France’s PORN, aptly named after The Cure’s classic ‘Pornography’ album, tackle the great beast (Ogre) with a conceptual album entitled ‘The Ogre Inside’, based on band-founder Philippe Deschemin’s Sci-Fi novel entitled ‘Contoyen‘.

Opening with the most up-tempo track of the album, ‘Sunset of Cruelty’ is firmly rooted in grimy yet energetic late 90s-era Industrial Rock, with a tinge of Gothic Doom akin to Type-O Negative, mixed with Fields Of The Nephilim and 69 Eyes.  The electronics sit somewhere between 90s NIN, Hybrid and ‘Industrial-era’ Gary Numan.  The highlight here has to be the catchy lead guitar riff.

What follow are a number of mid-tempo tracks such as ‘She Holds My Will’ with its hypnotic atmosphere, deep, gloomy vocals and a mix of distorted rhythm guitar and a clean lead complete with delay effect on the pickup.  This is followed by another mid-tempo offering entitled ‘Nothing But The Blood’ – a haunting track featuring a chilling, creeping melody and crusty, sludgy guitar refrains.

My first highlight selection is one of the longest tracks, coming in at almost 9 minutes in length.  May Be The Last Time’ is a down-tempo, Doom-laden Gothic ballad track, but with a rougher, grimier edge.  The vocals have a distinctive Sisters of Mercy-meets-Type-O Negative character.  To offset the rougher elements this track is peppered with an icy bell-like synth lead and booming, resonant electronic kicks.

Back to mid-tempo again, ‘Close The Window’ is clearly one of the more melodic tracks on offer.  Whilst this is refreshing, the track has a muddy quality, which was probably intentional, but this makes the mix sound a little too messy and isn’t helped by the bit-crushed rhythmic samples, giving it a very lo-fi feel.

My second highlight track is ‘Death Does Not Last Forever’, which begins as an ambient track with breaks rhythms and swirling, harmonic electronics that add a surreal, dreamy quality, complimented by lush chord-progressions and emotive vocals.  The song progresses into a heavier, down-tempo guitar-driven style, accompanied by powerful electronic percussion to add dramatic effect.

Equally impressive is ‘Heavy Is The Crown’, which ups the tempo again.  It features eerie, creeping vocal arrangements that give way to soaring, emotive refrains for the chorus and are supported by heavy guitar riffs.  This song also benefits from a much cleaner mix, providing a more defined structure and allowing the intricate melodies and progressions plenty of room to shine. To top it off, some of the samples have been treated with reverse, adding an extra atmospheric touch.

Drawing towards the close, ‘You Will Be The Death Of Me’ begins with brooding electronic pads and noisy, decayed rhythmic samples to create a typically Dark Ambient vibe, much like music published on the Tympanik Audio and Ant-Zen labels.  As the song develops, deep, heavy chugging guitars and thunderous kicks are added to the mix to create an altogether powerful beast.  An interesting combination of ambience and heaviness.

Title track ‘The Ogre Inside’ is given the honour of closing the album.  The verses are dark and brooding whilst the choruses comes alive with soaring vocal refrains and more pronounced percussive elements.  The warm, silky smooth bass hums along with a reflective, gentle clean guitar melody and speech samples of Alistair Crowley to accompany it.

The most glaring observation of The Ogre Inside is that it’s heavily loaded with ballads and mid-tempo songs, with one, possibly two tracks that could be classed as up-tempo.  This is uncharacteristic of PORN, as their previous albums leant more towards energetic songs and a selection of slower tracks, yet this is the complete opposite of that.  Although I personally enjoyed this body of work, I’d certainly point out that anyone with a preference for energetic music over ballads and ambience is unlikely to be satisfied with what’s on offer here.

One major progression I am pleasantly surprised by is the level of variation in vocal style.  Whereas Philippe Deschemin previously stuck almost exclusively to a rough ‘n’ grimy, rock/punk vocal styling, here he’s decided to explore a deeper, cleaner, more Gothic/Doom tone on a number of songs, which I’m impressed with and would definitely like to hear more of in future.

One of the two main criticisms is that a small selection of songs lack an intuitive sense of development and instead come across as individual ideas that have been stitched together, especially some of the longer tracks that appear to meander without any true sense of direction towards their eventual close.  The other critical point is regarding the production, which could be improved to bring out a little more brightness in the final mix.  That said, ‘The Ogre Inside’ definitely has its stand-out moments.  There are sections where the musical chemistry works so well that the individual elements seem to effortlessly come together in complete harmony and it’s fair to say that, whilst not overly satisfying as a complete body of work, there are a number of tracks I’m very fond of and will certainly wish to revisit numerous times.

 

PLAYER:

 

VIDEO – Sunset of Cruelty

 

VIDEO – You Will Be The Death Of Me [uncensored – explicit/sexual content]

PORN - The Ogre Inside

Release Date: 20th October 2017
Label: Les Disques Rubicon
Band Website: PORN (Official Facebook)
Buy Album (CD / Digital): Bandcamp

3.5Overall Score