There’s a pretty fine line between ‘trve’ and ‘false’ Black Metal, literally it takes but one thing to cross into the false category, and that is success. Ridiculous I know, and the older I get the more silly it becomes. I mean take Watain’s Lawless Darkness for example. A huge Black Metal tour de force that came with huge critical acclaim. Yet it has since lead to a sort of disdain amongst the ultra kvlt. The reason this album in particular springs to mind is that it shows the idiocy of the trve/ false complex. The album is no different to at least their prior work Sworn To The Dark, and yet many cite it as false, the question is, who are the real posers?
However we’re not here to talk about Watain, but we are here to talk about Black Metal. French Progressive Black Metal steeped in Avant-garde, Symphonic and Classical tones to mention but a few. This delightful package comes in the form of the one man project Creature, brainchild of Raphaël Fournier. A somewhat new and exciting force in the Extreme Metal underground whom have put out two huge albums in the past two years, Inquiétudes and Contes Funèbres. Both of which were self-released and over an hour in length. Clearly their point proving worked as their third album Ex Cathedra is released through I, Voidhanger Records. A stunning label with some top talent, let’s see how Creature fair.
Opener Fugue En Sol Mineur certainly doesn’t mess about. A slow building introduction of Tech wizardry that puts so many bands to shame, to think that this is just one guy is pretty incredible. The vocals are deep and brooding, almost Death Metal in tone, only complimented by the delicate Symphonic/ Classical edge of the underlying keyboards, medieval, baroque and enveloping. “zÑ5♦mı is more traditional Symphonic Black Metal in some senses, vocally it is far more rasped and its shorter length lends it to fit into a tighter box. None the less it’s still a mad, chaotic and ethereal feast for the ears. Things get back to a more Prog, over the top ideology in L’odyssée Hyperpropulsée which for me is just a massive perk. The keyboard/ synth element is so Old School Dungeon Synth at points that I can’t help but fall in love with it. Not to mention the unforgiving wavering between this and Tech laden maniacal riffs, truly striking stuff. Involution-Expectations even gives us beautiful Classical piano and nothing else at its beginning, this is the kind of interlude I can get behind. Slowly it morphs into Dungeon Synth notions before taking its final form as a Symphonic Black Metal crusher, a true encompassing of this solo artists full potential.
Following the befitting instrumental show off (not a bad thing) that is Note Anticosmique we come to Neo Habilis which throws us back into the projects more traditional Symphonic Black Metal waters. Yet it’s still steeped in memorable riffs and huge atmospheric sounds that are very modern in their output. It was around this point that I started to become detached from the album, feeling it to become too drawn out, but then Atlantis arose from the depths. This and the following track are exactly what Ex Cathedra needs, huge lengthy epics that only serve to prove how ludicrous the album is. Atlantis gives us all the fist pumping Symphonics we could dream of not to mention dabbles into the Electronic and Metal, a more structured Igorrr one could say. Éthernellement thereafter closes the album with rapturous, epic might and destruction. Progressive, atmospheric and powerful this is truly how you end a record.
To think that this is one man is quite breath taking. This is the sort of album that takes solo project to another level, much like we saw with Cosmic Putrefaction earlier this year. I’m always pretty into the solo idea as it gives full creative control and only adds the outsider appearance of extreme music. I would say that Ex Cathedra is certainly not for everyone, it’s all over the shop and truly Avant-garde. If like me you’re into that kind of thing then I can’t see how you won’t be impressed. Check it out and hail the Creature!
(8/10 George Caley)