I like Death Engine. Like, a lot. Mud was a massively enjoyable album of multifaceted, nuanced hardcore, showing a breadth of delivery and depth of substance that’s extremely rare to encounter outside of the mighty Converge. This should not be taken to mean that Death Engine sound like Converge, however.
Unfortunately, after waiting for three years or so for new material, there’s only a scant 30 minutes of it on Place Noire, but what a devastatingly effective 30 minutes it is. Not a second of playing time is wasted, and this album doesn’t know the meaning of the word filler.
The songs once again show that Death Engine are as inventive and creative as ever in their music. Each song is different and firmly has its own identity, while also flowing into a seamless whole that speaks volumes about the band’s songwriting ability. Mixing atmospheric post-hardcore, with violent punk, atypical noise rock, and many things in between, Place Noire is a completely absorbing and engaging listen.
The band have essentially mastered the art of the post-metal build/release mechanic and wrapped this up in the guise of a violent hardcore band. The end result is layered, nuanced, multifaceted, and highly compelling.
The band’s songcraft has improved even more, if such a thing were possible, making for songs that explore lows and highs, light and dark, softness and abrasion. This is a musical journey that the band have put into place for the listener to follow; everything is clearly marked, yet still manages to surprise and delight, to thrill and scare, in equal measure.
All aspects of Place Noire have clearly been considered and refined, but not overly so. Although everything here definitely has its place and reason for inclusion, the album still has a warm, loose feeling that speaks of a living, vibrant creation, rather than something over-practised or stale. Place Noire is perfectly judged in this respect, (and many others besides).
The return of Death Engine is a huge deal for anyone that likes expressive, emotive, and individual heavy music. Death Engine may not be a very prolific band, but they’re one that very much values, (and delivers), quality over quantity.