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PESTE NOIRE La Sanie Des Siècles - Panégyrique De La Dégénérescence cd.
Peste Noire has created for itself quite a stir in the underground Black Metal scene while still remaining a fairly obscure act. Boasting the membership of front man and songwriter La Sale Famine de Valfunde of Alcest and Valfunde, as well as Neige who has created a name for himself for his other projects Mortifera (with Celestia frontman Noktu Geiistmortt), Alcest and Amesoeurs, I was expecting a fair bit from La Sanie des Siècles - Panégyrique de la Dégénérescence (just La Sanie from here on in), and their debut long player does not disappoint. I am reviewing the 2008 repressing which apparently differs from the original release in that track 6 only is remastered.
La Sanie has little in common with Alcest or Amesoeurs, instead being much blacker, and while similar to Mortifera's Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera it is much more progressive, with frequent variation in pace, style and instrumentation, including some excellent melodic guitar solos. The production is fairly poor in the tradition of underground Black Metal, but all instruments are represented and none smothers any other. The guitar tone has an awesomely filthy sound that, when coupled with the bass and under-produced drums, gives La Sanie a sleazy, diseased sound that captures their music quite superbly.
Kicking off with a rehearsal quality recording of what can only be described as a lurching waltz under a slightly crippled guitar lead, the album picks up quickly with second track "Le Mort Joyeux" which is introduced through the fuzzed out riffing that will be familiar to fans of the above mentioned bands, and Famine's throat tearing screeching. The man really sounds horribly sick and in pain, giving us one of the more unique vocal performances in Black Metal, with a dry croaking voice that can produce ear-piercing screeches, more traditional Black Metal harshness and deeper croaky sounds, his demented wailing is a real highlight of the album. The other highlight of the album is the guitars solos, and unlike the cursory noodling found on so many Black Metal releases, they are integral to the songs. Whilst Famine is no virtuoso, his playing is very melodic and slightly uncomfortable, with the notes making up each solo chosen for melodic impact as opposed to showmanship — see "Hooligan Black Metal" for great examples of his off kilter style.
La Sanie shifts tempo frequently, from the blasting sections in "Le Mort Joyeux" through the dirge-like crawling in "Laus Tibi Domine" with its little bass flourishes, and the mid-paced "Spleen" with its lengthy guitar solo and chunky riffing. "Dueil Angoisseus" shows strong influence from both Alcest and Mortifera mostly due to the excellent acoustic melodies and wild, ear-piercing screeching from Neige. The diversity is further demonstrated with the lengthy acoustic intro to "Phalènes Et Pestilence - Salvatrice Averse" with its calming acoustic solos being devastated by some furious blasting, tremolo riffing and ethereal keys. At just under twelve minutes it is a huge track that brings all of the albums elements together into one epic track of blackened rage.
Peste Noire has produced a bit of a rarity in the Black Metal world — an original sound. When so many bands are "paying homage" to the greats, they have taken their sound in a new direction, with guitar solos and unconventional riffing coupled with an atmosphere of medieval sickness. Black Metal fans will find much to enjoy here, but that's about it — La Sanie is a niche album that will likely not appeal to those who don't "get it", so if the cultest Black Metal in your collection is Satyricon's latter albums, you can safely click the back button and forget you read this far.