Bâ’a, Deus qui non mentitur, France, Osmose Productions, OP 387 CD (2020)
Supposedly a trio of anonymous French musicians with backgrounds in the French black metal scene, new band Bâ’a actually has at least one member familiar to fans of underground French BM: vocalist Hreidmarr, who revived Glaciation with a new line-up some years ago (and with that line-up released new album “Ultime eclat” in 2020), brings his ragged raspy style to Bâ’a’s debut album “Deus qui non mentitur” (“The god who does not lie”). The very title of the album suggests a search for truth, as embodied in God, and a real understanding of the world as it currently exists around us, as opposed to being duped by propaganda and brainwashing in the form of accepted and state-sanctioned religion and political / economic / social ideologies that serve the self-interest of a power-hungry elite.
Bâ’a draw much from their own experiences in playing atmospheric melodic black metal but add elements from thrash and doom metal. The result is a good album with impassioned vocals, full of anger, anguish and sorrow, backed by equally fast and ferocious tremolo guitars and machine-gun percussion. The major problem is that for a work with the theme it has, the sound should have been huge and epic but instead is thin and tinny, and so the music is less powerful than it could have been. The drumming especially seems more rattle-like than hard and pounding. Songs don’t have the background atmosphere, apart from cold and wintry, they should have that would help make them more individual and distinct. Hreidmarr ends up having to carry the songs more than he should have to, though he does an excellent job delivering his messages with all the passion he musters. The album potentially ends up being restricted to French-language metal audiences instead of appealing to a much wider global audience who could benefit from Bâ’a’s message about humanity’s relationship with God and how that relationship is abused by those who act as God’s intermediaries to their fellow humans.
Individual songs are very good with dramatic surging melodies and riffs, occasional piano melodies, background cold ambience and a vocal approach that features spoken-word lyrics along with chants, declamations and screams. Major tracks like “Procession” could benefit from an epic production boosting the bass and percussion and bringing Hreidmarr’s vocals to the fore instead of leaving his voice to fight the music to be heard. On one later track “Des profondeurs je crie”, where the music alternates between thrashy BM, doom and a quiet atmospheric passage, when the music dies down to near-silence, a black sinister shadow world should have made its presence felt. The album becomes bleaker and more desperate as humanity succumbs to false religion and idols, fake news and disinformation, and Hreidmarr becomes a lone prophet screaming in vain in a wilderness of lost-sheep souls.
Even with its production limitations, rendering tracks thin, same-ish and two-dimensional when they should be multi-dimensional, this album could still be a contender for best debut BM album of the year for its technical skill and consistency, and the emotion and energy behind the song-writing and the singing. Ultimately though, in the current French BM scene where nearly every band seems to be on fire, putting out great albums, not just good ones, Bâ’a really needs to be exceptional to stand out, and “Deus qui non mentitur” just misses out on being exceptional.