La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénérescence reviews

80%
WilliamAcerfeltd on September 13th, 2007

The solos make it good

I bought this, and FFF for 30 bucks as a package off the net. FFF was pretty shocking but this on the other hand is a different story. Like Necrophobic's The Nocturnal Silence, the solos make this a good album. In other words, they get the majority of their points off the solos. Had their not been so many solos then this album may have come off a bit disappointing.

Let's start off with the positive and the best part of the album: the solos. Now, I know PN get a lot of praise for this and they deserve it. The solos on this album are long, epic and skillful and can make some songs interesting and worth a listen which would otherwise be boring, take Spleen for example. Usually, most songs have more than 1 solo. Actually, the reason why FFF is so bad is probably because it doesn't have hardly any solos.

The vocals here are much better than on FFF. As someone once asked me: "Does the singer from PN always sound like he's on his period?" The answer is no. Here the vocal performance is taken quite seriously and he doesn't make a meal of the vocals like he does on FFF.

The riffs are sometimes good but more often then not they are just average and sometimes rather dull. They can be interesting sometimes and not surprisingly, these are the better songs, e.g. track number 1 (a very good intro I must add.) A strange thing is that track number 5 seems to be split up into several different songs but they have been strung together as just one song as the songs have definite starts and finishes. It was if these guys wanted one long song or didn't want a series of short ones on the album.

So overall, this album is a bit over hyped but it certainly isn't a bad album, hell it's a lot better than their latest album, which is trash. My opinion has somewhat changed since listening to this album my first time. When I first listened to it my reaction was: "wow that was amazing", now the magic of this album has somewhat worn off. This album is worth a listen and if you liked FFF or anything else the band has put out, you'll like this.

Conclusion: The above is recommended for download or purchase.

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65%
zeingard on September 12th, 2007

Black plagues are totally metal

Black metal is a rather unique aberration within the realms of heavy metal, forming almost parallel to death metal but sharing few traits except for simply being 'extreme'. I will never fully grasp black metal, for me the general interpretation of black metal is split into two streams; Tremolo-picking and blast beats or simply more minimalist affairs focusing on atmosphere; being 'necro' and 'kvlt'. Over the years I've come to appreciate acts such as Bathory and even Burzum, but otherwise the genre does not hold my interests for long. There is far too much concern with recording an entire album on an answering machine or making sure your lyrics crap on about Satan, National Socialism, winter and so forth. For metal, it's a bit too focused on everything but the instrumentation and headbanging-ness.

Peste Noire are fairly intriguing however, for one thing I actually enjoyed hearing riffs and a solo on every song; showing that these guys actually know something about playing real fucking heavy metal. They still maintain a fairly below-average production to make sure their validity as a black metal band is not compromised. Of course this style of production has a tendency to reduce the main riffs to mere buzz of guitars rather than something that could be interpreted as an actual riff. Tremolo picking is the general approach taken to their riffing style, occasionally they move from string to string and even up and down the fret board! Even more surprising is that the bass is audible in parts! However this is probably because the bass isn't on the 'buzz like a fucking bee hive' setting like the guitars. The double bass pedal is set to pretty pump out a steady stream of beats and the snare is abused, it's to be expected. The vocals are impressive for black metal, sounds like Varg Vikernes if he actually took time to pronounce real words instead of making annoyingly high pitched wails. There are some brilliant folk influences shining through on this release, such as during the introduction track 'Nous Sommes Fanes' and the acoustic part of 'Laus Tibi Domine'. These folk influences actually give off a pretty creepy and dark atmosphere, in an almost Silent Hill-esque style. The idea that some insane, undead, demon, mutant etc etc. child is going to appear and suddenly stab me with a rancid femur had actually materialised in my mind a few times.

