Ekram – Last Man Standing19th April 2016
Heimsgard – Ordrag25th April 2016
Label: Epictural / Release Date: 16th April 2016
Over the last couple of years I have been more and more impressed by the French Black Metal scene. It is big, it is diverse, and no matter how many great bands you stumble across, more and more just seem to continue to line up. I was contacted and asked if I would have any interest in reviewing the newest release from Malevolentia, a French symphonic Black Metal band. Now normally I would have been sold by virtually any combination of those words, so I jumped at the chance. And, as ususal wehn dealing with the French, I was not disappointed. République was described by the record label as a ‘soundtrack without a film attached’ which is a statement I find myself agreeing with. The music follows all the usual progressions found in a film: Introduction, building up suspense, the point-of-no-return and, of course, an end. It is done flawlessly, and their unique blend of orchestral themes and melodies work very well together with the very powerful, aggressive and highly distorted instruments that I have come to love and expect from the French. As an added bonus, the vocalist produces a very hoarse, almost haunting growl, one that very well portrays the emotional turmoil in this Orwellian tale of an old republic (The explanation of what the album as about was also kindly delivered by the record label – The entire album is sung in French, which I do not speak). And while every single syllable is in French, I find it to be of no consequence – As a matter of fact, it even helps the album as it makes sense that a story told about a French republic is told in their native language. All in all, the fourteen tracks present on République (quite a few of which function as either introductions or bridges between tracks) form together to create one relentless, unyielding tale. Even if you, like me, do not understand a word of the language, the strong emotions the band manages to express speak for themselves. This is a concept album through and through, and one of the best that I have had the honour of getting my hands on. And remember, like all concept albums, it is best if enjoyed in its entirety, from start to finish.