The second album by the French medieval black metal band Véhémence, 2019’s Par le Sang Versé, was a stunner. It was one of the most thoroughly entrancing and gloriously vibrant metal albums this writer had heard in years, regardless of sub-genre. It embraced ancient folk traditions and hurled 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 the record. I thought it would be impossible not to be moved in some significant degree by the fervency of its music, and likely that most listeners would simply be swept aloft and carried away, as I was.
How would Véhémence even equal, much less exceed, such a rare and marvelously multi-faceted achievement? In about one month everyone will find out whether they have done so, because on March 8th Antiq Records will release a new Véhémence album named Ordalies.
The principal performers on the new album are the same as those who created Par le Sang Versé, with Tulzcha as its composer and principal instrumentalist and Hyver responsible for lyrics, vocals, and choral voices. T. Leitner has accompanied them again as the drummer, with additional friends contributing voices and performances on flute, nyckelharpa, hurdy-gurdy, and cello.
We now have two examples of what they collectively achieved on Ordalies — a song called “De Feu et d’Acier” that was released as a lyric video, and now the track we’re presenting for the first time, “Au Blason Brûlé“.
This newest song begins in glorious fashion, with massed instruments soaring over electrifying percussion. Yet even in that brazen introduction there’s a feeling of turmoil and anguish intertwined with the sensation of grandeur. The music then races, the drums hurtling and the guitars rapidly jolting and swirling in displays of sky-high extravagance. To hold their own in the midst of such fiery splendor, the vocals must be equally extravagant, and in their feverish ferocity and wild yells, they are.
The blazing spectacle created by the song is both breathtaking and spellbinding, but the song affords a modest time for breathe in its mid-section, where dancing medieval arpeggios, pulse-pounding drum acrobatics, and fervent spoken words take the stage. Yet in its own way this digression, enlivened by old instruments, is just as exhilarating as what precedes it. A bracing drum pattern, vibrant bass lines, and skirling, fire-bright guitars then propel the music back toward visions of banners waving in glory atop castle-crowned hills.
We’ll have more to say about the album as a whole at a later time, but this new song, together with “De Feu et d’Acier”, prove that Véhémence have lost none of their capacity to send your blood surging, your heart pounding, and your head spinning back into a lost age. Listen to both songs below:
Here is a complete list of the performers on Ordalies:
Tulzcha – Guitars, Synths, Flutes, Composition
Hyver – Vocals, Lyrics, Choirs, Graphics
T.Leitner – Drums
Leo – Bass
Geoffroy Dell’Aria – Flutes
Eirik Val de Rance – Nyckelharpa
Sparda – Choirs, Hurdy-Gurdy
Raphael – Cello
The album was mixed and mastered by Stefan Traunmüller. It’s available for pre-order now in CD and limited box editions, as well as digitally. LP vinyl and cassette tape editions will become available later this year.