The best moments on this album are when they actually slow down and focus on making real fucking music. That break in 'Le Mort Joyeux' is great moving into a beautiful and melancholic slow section before proceeding into a clichéd solo. The first time I heard it I had to actually check I was listening to the right band since I wasn't expecting it at all. 'Laus Tibi Domine' works well as a slow song, it's definitely one of the more evil and sinister songs, sounding like the soundtrack to an abandoned and creepy as fuck village in the middle of nowhere. The manner in which it works up that killer lead section towards the end is great and ends the track very well. Track 8 (name is too fucking long), starts off with some of the most downright hilarious guitar tapping since Gorguts' "Obscura" but moves into a pretty good riff that isn't tremolo picked for once, the organ is well placed and provides great atmosphere overall. 'Retour de Flamme' kicks off with a good riff and a solo, very fucking metal! Although the female screams/wails are pretty useless. Unfortunately they decide that writing a good song isn't kvlt enough and blast us with stupid crap for about a minute before slowing down and playing something worthwhile, that audible bass is fairly impressive in contrast to the beehive guitars. The solos and lead work on this track are a little inconsistent but seem to work fairly well and aren't buried too much.

The problem with the album however is that a lot of the good ideas and more creative outputs tend to hamstring the entire flow. Whilst the lead sections are cleanly executed and a welcome change, a lot of the time they either get buried in the mix thanks to Famine screaming like a schizophrenic parrot, the beehive guitars and the snare drum from hell. Other times he noodles for a bit and it seems like something good is going to come from it but then he quickly retracts the idea and goes back to tremolo picking. The epic track 'Phalenes et Pestilence' feels far too overlong only containing about 4 to 5 riffs spread over 11 minutes, admittedly that riff around 7:11 is pretty fucking decent and doesn't sound too far removed from an actual metal song but the rest are of course beehive riffs. The melodic section in the middle is also pretty flowery and wanky feeling with two random instruments; organ and mandolin making a guest appearance simply for the sake of appearing adding little to the structure or integrity.

This is one of the better black metal releases you will ever listen to, and of course I'm sure those with a bone for black metal already will have this album and laud it as the best thing since Darkthrone recorded the abortion that is "Transylvanian Hunger". Or Burzum's "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss". Whatever, if you enjoy Bathory but disliked the thrash riffs (i.e. the good parts) and wanted more folk influences you'll like this album.

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90%
Serpenthrone777 on August 25th, 2007

Simply Amazing

The French black metal scene has seemingly produced some of the rawest and one might argue some of the truest black metal of the modern times. They have stuck true to the stereotypical ideals that makes black metal what it is, and yet have not allowed their music to simply sink into boring riffs that repeat themselves for the ten-hundredth time. To make things even better, their music seems to convey a sense of beauty in it’s harshness, a feat that is hard pressed to accomplish in music that has so little to compare to in that of beauty.

Peste Noire, with members from the famous Alcest and Amesouers, is another one of these French black metal bands that have conveyed the rawest and most beautiful aspects of the music. Guitar playing is simple, flowing, with many stereotypical French style of playing as well as their own tinge of originality. Some very beautiful acoustic patterns also present, furthering the sound of the music. Of course this could just be a personal preference, but I’ve always found acoustical passages can make the music so much more enjoyable, especially if they can get the harsh and classical contrasts to mix seeminglessly as they’ve done on this album.

Vocals are my other highlight of the album. The screeches meld into the music, causing it to become one with the music making the voice less of a tool as I’ve noticed it being used as in many other black metal bands, but as an extension of the music, and instrument on it’s own. Very well done.

Bass can actually be heard on this album, which is a rarity on black metal albums, however it doesn’t contribute much. Drums are also well played, but lay simply as the foundation of the music. It’s not the primary of the music, like the guitars and the vocals are.

Overall, this is a fantastic album, with most of the songs being 5 out of 5’s. Recommended to anyone who is into black metal, and if your not a big fan of the French Black Legions, don’t worry. This will sound good to anyone who can appreciate black metal.

