Sarmat – RS-2822nd September 2021
Astarium – Solar Despair27th September 2021
Label: Les Acteurs De l'Ombre / Release Date: 24th September 2021
Aorlhac is a French Black Metal band with strong ties to (for them) local medieval history, myths and legends – Something I have vague recollections of mentioning as well three years ago, the last time I was blessed with having a new release from the quartet finding its way to my mailbox.
As per time of writing, very little seems to have changed in regards to the overall sound of the band, aside from perhaps being a bit more polished and well-executed (but not by much – Admittedly I am actively looking for any changes in order to potentially pick up on this) which I would assume boils down to even three more consecutive years under their combined belts or due to the advent of new technology, physical or software-based.
The point I am trying to make during this tangentally-related story is that if you are, like me, a fan of the raw, traditional Black Metal sound that made Aorlhac famous when they hit the world stage fourteen years ago, you are in luck; Pierres Brûlées, as their upcoming full-length record is to be called, encompasses all the best the band has produced so far. Indeed, they seem to be in the same vein as Bolt Thrower, seeing as how they are either unable or unwilling to release a record unless it meets or, ideally surpasses, its predecessor. This is a sentiment that I have always admired about Bolt Thrower, and said admiration is slowly seeping over onto their French colleagues, even if it is not a conscious choice on their part.
Musically, the record is fast-paced and aggressive with clear and ever-present, for a lack of a better description, French-inspired melodies and approaches (something I seem to recall also commenting on in the past – Still not entirely sure what this exact entails other than it strongly resonates with me). As a result Aorlhac has created nine separate songs, each with a powerful energy to them, worthy of use for a world-ending medieval war. The dedication is palpable throughout, as is the relentless assault of instruments accompanying the partially belted, partially growled French vocals (Aorlhac as a band are French and are, rightly so, proud of it – And even for a non-French speaking listener such as myself the decision in keeping the lyrics in their native tongue comes off as the right decision by a wide margin).
Pierres Brûlées as a record (which translates into ‘Burnt Stones’ by the way, no doubt alluding to a burning fortress or similar massive historical event) is a near-fifty minutes long opus back into the dark and gritty past of Medieval Europe with a fitting soundtrack attached. And I whole-heartedly approve of it, even if I have not had the time to run the lyrics through Google Translate. Not to worry I intend to – I was just desperate to get the news of this record out to ‘the masses’ before it hits store shelves (and digital sellers) tomorrow.
As for the track chosen to represent the album prior to release, ”Au Travers de Nos Cris” (meaning ‘Through Our Cree’) seems like a natural fit – It is the second song on the record, the longest by a significant degree and does one hell of a job setting the proverbial scene for the seven encores (one of which an instrumental interlude) that is yet to come.
Recommended for fans of Darkenhöld, Blut Aur Nord and Véhémence.