|Label:||Hypnotic Dirge Records|
I've lately found myself thinking about what could possibly be doing our dear Netra: since his last "Sørbyen" stroke me quite hard, I've been curious about how the project would have evolved. At last, after a five years long silence, "Ingrats" finally brings answers to my questions.
Let's start by saying that the «mélancolie urbaine» typical of the project's music is more than ever important in this disc, as the artwork testifies, with its black and white city landscapes scenarios; street lamps and skyscrapers are the sole light sources, whereas the sky is completely starless and dark.
Musically speaking, it's undeniable that the production has improved a lot: less rough compared to the past, although it still knows how to get chaotic when it's needed, and with more emphasis on the bass sounds, which makes the listening more intense in both introspective and pushed moments. And this is nothing but the icing on the cake, because the best innovations come from the arrangements' choices: the peculiar Black Metal and Trip-Hop mixture now sounds even better. The two genres cooperate in a more complex way on more levels, creating a sound in which their distinguishable, though essential for each other; furthermore, some more external influences are added to the mix, and they are as important as those basic ones.
The easiest way to understand "Ingrats" is by listening to the last track, "Jusqu'Au-Boutiste", a great summary of the whole album: a jazzy piano turns very naturally into a tremolo riff, which causes the starting «walking bass» to become the rhythmical structure together with the double bass drum and the blast beat. Both sides of the coin alternate until the piano gets creepier, leading to the entrance of the strings that allows the sound's Trip-Hop soul to emerge, thanks to the drum machine; the electronic sound synthesizers lead then to the end, in which Black Metal comes once again back to be the background of the synthetic melodies.
Being all this included within a single six-minutes-long song, you can guess how fascinating could the rest of the work get: those very elements are used in various, different ways and the result is obviously a strongly heterogeneous album which still lives of that «mélancolie urbaine» that links every single piece of the puzzle.
That explains why we find an almost completely Black Metal song as the impetuous, melancholic and alienating "Everything's Fine", alternating with mainly Trip-Hop ones as "Underneath My Words, The Ruins Of Yours". The focus on the electronic factor manifests itself in various shapes, from the dark and rainy atmospheres of "Paris Or Me" to the mighty 4/4 kick drum on the ending of "Live With It" and on "A Genuinely Benevolent Man", passing from the synthesizers that support both the melodic and the rhythmic part of the songs, and still keeping in mind the great beats of the Trip-Hop inspired moments. "Don't Keep Me Waiting" sounds like some sort of nihilist Black-Doom track with some jazzy and electronic influences and even a pleasurable appearance of the saxophone; on the other hand, "Could've, Should've, Would've" reminds of Depeche Mode, Dead Can Dance and, generally speaking, of the Darkwave-Synth Pop world. Sometimes, Netra delights us even with some bluesy solos. And if it's not enough, this whole amount is introduced by a not too dark, one-minute-and-twenty-seconds long Lounge-Jazz "Gimme A Break", almost mocking the listener who doesn't know what he's going to be listening to.
Although the instrumental parts take a big room of the whole album, the vocals are nonetheless important: some desperate, definitely DSBM scream has a starring role in "Everything's Fine", though it's the clean singing that moves, for example, a touching song like "Living With It", due to a felt performance and introspective lyrics fitting the context and not so banal as they might seem. Films' samples and whispers occur here and there, still leaving the most space to the instruments.
I'd like to end this article by answering my starting question, «what might have been doing our Netra over the last five years?». Well, he's worked on an unbelievably intense disc, which grows each time you listen to it and still proves to be worthy from the first listening. "Ingrats" is a unique work in the extreme Metal world, for both sounds and themes, in addition to being a clear step forward compared to its already more than good forerunners, and earning itself a place in my list of the candidates for this year's Top 5.