I know it comes from a thirty-year-old Naked City song, but man, if there were ever a more tragically appropriate band name for these days of disinformation and rampant rejection of knowledge than “Fuck The Facts”…
But fear not, fact-fucking fans, the days of darkness have passed and our heroes returned… to bring us even more darkness. A full one, in fact. One might even say a total darkness…
Opening strong with “Doubt, Fear, Neglect,” Pleine noirceur hits the ground grinding, its entwined guitar melodies giving off a cold and dispirited bleakness to set the tone for the album’s exploration of the oppressive darkness of depression. It’s a killer track, one that doesn’t overstay its welcome, even at nearly seven minutes, and it drops perfectly into the four-snare count-off and subsequent blasting power of “Ailleurs,” which in turn flows equally perfectly into the title track’s crashing chords and haunting post-y drift.
And there’s the rub: As great as each of these songs are (and they are), it’s that effectiveness of transition that really defines the whole affair. When a band can blend subtle stylistic shifts into a greater whole as well as Fuck The Facts can (and does), the results tend to be more than the sum of their parts. Thus, Pleine noirceur is the kind of album that demands to be taken as a whole, as each piece fits snugly against one another in an immersive experience from front to back. With your eyes closed, sitting in the literal darkness (which is how I spent most of my time listening to Pleine noircuer), and thus without watching the track titles change, it’s hard to really tell where the title track ends and “Aube” begins. But really, when these songs play off one another so well, who cares? The same situation arises between “Sans Lumiere” (lest you think that the darkness wasn’t full enough) and “Sans Racines,” the twin towers of riff-happy grinding that hold up the album’s center. Mongeon’s lyrics jump back and forth between English and French from song to song, but the album’s overarching theme is pretty apparent, almost even a little too much so: “full darkness,” “without light,” “Everything I Love Is Ending,” “A Dying Light.” Still, as the band stutters to a quick stop, leaving her to scream “It felt horrible / everything I love is ending,” you can feel the weight of those emotions in how her scream feels both filled with rage and yet so alone and powerless compared to the blasting and bashing that frames it. It’s just a few seconds in the midst of the maelstrom, but it’s a powerful one. By the time “An Ending” rolls around with some truly beautiful guitar melodies balanced against Mongeon’s screams, this total darkness begins to lighten, fading a bit into some kind of hopefulness even as the song itself fades into the blistering expanse of “_cide.”
So the question, then, is this: Is Pleine noirceur better than Desire Will Rot, just as Desire was better than Die Miserable, which was in turn better than Disgorge Mexico, and so on?
The answer is: I don’t know yet. I’ve spent hours sifting through Pleine’s darkness, and just like fumbling about in darkness itself, with every further exploration, I’m finding new angles, new aspects, new information to process. What is undeniable as I listen to Pleine noirceur is that it deserves to stand alongside all those previous peaks of Fuck The Facts’ canon, and that’s exactly what I’d expect from it. I don’t know if it’s better than a bunch of other great albums, and in truth, I don’t even care: I just know it’s also a great album from one of the most interesting bands in grindcore (or whatever you want to call these sounds).
And that, my friends, is a fact.