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90%
Sean16 on May 22nd, 2007

Danse Macabre

A skinhead with a brain? This isn’t a very common species, and Peste Noire’s mastermind La Sale Famine de Valfunde (or, to put it more simply, Famine) is likely to remain its only known representative. Because no one can deny this album, beyond its intrinsic brutality, is very, very cleverly made. It is so cleverly made it is likely to convert people even the most reluctant to admit black metal can sometimes be qualified as genuine music, and I know what I’m talking about as I’m one of those. Actually, one is hardly exaggerating when suggesting Peste Noire is now playing black metal... for people who don’t like black metal in the first place.

Why? It’s mostly a matter of production to begin with. The music in itself may not be really “soft” to say the least, Famine’s voice may only consist in a continuum of totally inhuman shrieks, lyrics may only deal with degeneracy (to echo the title), blasphemy or death, however, in a striking contrast the sound remains exceptionally clean, precise, comfortable. In spite of the guitar keeping a very raspy, typical BM sound, every instrument sounds loud and clear in the mix, including the bass. Drums sound like drums and not like a set of frying pans, while to complete the picture Famine’s barks dominate the stage. I’ve never heard Peste Noire’s demos, but they’re said to be excessively raw: it’s hard to believe as there’s nothing approaching here, what may ironically turn some early Famine fans away from this release. Indeed, an anecdote reports the band had been fired from its former label Drakkar for now playing too clear, commercial music. It may only be a rumour, but the simple fact this rumour exists is highly significant.

If one can accept the fact La Sanie des Siècles has nothing to do with raw black metal any more, rather with a kind of atmospheric black metal to use a term which both means everything and nothing, one will soon notice it is actually all but commercial. It is a disturbing, scary album – certainly far more scary dressed in its clean production than it could have been while served with a rawer sound. An adjective might well sum up the mood it carries all throughout its eight tracks: MEDIEVAL. Not medieval in the knight-in-shining-armour fashion. Medieval in the darkest imaginable fashion, reminding of a time dominated by war and epidemics (“black plague”, of course). The time of torture, gallows and François Villon’s poetry. A time when for most people the only semblance of help could be found in religion. Religious imagery is indeed present all along this release, through the relevant use of organs and Gregorian choirs (at the end of the third and seventh tracks for instance) which, far from reassuring the listener, only increase its general feeling of uneasiness.

Acoustic guitars, which are abundantly used as well, have a similar effect. From the shrill, quavering leitmotiv which dominates Deuil Angoisseus to the sumptuous acoustic parts of Phalènes et Pestilence, it’s a real danse macabre. The most aggressive moments, like Le Mort Joyeux and its unforgettable opening roar, or the closing track all filled with the unspeakable horror of nazi camps, wouldn’t serve all their purpose if they wouldn’t be counterbalanced, and furthermore reinforced, by acoustic parts as well as tracks of a majestic slowness – like Laus Tibi Domine, which also exhibits a remarkable ending solo. The whole release being not really fast-paced to begin with, but after all funerals aren’t very fast-paced in the vast majority of cases. And how could be classified this pathologically weird intro, Nous Sommes Fanés? Recorded at half the volume of the seven following tracks – what makes the horrendous scream opening Le Mort Joyeux all the more frightening -, built on a 3/4 beat like an agonizing waltz, harrowing, chilling, it works as a dreary announcement of wicked things to come.

The album certainly culminates in the monumental Phalènes et Pestilence – Salvatrice Averse, a track with so numerous parts I gave up counting them all, but remarkably coherent; the fatal consequence being a partial crushing of the two adjoining tracks Spleen and Retour de Flamme, looking a tad pale in comparison. However, this shouldn’t occult the fact this release keeps on being surprisingly strong from the beginning to the end, altogether non-linear, impressive and, indeed, beautiful. As every great album, La Sanie des Siècles transcends the boundaries of its initial genre: calling it black metal (what it still is, by the way) does make as little sense as calling Arcane Rain Fell or Dance of December Souls doom metal. As these two other masterpieces, it could sum up to only one expression: it’s a genuine piece of despair.

Highlights: Laus Tibi Domine, Phalènes et Pestilence – Salvatrice Averse, Deuil Angoisseus

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100%
Demented_Child06 on April 25th, 2007

Brilliance doesn't cover it.. no word does.

