Review Summary: Four bands, four songs, four legends, one spirit.
For anyone that’s kept an eye on the black metal scene in Quebec in recent times, the lineup featured on this little four song split is worthy of a double take at the very least. Featuring two long-time, well respected members, Forteresse and Monarque, and two up and comers on the scene, Chasse-Galerie and Csejthe, the split commands attention and recognition before it even delivers its first note.
This split sees the light of day just as Montreal label, Sepulchral Productions, celebrates its 15th anniversary and, although it hasn’t been officially attributed to this, one can’t help but doubt that the joining of forces of four of the scenes biggest players, each contributing a song that honors a legend of Quebecois folklore (hence the split’s title), must have something
to do with this. Now add all the pieces together: 4 quality acts working together to honor their native traditions and lore while celebrating the 15th anniversary of their beloved label, and you’ve a recipe for something special, the bands have a lot riding on this. And for the most part, the split delivers.
The split kicks off strong with its biggest name and its best track. Forteresse deliver a track in a style similar to their opus, Metal noir Quebecois
, and do so with the same passion and fervor that made that album the cornerstone of the scene that it is today. “Wendigo”, as the song title suggests, deals with the Algonquin legend of the beastly, flesh-devouring creature which the song is titled after. The song’s atmosphere is palpably frantic and energetic, suiting the themes presented to a tee and is almost worth the price of the release in itself.
“Le bois des Belles”, Chasse-Galerie’s offering to this split, tones down the energy and opts for a more melodic and folky sounding style of playing (although no folk instruments are actually featured). This song stands out in part due to this folkier styling that suits the split’s general theme and also because it features a more prominent interplay between the guitar and bass. Although well executed and engaging in itself, the song does pale in comparison to the raw energy and intensity found on its predecessor, in large part due to the lack of noticeable emotion in the vocals, which makes it the inevitable weakest link in the split.
The listener is then greeted by the lo-fi buzz of Monarque’s “La griffe du Diable”. The song is probably the most typically “black metal” song on the split with its distorted guitar chords and layered tremolo picked melodies. However, this is exactly what Monarque has been delivering since his first steps into the scene and the song once again showcases his knack for crafting a solid, atmospheric, “traditional” black metal song. Lyrically, the song diverges somewhat drastically from the legend it supposedly inspires itself from (praising Satan rather than fearing him), however this “interpretation” is much more fitting with the style of Monarque and his vocal performance is spot on.
Csejthe closes off the album with “Murmures nocturnes”. This track is an ode to Marie-Josephte Corriveau, an 18th century Quebec woman who was hanged and exhibited after death for the brutal murder of her husband. Riding off the success of their last album, Csejthe deliver an impeccable track with each instrument seemingly taking cues from each other as the drums and guitars work together to create various swells and moods within the track. The track builds into an epic, melodic closer and, much like “Wendigo”’s frantic pace served as a perfect kick-start to the album, “Murmures nocturnes”’s slower tempo works as a perfect ending, tying everything together and making this short, 24 minute affair feel like a complete work.
Whether you have been following the scene since its inception or are just hearing about it now through this review, this will be a release you will want to take note of. Each band is on point and doing what they do best; taking advantage of their singular track to show the world what they have to offer all while paying tribute to a label and a legend that they hold dearly. With this level of passion and playing, they may well become legends themselves one day.