Review Summary: If Folkfuck Folie was career suicide, Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor is a resurrection
Having recently lost guitarist Neige permanently to the world of post-punk-woe-is-me-isms, Peste Noire could have called it quits. After Folkfuck Folie
they probably should have. But if Folkfuck Folie
was career suicide, Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor
is a resurrection. It may not be a complete return to form (that of La Sanie des siècle
) but it is a step in the right direction. Described by Famine as both “boyscout's satanism” (what) and “black and roll” (okay), I'd be far from surprised if fans of the band assumed they were done for. I definitely did. But if Folkfuck Folie
's brand of “black metal hooliganism” has taught us anything, it's that Famine is a less than capable describer of his own material. Still, with Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor
he got it half-right (the non-boyscout, sensical). While it remains within the confines of black metal, Ballade is impossibly blues oriented. On that note, Famine had the black and roll thing right. But those expecting Satyricon should go elsewhere: there are no shouts of “Now, Diabolical!” wedged between angst-ridden I hate my parent-isms. Instead you get the poetry of François Villon and Paul Verlaine wedged between the march of “La France Bouge - Par K.P.N. (Chant De L'Action Française)” and the immemorial French military-based “A la Mortaille!”.
Though Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor
may sit contextually and comfortably in the black metal world, it's not exclusively a black metal album. It is instead an album dominated by bluesy guitar-work and simplistic, rhythmic drumming. All of the band's anger and frustration seems to be vented entirely through A.Julia's drum-kit, which is concurrently loud as fuck
but becomingly restrained. Even the traditionally distraught sounding Famine seems to be a little more at ease this time around. Though it's not to suggest Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor
is happy-go-jolly in nature, it is impossible to deny the band's return to the undeniably catchy and memorable leads that made La Sanie des siècle
such a success. In many ways, Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor
serves as an extension of La Sanie des siècle
's more moderately paced material and a more compact version of the album as a whole. It trades Folkfuck Folie
's sloppy and unmitigated chaos in for structure and control but that doesn't make the band any sweeter. What puts Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor
comfortably in the black metal realm is that in spite of how hook-laden it may be is it's overwhelmingly evil aesthetic. Had Satan truly gotten behind the White Stripes, they might have ended up sounding something like this.
Perhaps the most endearing thing about Ballade...
is that Peste Noire sound reinvigorated. On “La Mesniee Mordrissoire” they sound as though they're having fun (gasp!) and nobody could have expected the harmonica on “Rance Black Metal De France”. The title track, which gets its name (and lyrics) from the François Villon poem of the same name, is in many ways a send-off to Neige. Sounding surprisingly post-punk in its execution, the track (which features some questionable use of frog and bird noises) will ultimately be the most divisive on the album. But it's also the closer, so if it bothers you, skip it. Skip it and be grateful that Peste Noire have done the unthinkable: they've released a black metal album that somehow manages to blend the catchy with the unapologetic, the poetic and the militant. It is evolved yet traditional. While it takes risks, they all feel calculated. Sainte Audrey-Yolande de la Molteverge's (nice name) indulgences into operatics may not be entirely welcomed but they don't overstay their welcome. Neither does the album. At a mere 39 minutes, Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor
is a risk you can afford to take. You might be pleasantly surprised.