An interesting record in itself in that this is a revisit by Canadian black metal duo Sorcier des Glaces of their debut album released way back in 1998. The debut was self-produced with a very raw sound and was also self-released. A major difference between the debut and this revisit is that the debut featured keyboard work whereas here the keyboards have been removed almost completely.
The reprised album has a grand and epic quality and this is apparent right from the start with the instrumental introduction that features thundering drums and sweeping sandpaper guitar riffs. The ice wizards launch into the business end of the album with “The Winter Nightsky”, a speedy rush-along with clicking cymbals and thumping percussion against high-pitched guitars and a clear icy ambience. The new production gives the music a cold wintry feel and a deeper substance so that it seems to emerge from its snowbound environment without ever actually leaving it altogether, in the manner of sculptured reliefs.
Early tracks are very fast and fairly basic in their structures. “Onward into the Crystal Snows” signals that back in 1998 the duo were experimenting with song composition; the track is varied in pace, rhythm and mood, and changes of key as it progresses. The combined piece “My Journey into the Black Forest / Darkness covers the Snowland” is a significant change from the original separate twosome and features two vocals in a track that features frantic rush and epic stirring martial rhythms.
As the album progresses, the songs get better – or maybe I’m unconsciously being absorbed by the music – and culminate with “L’eternelle majeste des montagnes (The eternal majesty of the mountains)”, a grand piece that captures the awe and reverence the musicians feel for their Quebec homeland.
This recording has real presence even if most songs are short – the combined track comes to ten minutes which is the longest of the entire set – and the atmosphere throughout is a distinctive icy-cold wintry one of very clear, still nights with distant sparkling stars shining down on landscapes of tall, silent fir trees and deep undisturbed snow. The cold mood suits the album’s basically misanthropic premise which reveres the spirits of the land. There is still room for improvement: the percussion sounds quite thin for much of the album and together with the bass guitar could have been made deeper and thicker. I confess I haven’t heard the original 1998 recording but I will hazard that this album is a major improvement at least in its production and changes in sound.