As half of the black metal influenced duo Menace Ruine, Geneviève Beaulieu gives the project its unique sound via her distinct, idiosyncratic voice that alternates between dramatic and understated. On the debut of her side project Preterite (with multi instrumentalist James Hamilton), the metal is scaled back and the more folk elements are pushed forward, but in a way that defies expectations based on that simple description.
In many circumstances, the combination of buzzing, accordion like tones and female vocals in a context such as this either does nothing for me or completely turns me away. Here, however, there is a distinct edge to this that makes it stand out, such as the more abrasive sounds underscored with tasteful strings on "Oath," and complimented by Beaulieu's powerful voice. There is a distinct medieval, neofolk influenced quality throughout, but sounding entirely unique.
"The Fourth Corner" makes use of those same pieces, but rearranges it into a more restrained sound, with the strings creating a warm, pleasant drone. The vocals are more restrained overall, which adds to the overall sense of the song. The complex mulitracking of voice and dissonant, ugly sounds at the end make for a drastic, but appreciated change.
The three remaining pieces drift more towards a sound that resembles Menace Ruine, integrating more electric guitar without ever crossing that threshold into metal. The drumless expanse and stop/start moments of "Trial of Strength" offset the effected guitar and the booming, sustained vocals definitely add a distinct color. The lengthy "Viriditas" is similar, with Beaulieu's dynamic vocals shifting from a declaration to a roar multiple times, ending the song (and album) in the grasps of a wall of dissonant noise, with the only identifiable sound being a pounding low-register piano amidst cavernous reverb.
Menace Ruine is not a project that has been bogged down with genre conventions by any means, but I do appreciate Preterite's pushing of some of those elements into different, more abstract fields. The more folk infused pieces balance out the more guitar laden ones, meaning that neither sound dominates the album, nor do any of the pieces feel unfinished or fragmented as a failed experiment would be. It instead makes for a related, but distinct, but thematically connected side project.