Décembre Noir – Autumn Kings (Lifeforce)Thursday, 29th November 2018
If the utilization of a clipboard was such a thing during review writing (is it?), then we’d be checking off nearly all the proverbial boxes for Germany’s Décembre Noir. Bred from the hallowed school of classic Katatonia, My Dying Bride, October Tide and Paradise Lost, the Germans also employ clever album (Autumn Kings) and song titles (“Dress. Code. Black”), as well as the necessary atmospheric plight where…there is no light. In essence, Décembre Noir is exactly what you’d want from a melodic death-doom band. They just not quite there with the songs to get them into the echelon of the bands they so admire.
The quickest comparable here is modern-day October Tide. The strewn-about melodies, outside-range song arrangements and occasional lack of immediacy is what pushes October Tide along and has since their inception; Décembre Noir are largely of the same mind, occasionally sucking you in with a luscious melody (“In the Pouring Rain”) and slow-motion doom caress (“The Last Sunrise”). The trouble spot with Décembre Noir is that their compositions don’t feel fully-realized, like they’re inching toward near-greatness only to get bottled up by their own shortcomings.
You’re often left waiting to be fully engaged with the band’s melody and riff choices on the title track and its follow-up “Barricades,” but are left wanting more — the latter evolving into a somewhat of a clunky mess of too much melody and spoken word, if there’s such a thing. And, sure, there are often long, laborious cuts here, some that could use some trimming, but it’s part of a greater issue — Décembre Noir may simply have too much on their hands and no idea of how to self-edit. They’d be best served to sit down and study the bands they’re so influenced by to get a handle on that.