Monday, August 05, 2013

De Arma: Lost, Alien & Forlorn (2013)

Irrational Gaze

When I listened to De Arma’s Lost, Alien & Forlorn the first time, I didn’t expect to like it. I’ve never liked Alcest, and this band’s soft, often pretty post-black metal bears a strong resemblance to Alcest. In spite of myself, I found myself listening to this record again and again.

Like Alcest, black metal is just a small part of what De Arma does. It has a lot more in common with some things I’m barely familiar with from my occasional Spotify listening: The gothic rock and mellower post-punk it plays when I click on Killing Joke, the shoegaze when I click on Slowdive. I don't really get into any of that (aside from Killing Joke themselves). I don’t typically like breathy clean singing when it’s the primary vocal delivery. But something about De Arma is just infectious.

As I said, I’m not terribly knowledgeable about shoegaze or gothic rock, so it’s difficult for me to give you one of the simple metaphorical descriptions I tend to prefer. Mid-paced, mostly clean riffs come steadily, creating a melancholic atmosphere. Leads and vocals are equally somber, adding truly memorable melody into a formula where others would be content with mood. A couple of disturbing samples actually serve to enhance the mood and draw your attention further—something that samples almost never do. The black metal parts, where they arrive, are barely black metal at all, but a full-on assault would have been too jarring.

I can’t explain it better than that. Shoegaze, gothic rock, post-punk, black metal. Whatever De Arma is doing, it keeps bringing me back, and I love it. In a just world, a Deafheaven advertisement would say “for fans of De Arma.” De Arma is the superior band.

The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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