Ever since I’ve been into Extreme Metal I’ve known about and enjoyed Black Metal, in fact one of the first Extreme Metal albums I ever purchased was Transilvanian Hunger. I’d even go as far as to say that the genre has had a huge impact on me, whilst Death Metal refined and focused my tastes it was Black Metal that began my journey. Early Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Darkthrone, Mayhem all these bands were and continue to be heavy hitters for me. Just recently I have also had a great admiration for the genre, it appears to be going through an interesting and evolutionary time that harnesses a vast range of influences.
Coming to our ears from Canada are the anti-religious occultists Ossuaire, injecting traditional themes into the modern age. The band formed in 2016 and in the same year released their debut EP La Diatribe Infernale. Yet now three years have passed giving the band time to adapt, grow and improve, and thus we are left with Premiers Chants the bands 2019 debut full length released through Sepulchral Productions. However do these summoners of the dark ones have what it takes to overthrow the throne of power from the legends that already sit there? Let us open our ears and await their call.
The titular track opens proceedings with some grief stricken organ tones and gloomy funerary bells. This then leads into the rapidly paced yet melodious traditional Black Metal instrumentation. Throughout the release the life really seeps from the guitars, delicate yet visceral riff work punches high in the mix in a very De Mysteriis sort of way arguably with a more refined production. Vocally this is just about everything you would expect, rasped atypical Blackened wails that add little more than further genre justification. Truly it isn’t until we reach Exhortation that our ears pick up on the music again. Everything up to this point blends into Black Metal obscurity with little inspiration left in its wake.
Coming back to Exhortation this is at least in my opinion one of the best tracks on the album. It is totally devoid of any sort of Black Metal influence and instead comes across with a sort of Neofolk sound. Bringing together acoustics, ambience and deep, clean vocals we are transported through an unknown yet beautiful landscapes. The following track Saints Céphalophores slips back into generalised tones becoming exciting only by its juxtaposition from its predecessor. Even the epic eleven minute closer La Grande Apostasie is a drag, despite its Dark Ambient conclusion. I can see exactly what Ossuaire are trying to do here but it merely amalgamates into cliché Black Metal.
This is exactly what happens when you rely too heavily upon worship, calling yourselves Black Metal isn’t enough in this day and age to garner a fan base. Reinvent, adapt, improvise these are the keys to the future of Black Metal. Yet I should not be surprised that an album such as this would leak out becoming another drop in the flood, after all a storm of Black Metal, or any other genre can only last so long before there is a dip. Premiers Chants is that dip, in a long run of quality Black Metal this release fades away into boredom and stereotypes, stick with what you know because this isn’t better.
(5/10 George Caley)