Patroness et fatum labore
-- Patroness --
Introduction:Let's face it, this is clearly black metal with a few "Alcest" touches, and as such we will consider it! So what? Who are these guys?
Quite a young Belgian band but they already had to change their drummer since their first EP (indeed, before it was Maarten Valentin but the role was taken over by Jannes Le maitre). Stijn "Metal Shredder" had written a review of their debut EP "Pyre" back in 2020 (read it here: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/217) Note that this is, as I understand it, a reorientation of a band that existed in another form before and that band was called Chief Roberts. So some habits of play must be kept! Big advantage!
We are in a rather dark movement and not very inclined to the little smiling bath ducks, I would have liked to tell you more but I don't have the lyrics (grrr)!
Discovery track by track
1: Exordium: a very worrying intro welcomes us into this album. Why not, we are well put in the good mood from the beginning. I'm not a big fan of opening samples but it's always nice to have a little appetizer before the main course.
2: Undecieve: Well I've got mixed feelings regarding this song. It's not a bad song by any means, but for me it feels just generic and even a little bit boring until the third minute kicks in some sweet guitar melodies. The song overall feels quite redundant, overly lengthy and cheesy heavy as a whole, it doesn't convince me. The bridge is really long and leaves me in the middle of nowhere, some heavy constructions and repetitions. For this album being it's real opener, I expected better!
3: The art of being (nothing): A powerful opening riff that speaks to me, until I realize that this is the theme that will return throughout the song. Then I hear singer Guy perform his vocals in full voice for the first time in this "Fatum" album and it gives me hope because he has a very interesting voice for this type of music. When he sings clean his voice is operatic yet gravely as well and his deliveries are impactful overall. In short, the song is limited to an alternation of full voice and grawl voice, on the same theme. Not bad but again, it feels overly long and with some trimming it could've been more than this.
4: Seclusion: After a short moody start the song directly slams you in the face with deep grawls and violent grunts. Although the drumming isn't very inventive but it does it's job in underlining the heaviness and the darkness of this song. Around the 3rd minute mark, a relaxing break comes in and it transforms "Seclusion" into a different song entirely! The drums are released a little but the guitars in particular become inventive and deep! The voice becomes again becomes more clean but on the technical level I've got the impression that the vocals are a little crushed underneath the layers whereas it deserves to be put forward considering its quality of percussion and accuracy in the subject. Around the 7th minute we get treated to some excellent hard pounding drumming that forms a beautiful ending to this track. Again it's a song that I'd say is a little too long for its own good, but it's really well done all things considered!
5: Visions: After a very delicate beginning (which we suspect won't be very long), the song really starts after the first minute. Full voice, quickly strengthening at 1:42 to become a good growl and then scream, the whole tune feels like a game played between the members of Patroness which clearly intensifies as the track goes on. And this little game continues throughout the song in a very intelligent way, with an effective tempo change (around 3:20). Yes, there I say yes guys! There's a gradual rise in intensity that flow through the song and there's genuine creativity on display herey! It's around the fifth minute that we ask ourselves "but am I listening to the same band that was featured during the first 3.5 tracks of "Fatum?" Did they want us to believe they were just a generic band while slowly but surely showing us that it wasn't the case at all? So many unanswered questions! But finally, here's a track that shows the true power of Patroness!
6: Foreshadow Oblivion: good track! At the limit with doom metal. But yes! But there! But finally! But yes! No preamble, we go straight to the heart of the matter, but well, eh! not only a little! And then it hits hard behind drummer Jannes, but this time, unlike the first tracks, it's not the train version "we're on the rails, we have the speed, half a page is enough to do the whole track." Instead, the track evolves so much (maybe too much?), as time goes on that it's a nice demonstration that he can do really, but really better than the first tracks of the album when we let Jannes express himself. And I must say that it's a bit the same for all the other members of the band! I really feel that this particular track in this album must give them a bit of a reference point on what they really want to do in the future. You hear a lot of things, a lot of opportunities, a lot of variations that they're able to master, now it's up to them to hear it or not!
7: Atonement: Very interesting track! Very chill beginning but with a real contained power, we are clearly no more in the simple and monobloc black metal, instead, we've got a good and deep track! Let's face it, this is not the track that will put the fans of JUL (French "rap") back on the right track, but hey, it has the merit of being clearly a very good calling card.
8: Crows upon the throne: Still a rise in power but much faster and more violent. And I don't mind that! The part I prefer the most in this track is clearly the work of guitarists Tom & Nicholas which give all the power necessary to support and hammer the nail without tiring the listener! I say this without forgetting the rest of the band who all give their own 100% without flinching!
9: Fatum: It is always a track that we wait with impatience, the one that gives its name to the album. We are even more attentive and there how to say, I really can't decide! Is it due to the first part a little repetitive? Is it due to the soft part between 3:30 and 4:30 which although beautiful loses me a little? I do not know, I can't manage to give a constructed opinion on this title, at least, not yet! Certainly a track I'll return to later! But even if I don't quite like this ending tune, in the end, it won't spoil the overall positive experience I've had shredding through the "Fatum" album.
So what do I think of Patroness's "Fatum" album? Well honestly, it's really nice! They worked hard these guys! I feel above all like a blossoming that has yet to take place, an affirmation that is about to be realized. We feel the roots, but I have the impression that they are still looking for THE Patrones style! I must say that listening to this album, it gives some pretty good ideas! I hope that they will be able to free themselves from this side of "simplistic, repetitive and heavy" as the earlier tracks showed to a side that says "we may feel familiar on the surface but we have so much more tricks up our sleeves! Be prepared!" Tracks like "Visions," "Foreshadow Oblivion" and "Atonement" all you prove that you are better than (without being mean) just another "brute force, no brain" metal band! Discuss our feedback between you guys, I'm sure you have a lot to share with each other to make this solid project evolve into something truly great!
In the end I must admit that I'm very disappointed that they've chosen the song "Undeceive," the tune I like the least of the album and that in my opinion represents the least the capacities of the band as their main single! Probably a more strategic choice that will please more easily because it's more "in the mold" and without real big defects for the style. Frankly, if it had been a single and not an album, I would have probably been less nice! Once again, the advantage of talking about an album and not a one shot tune!
So overall, I've enjoyed my trip through Patroness's new album. Like it's predecessor it's a cocktail of sludge, doom & black metal but this time, the band has written some truly great tracks that show us they've got more to offer than just another extreme metal act. They are a few generic tracks and the songs are a bit too lengthy overall, but still, this is one band that, given time, could transform into a great metal act!