Peste Noire's La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénerescence is nothing short of breathtaking. Since obtaining this album not two weeks ago, it hasn't escaped my ears.

Firstly, onto the drumming. The drumming featured by Winterhalter in this album has vastly improved since the bands earlier works. The drumming is much more powerful, accurate, and the majority of the time perfectly blends in with the guitar work.

The guitar's in this album are also very well delivered. The rhythm guitar has a unique, although not appreciated by some fans, buzzing sound, which for me only adds to the atmosphere the vocals create. The solos are also very well done, Famine has seemed to blend multiple styles of playing and blend it into one, to produce the solos featured on La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénerescence.

And lastly, but by far not the least, the vocals. Once again the vocals we have grown to love over the last past 6 years have failed to disappoint, delivering the same cold, blasphemous screams of agony, however slightly better produced. I always thought you could appreciate vocals more when better produced, and this album proves that theory for me.

If the next album is anything remotely as good as this one, Peste Noire will quickly become one of the leading bands in the french, maybe even european, black metal scene. Now we shall await it... very eagerly.

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83%
torn on September 14th, 2006

An excellent album, but a slight dissapointment.

Finally Peste Noire’s debut full-length is upon us after a few years of silence, during which time the hype around this band has risen to fever pitch, and many are now citing them as the next Mütiilation. For once, the hype has been justified, the handful of demos released to the public having been nothing short of incredible, especially ‘Macabre Transcendence’. With that in mind expectations are high, to say the least. This album marks the return of Neige (one of my very favourite musicians) to the band, and was recorded at the legendary Rosenkrantz studio, a place that has been responsible for recording some of the best French bands of recent times. For anyone who is keen on the traditional French style of black metal, the combination of Famine, Neige and Rosenkrantz Studio should be enough to have you salivating.

With such high expectations, then, it was perhaps innevitable that this album would dissapoint. It is by no means a bad album, quite the opposite in fact, it’s one of the best released in a long time, but it is not up to the standard set by previous works. For me it is the recording and mix that prevents this from being the masterpiece that it should have been. While the demos had a gritty, filthy sound and a truly diabolical atmosphere, this album sounds almost polished and over-produced in comparison. I welcome a professional recording when it’s needed (Ondskapt and Deathspell Omega have both made fantastic use of high-quality recording recently) but there are also times when a lo-fi sound is a must if the atmosphere of the music is to be conveyed properly. By cleaning up the sound, Peste Noire have also lost the obscure, crypt-like atmosphere and the intense and constant feeling of dread and unease that marked the earlier works.

The rhythm guitars are the biggets dissapointment, reduced to that soulless fuzzy sound, devoid of any real depth, that often occurs when guitars are plugged straight into the mixing desk rather than amped and recorded through a microhpone. I don’t know whether that method of recording was employed or not, but it certainly sounds like it. To add salt to the wounds, the rhythm guitars are far too low in the mix, and whereas they were previously the driving force of this band, they are now pushed right to the back, further removing any atmosphere they may have conjured up. The other instruments suffer less, the cleanliness of the recording seems to suit them slightly better, and they all get even space in the mix. If the guitars weren’t so lacking in passion or power I dare say I could have enjoyed this new recording style. As it is I’m left longing for the grimy analogue sound of the demos.

