Kill The Thrill – Autophagie


It’s been nineteen long years since French goth/industrial rock group, Kill the Thrill, issued an album.  They were busy in the 90s and through to the early part of the new millennium, releasing their first recording, Dig, in 1993 and Low in 1996. Then they stayed silent for seven years until 2003’s, 203 Barriers, followed by Tellurique in 2005.

From the long, meandering opening track to the Colin Stetson-esque crescendo of final track, ‘Ahan’, Autophagie is proof that Kill the Thrill haven’t missed a beat in those nineteen years. This album is an absolute masterpiece from beginning to end – leaning more into the gothic end of things than the industrial – replete with gravelly lyrics, glorious rhythms, and the finest crescendos.

The first cut, ‘Tout va bien se terminer’ (aka ‘Everything is going to be fine’), is perhaps an odd choice to open an album. It’s something of a slow, ponderous affair that takes a long time to get to where it’s going, but it’s a showcase for Nicolas Dicks’s rough vocals to soar over the guitar and synths as it builds relentlessly towards its final destination. Follow-up, ‘A la dérive’ (aka ‘Adrift’), is an altogether lighter, brighter, and shorter affair – a palate cleanser after the opening track, though none of the songs on this record could be described as happy or upbeat. From there, we move to ‘Le dernier train’ (aka ‘The Last Train’), an upbeat, quick paced number that feels like it’s over far more quickly than its ten-minute runtime might suggest. With crooning vocals over almost whimsical guitars and drumbeats that conjure up comparisons to the sound of a train gliding over the tracks, it’s one of the standout tracks from this LP.

How enjoyable is the experience of sitting down with this record and giving it the attention that it deserves? As a title-track, ‘Autophagie’ (which means self-eating or self-devouring) is a synth heavy, dreary, and drizzly country road type of track that ends without a specific climax or conclusion. The magic is entirely in the journey. ‘Capitan’ operates in a similar vein, though the flow of the guitars lifts it up as they weave a piercing, almost shrill counterpoint to the darkness of the lyrics. It’s a pleasure to identify the layers. These become a glorious, almost majestic wall of sound before each of the instruments drop out of the mix one by one until – in the end – there is only silence.

This recordwould be a long and interminable affair in the wrong hands. ‘Cluster Headache’ is certainly a provocative title for a song, a track that could have come from genre stalwarts Tool in another life. Guitars and synths mix with Nicolas Dick’s sublime vocals, veering from sadness to anger and back again. Things continue to build this way with ‘Les enfants brûlent’ (aka ‘Children are Burning’) and the gorgeous bitterness of ‘Je suis là’ (aka ‘I am Here’). Closing effort, ‘Ahan’, is a curiosity on an album full of them. Lyrics and guitars exit the stage for a synth-led, meditative dream of a track, punctuated by audio clips and what sounds like the bleep of a life support machine or a diver breathing. It’s a strange and beautiful (and haunting) way to bring the listener’s journey with Kill the Thrill to a close.

Autophagie is a throwback to the old days of albums, when they were an aural journey to be savoured, for a listener to set aside some time to immerse themselves within an artist’s creation. It’s a sad, majestic, challenging, intense and utterly glorious experience from beginning to end. Though a long time in the making, Autophagie is nothing less than a musical triumph.

Shaun Rockwood


Verdict


Release Date: 26/01/2024

Record Label: Season of Mist

Standout tracks: A la dérive; Le dernier train; Je suis là

Suggested Further Listening: Dream Disciples – Asphyxia (2001), Fields of the Nephilim – The Nephilim (1988), Thåström – Dom som skiner (2021)