Since starting Resounding Footsteps I’ve learned a lot about black metal. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable before but wow was I wrong. A year ago I probably would not be able to tell you the difference between raw black metal and depressive black metal. While I’m far from an expert on either still, I have found that depressive black metal is one of my favorites because of the stories that it tells. Sure raw black metal, ambient black metal, and atmospheric black metal tell stories within their music but depressive black metal is much more personal, much more intimate. There are no heroes in depressive black metal, no sages, no kings. Everything in depressive black metal is about the common man, the everyman. Nowhere is this more obvious than with one of my favorite bands (and favorite people) Some Happy Thoughts of Quebec Canada. I reviewed a single of theirs a few months back and I’ve been itching to get back to them. They have a demo that actually came out before Le Manqué II called Épitaphe. It follows in the same vein as its successor, using minimal riffs in each song to represent the two inevitable sides of life: happiness and sadness.
Épitaphe is very intimate, surprising for a demo. It’s not loud but the music is sharp and poignant nonetheless. Some Happy Thoughts blend a lot of human audio in with the music, playing them side by side rather than one on top of the others. It’s strange that the sound of crying sounds beautiful next to their riffs, played a lot slower on Épitaphe than on Le Manqué, but it is. There is a poignancy, an earnestness in the way the music is played.
But remember this is still black metal. The first song might have been intimate and almost tender but the rest of the demo is definitely not. It’s harsh and the riffs (still only a few played on each song) are razor sharp. The sound itself, the harsh, chaotic buzz and drone, represents the second half of the dichotomy between happiness and sadness. I think more than any other depressive black metal band; Some Happy Thoughts understands the reality of human nature. Life is full of sadness and misery and grief, but we don’t need another black metal band that can’t seem to sing about anything else. Some Happy Thoughts are unique in that they see an end to the misery, not in death, but in the inevitability that it cannot last forever. A depressive black metal band offering hope? What? Some Happy Thoughts is music that gives the listener something to hold on to, the music is heavy and strong but it’s purpose is not to overpower the listener as with most depressive black metal. Just take a look at the demo’s cover. It’s not your typical depressive black metal, at least in my opinion. Instead of offering a glimpse of despair and infinity (something I hope to be able to talk about later) it offers something almost painstakingly normal. It shows life; a glimpse, a decrepit photograph of days gone by. I might be alone in that something so mundane can actually feel comforting.
I love Some Happy Thoughts. I feel like they understand the chaotic nature of life and emotions better than most and they are able to translate emotions into music with a strange black metal-like grace that very few bands have been able to do. The music that they write is fantastic, it’s memorable but not catchy, it’s heartfelt but not overly so. They have struck a balance between the human element and the musical element perfectly. There is more to come from Some Happy Thoughts, there has to be. The band is on a journey, and that journey has only just begun.
Listen and support!