De Mal En Pire - Official Website

Sã Mo

Canada Country of Origin: Canada

Sã Mo
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: March 15th, 2024
Label: Independent
Genre: Doom, Post-Metal, Sludge
1. L'Ancre De La Douleur Triangulaire
2. Anachorète
3. Cent Mots
4. Délire Mantique
5. Sans Maux
6. L'Astre De Velours
7. Les Amants Du Désordre
8. Cent Maux
9. L'Apogée Des Oubliés
10. Sans Mot

Review by Raphaël on June 5, 2024.

The first thing you need to do, before listening to the album Sã Mo from the Sherbrooke band De Mal En Pire and even before reading the rest of this review, is to take a glance at the painting, le Radeau de la Méduse, from French painter Théodore Géricault (1791 – 1824). According to the description of the artwork, the raft carried survivors "to the borders of human experience. Mad, parched, and hungry, they massacred the mutineers, ate their dead companions, and killed the weakest among them”. This gives an overall good feel of what sounds and subject matters are tackled on the album. Also, little side note, De Mal En Pire is actually a French expression that means, from bad to worse. It’s worth mentioning because I think it’s an important part of the band’s identity. The fact that they chose to sing in French is also what makes them so unique. Fun fact, the band wrote the entire album in English and when it came the time to record, they just did not like how it sounded. Being the proud québécois they are, French is an important part of the culture and so they decided to rewrite the entire album in French, making it sound completely unique. And let me tell you, you don’t even need to understand French for it to sound good and feel something when he screams his lungs out or when he sings softly. Speaking of the writing and singing, all lyrics are written by Rémi Brière-Aubé and Frédéric C. Smith. Rémi Brière-Aubé being the singer, guitar player and overall mastermind behind the music to the overall image of the band.

Now, let’s dive in! Sã Mo is the phonetic writing of four songs on the album: 'Cent Mots' (a hundred words), 'Sans Maux' (without ills), 'Cent Maux' (a hundred ills) and 'Sans Mots' (without words). Right there, we can see the care that is put in everything. And this level of care is everywhere, from the style of lyrics (French poetry), to the music and imagery, it’s a complete work of art that is, if you take the time to enter its world, so rewarding. It starts with, 'L'Ancre De La Douleur Triangulaire', a short intro that begins with a loud electric guitar feedback and a slow, ominous sounding, sludgy bass rumble. In a nice buildup, the drums and eventually, the vocals and the riff, are added, culminating in a nice release of tension. Transitioning, in the most seamless way possible, to the first full song, 'Anachorète'. This short song showcases many of the elements that are going to appear all throughout the album. In the first few seconds, a simple little cymbal built up with the singer repeating four words, in his ethereal clean voice, that are going to be coming back often on other songs, “seul, exclu, mort, vaincu” (alone, excluded, dead, defeated). It then explodes into pure hardcore aggressivity. I don’t know what makes French sound so good when it’s screamed, post-hardcore style, but it just works. The sounds of the French language are the perfect fit! Moving on to the simple chorus, which has him repeating the title over and over. It is going to be stuck in your head on repeat. Next is 'Cent Mots', another hardcore banger, complete with raging screams and full of breakdowns. Again, you will be headbanging hard on this one. Songs four and five ('Délire Mantique', 'Sans Maux') could also be described as traditional hardcore/post-hardcore, with a particularly great use of the double kick on 'Délire Mantique', giving it an extra boost of heaviness and an absolutely long and crushing breakdown on 'Sans Maux'. But you also can notice they are progressively adding a bit more complexity and a bit more space for post-metal atmospheres.

The second half is where things start to be even more interesting. One of the highlights of the entire album is definitely, 'L'Astre De Velours'. Starting with the main bouncy, sludgy and proggy riff, that is undeniably going to make you move. This section showcases the immense songwriting talent of these guys. It’s complex, with its progressive metal influences, particularly in the rhythm section, but simple at the same time, with heavy chugs followed by a few dissonant and/or harmonic notes. It’s going to make you dance, headbang and feel all kinds of emotions. The slower and ethereal chorus really puts on display the duality of Rémi’s voice, going from passionate and aggressive screams to angelic and soft cleans. This song has so many layers, from the irregular tempos, powerful bass, impeccable drumming, great use of minor intervals to the post-metal atmospheres, impeccably woven all throughout, and that bouncy riff, good God my head is bopping just thinking about it. Plus, they made a music video and the same level of care and attention to details had been put in it, making it truly memorable!

After the quick, but still full of creativity, banger that is, 'Les Amants Du Désordres', they continue with another masterpiece of a post-metal song, 'Cent Maux'. Clocking in at almost 9 minutes, it’s by far the longest song and with all that extra time they build an impressive musical journey. It follows the recipe of the long buildup, becoming progressively louder while still retaining high levels of atmospheres and emotions. They also follow the trend that began on 'L'Astre De Velours', by adding an extra layer of complexity, especially with the drums. Vocally, Rémi uses his soft and ethereal cleans, culminating in the last few seconds, where he unleashes his powerful screams. Next, 'L'Apogée Des Oubliés' is another one of those long songs filled with atmosphere, but has more sludgy and metalcore-ish, heavier sections, masterfully integrated in between the soft atmospheres and complex buildups. The song has an extra ghostly feel, frequently layering Rémi’s screams and cleans. The ending in particular, has a major shift in tempo, slowing everything down to an almost doom territory, with the last seconds becoming quiet, in some kind of whisper and intricate ghost notes on the cymbals, transitioning perfectly to the last song, 'Sans Mot'. Meaning, without words, it’s an atmospheric and droning instrumental. It gives you the time to stop for three minutes and reflect back on what you just listened and lived through. And being the last song, it’s easily skippable, if you’re not in the mood to meditate.

Now, if you remember at the beginning of this review, I said to go look at a painting, le Radeau de la Méduse, to get a first feel of this album. Lyrically, every song takes inspiration from the painting and the story associated. It’s a template to go further and talk about modern life problems and struggles. Entirely written in French poetry, it not only sounds good when sung but the texts in themselves are beautiful. It has been such a joy to dive in the world of De Mal En Pire. A dark and gloomy world but still filled with beauty. Orchestrated by the master hand of Rémi, everything has purpose and meaning, the visual, the music, the lyrics. Add to that, beautiful music videos, a great presence on stage in live shows, a clear vision for the band and there you have it, my favorite new band, from my hometown nonetheless! I can’t help but to feel proud of these guys and if I were a music label, I would jump on them so quick! If you like post-metal and post-hardcore, you would be foolish not to give this band a listen.

Rating: 9.7 out of 10