Critics often note that the experimental side of progressively-minded metal bands comes from a less heavy place, driven by melody or atmospheric textures, but imposing soundscapes and tension-building moments of restraint can be just as exhaustive a listen as distorted riffs and pounding percussion. Parisian brotherly duo WuW know and utilise this, creating imposingly sprawling but often minimalist soundscapes informed by experimentation and the members’ past affiliations with jazz ensembles, classical orchestras, world-music troupes and stoner rockers Abrahma.
The result is an inherently poignant affair and, though the words “journey” or “voyage” are thrown around rather haphazardly when referring to music that’s defined as post-anything, they are certainly apposite here. There’s a breath-taking nature to these expansive tracks, which seem imbued with on-the-spot experimentation as a result of being recorded live, and their emotive nature allows them to replicate the subtle narrative implications of movie scores, despite tempos that seem reminiscent of doom metal at its most exploratory.
Despite the obvious influence of doom, though, Rien Ne Nous Sera Épargné is no metal album, nor is it simply post-rock, though those influences also ring true (see ‘Vivre À La Splendeur Des Crépuscules’). Instead, this is the sort of release that it’s easier to slap an “avant-garde” sticker on in lieu of trying to specifically classify its individual movements. The duo’s seasoned past and classical training has seemingly influenced their panoramic soundscapes, which consistently dwell on evocative atmospheres, building tension whilst channelling everything from psychedelic krautrock to King Crimson to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and utilising unconventional musical paraphernalia like Tibetan bowls and cymbals, African small bells played with goat nails and an array of vintage synthesizers and electric organs.
Throughout, the album’s tracks start as one thing and slowly unfurl into another – opener ‘Pour Ce Qu’il En Restera’ is initially driven forward by spacey drones and seemingly spontaneous gusts of startling but brooding instrumentation, like bursts of fluorescent flora emanating from the surface of a lifeless planet, but it quickly morphs into a more ominous affair that begins to gather a strangely captivating momentum. Elsewhere, ‘Une Barque Sans Rames’ holds the record’s most blatant display of minimalism, but this eventually erupts into a crescendo of moving grandeur, whilst closer ‘À L’écart Des Chemins Fatigues De Nos Habitudes’ is perhaps most notable for its influx of metallic influences. It’s hypnotic riffs spiral into increasingly destructive territories, teetering on the edge of launching into a sludgy riff but never fully indulging, instead collapsing into a moment of calm and again building into yet more corrosive complexities.
Indeed, the duo are not ones to give into the simplest form of constructing a song, instead focusing on compositions that mesmerise in a way that feels fresh, and consistently feels fresh over repeated listens. If nothing else, WuW’s debut album sounds infinitely unique, even amongst a scene overflowing with all manner of genre-blending concoctions.
Rien Ne Nous Sera Épargné is out now via Prosthetic Records. Pick up a copy here.
Words: George Parr