Par le Sang Versé is one of the most thoroughly entrancing and gloriously vibrant metal albums I’ve heard in years, regardless of sub-genre. It seizes ancient folk traditions and hurls them forward into the modern age, but without letting go of the intense devotion to the centuries-old well-springs of inspiration that gave birth to this record. I do think it’s impossible not to be moved in some significant degree by this fervent music, and likely that most listeners will simply be swept aloft and carried away, as I’ve been.
Granted, this writer tends to get swept away by a wider range of extreme music, and perhaps more often, than many of you, yet the conviction is strong that the eight songs on this new second album by the French medieval black metal band Véhémence are so powerful in their capacity to ignite passion and fire the imagination that the band’s own unmistakable passions become highly communicable, if not irresistible.
Have I fallen whole-heartedly within the embrace of a seduction that you could shrug off? That’s a question you can answer for yourselves, because you’ll have the chance to listen to a new song from the album following a lot more introductory verbiage, plus three more tracks that were previously released in advance of the record’s release on February 10th by the distinctive French label, Antiq.
Antiq represents that the album is “an immersive and blazing experience”, with lyrical themes inspired by sagas of chivalry, providing an hour-long journey through a “medieval-fantastic universe”. The song we’re presenting today, “Passage dans les Douves“, bears out those claims.
Given a mesmerizing sheen through a clear and powerful production, the song is a glorious, fiery, pulse-pumping dance, wild and savage and remarkably up-lifting. The drum rhythms hit home in gripping fashion right from the start, blasting away in a mad dash, to the accompaniment of a hyper-active bass, as bright, rippling riffs whirl us high up in the air.
The savagery of the music is attributable largely to the vocalist’s incendiary shrieking, which seem to erupt from a throat encircled by constricting barbed wire, and by bursts of soloing that match the shrieking quality of the voice. The medieval quality of the melodies is ever-present but most pronounced about two minutes in, when the rushing relents and you discover the dulcet tones of a darting, sun-dappled acoustic guitar melody and the sublime pulse of a lilting flute harmony.
When the heavier instrumentation re-emerges, it comes with a bounding rhythm and an alluring new riff, among which the flutes move like dancers at a grand ball. But at its heart, this isn’t aristocratic music, and when the snare begins to snap again, the electrifying guitar melody sounds like a devilish reel, like bagpipes and fiddle at an old-country peasant celebration — high up in the clouds.
Resist if you can, but I’ll venture to say that resistance is futile!
Below you’ll find links for pre-ordering Par le Sang Versé in a digipack CD edition (with a 16-page booklet) and as a digital download, along with an option for apparel.
At the first linked location you’ll also be able to listen to the first three tracks on the record. In those tracks you’ll discover moods (both melancholy and frenzied) that differ from “Passage dans les Douves”, as well as gritty, impassioned clean vocals, but equal levels of instrumental exuberance and sheer sparkling vibrancy.