NausikaDalazBlindaz on March 20th, 2015
Celebrating Québécois black metal and folklore
What better way to promote Québécois black metal and its own 15th anniversary than for Sepulchral Productions to issue a double 7-inch vinyl release featuring four bands prominent in the genre offering songs based on French Canadian folklore with an emphasis on love and reference for the landscapes of Quebec and the spirits of one's forerunners that might still dwell in the forests and mountains. Two of the bands (Forteresse and Monarque) featured on the four-ways split are Sepulchral Productions stablemates and have lengthy discographies and they are paired with lesser-known bands Csejthe and Chasse Galerie who I presume would have been glad to have the exposure to a bigger BM fanbase that this split offers.
Forteresse lead off with "Wendigo", an intense and harsh rapid-fire tremolo-guitar / blast-beat drumming terror from the deepest parts of hell beneath the frozen grounds of north-east Canada. The title refers to a demon being in the native Algonquian folklore of the region, a creature derived from the transformation of a human who has engaged in cannibalism. The vocals are as harsh and pitiless as the music. While the song probably presents nothing out of the ordinary for Forteresse, the most distinctive part of it is the consistent energy and ferocity that carry the song for the full 6+ minutes.
Chasse-Galerie's "Le Bois des Belles" is a more relaxed and melodic counterpoint to "Wendigo" with a swanky folk-influenced rhythm and a very interesting duel going on between the guitars and the bass while the drums roll by. With so much going on, the watery cartoon swamp-monster vocals all but drown in the music and that's a bit sad as the lyrics happen to be the major structural element around which everything else revolves. The music is very uplifting and has quite a bouncy feel which makes up for the lack of obvious fury.
Monarque's "La Griffe du Diable" is an all-raging acid-shower storm of layered tremolo-guitar distortion and ghost vocals drenched in reverb. This song might be considered typical BM in its theme, structure and sound but it is a very solid and powerful effort in raw dark atmospheric BM. The middle section where the guitars and drumming stop and the distorted vocals roar and swirl is the stand-out of the entire recording, let alone the song itself.
Last but not least, Csejthe put up a fight against Monarque with "Murmures Nocturnes", a steady, mostly instrumental piece that goes through various moods with melodic tremolo guitars and solid drumming. As the track progresses, synthesised strings and background space ambient come in as counterpoint to the guitars.
Well the release wasn't quite consistent all the way through: Monarque easily blows everybody else away but the other bands put up performances to the best of their ability. The lesser known bands Chasse-Galerie and Csejthe tend to be elbowed out of the way by Sepulchral Productions bands but they have talent and distinct styles of melodic BM. I'd have liked this four-band double split set to have been a bit longer, maybe blown up into a double EP set with each band allowed to offer 2 - 3 songs so that listeners get a better idea of what each band has to offer.
autothrall on March 28th, 2014
I knew I was going to like this 4-way split about 30 seconds into the first tune, Forteresse's "Wendigo", which just completely takes charge and kicks ass far more than I'm accustomed to with their music. It's proud, melodic and endowed with at least two of the catchiest riffs I've heard them write, while still maintaining that nearly hypnotic style they're known for, only hitting a lot faster and harder to drive home that atmosphere. But even before that, the idea behind Légendes seemed exhilataring... Four Quebecois black metal acts, four 'legendary' themes from their homeland, Sepulchral Productions. Most of you reading this have likely opened your checkbooks and are no longer reading what I have to say, but just in case you lie on the fence, I'll endeavor to continue...
The quality doesn't end with Forteresse, for next I was introduced to Chasse-Galerie, the one band here I had no prior experience with, whose very name is derived from a folktale. I don't exactly know how a lot of their other records sound, but here the style plugs in seamlessly where the first tune left off with "La Boies de Belles", a fit accompaniment for some French-Canadian Renaissance Faire, mid-paced triumphant black metal which plays out like a hybrid of Moonspell's classic "Alma Mater" and late 80s Bathory. Dirty and oppressive in terms of production, but nevertheless magnificent, with textured tremolo picked guitars and a pumping, melodic bass-line that stands out below the grotesque, growled ravings of Blanc Feu. A good song, flush with its predecessor and will prompt me to track down their older efforts. That said, the third offering, Monarque's "La Griffe du Diable" is perhaps the best of the lot, a raw, melancholic, odious epic which falls right in line with the A-side tunes, only harsher and more sinister via the raunchy rasping. An excellent song, an excellent band, perhaps the one thing I could find lacking is that there's simply not much unique about it, but we're beyond that with really any black metal in the 21st century.
