Sunday, March 22, 2015

Délétère - Les Heures de la Peste [2015]

Canada is in no shortage of bile-spewing, frigid, grisly French black metal, and Deletere is yet another one of Quebec's presents to the global scene via Montreal's very own black metal entrapment camp, Sepulchral Productions. The label has consistently delivered some of the most minimalist yet enjoyable black metal records of the past 2-3 years, ranging from the folksy atmospherics of Gris, the frostbitten winter tapestry of Neige Eternelle or the harrowing tides of despair which Sombres Forets emulate; and all these bands produced rather excellent works which appealed to the reductionist quotient of second wave traditionalism, making them one of the main reasons I continue to listen to contemporary black metal. Quebec itself has engendered so many of these primal practitioners of rabid evil that it's almost as through it broke out of Canada to be united with its linguistic homeland far across the Atlantic. Deletere's work on ''Les Heures de la Peste'' (that's ''the hours the plague'' for you, though my French is shaky) is not a far cry from any of the aforementioned bands as it does not try to expand upon its genre parameters as such revolutionary acts like Peste Noire or Blut Aus Nord, but carves a simpler wall of grief, mourning and iciness.

The names of the tracks correspond to various depictions of the plague, and with song titles like ''Une Gartre Venale'' (A Venal Bitch) I'm bound to compensate a few points for the duo's fresh (relatively) take on themes. The frills aside, though, this is a truly uncompromising experience of gritty, grimy guitars, cramped production values and the kind of nocturnal synergy we all look forward to in our Quebecois/French black metal, though there isn't a huge amount of eccentricities here (Darkthrone-worshiping has long lost its hipness) like the kind of folk-induced mysticism of Gris or vibrant acoustic interludes of Sombres Forets, in fact I've found this record to be mostly a stripped down version of what bands like Austere or Drudkh would have produced. Of course the band does move beyond the simplistic barrage of redundant tremolos: it's abound with dissonant torturous notes, like blood running down the walls of an ancient forest cavern under a moonlit sky... not only that but the duo occasionally employs medieval choral chants here and there to espouse the thematic ghastliness of death and disease. The vocals are harrowing, as one may imagine; though they reverberate with satisfactory howling, they're nothing out of the ordinary, I can tell you that. 

Unfortunately the dynamic range of this album is about as comprehensive as its armory of riffs and progressions, which is pretty meager in supply. There are genuinely haunting moments on the album - songs like ''Vepres - '' justify this with shifting tempos and riveting discordance - but this is not exactly on par with Monarque, Gris, or some of the other Quebecois outfits, nor is it as cold as the eponymous Neige Eternelle disc. There was an almost oddly psychedelic take on the songs at times, but they never lasted long enough to establish a proper basis of miasma or spiritual oblivion - Deletere misses out on both the din of winter frost which I would naturally expect from a band of their image to grasp, and on the more heavily bolstered brand of black metal which would have been a fair flee from the woods for the duo, at any rate. It's stuck somewhere in between, and though it has its moments, it didn't encapsulate me the way I'd want a musical grimoire to. So you get the idea. It's still some drowning, pestilential music, if you're into that stuff at all. Fostered by the Bubonic Plague. Can you imagine people's reactions to this if it was released in the middle ages? They'd be receiving all kinds of piss... literally. But enough of that: if you're enamored by any of the classic Scandinavian nasties, this one's for you, a gush of woeful malady, and don't sat I didn't warn you.

Vepres - Architects de la Pes
Laudes - Credo II
None - Le Lait de l'essaim

Rating: 70%

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