It is left to the music, then, to redeem this album, and it manages quite well. Quite well, but not as well as it could have done. A brief look at the tracklisting reveals that three older songs have been included here, albeit in a re-worked and re-recorded state. The songs are well picked, perhaps the best three from the demo period, and even the frustrating mix can’t stop them from sending shivers up the spine. While they manage to retain much of their original charm, I prefer the original versions, both in terms of production and the music itself. The changes in drumming on ‘Le Mort Joyeux’ and ‘Spleen’ are most unwelcome, the originals having already been honed to perfection, and unfortunately they have an adverse effect on the pace and flow of the songs. ‘Phalènes Et Pestilence - Salvatrice Averse’ also suffers from the changes made to it. Whereas the original version successfully blended a multitude of emotions and styles in a wonderfully flowing manner, this new version stops and starts again far too many times, stripping away the confident progression of the song and leaving it sounding disjointed and unsure. It is hard for me, though, to properly review these songs. Being, as I am, so familiar with the original versions, I am perhaps unfairly biased towards them. While the structural changes and altered drum patterns do detract from the songs, the riffs, chord progressions and lead work are still incredible. The acoustic verses capture an almost beautiful sense of longing, and Famine’s vocals are still among the best in all of extreme music. So while I prefer the original versions of these songs, anyone who discovers them here for the first time will undoubtedly warm to these re-workings; even in their new state they are still incredible songs.

The new songs fair slightly better, having been written specifically for this album rather than re-worked for it. ‘Laus Tibi Domine’ is an ominous, dreadful dirge, and reminds me slightly of ‘Gisant Dans La Putréfaction’ from the split with Sombre Chemin. The final three songs of the album manage to evoke similar feelings of dread and suffering, and they also have an air of decadence and lunacy to them that hasn’t been heard from this band before. ‘Deuil Angoisseux’ especially captures a splendid feeling of madness, and it should also be noted that Neige’s vocals make a very welcome appearance on this track, at first on his own and then in tandem with Famine. His piercing shrieks are as chilling and disturbing here as they were on the Mortifera full-length, and I hope to hear him contribute more on future releases. To top it off Famine’s unique lead work sweeps through these songs, at times adding an almost medieval feel to the music, and all of the Peste Noire trademarks are here in abundance, along with new and equally interesting styles. Having said this, the new songs do sound quite different from previous work, but the progression is a welcome one, and they do suit the production and mix better than the older songs.

If this review has seemed critical then it’s not because this is a bad album, it’s because it could have been a masterpiece, but sadly falls short of the mark. Anyone who is familiar with the band’s demos may well take a while to adjust to this album, but if this is your first time hearing Peste Noire then there’s every chance that it grab you and refuse to let go, in the way that this band has done in the past. It is a good album, far above average, and I’d go as far as to say that it’s one of the best black metal records so far this year. I can’t help feeling, though, that in this case a gritty, lo-fi sound with more prominent rhythm guitars could have elevated ‘La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénerescence’ to a true masterpiece. It seems unlikely that the band will return to their previous sound, but I still very much look forward to hearing what they will do next.

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100%
Atorias on August 26th, 2006

Absolute Masterpeice

Peste Noire is a band that I always eagerly wait to hear new material by them, La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénerescence is by far the best yet and with the help of Indria, Winterhalter and Neige gives the album more intensity as each musician plays his instrument well; leaving no sense of “this could have been played better”. One of the major stand outs is the excellent drum work of Winterhalter, if you have listened to previous Peste Noire albums you would have realized that the drumming was ok but not great, Winterhalter completely makes up for this in the newly remade songs.

Famine’s guitar work is yet more amazing than previously – excellent guitar solos that just wouldn’t have the same feel to the whole Peste Noire experience if they weren’t present, the fusion of more than one style of guitaring into these songs leaves you thinking “if any other band did this would it even sound good?” and his vocals are not as piercing as they were in previous demos they are given a slightly more deeper tone, yet unmistakably those torturous screams of Famine.

This album is by far one of the best Black Metal releases to date the songs are beautifully constructed; you can’t help but love this album it is an absolute masterpiece.

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La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénérescence track list

1Nous sommes fanés02:18
2Le mort joyeux04:40
3Laus Tibi Domine06:57
4Spleen05:47
5Phalènes et pestilence - salvatrice averse11:46
6Retour de flamme (Hooligan Black Metal)04:18
7Dueil angoisseus (Christine de Pisan, 1362-1431)07:02
8Des médecins malades et des saints séquestrés09:09

La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénérescence lineup

FamineVocals, Guitars, Lyrics, Songwriting, Bass (track 5)
WinterhalterDrums
IndriaBass