Review Summary: Two young Canadian black metal bands make a grab for the throne
What comes to mind when you think Sombres Forets, Gris and Forteresse" Probably something along the lines of the three biggest and best black metal bands out of Quebec, right" Now how about when I say Monarque and Neige Et Noirceur" If anyone here actually follows the scene in Quebec right now they would probably answer: “two runners up that showed lots of potential with their last releases (especially N&N) but aren’t quite there yet”. Well, a split like this could be exactly what each band needs to break the Canadian ice and climb to the top of the black metal chain alongside those three big names. That is, as long as both bands bring their A game to the table where it matters most.
This is exactly what Monarque does. Everything good from his last album, Ad Nauseam, has been kept while the kinks have been mostly worked out. While he still does not bring anything truly new to the table, his way of playing the classic black metal sound seems more fine-tuned and perfected than ever before. He brings the same amount of energy and passion that was to be found on his great full length, keeps his ear for melody but tones down on the crisp production and it does wonders for him. Although the crisp production did allow the listener to easily pick out everything, the atmospheric edge gained here much outweighs it (especially since any BM listener should be able to easily hear everything that is going on here too). Monarque’s side goes on for a good 26 minutes and delivers a satisfying helping of good old school black metal with melodic touches. It earns itself a well deserved 4.
After such a positive result from Monarque, one cannot help but expect even greater from Neige Et Noirceur. With his last EP, the band saw himself exploring a new territory influenced by the likes of Darkspace and, with a few frills added, he managed to craft it into his own beastly, atmospheric black metal sound. However, no one seems to have explained how important this split may be for him because compared to that release, this just feels well...underwhelming. The basic way the music is built is very similar but the production has been thinned down dramatically and hurts the thick, evil “Darkspacey” vibe the band had started to build upon on his last release. Although the new production does not sound bad, per se, the thickness of his past album helped to hide the simplicity of his riffs and put more accents on the overall atmosphere with the help of a few added twists. However with the help of a strong vocal performance and a few interesting transitions into calmer, more ambient sections, Neige Et Noirceur manages to give his side a strong 3-3.25.
So will this be the split that will launch these two young bands into the cream of the Canadian black metal crop" Only time will really tell but thanks to a strong performance from Monarque and a solid, but underwhelming one from Neige et Noirceur, it just might have the potential to.