Review Summary: Hawks won’t like it so you should definitely check it out.
Beginning with nothing short of a grim, cavernous introduction, La Grand Infamie
bursts to life with the dirty riffs and distorted shrieks of ‘Magie Et Verites’ – the first thing one will notice is that Akitsa’s style of black metal on this particular track is far from bleak. In actual fact, the almost cheery melody creates a strange fusion with the frenzied screams, the repetitive drumming and repeated riffs spiraling into something of a hypnotic trance, strangely addictive and infinitely satisfying.
This stripped bare style of raw black metal that is generally poorly executed comes natural to Akitsa; following ‘Magie Et Verites’, ‘Silence’ continues the theme of simple yet addictive riffing and rhythm, but with the noticeable difference in throaty gutturals rather than shrieks. Both of the two mentioned tracks rely solely on rhythmic chord progressions, but their repetitive nature is their strongest point and the fact that they come off as confronting while playing a relatively jolly tune works the band wonders.
Nevertheless, Akitsa are raw and fu
cking grim, and after the somewhat dreary ‘Cultes Vertueur’, the turning point of the album comes in a short acoustic piece entitled ‘Cthonos’. Again, Akitsa make best use of their very harsh shrieking, having it tastefully placed over the gentle acoustic melodies.
‘Origine Mythique’ begins with a USBM replicated toad croak, albeit the opening roar feels like it goes forever. Akitsa may be Canadian, but their articulation of the laughable vocal form is oodles better than that of any American black metal bands. The eerie lead guitar line which comes in towards the end of the track is simply ideal for the tone set by the fuzzy rhythm and low-register vocals, and the slow pace sets the scene for the rapid black metal surge that is to follow with ‘La Grande Infamie’.
The title track is the pinnacle of the band’s manic approach; again, a head-noddingly good riff drives the song, which is then augmented by those fantastic shrieks. If you think you’ve heard high shrieks, then you haven’t heard Akitsa.
At this point in the album, with only one track remaining, it would be a safe assumption to think that this was all the ingenuity one was going to get from Akitsa. Well, in such a case, one would be wrong. ‘Foret Disparue’ is a sprawling twenty-one minute epic, slow moving riffs completely drenched in feedback creating an absolutely desolate mood. As much as the preceding tracks kicked arse, this lengthy closer invokes a genuine sense of dread, far better than the countless doom bands who constantly fail at coming close to any semblance of an atmosphere.
It would be an utter travesty for someone to listen to this album expecting what posers normally expect from black metal, so let the air clear right now – this is raw, terribly produced, and chances are that you will absolutely hate it. The incredibly distorted shrieks notwithstanding, the actual production on separate tracks sounds different, and gives the album something of an amateurish feel; this, however, greatly enhances the rawness and the grimness and utterly austere and severe mood. Any criticism pertaining to the production is simply invalid, as it completely succeeds in establishing the character of the album.
Akitsa play an undeniably unique form of raw black metal, and they do it well. The irony of the situation is that the purpose of raw black metal is to sound bad and uninviting, yet I can’t stop listening to La Grande Infamie
. Kudos to Akitsa, in that regard.