his creative coin. Bonjour Tristesse is of the depressive black metal variety, having just one previous full-length to their credit, 2011’s Par un sourire. Your Ultimate Urban Nightmare, however, is the type of bare-‘em-all, remorseless black metal album that skirts past the namby-pamby jostling of Deafheaven and Ghost Bath and into something entirely desolate.

Thematically, it’s easy to spot where this is one going, right into the shallow, vapid heart of city life, where expression and meaning are well, meaningless. (Seriously, “Another Bullshit Night In Suck City” takes the cake.) Mr. Nathaneal certainly livens the pot on the opening title track, which rains down a piercing lead melody and cutting, graceful chords, volleying between hyper-BM and the shades and shadows of post-black metal. Further dynamic exploits, like the clean/spoken word break on “Like the Scythe in the Ripened Field,” the post-rock stroll of “Alienation” as well as the driving black-rock on “One of the Ghostfolk” are of immense value, whipping up the familiar depressive black metal swirl with a song-first edifice.

There is a sense of control and restraint exerted across Your Ultimate Urban Nightmare, which indirectly reflects the city blight that is the target. Whereas certain forms of depressive black metal can get stuck in mud and bathtub of tears by way of letting negative emotion run wild, Bonjour Tristesse take aim and subsequently have produced one of the style’s best forays for the year. Welcome to the gutter.