Cendres célestes reviews

dystopia4 on February 4th, 2017

Quebecois Blizzard

If you know anything about Quebec's black metal scene, you'll know what you're in for with Cantique Lépreux's debut album Cendres Célestes. All the tropes associated with the scene are on full display: buzzsaw waves of icy tremolo, atmospheric passages, depressive undertones and melody. However expected, they do an excellent job with the typical QCBM template. All of these elements are whipped together into a thoroughly convincing blizzard of sound.

A big part of what makes Cendres Célestes such a treat is the balancing act it pulls off. This starts with the production. The mix is rough enough for the gusts of tremolo to evoke the feeling of a backwoods blizzard, but also powerful enough for the melodic leads to shine through. While depressive dead-of-winter grog is not uncommon, this can be surprisingly uplifting at times, with their more melodic side coming through backed by frenetic punky drumming. Acoustic interludes and atmospheric drones occasionally give false hope of more amiable weather, before the blizzard of tremolo comes crashing in again. Cendres Célestes is a relatively samey album, with all of the songs conforming to the same basic template. However, with melodic parts, interludes, rougher patches and what have you, they mix things up enough to keep things interesting.

For riffs, what you get is pretty typical of the Quebec black metal scene. There is a great sense of flow to the tremolo, which lends heavily to the blizzard vibes. While the occasional tasteful melody does get blended in, much of the riffage owes a lot to second wave black metal. There are definitely moments where you can go "there's the Darkthrone riff" or "that's the Immortal one!". The vocals aren't the main draw or anything, but the bitter snarls do their job well. The drumming is cool, often clanging along at a mid-pace stomp, but bursting with energy in more upbeat sections, conjuring up the punk energy of A Blaze in the Northern Sky-era Darkthrone. The one real wildcard that Cantique Lépreux plays is the insane shred solo in "Transit". Proving that atmospheric black metal doesn't have to be all gloom and doom, this solo goes on for quite some time and absolutely fucking rips. Tasteful, technically involved and lightning-fast, this sort of thing is a risk I wish black metal bands would take more often.

Cantique Lépreux are pretty typical of Quebecois black metal, and I'm alright with that. They do a stellar job at a style I'm already a big fan of. They walk a tightrope between nasty blizzards and upbeat melodics and find themselves in a nice little sweet spot between styles. They kind of sound like if Paysage d'Hiver cleaned up their sound a little bit and drifted into more melodic territory. While this isn't the best Quebec black metal album of 2016 - do yourself a favour and check out the new albums by Forteresse and Gevurah - Cantique Lépreux have got themselves off to a very strong start.

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valleyofsteel on May 7th, 2016

Cendres Célestes

(Originally published at valleyofsteel.net)

Québec's Cantique Lépreux ("Leper Song") released their debut album Cendres Célestes ("Celestial Ashes") back in March. The album contains seven tracks, all in the five-to-six-minute range (except the three-minute introduction, an instrumental comprised mainly of slightly overdriven ambient chords).

Most of the album could be considered straight-up atmospheric black metal. Here, by "atmosphere" I'm referring literally to wide-open spaces, and tons of breathing room. This is found especially in the huge drum sound (and in particular the shimmering and clattering of the cymbals), but also reflected in the soaring guitar leads that appear in many of the songs (often as a transition between one vocal section and the next). Speaking of vocals -- generally done in typical black metal rasp/screech style, they also have something of an atmospheric quality to them, but a bit more contained: they often feature the kind of reverb that might come from being enclosed inside a box, or at the end of a long, narrow hallway.

The song "Tourments des Limbes Glacials" is an excellent example of this album's atmospheric sound: starting with a clear, ringing acoustic guitar, then feeling the full force of black metal coming crashing down around it, you can really get a sense of the frozen glacier-filled land of northern Québec, a main source of inspiration for this band's music. At other times, the layers of sounds (like an echo reverberating back and forth between mountaintops, the sound waves crashing into each other and amplifying some elements while other aspects nearly cancel each other out) tend to take on the oversaturated and harmonic-filled nature that characterizes Laster's material. This comparison is particularly apt in the final track here, "Le Mangeur D'os" ("The Bone-Eater," a phrase which is sometimes used to describe either the osedax or the ossifrage), which evokes a similar dance-music vibe to some of that band's songs.

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Metantoine on May 6th, 2016

Trilogie noire québécoise: Tome III

Tome III: Paysage d'hiver

I’ve never really liked Chasse-Galerie, they’re not a bad band at all but I think they’re too boring and play it safe, I wasn’t quite convinced by their live presence either. Considering this, I was a bit skeptic when I got this album in my inbox but I was surprised by how much I liked this new project of three of their members (also members of Forteresse or Au-delà des ruines). While it’s not a perfect debut album, there’s enough quality here to please most black metal fans. They’re not yet in the Québec black metal elite but they could very well be soon enough.

Soundwise, this album is the shiiit, the production is just icy and clean enough to make the songwriting shine and just raw enough to give it the necessary atmosphere. To be fair, I was expecting something akin to Paysage d’hiver when I saw the cover. The vocals of Blanc Feu are perfect for the genre, crispy yet tenebrous and just buried enough to give them the rightful snowy cavern feeling. The guitars are also very well produced and aren’t exactly that typical for the genre, there’s even some surprising, insane soloing (such as in “Transis). Considering they took the time to start a new band, I do think they didn’t do enough stuff to truly distinguish themselves from the masses. I was expecting something more epic and grandiose (not that it isn’t) but I do dig the (somewhat) melodic and (somewhat) peculiar approach they took with Cendres célestes (Celestial Ashes). They didn’t use all into the usual tropes of QCBM and that’s something that we see more and more in the Québec’s scene nowadays. Many bands are leaving their old tricks (winter, nationalism) behind and they’re taking a different, often more occult, direction. Gevurah or Délétère are good examples of this new trend.

I think this project has a lot of potential and that’s something that the excellent German label Eisenwald also saw (Csejthe and Grimoire, two of the best Québec bands ever are/were signed there). Even if I think that the compositions lacked a certain abtract component that I can’t really pinpoint, it’s solid material and it’s highly recommmended.Metantoine's Magickal Realm - check out the blog to read the 1st (Forteresse) and 2nd (Neige et Noirceur) chapters of this trilogy.

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