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Netra captures urban misery

“Ingrates” paints a unique picture of the darker aspects of modern living.   |   Courtesy of Metalstorm.net

 

Norway’s Netra captures the monotonous dreariness of city life, giving a completely new twist on multiple genres. Favoring interesting arrangements over riding on the novelty of its approach makes “Ingrates” the project’s most consistent record to date.

Compelling melodrama

Consisting of French musician Steven Le Moan, Netra uses depressive black metal as a springboard into various shades of dark ambient, darkwave and even more genres. Dubbed “urban black metal,” his sound represents what Burzum would sound like as a trip-hop project.

“Gimme A Break” begins “Ingrates” with hard-swinging jazz. Confident piano octaves feature compelling melodrama until it fades out rather abruptly and “Everything’s Fine” barrels in out of nowhere. Buzzsaw tremolo picking, unrelenting blast beats and desolate howls create an overwhelmingly despondent aura. The pain in Le Moan’s delivery emerges from dismal outlook generated in a concrete jungle, lashing out at societal corruption as he comes to terms with his own isolation. Ambient, goth-tinged alt-rock and even a flashy guitar flourish keep up with Netra’s whimsical stylistic warps and make a perfect reminder of Netra’s brutal tendencies.

“Underneath My Words The Ruins of Yours” brings the trip-hop, creating an instrumental soundtrack to lonely walks through the seedier part of town. Spacious beats immerse in hypnotic synth and guitar arpeggiations, accentuating Netra’s non-metal elements and the instrumental emphasis on the record. Le Moan’s lyrics, while not complex and relatively sparse, have a tremendously stark honesty.

Stark honesty

Le Moan’s bleak vocal melodies and acoustic guitar strumming provide a perfect foil for warped electronics in “Live With It.” He captures his more vulnerable side before dropping into a harrowing darkwave dirge that collapses into distorted discord. Netra does not write to please. He writes what he wants, and those with open minds will certainly enjoy the ride. However, the ride is not without its potholes.

The 44-second “Infinite Boredom” has solid production and eerie piano chords, but it feels out of place in the middle of the album. All of the tracks on “Ingrates” operate as separate units instead of a unified concept. Short interludes suffer more than self-contained songs because they seem to stop before they start and cannot add to the flow to the record.

Blackened doom reigns in “Don’t Keep Me Waiting,” with the addition of a tenor saxophone providing alien grandeur. Blast beats thunderously return, culminating in a beautifully orchestrated reminder of Netra’s metallic foundation.

“A Genuinely Benevolent Man” destroys premonitions, riding deliciously cheesy synth into cavalcades of frigid guitars and hair-raising caterwauls, proving how Le Moan can seamlessly combine styles. The song flows into a jammy guitar riff that only gets better as it fades out.

“Paris or Me” again features piano cadences, which act as glue for the track’s development. Le Moan knows when music speaks louder than lyrics, elevating strange combinations of bottom-heavy guitars and sparse electronics into a double kick drum-driven conclusion.

Claustrophobic brutality 

Speaking plainly of the cynicism incubating in those trapped in the frivolous hustle of metropolis, “Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve” examines this unhappy mindset with baritone singing over pulsating synth pads, which drop into a driving darkwave loop and Burzum-esque guitar lines while harsh and clean vocals convey two sides of a despairing coin.

Recalling both cool-cat vibes claustrophobic brutality, “Jusqu'au-boutiste” captures the essence of Netra’s mission’s statement. Unpredictable instrumentals and multifaceted dynamics bounce this track through all of the styles used on “Ingrates” in a triumphant end of a wild ride of sonic bravery. This final brushstroke finishes a portrait of a tormented man who, although sometimes struggling to maintain succinct, blazes musical trails with surprising ease.

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