Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions, 12.10.18
Three French bands, two of whom are newcomers, present a three-way split where they introduce themselves with two songs each.
Hopefully, one can find a bit more constructive inventive-ness in the music than in the split's unimaginative title. Bâ’a and Verfallen were conceived last year and haven't dropped any former release. Hyrgal was formed ten years earlier. They released a split the year following their inception as well. Then the band took their time until last year before releasing the debut album Serpentine.
Truth be told, I chose to deprioritize Serpentine due to its generic and monotonous, albeit somewhat atmospheric expression. A mood characterized by fairly dreary monotonous resignation, admittedly.
But we start off with the duo Bâ’a. Tones from an inhospitable landscape prevails. In sequences, some choir or a touch of orchestral means puts some colour on an otherwise vast and colourless Arctic tundra, where the variation appears as different formations of ice and snow. The band's antagonistic approach to a post-metallic expression is well done, and different riffs and varied rhythm make the music vibrant.
The very expression the band conveys can often be somewhat restrictive. And the more bands who pay this landscape a visit, the more mediocre each attempt often appear. However, Bâ’a succeeds quite well, due to the aforementioned variation, and a thick layer of melancholy, especially in the second songs, aptly named La grande désillusion. It's not particularly exciting and innovative, though.
The one-man band Verfallen has adopted a German word as moniker. The word can be translated to expire, and I suspect that the word has the same origin as Norwegian forfalle, meaning decay. Speculations aside. The band plays a rather intense form of dystopic black metal, with elements of both post-black and dissonance. Besides quieter and slower paced passages, they don't skimp on the icy tremolo. The variation, however occurs before boredom kicks in. If dim moods of loss, antagonism and lightly dreamy discomfort please you, Verfallen delivers a more than adequate contribution. It's not extremely interesting and innovative, however.
The trio by the name of Hyrgal has left some of its atmospheric monotony from Serpentine behind. They open with guitar and bass that, along with heavier rhythms, reels off slower, darker riffs, rather than boring high-pitched post-black tremolo. After the song Césure, the pace and amount of post-characterized tremolo increase in partly protracted, but also evocative and sufficiently varied Sicaire. Yet, it doesn't exactly come off as exceedingly fascinating and distinctive.
If the aforementioned black (or white, snow-covered) landscapes appeals to you, you should really check out this split. Personally, I'm somewhat ambivalent to this type of grey/black metal, while I also find that these three rise well above the otherwise mediocre average.
A new album, with Shem Ha Mephorash intended as title, was scheduled to be released this fall, but seems to be delayed. Meanwhile, two singles have been unveiled.
The first was released as EP earlier this year, while the second is streaming on YouTube. And on Gorger's Metal.
The song 777: Third Woe is taken from the forthcoming full length, while The Odius Gospels is most likely exclusive for this release. Both clock in at just over 6.5 minutes.
I suspect that the first one had “Trumpets from Hell” as working title, as that is what my submitted file is named. Both this and the next song are a notch less hypnotic, dark and occult, and rather somewhat more grand and majestic than the material on Rites of Nullification. Not a development I necessarily applaud.
That might sound negative, but it must be said that I really love that album. If you were to put the comparisons aside, it's by all means a mighty satanic vista that is revealed even here. Under the video for 777: Third Woe, I've embedded the video for the glorious second single King of Kings, Lord of Lords, a ten-minute opus due to appear on Shem Ha Mephorash.
Fans of roughly the expression one can find among bands like Nightbringer, Behemoth, Acherontas and Begerith, just to name a few, have something to look forward to.
Melodic death/thrash basically isn't my favourite style. Admittedly, I had a bit of a weak spot for Arch Enemy for a short period after coming across the song Ravenous many years ago. At its best, the genre is energetic and aggressive, and rather entertaining. Especially in small doses.
Dutch Izegrim released their first demo under the original name Isegrim 20 years ago. The band seems to have been loyal to the style all this time, even though they've honed the blades a lot along the way.
I don't know the band in depth, and have only heard the album Code of Consequences (2011) in its entirety. Like Arch Enemy, this band is also known for its female frontwoman. Marloes Voskuil was a backing vocalist for a few years before taking over the microphone completely ten years ago. Besides rasping, hoarse voice, she also delivers deep guttural vokills this time. In addition, there are sequences with other vocal forms, such as in the title track, where frantic despair is conveyed.
...Something that fits the dark and atmospheric riffs and chasing drums that make up Beheaded By Trust. The song material seems to me to be considerably more deadly and memorable than what was the case on said full-length. In addition, the EP has gained rich, dark and reverberating sound from KohleKeller Studio, a studio that's been frequently visited by bands such as Crematory, Benighted and Aborted in recent years.
Beheaded By Trust is said to be representative of the future of Izegrim, and that's promising, for the material is as bombastic as it is ominous. The EP consists of four songs, the last of which is the only one that doesn't fully reach the same level as the rest in my ears.