Those in the know about French black metal are very aware of Regarde Les Hommes Tomber. They are without a doubt one of the most interesting groups to emerge from the country’s vast black metal underground. With their first full length in five years, they have come to silence all those who may have doubted them. Their latest offering, the spine-tingling Ascension, is a fitting addition to the band’s legacy and a clear next step in their trajectory. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber craft a unique brand of black metal that relies on vast atmospheres. These are brought on by searing guitars and punishing blast beats. Ultimately, Ascension is more of a sonic experience than a collection of songs. The all-encompassing nature of the record makes it an early contender for 2020’s black metal album of the year. For their Season Of Mist debut, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber have unapologetically pulled out all the stops.
The most promising aspect of Ascension is that it shows how much the band has grown. "Stellar Cross" shows some of the band’s most dynamic work to date. The acoustic intro and open-throated moans that define the track are mesmerizing. The production has clearly also taken a huge leap forward, with the potent interlude, "La Tentation," perhaps serving as a standout example. Meanwhile, tracks like "A New Order" really stay true to the band’s traditional fare of ‘wall of sound black metal’. These precisely composed blasphemous screeds promise to be the stuff of legends and of course, countless year-end lists.
Ascension is one of the band’s most multi-faceted and imposing offerings yet. While certainly not part of the world of ‘trees and shit black metal’, Ascension offers transcendence. It’s hard not to get lost in the bass-driven magic of a track like "The Crowning." The grooves are palatable and consistently suggest so much more to come from the band. The hints at melodic lines in a track like "Au Bord Du Gouffre" serve to amplify what the band has been able to create here. However, it is in the sheer bombast of tracks like "Renegade Son" that the band really shines. The Amenra-esque bridge only serves to amplify the drama, keeping listeners’ ears glued to the speakers. The way that Regarde Les Hommes Tomber form mountains of sound and drag you by the hair into their depraved world is truly exciting.
Ascension is a masterclass in modern black metal songwriting. This is easily the band's most exciting offering to date and a record that seems to only get better with repeated listens. There are simply so many layers here. The band seems eager to continually impress with the depth of their sound. While staying true to their core aesthetic, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber manage to bring their songwriting to a whole new level. Aided by great production and some of their most stately compositions to date, the band has elevated their work in a truly profound way. This may very well be the black metal album of the year, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber are sure as hell trying for it.