Royaume des Ombres
posted on 7/2012 By:
There is a very fine line between writing atmospheric music that is immersive, entrancing, and distinguished, and that which is downright boring. Switzerland’s project Borgne spends much of Royaume des Ombres on the less favorable side of that fence. The band, which is the sole vision of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ormenos, plays what could casually be described as black metal, but does not fit easily into any single thread. The ultra fuzzy tone is certainly blackened, as is the use of tremolo riffs and blast beats, but the lumbering tone and cavernous depth are more akin to funeral doom, as if this is funeral doom without a lot of actual doom riffs. The idea is great and well conceived, but goes bad when Ormenos decides to stretch most songs to around 10 minutes in length with only five or six minutes' worth of actual ideas. The result is an album that will occasionally elicit a “oh, hey, that’s cool” response but ultimately drift into the background – the way background.
However, the issues aren’t only with the lack of ideas, but with some of the ideas themselves. Once “Suffer As I Paid My Grave” gets going as much as anything on Royaume des Ombres does, it’s clear how much this album hungers for more inventive riffs and melodies. Much of the song (and album) is spent repeating very simple chord progressions over double bass or blast beats with ample layers of chants, keys, and other sound effects. (In the interest of fairness, Ormenos does a stellar job in his layering of all of these elements.) However, just when a song begins to gain some ground and draw in the listener – typically around the midway point – it proceeds to spend the rest of its ample time repeating the already weak ideas over and over (and over and over). With a few well executed hits, almost every tune tricks you into thinking you’re really enjoying yourself before you lose track of what you’re listening to and realize the next song started five minutes prior.
On the flip side, there is likely an audience for Royaume des Ombres based purely on its atmospheric qualities. This fucker is deep, but like an ocean without wildlife, it’s a plain kind of depth, and not quite the glorious plunge one gets with such funeral doom as Esoteric or blackened acts like The Ruins of Beverast. That said, Ormenos’ vision comes together quite nicely on the penultimate “All These Screams Through Me” (ironically the album’s longest track), in which the music shifts deftly between acoustic passages, a very nice main riff/chord progression, more chanting parts and the slightest touches of techno. It probably does as much repeating as other songs, but is comprised of far more interesting, often quite powerful parts, making the repetition more enjoyment than trial. Closer “The Last Thing You Will See” succeeds nearly as much, but when the album’s first 40 minutes seem intent on lulling the listener to sleep, getting to these final two tracks will prove quite laborious indeed.
Borgne, at least on Royaume des Ombres, is a clear case of a one-man band in need of additional input. It is played and produced with extreme professionalism, but nearly every song could have used an extra set of ears in the studio to say, “Hey Ormenos, this song sounds great, but don’t you think it would be extra effective if you cut the tape here?” (*points to the two-third marker on “In the Realm of the Living I’m Dead” master tape*) It is easy to mildly enjoy, but equally easy to ignore, and at just under an hour in length, it is almost impossible to get through while maintaining any semblance of attention.
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