I had the privilege of reviewing Bosse-De-Nage's first album a few years ago and I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised at how they've grown over time. III represents a mature, evolved form of black metal fused with dynamic, early to mid-1990's emo and shoegaze. For the record, I do not mean "emo" in the perjorative, as such the word has become these days, nor do I mean it in the post-punk or post-hardcore sense. I mean bands you think of that come from the alternative rock end of the spectrum, like Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, and so on. Bands that left future musicians a new way to express raw energy and passion, but found it instead co-opted by corporate record label types as all great musical revolutions eventually are.
III wastes little time in lunging head first into frantic and rageful chaos, bearing with that energy an undercurrent of sorrow and wisftulness. For me, combining somber beauty with absolute fury and aggression is incredibly appealing. The drummer in particular evokes shades of Keith Moon, in that he just doesn't fucking stop. When the music is loud and fast, he is all over the kit like a man possessed, with that loose but precise style that acts as the engine for the bass and guitars.
The layering of those instruments is subtle and very deep. III contains an ocean's worth of texture and feel, and unlike a lot of black metal bands, the bass itself is very prominent as a melodic element as opposed to just providing a thundering low end. Oh, it does when it calls for it, but the bassist is not afraid to use it to work off the guitars, especially in the parts where the guitars are providing a dissonant, droning wall of sound.
The dynamic changes on III are well thought-out and purposeful. They aren't used simply to break monotony, they are natural, flowing parts of each song. They make sense in an empathic sort of way, so much so that upon listening you don't even realize the ebb and flow, it's just there drawing you deeper into the song and painting all sorts of images in your mind.
This brings me to the vocals. Their first album, I wasn't crazy about them. On this album, I love them. 99% of them are screamed in a tortured, painful manner while some are spoken, but it's where they sit in the mix. It's almost like he is yelling at the top of his lungs with no amplification. You can hear them but they're not way out front in the mix. It gives III a more live-sounding ambience, like you're right there watching them practice. In fact, production-wise I find this to be nearly flawless. It's a great balance between a recorded studio effort and a live performance. Usually you get one or the other, something engineered to death or something that sounds like it was recorded on a micro-cassette recorder.
In the end, I am just going to say that this is really, ridiculously good, because it doesn't try too hard to be. The songwriting, the production, the mood, and the execution are all very organic and natural. This is the perfect album to listen to with the lights off and no distractions. You will feel everything. And then you'll know why they're screaming.