Avant progressive black metal is the style. Literary and philosophic concepts are the themes purveyed by this French band.

A high-pitched riff, pounding drums and harsh vocals provide an interesting mix. That’s before the epic chorus of the opening title track. Harsh landscapes with majesty are conjured up. In certain aspects, I am reminded of Omnium Gatherum. It’s the haunting chorus which stands above this wealth of instrumental riches. “Veritas” breaks off, and the harsh scene builds up again. I can’t imagine that Maïeutiste ever do short tracks as they have detailed pictures to paint. There is just one on this album, and that’s “Suspiramus”. Before that “Infinitus” provides us with a wall of heaviness to begin with, but escaping into a dark world of mystery. The acoustic line has an air of Opeth’s “Deliverance” but the haunting vocals, which didn’t entirely work for me, have a tinge of intrigue and mystery. The deathly explosion which follows also has an air of Akerfeldt and his men. The finish is frantic, an impressive wall of fury. It sets us up nicely for the airy and woozy but brief “Suspiramus”, a sad symphonic piece which made me think of an old Russian tragedy. “Universum” returns us to the uncompromising world of heavy machinery, but flavoured by twisty prog. I’m still not convinced by the whispering and Jon Anderson like vocals but I can see that they’re adding atmosphere so something which is inherently strong.

This album ends with two 15 minute tracks. First is “Vocat”. After a sinister opening comes fire. A pagan moan is heard, then a juicy combination of clean and harsh vocals work behind the intense melody. Vocally this is much better. Suddenly doom descends. I was interested enough to check the libraries, but I was none the wiser even after reading the more comprehensible lyrics such as: “Interminable, gaps and columns, scriptures and writings, unfathomable air, hexagonals (sic) libraries”. It’s all very ethereal, let’s say, and the music reflects the expanse of the bottomless chasms referred to in the words. Eventually it picks up pace and intensity again. The music sweeps across the plains of devastation. In truth I found that epic as it is, “Vocat” is long-winded, and such a fusion of ideas and inputs that it makes no sense. I did like the very last part which seems to be devoted to abstract chaos. Normality is restored with the acoustic tones of the final monster, which as the opening track is also called “Veritas”. It then disappears into an avant-garde metal world, accompanied by the faint chorus which almost feels like it has no part in the musical fireworks that are going on in the background. It stops, and after the brief sound of winds and voids, it’s time for my absolute pet hate … the secret track. Why, why, why do I have to wait 8 minutes or so for a few distorted orchestral sounds, crashes and bangs?

Without doubt “Veritas” is an intense and thoughtful album. I didn’t like all of the vocals, and didn’t like the mix which suggested a disconnect between the constituent parts, of which there are many, possibly too many. Maïeutiste are onto something but I don’t think it’s here.

(6/10 Andrew Doherty)