(Herein, Andy Synn sings the praises of three recent releases by French bands who present varying forms of Gallic metallic extremity.)
While many of us may be locked down right now, waiting for the current crisis to pass (which it will, I promise you), that doesn’t mean we can’t travel the world… musically speaking anyway… so today we’re off to France to check out three killer new records from three exceptionally talented bands.
AODON – 11069
I’ve seen a few mixed reactions to the upcoming second album (out this Friday) from French three-piece Aodon, and I think one of the reasons for this is because some people have approached the record with the wrong set of expectations.
Yes, 11069 is certainly French Black Metal, but it’s not really a “French Black Metal” album, in that it doesn’t carry a lot of the same sonic signifiers which that description usually suggests.
As a result, anyone expecting something along the lines of Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega or The Great Old Ones will, unsurprisingly, probably be a little bit disappointed (although, that being said, there’s a few moments scattered throughout the record, particularly during “L’ouvre”, which wouldn’t sound totally out of place on Cosmicism).
Instead, from the propulsive percussion and rhythmic riffery of “Les rayons” and the moody metallic melancholy of “L’écho”, all the way to the haunting heaviness of climactic closer “Le perfum des pluies”, via the streamlined blastbeats and moody melodies of “L’instinct” and the introspective intensity of “Lenergie”, 11069 has far more in common with the modern German Black Metal scene populated by bands such as Agrypnie, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Infestus, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s certainly a bit of an influence from early Alcest in there too (and maybe even some latter-day Immortal), but there’s no denying that Aodon bear a much greater resemblance to their Germanic cousins than their Gallic brothers and sisters.
Thankfully, if this is your sort of thing – and it is most definitely my sort of thing – then you’ll be pleased to discover that 11069 is a rather stellar example of this particular style, all taut, riveting rhythms, lightning-fast drum work, and crisp, cathartic vocals, and what it may lack in terms of Black Metal’s “traditional” grit and grimness, it more than makes up for in its sheer power and passionate execution.
HORNED – EMINENCE
You know what’s a lot of fun? Death Metal.
You know what else is a lot of fun? Hardcore.
And you know what’s even more fun? When bands mix the two together and do it just right…
Now that wasn’t always the case on Horned’s previous releases, but blow me down if they haven’t absolutely nailed it on Eminence, which takes a lot of familiar elements – the chunky brutality of Dying Fetus, the mammoth grooves of Misery Index, the bone-headed heaviness of Nails – and gives them a welcome shake-up as well as a big dose of youthful adrenaline.
Much like last year’s Fuming Mouth debut, or 2017’s killer comeback album from Dyscarnate, Eminence doesn’t set out to reinvent the Death Metal-meets-Hardcore wheel, but simply reminds you why, when it works, this particular style of music can be so instantly addictive and stupidly, stupendously, fun.
That’s not to say that Eminence isn’t a deadly serious record – there’s no getting around the band’s relentless aggression and ferociously anti-authoritarian stance – but the biggest impression, initially at least, from songs like “Tyranny” (all bombardments of blastbeats and churning chuggery) and “Furnace” (whose bone-grinding grooves should come with a health warning), is of a band with so much energy and attitude that every track is practically overflowing at the seams with electrifying riffs and headbangable hooks.
The songwriting as well – simple, yet smart – is another big deal, the band knowing just when to speed up, just when to slow down, and just when to get as dumb and devastatingly heavy as possible, so as to keep their audience engaged and enraged for the album’s entire run-time (clocking in at a crisp and uncompromising 34 minutes and change).
Utterly unpretentious and unrelentingly punishing, in the best possible way, Eminence is more than capable of going toe-to-toe, and pound-for-pound, against the very best of the rest of this year’s Death Metal crop. Welcome to the big leagues boys… hope you survive the experience!
SATAN – TOUTES CES HORREURS
It wasn’t that long ago when I made a point of stating how “Blackened Hardcore” (or Hardcore-injected Black Metal) had become a pretty big deal over the last several years, and now here I am again with yet another example of just why that is.
Erring more towards the “Black Metal” side of “Blackened Hardcore” than some of their peers, Satan also differentiate themselves from the pack by their wilful embrace of several more luridly surreal and avant-garde embellishments – from the unsettling mix of brass and woodwind instruments that makes up the totality of opener “Confiture Pour Cochons”, to the dream-like, disaffected spoken-word vocals at the beginning of “Caveau Familial”, to the distorted noise-scape that is “Lève-Toi Et Rampe”.
This willingness to embrace the unusual, the chaotic, the esoteric, frequently reminds me of Imperial Triumphant (the creepy, caustic, “Triste Sœur” being a prime example), albeit with more of a Punk background and less of a Jazz mindset (though, truth be told, those two aren’t always as different as they appear), and you’ll often find yourself expecting the band to go one way just as they purposefully go in another.
That being said, Satan also clearly have no problem going straight for the throat either, and tracks like “Le Sang Du Poète”, “Faux-Amis”, and “Peinture au Plomb” (three of the records nastiest and most vicious compositions) are all more than capable of ripping your face off and bludgeoning your brain into submission without resorting to any of the band’s more abstract accoutrements.
Fans of the aforementioned Imperial Triumphant, as well as those whose tastes run towards the more apocalyptic sounds of Plebeian Grandstand and their ilk, would do well to give this one a try. After all, they say the devil does have all the best tunes…