Sheffield’s own one-man monolith of post metal (literally, given that a menhir is an ancient standing stone), Le Menhir, has been steadily extending his reach, with a growing number of gigs and support slots across the burgeoning heavy music scene in the north and beyond. Following up debut single ‘Orage’, released earlier this year, Aube takes that track’s same dense weight and gentle melodic sensibility into more naturally suited longer forms, simultaneously increasing general quality to match.
Following the folk-meets-Neurosis of droning, accordion-led intro track ‘Rituel’, what is first apparent from the crashing opening of ‘Monstre’ is the impressively vast sound produced by this project of a sole musician. There are still a few demons of balancing to be ousted, the production slightly dominated by drums and vocals and at times lacking in guitar clarity, but it certainly packs a punch. This central track is led by a slow sequence of chords with the familiarly emotive quality of the best doom and post metal bands, even clearly drawing influence from fellow local titans (and friends of Le Menhir) Archelon. Simple rhythmic breaks cut through the swathes of texture at times, providing moments of cleansing clarity despite a little discomfort in terms of sitting perfectly on the beat.
The plaintive calls of the solo clean vocal lines soar above the dirge of low-end riffs and spreading chords. The opening lines show a slightly shaky delivery, but as the track wears on they gain some surer footing. Lyrically, things are fittingly primitive, describing ancient battles betwixt man and beast, the drop in texture and volume towards the end of the track doing much to aid the drama of the unfolding story.
Climactic, closing track ‘Centenaire’ begins with soft bass and vocals, further highlighting these same primal lyrics, a real sense of musical space continuing for the brooding first third of the track. Perhaps predictably but certainly still effectively, the big chords burst back in soon thereafter, this time with an odd time-signature adding a certain intriguing gait to the particularly wrenching and majestic chord sequence that is the backbone of the track.
In truth, there are still some elements of the Le Menhir edifice that could do with tightening up both musically and vocally. More exploration of different touches of instrumentation could add a lot to this already bold base of a sound, too, hinted at in Aube’s very opening. However, at this point in a fledgling career, Le Menhir is amassing an ever-increasing number of powerful musical ideas, and these point to a potentially exciting future.