Another wonderful track closes out the release courtesy of Csejthe. "Murmurs Nocturnes" is a mildly more dense and emotional mirror to the prior material in that it offers the same wistful tremolo picked melodies and obscure beauties, only the use of the synth in there makes it 'prettier' perhaps. If you experienced their last disc Réminiscence on Eisenwalde Tonschmiede, you'll be hooked in short order, as the dreamy darkness there is present in spades. But perhaps even more impressive than any one song is just how fluid Légendes flows as a whole...there clearly seemed to be some collaboration here, interaction between the four acts, so that the split seems incredibly coherent and consistent beyond the 'We're in the same ballpark musically, or pen pals, so let's do a split' mentality' that I usually come across. There's no need for the songs to stand alone and compete with one another, because they work in unison as a 20+ excursion into the imaginations of their forefathers, a smooth thematic blend that culminates in continuity for the aesthetic rampage Sepulchral Productions has been on lately, following up the latest Gris, Sombres Forêts, and Neige Éternelle records with honour, grandiloquence, and style. Merci to that.
dystopia4 on March 28th, 2014
Legends Of the Quebec Black Metal Scene
For those not familiar with Quebec’s excellent black metal scene, Légendes is a worthy showcase of what it’s all about – especially considering the theme of this release is French Canadian folklore. Although there are certainly exceptions, the QCBM sound is often characterized by melody-tinged waves of icy tremolo. A strong focus is put on atmosphere without compromising the integrity of the black metal. This is often done with a depressive tinge. Here, Monarque, Forteresse, Csejethe and Chasse-Galerie put forth compelling examples of this sound. They all have their individual sounds, but they are ones that go for a similar vibe and complement each other flawlessly. The black metal scene for this Canadian province is one of my personal favorites right now, and these bands are here to showcase how they do it over here.
The split kicks off with perhaps the most well known band, Forteresse. Their song “Wendigo” shows them at the top of their game. The huge rolling melodic tremolo is the main attraction. Very repetitious, they really dig into a viable atmosphere and keep the hypnotic intensity flowing. The snare tone here is excellent, and the straight-ahead beat it keeps really sets forth a sense of urgency. The next band, Chasse-Galerie is the only band I came into the split being unfamiliar with. Thankfully, they can keep up with the scene-leaders they are playing besides. Bringing in some melodic guitar work that still has muscle, they fair well for themselves. Also featuring a throaty snarl and some rawer drum work, this proves to be a good representation of its province’s scene. While not the highlight of Légendes, this is some solid stuff.
Monarque’s track reminds of the depressive slant this scene often has. This is definitely the track with the biggest set of balls. A grainy-as-fuck guitar tone, truly spiteful rasping, a simultaneously massive and raw production – everything about this works incredibly well. It feels like freezing to death in the middle of a raging blizzard while the harsh winds scrape your skin raw. Csejthe gets the last word in on this split and they are easily the highlight. However, this should come as no surprise seeing as they released one of the best black metal records of 2013. Their track has a sweeping grandeur that just totally immerses you in the snowy landscapes their guitar work is echoing. They thrive off the repetition of huge lingering melodies. A damn epic offering, this ends the split on a high note.
The simple album cover combines imagery both pertinent to Quebec and black metal, making it very obvious what this album is about. These bands do a fine job of representing the QCBM scene. This is a scene well worth delving into, and if you are not already familiar with it and like what you hear here, you really ought to check it out. All four bands put forward a great effort and their sounds all work very well with each other. Légendes is definitely a lot more than one of those splits where the bands just haphazardly throw on extra material they just had floating around (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about). This is some very solid material, all around.