Reviewed & Interviewed: Exile by Regarde Les Hommes Tomber

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Two years ago, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber evoked exactly what the title suggested. The heavy hands of divine punishment bringing forth the fall of men – a desolate scene painted with the blackest sludge as ink. Now, the homonymous French band returns with Exile, the aftermath of mankind’s demise. This new offering sees the band sinking their claw deeper into black metal while still retaining their sludge and post-metal sensibilities.

Read my interview with the band and a track-by-track breakdown after the jump.

First I’d like to say I am a big fan of your work ever since discovering the debut album. For the uninitiated, tell us a bit about how the band was formed and what got you into music. 

Thanks a lot. We all play music for years, but REGARDE LES HOMMES TOMBER was born in 2012. Our concepts focus on a main point: The fall of the men, who are rejected and tortured by God despite of their devotion and their love for the divine. This new album pictures both this fall and the birth of a consciousness that leads men to reject the Lord and all the principles of adoration during the exile… to finally become their own gods and “sit on this throne”. All the lyrics evoke biblical mythology (Abel, Caïn, Lilith, the city of Sodom, etc…). Without any ideological message, I shall precise: we only deal with these themes on an artistic way. Those symbols are intense and highlight the concepts we want to show in our music, that’s why we use them.

I was instantly drawn to the cover art of Regarde Les Hommes Tomber. The designs that illustrate both RLHT and Exile were handled by the Førtifem¹ duo. What was that process like? What motivates your aesthetic choices?

We knew their work before this collaboration, we love their creations. We wanted something epic that could perfectly fit to our sound and the concepts we deal with. Like for our first album, Førtifem totaly adapted the artwork to the lyrics and gave us something majestic.

The art for Exile depicts the same scenery found in RLHT, but in a much different condition, to say the least. How are both albums connected? Will there be a third expansion into this setting?

We tell stories, with chapters who are more linked by an evocative tone than by something chronological… that’s why we looked for something that could, on the one hand, easily remind the first album, and on the other hand being different too. This continuity is very important for us.  A city destroyed by the flames, a crowd condamned to exile… The song “…To Take Us” is about it: the cry of Sodom and the divine punishment inflicted on the sinful men. That myth is fascinating, although it’s not the only biblical one we deal with in “Exile”, that was obvious to paint it for the cover art… simply because this theme sum up our main concept, evoking something visually strong and darkly desperate. Concerning a third expansion… we’ll see. Now we don’t really think about it, we just want to play this new release on stage.

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Regarde Les Hommes Tomber and Exile, side by side

Musically, I think I hear more black metal in Exile than I did in your previous LP. Was that a conscious decision or somewhere you landed organically?

This may be explained by the fact that “Exile” has been built following a collegial process, whereas the first album was composed by only one person, our guitarist J.J.S. The main idea was to give birth to something heavy, panoramic, both oppresive and epic. Some kind of fresco, to picture perfectly the themes we deal with. In that way, we worked hard to mix the ideas of each member during the writting sessions. Concerning the studio, the recording process was very fluid and natural, a real pleasure. We are very proud of the final result, which is exactly the expected one for us: “Exile” has been recorded, produced and mastered by Francis Caste (Studio Sainte Marthe, Paris), and he simply did a fucking great job .

The texture is denser, darker than our first release, thus this disc can be considered as more extreme than what the band has composed before… anyway, REGARDE LES HOMMES TOMBER is made of persons with different tastes, which is, I think, a true force. Some of us enjoy Black Metal, others are great fans of Hardcore and Post Metal… Actualy we don’t consider that a musician shall listen only one genre, that’s why our music is a mixture of various influences. We trust the power of this diversity to build our sound : the aim is to give a powerful result, without thinking about the tools we use for it. Only the result counts. We don’t have “direct” influences, but listening REGARDE LES HOMMES TOMBER can evoke bands like Drudkh, Amenra, Wolves In The Throne Room, etc… once again, we build our music whithout thinking of a model, we just look for the best way to deal with our concepts.

Finally, I’ve read on Encyclopedia Metallum that your name comes from a Jacques Audiard² film. Is that accurate? What are your main inspirations outside of music?

