• "Where traditions and modernity embrace in confusion": A review of Peste Noire's "La Chaise-Dyable"

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Here comes one of the first international reviews of Peste Noire's sixth studio record "La Chaise-Dyable" which is a play on words since some of the band members are living in a place called La Chaise-Dieu in Auvergne, France. I would like to make one thing clear from the beginning on. I like the band for its musical atmosphere, diversity and originality influenced by folk music and traditional tales. As somebody who always tries to discover new artistic approaches and unique sounds but who is also fascinated by foreign cultures and world history, I can listen to this kind of music from a certain critical distance. I'm aware of the fact that this isn't the case for everybody. I would like to state that I definitely don't agree on any political, religious or social statement that some of the band members have already made in the past. I'm though able to accept people who don't share my personal points of view. This review is only about this particular album and especially about the music on it and nothing else. If you like an atmospheric record where past and present embrace in a sinister way, this record could be interesting for you but make sure to get some background information about this band before consuming their music. 

    Peste Noire - La Chaise-Dyable (2015)

    Peste Noire is a quite unique experimental black metal band from rural France that sings about the glory of rural traditions as opposed to modern decadence in metropolises. The song writing is quite original as the band convinces both in its more elaborated and technical parts and the fast and simplistic passages. The authentic trio adds accordions, Hammond organs and pianos to their sinister extreme metal sound. The mixture of raw black metal vocals, a few male clean vocals, female clean vocals and even narrative and spoken word passages adds even more diversity to the sound. The French lyrics are also quite addicting and are filled with dark sarcasm and experimental writing techniques. The risk of this unique and open-minded yet uncompromising attitude is that some experiments aren’t successful in the end. In the end, there are indeed a lot of hits and misses on “La Chaise-Dyable”.

    The first song “Avant le putsch” is humorous at best and cringeworthy at worst. We hear some animal sounds from rural France before a harmonious acoustic guitar sets in. So far, so good but then we get to hear a horribly discordant electric guitar that just doesn’t fit in at all. The vocals are equally misplaced. They start in a raw but clean way but then annoying blackened back growls kick in that sound completely out of place and tone. The lyrics are also a letdown and tell the weird tale of a man who is masturbating while listening to his farm animals and commenting on a potential revolution that might bring back some glory to his home country. I’m not sure whether this track is intentionally bad as in a parody or whether the band really takes this song serious. One thing is certain though: this interesting album has a quite infelicitous start. There are more tracks that sound confusing. The best example might is the album closer “Dans ma nuit” that includes too many weird changes of pace and style. As soon as the track’s atmosphere gets really intense, the band throws in an opposing new idea without any transitional effort. Every time there is a gripping depressive riff, the song has a sudden discordant breakdown. When I start appreciating a vocal approach, the singer suddenly starts to shriek randomly and senselessly. This indigestible style might fit to the nightmarish lyrics from an artistic point of view but the final result is once again quite repulsive. 

    On the other side, some tracks are much more coherent and build up an amazing atmosphere. “Le diable existe” is probably the best song on the record. The story is cut into four epic parts. It all starts with some progressive sound elements that could come from a science-fiction movie. The discordant riff fits well in and the rhythm section adds a lot of drive to this rather unusual tune. As the song goes on, rhythm orientated parts that almost recall jazz elements, dystopian progressive metal riffs and a few upbeat black metal parts create a diversified maelstrom of darkness that always remains intense despite a length over nine minutes. Another highlight is the title song “La Chaise-Dyable” that gets more and more intense as time goes on. The dark bass guitar sounds, the highly diversified drum play, the gripping lyrics and emotional vocals, the melancholic guitar riffs and the nostalgic accordion sounds merge into one hypnotizing unity.

    In the end, Peste Noire’s sixth full length release since its foundation fifteen years ago includes more positive elements than negative parts. The band’s experimental genre-breaking musical diversity, its folk-infused sounds and topics and its original song writing where traditions and modernity embrace are entertaining, profound and unique enough to pardon for a few weaker moments. Some songs that sound odd at first contact have some potential to grow but this doesn’t include the two negative examples stated above for me. To conclude, experimental black metal fans can’t get around this band in general and should mostly appreciate its latest album.

    Final rating: 7.5/10

    Please support the band and check out the following links:

    Bandcamp: http://pestenoire.bandcamp.com/releases

    Webshop: http://www.la6mesnie6herlequin6.bigcartel.com/ 

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