Monarque / Forteresse / Csejthe / Chasse-Galerie, Légendes, Sepulchral Productions, double 7-inch vinyl SP037 (2014)
What better way to promote Québécois black metal and its own 15th anniversary than for Sepulchral Productions to issue a double 7-inch vinyl release featuring four bands prominent in the genre with songs based on French Canadian folklore that emphasise love and reverence for the landscapes of Quebec and the spirits of one’s forerunners that might still dwell in the forests and mountains. Two of the bands (Forteresse and Monarque) featured on the four-ways split are Sepulchral Productions stablemates and have lengthy discographies, and they are paired with lesser-known bands Csejthe and Chasse Galerie who I presume would be chuffed to have exposure to a bigger BM fanbase that the split offers.
Forteresse lead off with “Wendigo”, an intense and harsh rapid-fire tremolo-guitar / blast-beat drumming terror from the deepest parts of hell beneath the frozen grounds of north-east Canada. The title refers to a demon being in the native Algonquian folklore of the region, an undead creature derived from the transformation of a human who has engaged in cannibalism. The vocals are as harsh and pitiless as the music. While the song probably presents nothing out of the ordinary for Forteresse, the most distinctive part of it is the consistent energy and ferocity that carry the song for the full 6+ minutes.
Chasse-Galerie’s “Le Bois des Belles” is a more relaxed and melodic counterpoint to “Wendigo” with a swanky folk-influenced rhythm and a very interesting duel going on between the guitars and the bass while the drums roll by. With so much going on, the watery cartoon swamp-monster vocals all but drown in the music and that’s a bit sad as the lyrics happen to be the major structural element around which everything else revolves. The music is very uplifting and has quite a bouncy feel which makes up for the lack of obvious fury.
Monarque’s “La Griffe du Diable” is an all-raging acid-shower storm of layered tremolo-guitar distortion and ghost vocals drenched in reverb. This song might be considered typical BM in its theme, structure and sound but it is a very solid and powerful effort in raw dark atmospheric BM. The middle section where the guitars and drumming stop and the distorted vocals roar and swirl is the stand-out of the entire recording, let alone the song itself.
Last but not least, Csejthe put up a fight against Monarque with “Murmures Nocturnes”, a steady, mostly instrumental piece that goes through various moods with melodic tremolo guitars and solid drumming. As the track progresses, synthesised strings and background space ambient come in as counterpoint to the guitars.
Well the release isn’t consistent all the way through: Monarque blows everybody else away but the other bands put up performances to the best of their ability. The lesser known bands Chasse-Galerie and Csejthe are elbowed out of the way by Sepulchral Productions bands but both have talent and distinct melodic BM styles. I’d have liked this four-band double split set to have been a bit longer, maybe blown up into a double EP set with each band allowed to offer 2 – 3 songs so that listeners get a better idea of what each band offers.
Contact: Sepulchral Productions