That’s true, although our music doesn’t have a direct link with this film. Actually we are more inspired by illustrations (Gustave Doré, John Martin) than by any other form of art… except music of course. Thanks for this interview, au revoir.

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“L’Exil” serves its introductory role with excellence, building up tension with post-rock guitar soundscapes as it slowly increases the intensity of the drums. “A Sheep Among The Wolves” borrows this tribal drumming pattern, interspersed with blast beats. Underneath it the guitars sing, somber and subdued. The vocals kick in, made of pure agony. It is almost as if you can feel them scraping your own throat.

“Embrace The Flames” urges you to endure your upending, to revel in it. It’s hard not to, when it involves such an earworm of an arpeggio. This is one of the most intense songs on the LP, whether it is blasting away with furor or relenting into despondence and lamentation, with sludgier riffs that sound like they’re spiralling out of sanity. The lyrics reveal a biblical inspiration: Cain, son of first men Adam & Eve, receives his mark for the muder of his brother Abel³.

“O son of Adam, be the first man to oppose your fathers
Leave your soul, enter the darkness
You are not alone anymore
Follow me and embrace the world you belong to
Follow me and embrace the world you belong to
Follow me and you will never be alone anymore”

“They came…” “…To Take Us” works as a duo, with the latter developing atop the ambience of the first. The guitars – drenched in reverb – offer a beautiful tremolo riff that is not played in a traditional, fast pace. Instead, it rings more patient and sorrowful. We are toasted to another example of how great Regarde’s rhythm section can be, as it contributes tremendously to this band’s ability to engulf you in their sound.

“Thou Shall Lie Down” starts off slow and brooding. Fans of Neurosis will not be disappointed, as the wails and syncopation are delivered in form akin to the Oakland legends. That is, until a tremolo riff looms on the horizon, announcing a change of pace. The song then explodes into a fast section, providing a breathtaking climax whose tension is kept even after the blast beats have long subsided.

You leave the experience that is Exile in “The Incandescent March”, the finest track of Regarde Les Hommes Tomber’s young career. Everything they stand for musically seems to be cristallized in this 11 minute opus, with the addition of elements unfound in other songs. Namely, an armored black stallion of a galloping rhythm that is a throwback to more anthemic, fist-pumping black metal. Fitting, for the lyrics of this song represents a march towards affirmation. A struggle that extends beyond the religious imagery of Exile well into many aspects of our lives. A march to claim agency and authority over one’s own fate.

“The primitive philosophy of a tyrannic group of cowards
Will never rule on this pure and fragile place we call earth
The time of slavery must end right now
This time of tyranny must be the last
We will crush the weaver, he will taste the bitter
And on this unreachable fortress we call Heaven
He will taste the anger of the gods we are
We will sit on this throne
And the fallen god, the exiled one
Will rest in a place we call Inferno
We will sit on this throne
We will sit on this throne
We will sit on this throne
We will sit on this throne”

As much as I thoroughly enjoyed Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, their self-titled debut, Exile has surpassed every expectation I had. It is one of the most compelling LPs I have heard this year, both sonically and thematically. Some albums do not merely deserve a listen; they demand one. This is one of them.

4.5/5 Toilets Ov Hell

As of September 19th, you may stake your claim to sit on the throne. Order your copy of Exile in either LP or digipack formats via Les Acteurs de l’Ombre, or a digital copy via Bandcamp. If you like what you hear/read, be sure to give the band a like on Facebook.


1. Førtifem is a French duo of designers whose catalog – which includes covers for Destroy Judas (best unsigned band in California) and heavyweights like Opeth and Alcest –  rubs my eyeballs and brain in all the right places. Check their work on the official website or on Instagram.

2. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber is a 1994 film directed by Jacques Audiard. It depicts the crossing of two stories, of a lonely salesman that seeks to avenge his only friend and of an aging con man and his young protegé.

3. In the Bible’s Book Of Genesis, Cain and Abel are shown as two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was the first human to be born, whereas Abel was the first human to die; by the hands of his older brother, nonetheless. For his crime, Cain received a “mark” or a “curse”, to roam the Earth as a fugitive and a vagabond.

 

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