I’ve followed Canadian black metal, and French-Canadian black metal in particular for some years. From Frozen Shadows through to Cantique Lépreux, they’ve never failed me. I hadn’t heard of Sanctvs from Québec, but this is hardly surprising as “Mors Aeterna” is this one person project’s first album.

After a Latin cantation to get us in the mood, a prolonged scream provides the entrance to “Roi omnipotent, Sainteté maléfique”. As an opening gambit it’s not original, and the transition from the cantation to dirty black metal, although common, doesn’t work for me. The sound is under-produced and portrays a foul atmosphere as this sort of thing should, contrasting with the clarity of the opening. I’d rather have been exposed to the foul-smelling stench and eternal suffering from the outset. The lingering riff has more than an odour of Burzum about it. And of course it’s mercilessly frosty and like being in a blizzard, as is the start to “Dans la pleine obscurité l’on te devine”. Obscure sounds can be heard like a person being overcome in the face of the blizzard. The noise is murderous, and the roars and screams add to the discomfort and sense of overpowering pain. After a drawn out opening, “Descends sur l’homme tel une épée flamboyante” explodes and becomes an aural assault, made more subtle by its change of tempo and fluctuation between fury, threat and violence. An austere choir sings in the background of this pounding attack. “Et scinde leas chaînes qui le lient à Yahweh” follows. The sinister start could have gone on for longer for me, as I knew by now that the inevitable explosion would occur and we’d back into the furious world of blizzards, fires, pain and suffering. Nothing wrong with that of course, and it’s both impressive and intense, but it follows a familiar pattern. There are other ways of making us uncomfortable apart from violent assault. The underscore is atmospheric so it’s not just a question of violence and devastation, of which there is plenty. The drum batters constantly which the guitar rings loud and venomously. I expected the closing blizzard to blend into the final title track, but “Mors Aeterna” is more of a funeral march. Maybe nature has broken us down.

For sure this album is icy and represents merciless black metal. It’s largely predictable and not especially original, but as a piece of raw meat exploring fire, fury and violent, “Mors Aeterna” is not an album for the faint hearted.

(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)