Les Acteurs de l’Ombre are a French based independent label specialising in the avant garde aspects of black metal. This catalogue review ‘snapshot’, if you will, is part of an ongoing series of profiles of independent labels from around the world. Read out interview with label head honcho Gérald Milani HERE.
Pensees Nocturnes: Nom D’Une Pipe!
According to their website, Pensees Nocturnes (Nocturnal Thoughts) label themselves as bizarre metal. I’d call them metal vaudeville, as the style is a completely disjointed mess of theatrical noises, electronica and other weirdness thrown in on an occasionally small, albeit well executed serving of black metal. The whole thing sounds like someone recorded a Parisian town fair circa 1910 and somehow mixed it with snippets of death metal. Reverso.com translates “Nom D’une Pipe!” as “For Goodness Sake!”, and this is exactly the listener’s impression.
I have to give the band props for the utter madness of their style. It would be really interesting to hear them live for the novelty.
I personally find very little value in this offering, although it is interesting to hear that the band, which seems technically proficient, can do a lot of styles, master none and still somehow manage to avoid writing a single decent song.
There are some really cool passages that hint at better things to come, like the second half of “Le Marionnettiste”. “Le Berger” and “La Chimere” also had some awesome black metal moments that were ruined by the bizarro arrangements and the lunatic style changes.
I think Pensees Nocturnes needs to rent a hut in Norway for a year and to get their metal bearings straight. If that doesn’t work out – they could have a decent career focusing on their more outre, French aspects of their style.
Reviewed by: A. Dorian
Paramnesia: Paramnesia (IV – V)
Paramnesia are a French atmospheric black metal band that was formed in 2005 and this is their 2014 release. First off, I have to say that I prefer my black metal aggressive and primal and some of these highfaluting genres that bear the “atmospheric” moniker are not really my cup of tea. If I want to reach for a 20 minute piece of pure black metal, I’d rather reach for Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung”, where pieces like “Siegfried’s Death and Funeral March” are pure macabre.
In comparison, atmospheric black metal bands tend to release a lot of racket, layered upon with emphisemic rasping and blast beats, sitting on a bed of electronica. On the whole, it takes a lot less effort to compose something like this than say Watain’s “Sworn to the Dark”, which to me is as bleak and black as hell itself.
With that in mind, I’d have to say that these Frenchmen are not bad for their genre. The performances are solid and the production is good, there are even pieces that resemble songs, so they are not as undecipherable as some of their atmospheric death metal brethren. For those who enjoy two 20 minute long “symphonies” of aural punishment, this should be fairly sufficient. It is well performed and it fits within the genre. It will definitely put you in a bleak and rotten mood, as is its intention.
Reviewed: A. Dorian
Wildernessking: Mystical Futures
As they describe themselves on Facebook “Four friends from the suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa making music together” Wildernessking have demonstrated friendship through the 5 track journey titled ‘Mystical Future’ This band are darker than dark but with a large amount of beautiful emotions included. If you are a fan of Ghostbath then you are sure to enjoy the music from Wildernessking as they deliver all the emotion within powerful instrumental and the crying screams of a dying angel!
Coming from the suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa ‘Mystical Future’ is both mystical and the future. If you ever get the chance to check out Wuldernessking then I highly recommend you do. Purchase ‘Mystical Future’ NOW!
Reviewed: M. Camp
The Great Old Ones: Al Azif & Tekeli-Li
Defining European Black Metal The Great Old Ones are a band to check out for all metal fans that like their music that little bit darker than average. ‘Al Azif’ and ‘Tekeli-Li’ are 2 fantastic albums gifted to us by the French dark lords. Just one minute into a track from these guys and you begin to learn that the French aren’t just about being exquisite lovers, Baguette masters. and french kisses! they are also incredibly good at tearing you open ripping out the organs held within our weak little body, using them for kick drums and plectrums then putting them back in so you can be stitched up, thus giving you the opportunity to pass on the message to all of your friends that The Great Old Ones are fucking brutal.
Reviewed: M. Camp
Deluge – Æther
There’s not even the slightest hint of subtlety as Deluge launch right out of the gates with “Avalanche”, the opening track from their debut album Æther. An all out aural assault, the French black metallers lay it on thick with a wall of dense, claustrophobic riffing, demonic yelps and drumming that strikes like a sledgehammer. By the end, you feel like you’ve been swallowed by a sonic snowstorm, with little to no respite offered as the band once again tightens its stranglehold as the next track begins. The relentless pace is kept up for much of the album, although the band are not afraid to mix things up, as evidenced by the melodic riffing on “Appât” and “Hypoxie” or the crushing, doomy moments on “Vide” and “Melas”. Instrumental “Klarträumer” is the albums crowning achievement, seamlessly marrying doom and black metal into a nine minute epic. The sound of rainfall is effortlessly woven into many songs and musical sections, often accompanied by melancholic guitar motifs, keyboards, birdsong or female vocals, providing an atmospheric contrast to the abrasive nature of much of the music at hand. A 55 minute beating well worth taking.
Reviewed: K. McDonald
Maїeutiste – Maїeutiste
The doomy drawl of “Introductions…”, opener of Maїeutiste’s eponymous debut, serves as a bit of red herring, slowly drawing you in before unleashing a fiery, brooding barrage of black metal with “…In the Mirror…”. That’s not to say there are no doom influences present (“Lifeless Visions”, “The Eye”), but the music is rooted in black metal, the band choosing to push the boundaries whilst staying relatively faithful to the genre. “Absolution” is a three in one package, a long acoustic introduction paving the way for an 80s teutonic thrash throwback before an ill conceived jazz break mars proceedings somewhat. Not every idea is a winner, but the band are bold in their songwriting choices and keep things engaging over the course of the 72 minute running time. Riffs blaze and groove, duelling with thunderous percussion underneath throaty rasps and growls, melodic flourishes and tranquil acoustic sections occasionally breaking the menacing façade. An expansive album that gets more rewarding with each listen, it’s welcome addition to the world of more expansive, adventurous black metal.
Reviewed: K. McDonald