By John Bedard

Artwork for 'Les Grandes Compagnies' by GrylleWell, this one was unexpected from top to bottom. When I think black metal the last thing that comes to mind is French. English, sure Swedish, obviously, German, yes but French no. The ‘language of love’ is not something that I would expect to be brutal like this. I guess I should not think that way. White flag jokes aside, France almost ruled the known world at one point. Just because these days the language is stereotyped as being soft and pretty does not mean that you can’t dig that historical brutality back to the surface. It is an unexpected choice that works really well but it is not the only surprise in store here.

The choice of instruments is equally unexpected. Gone is the traditional heavy electric guitar. Replaced instead by medieval instruments that would be right at home at a renaissance fair. At first, I did not even realize that the electric guitars were gone. My first time listening to the album I this I just took for granted that they were there because of course, they are. It was not until the second time through the album that I realized that they were truly gone. I think this really drives home that this was the right choice to make. This was something truly different in a time where so much sounds the same.

The vocals, on the other hand, follow a rather traditional style for black metal. Other than being in French of course. They have that dark, extremely distorted, vocal style that we know and love, with the exception of a handful of times where things slow down and reveal a more reserved vocal that somehow manages to still retain the same level of aggression even with the change. It is extremely well done, and I still can’t get over how cool it is to hear something like this in French. It works so well, and I would have never guessed before I heard it.

It is not all that often that you can point to something and say that it is truly unique, but this absolutely is unique. This is something that everyone should listen to. At least take the time to hear it once to understand what makes it special. This manages to be out there trying something totally new while fitting right in with the rest of black metal perfectly. You won’t regret this experience. It is truly something great.

  • ‘Les Grandes Compagnies’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

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