Décembre Noir – Your Sunset | My Sunrise (Lifeforce Records)Monday, 23rd October 2023
Since kicking down the proverbial door in 2014 with the brilliant A Discouraged Believer, Décembre Noir have been providing depressive death/doom that firmly tugs the sensitive emotional threads while also being impressively hard-edged. Throughout their existence, they’ve proven to be one of the most reliable in the genre, releasing a new record every couple of years that consistently tread the dark and downtrodden path. As such, they’ve become a go-to for when the mood strikes, and to be fair, this scribe is almost always in the mood for heartstring-pulling doomy death metal. It should then be of no surprise that their fifth record Your Sunset | My Sunrise was muchly anticipated.
The German five-piece do not disappoint if seeking grief-filled subject matter, for opener “Dead End” revolves around the deeply painful loss of one’s father, and all of the raw emotions associated. Emitting their trademark My Dying Bride inspired mournfulness with a death metal proclivity, despair-laden growls trade off with melancholic spoken pieces to dynamically emphasize the level of anguish. Lead vocalist Lars has always been an expert at conveying emotion, making it easy to feel the sadness when lyrically screaming the following passage; “Yes, it feels so hard to accept the truth. Sinking childhood. Just a little paper boat. Downstream in a lake of tears.”
The band does try to balance the tempo out a bit with tracks like “Against the Daylight” being quicker and punchier than the weighty first track. They do of course maintain the generally gloomy aura and slow moments that are imperative to Décembre Noir’s soundscape, so don’t fret. Those elements are never far away, with Your Sunset | My Sunrise never losing focus on what the band continually does extremely well.
“Sentimental Giants” pulls the album back down the primarily doom profile, beginning with a studious clean guitar piece that transitions to their trademark heavy death/doom stylings. Lyrically very heavy, as well, focusing on the immense burden of unrelenting pain, and the dark roads of addiction that one may sadly turn to. This theme of self abuse and seeing no way out continues on “Sleepwalker (In Yesterday’s Smoke)” to a quicker stride, churning out riff after riff of death metal intensity, before settling into a melodic mid-paced demeanor. Closer “Trivial Heart” takes on a more somber inflection, acting as a doom leaning finish that is contemplative, yet ultimately forlorn tonally.
If already a fan of Décembre Noir, surprises won’t be abundant, and Your Sunset | My Sunrise decisively will deliver in droves. It’s musically and lyrically sorrowful, with the right balance of death and doom to satisfy both desires more than adequately. While conversely there isn’t anything profoundly new and boundary pushing on offer, we won’t go as far as stating that they’ve gotten too comfortable with their well-trodden approach. However, these ears would love to see their slower doom side explored more predominantly, as these sentimental moments see the band at their most poignant. That said, in an increasingly competitive landscape filled with quality music of this particular breadth, Décembre Noir maintains their place in the upper echelon; an ever reliable avenue that our sensibilities will continue to steadfastly roam down.