Exile may clock in at a little over forty-two minutes, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. In fact, it feels a lot longer. This isn’t said in a negative way, but rather more of a powerful one. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber take their time to build up their performances on this effort, often making them far more grand or emotionally charged than they otherwise would. And, well, it’s something that fans of French black metal have come to expect from that part of the world. It also doesn’t hurt that the group handles the album in what seems like both a digital and analog manner. The music is sharp and heavy when need be, such as in the guitars that range from mildly violent to cleaner and moving, pristine drums without a hint of washout, a very loud and prominent deeper bass presence, as well as a heavy echo on the vocals to play up both the epic ideas of the band’s sound, as well as that far more primal rawness that works with the harshest of passages.
The best example of all these elements working together can be found in the closing track “The Incandescent March”, which also stands as the longest of the release by coming in at just over eleven minutes. Things start off with softer chords to play up the “post-” angle of the bands sound as feedback slowly builds over it. The folksiness in atmosphere also sets up an icy wooden terrain, one that the following chugging doom metal riffs nicely complete. Just past two minutes, that sense of cold isolation is met with that of melancholic remorse from the sharper riffs and faster, tighter drum presence, changing out between various mid-tempo segments of glory, as well as an extensive bath of doom and despair once more that drags you down into the deepest trenches, suffocating you with the dirt that falls in around your unstoppable descent.
Of course you don’t have to travel that far in to get an idea of what Regarde Les Hommes Tomber is about, or how far they have advanced since their self-titled outing. “L’Exil” is a largely grand instrumental piece, taking full advantage of the atmospheric capabilities that post-black metal hooks can produce, all the while weaving a seedy underbelly thanks to the buzzing bass chords and powerful drum presence, both of which make the start into “A Sheep Among the Wolves” far more empowering overall. The venomous chords and vocals that follow present a great deal of fire to the mix, creating a hazy sensation that the ritualistic drumming easily amplifies throughout. Even if you pick up on the slight gap between this track and “Embrace the Flame”, this just feels like a natural extension. It also plays up the heat that remained a subtle background touch prior, though coming through more hellish this time around between additional melodic, near astral leads that erupt as the song’s chorus.
For fans of the recent French black metal movement, Regarde Les Hommes Tombre should be no stranger to them, and for good reason. While the group may have only formed a few years ago, Exile stands as a solid piece of musicianship that blends together emotion and atmospherically charged aural landscapes of their home countries artistic culture, all laced with a gritty hint of sludge, doom, even some folk for good measure, and it all works to weave a truly heavy, though oddly uplifting in an epic manner, new opus for the fans of the style to bang their heads to religiously. While many great albums seem to last meer minutes, this offering stands as one that makes you realize it’s not meant to go anywhere too quick, standing tall over you with a shadow of pride and remorse that asserts it’s just over forty minute length with dignity, leaving you glad to have experienced the majesty of it all.