France’s Silhouette are relatively new to the music work being formed in 2019 and this Atmospheric Black Metal outfit is just showcasing its first EP in 2022, but there is just enough to really get a sense of what the band is about without feeling there isn’t enough here. ‘Les Retranchements’ is not your usual expectation of the genre. While 2022 has seen fantastic Atmospheric Black Metal releases already from the likes of groups like Blackbraid which introduced something different, Slhouette can be considered up there as one of those bands who try to shift the mold a bit. One things listeners will notice is the heavy use of clean female vocals that are interspersed with the harsh. They are angelic and similar to the cleans heard from a band like Witte Wieven- ethereal and gothic, and a great contrast to the harsh almost Ghostbath styled shrieks heard on a track like ‘L’étreinte de la chute.’ The musical style is very Black Metal though, so the vocals are really the driving force for the atmospheric side, though it feels like the clean vocals are dominant versus the harsh. Sure there are the acoustic tropes of ‘Ascension,’ ‘Interlude,’ and ‘Outro-’ all which seem a bit overused- to help with atmosphere too but one can’t help but get a sense of earlier Alcest from them.
Other tracks like ‘La première neige’ are a little more balanced, sounding a bit more like the Blackbraid reference from earlier with its furious barrages of tremolo picking with more snarled than shrieked vocals and thunderous drums. One thing Silhouette also have going for them is production balance; despite harsh vocals being a little pushed back (though it could be also that the clean vocals are layered and that’s why they sound louder) they still come across well enough without that winter wind hiss. But pretty much it boils down to the vocals carrying most of the music with every track. Even the guest vocals on the title track by Clément Chateau seems a bit shadowed by harsh Ghostbath-ish vocals from Yharnam and the cleans from Ondine. The rhythm of the guitars is a bit more melodic and less thunderous than a track like ‘La première neige,’ but still holds the key elements of what the usual expectation of Atmospheric Black Metal would be.
Ultimately the lack of harsh vocals compared to the clean may be the dividing line for a lot of fans of the genre who are more used to the inverse of letting the harsh vocals take the lead versus the cleans and also building atmosphere through keyboards and acoustic passages and long tracks. Silhouette does nearly none of this, so while this may be a bit alien they also stand out a bit compared to most bands who sound like all the others. Many can say that too many Atmospheric Black Metal Bands use the acoustic parts, synth keyboards, and overall a wintery vibe with haunting cleans, but not too many really let the vocals take the reins as they let the instruments do a lot of work building the atmosphere. While ‘Les Retranchements’ does lean on the vocals quite a bit and those that may not like the style may discard them altogether for that reason, most Atmospheric Black Metal fans will probably appreciate Silhouette for their ethereal touches. While the band might be more Gothic than Atmospheric (thanks to their heavy use of fillers), the Black Metal core should help keep listeners awake through all 7 tracks.