Those of you who are already familiar with the releases of the distinctive French label Antiq Records know that the bands who gather beneath its banner have an affinity for tales and tunes of bygone ages and old instruments, often melded together with the ravaging power and intensity of metal. And to that congregation of talents Antiq has added Paydretz, a French black/folk metal project featuring members of Véhémence, Himinbjorg, Hanternoz, Grylle, Belenos, and Wÿntër Ärvn.
Paydretz’s striking debut album is entitled Chroniques de l’Insurrection, set for release on October 8th. It’s a 14-track musical narrative of “the War in the Vendée” that took place in France between 1793 and 1796. This was a counter-revolution, an uprising among the French peasantry and a few royalist noblemen in the Vendée region during the Revolution’s reign of terror in Paris. It achieved a series of military victories before the counter-revolution was finally (and brutally) suppressed.
The song we’re presenting today, “Sous le Bannière Blanche“, is the sixth track in this opus. Its title refers to the white royal flag, as opposed to the Revolution’s tri-color flags of blue, white, and red. Later on in history and on the album (to borrow Antiq’s words), “defeats and fatigue of the wartime made the peasants weary of the situation and they abandoned the uprising (around 1800 and the arrival of Napoléon), so this is quite the rising of power of the album, and afterwards it declines to more bitter rage and discouraged feelings”.
In the music, a beautiful but haunting overture with an ancient air leads into pounding drums, gleaming instrumentation, and scorching snarls. The melody wafts in glittering waves over the visceral beats, channeling a wistful melancholy mood — and then a brief piano arpeggio provides the prelude to a soaring vocal melody (performed by Julie Bélanger Roy of Gone In April and Les Bâtards du Nord) and further sounds of cascading brilliance.
The music’s intensity persists as the savage vocals return, trading off with Julie’s impassioned voice. With a roar, the emotional timbre of the music changes, becoming both more grim and more feverish. The piano returns, in a spellbinding duet with a flute, before the music thunders and shines again, rising in majesty, with all voices and all instruments joining together in heart-swelling fashion, whirling and dancing and blazing in defiance.
In the player we’re embedding below, you’ll see another track that’s also now available for streaming — “Le Tocsin nous Appelle“. There, Paydretz rumble and thunder, snarl and scream, and surround their savagery with music that’s sweeping and soaring but also bleak and downcast — and it also whirls in glorious, pulse-pumping fashion. It summons visions of conflict perceived through the mists of time, with melodic accents that will come as no surprise to followers of the other bands whose members have joined forces in Paydretz.
Chroniques de l’Insurrection was mixed and mastered by Sven (Tan Kozh, Avel, Himinbjorg, Belenos) at Howling Cliff Studios. It features cover art by Joanna Maeyens and additional artworks by Eric Dell’Aria. Antiq will release it digipack CD and digital formats.