It’s time to turn the lights off and spark some spooky candles for what I’m about to share. We’re talking about doom metal, specifically French doom/symphonic metal band Ixion and their newest album “Enfant De La Nuit,” or “Child Of The Night.” Formed over a decade ago, founder and multi-instrumentalist Julien Prat recruited the help of dirty vocalist Thomas Saudray and clean vocalist Yannick Dilly in preparation of this album, a writing process that took nearly four years to complete. That’s a lot of thought and detail for any album, so going into my first listen, I held some fairly high expectations. Luckily, “Enfant De La Nuit” fairs pretty well, containing equal parts dreary and otherworldly.
Now doom metal isn’t a genre of metal I typically listen to (and I’m guessing for the majority of my readers as well), but like any music genre, I make exceptions if I feel the album is on another level musically. “Enfant De La Nuit” is just that, a sophisticated journey down a dark hallway, or perhaps the dark, outreaches of space. Doom metal mainly consists of slow, downtuned guitar riffs, blanketed with keyboard arrangements and weeping guitar leads. Oh, and death growls. Lots of them. But this album contains more clean vocals than I was expecting, which honestly is great for listeners exploring their curiosity. Although the bleak sounds of gothic and doom metal can turn off listeners that aren’t accustomed to it, the numerous moments of ambiance and atmosphere should be enough to stay them. This album is the closest thing to easy listening in the metal genre.
The use of three voices help to tell the album’s concept, which unfortunately doesn’t survive the French-to-English translation too well. As you can guess from the album cover, the story involves a protagonist traveling through space in search of a new home, which is told between varying clean and dirty vocals. There’s enough in the lyrics to understand the idea, but the brilliant vocal performances play off the dark, atmospheric aura, using the more recognizable language of emotion. It’s unusual to employ three vocalists in primary roles without the album being some sort of collaboration. I particularly enjoyed the clean vocals, especially in the tracks “Odyssey” and “The Shining.” With a quailed voice, one can feel the pain of the protagonist as they drift away in space. Listening to this album reminds me of the entire discography of Katatonia mashed into one album, everything from their brutal, dark beginnings to their lighter, melodic sound today.
Guitarist/keyboardist/everything else-ist Prat follows the blueprint of doom metalers before him, but incorporates layers of synthesizers to set up the remaining instruments. In doing this, “Enfant De La Nuit” becomes a much approachable album in terms of instrumentation. The heavy guitars don’t seem as heavy, the double bass drums less ruthless, and the vocals less frightening. Take the song “Allegiance.” If I were to play this track separately, one would focus more on the passionate lead guitar and heavy synth introduction than anything else. It’s heavy when it needs to be, but allows for brightness that ultimately become the song’s most memorable moment. “Discovery” follows this same pattern, except showcasing the multiple guitar rhythms. Now the album opener “Ghost In The Shell” doesn’t mess around, focusing on the growling voices of Ixion’s numerous vocalists. But I feel special attention is given to the booming drum beats, which distracts the listener. I appreciate the balance between the vocals and the instrumentation, with neither mixed too loudly to negate the other.
I realize this post turned more into the defense of doom metal for those readers who don’t normally listen to the genre. Hopefully, I’ve convinced someone out there that doom isn’t all that bad. With nearly equal parts light and heavy, Ixion’s “Enfant De La Nuit” is beautifully composed, a masterfully produced album that will engage its listeners with powerful, ambient passages. If you’re looking for something spacey like Anathema, Swallow The Sun, or Soilwork, then I’d definitely recommend this album. And for those thinking about giving it a try, please do. I promise it won’t bite. You can support Ixion by checking out their website, and by following their Facebook page for band updates.
Have you heard Ixion’s “Enfant De La Nuit?” What did you think of it? Sound off below!