When the words ‘experimental’ and ‘French’ precede the word ‘Doom’ in a preamble, surely it’s impossible to ignore. Bordeaux trio Endless Floods, formed by members of cult outfits Monarch and Bombardement, are such a band and third album Circle The Gold (Fvtvrecordings / Bigôut Records) sees them test their expansive minds to new, sometimes more melodic limits.
The eighteen-minute title track is the first of two titanic slabs of misery, initially coming out with the crawling weight and maudlin tolling of Bell Witch. The early stages paint the image of a person who has lost everything, sat on a step in the pouring rain, trying to think of how to explain the reasons for this fate before ending it all. The brief explosion, replete with Stéphane Miollan’s wounded roar, descends into a second movement of such sparse incident that at times this devastating experience seems to have ended until another beat, another mournful chord, reawakens the listener’s awareness. When the swell of instrumentation returns it’s with no added pace, merely a lift in volume and the howling of Simon Bédy’s twisted, wrought leadwork over atmospheric backing vocals. As the riffs build to crescendo then strain at the leash of Miollan’s returning roar, the claustrophobia is sickening, the emotion palpable and totally believable.
Closer ‘Seeds’ is called to arms by a slightly quickened report from Benjamin Sablon’s drums before dropping to a desolate sway. Again some some fevered leadplay lends a disturbed yet affecting air to both the quiet introspection and the dragged expressions of bitter pain. There’s an element of Amenra in the pensive, patient building toward a howled, tortured manifestation of abuse but here the pace is oft so slow as to be near unbearable: Sablon masterfully dictating a middle section which is largely silent save for his sloth-like beat and a rare chord flurry.
Again the swell is painfully gradual yet noticeable by the slightly rising volume, the near-undetectable additions of beats and notes, until that riff growls back in to add a nerve-shredding intensity. The storytelling feel of the music, the almost Classical structure of the composition, is an element of accessibility that sometimes cushions the crushing blows and the unflinching depression of the mood, and it’s this that makes Circle The Gold such an achievement. Endless Floods make music that isn’t for every occasion but their ability to wound the soul with starkly human sounds is beyond contestation.
8 / 10