Pulling this CD out of its wrapping I remembered the band name and that this deathly black troop from France had struck me as slightly bonkers on last album ‘Vesanie’ in 2014. At the time they had been in the midst of exploring the not so great extremes of the so called Great War and now they have emerged from the trenches somewhat shell-shocked and gone off looking for some psychiatric help. Metempsychose as the title suggests is all about “the low instincts of our species and the metaphysical concepts of Carl Jung.” Heavy subject matter indeed. Actually this is pretty damn heavy in every sense, from narrative to music and it is the latter that I am going to concentrate on rather than sit you then reader down on the chair and try and fathom out your collective consciousness. What I will say is, although the band may well need some attention themselves and still come across as somewhat deranged there is a huge depth and maturity about this album that propels them up there with other forward thinkers within the French black metal scene.
There has been a certain amount of upheaval in the groups ranks since I last heard them by the seem of things and now they contain now less than 4 ex members of The Negation in the rank and yes I can trace that back to the seething cauldron of albums such as ‘Momento Mori’ from that lot. A mournful intro piece builds atmosphere before we are dropped literally into hell courtesy of L’Enfer. It’s a grim and brutal battlefield with a battering sense from the drums that blasts away heavy as the likes of Marduk and Endstille. Guitars whiplash away too but attention has to be focussed on the rabid doctrines of vocalist A.S.A. who puts a huge amount of character into the performance from lunatic barking to horrible beastly retching and spoken word parts, all tinted with the red mist of madness. There are even some high piercing shrieks that remind of COF Dani Filth at prime. Having said that though, this is much more in essence comparable to work of bands such as Aosoth, Merrimack and Arkhon Infaustus in execution.
Dense and complex twisting rhythms perpetuate the album and the tone is generally grim and incredibly hostile but it is melodic with it too as songs like ‘L’Anachorete, Dies’ bombs away causing maximum devastation. Occasionally things slow down a bit, ‘Ascension’ has a bit of a groove and vocal delivery at first that reminds a bit of Moonspell at their blackest. On the whole though you are given a good old slapping round the face and I am not sure what Jung’s ideas were on shock treatment but that is pretty much what it feels like is being administered here. Somewhere amidst the tumult are guests Julien Truchan of Benighted and Psycho of Antilife & Hats Barn. I certainly noticed some gruff guest vocals on ‘Archétype’ but at times the album sounds like there are a whole host of demons gibbering in tongues. This is hefty stuff that should go down with anyone who likes giving their extremist Psychés a good old seeing to and by the time we reach the conclusion of long number ‘Le Sacrifice’ one can’t help but feel they have found some sort of catharsis within. “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order,” seems like a more than fitting quote to sum this up.
(8/10 Pete Woods)