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"La Grande Infamie" est une prophétie qui atteindra ceux qui l'ont engendrée.
(The Great Infamy is a prophecy that shall strike those who spawned it.)
Québec's Black Beast strikes once more. OT and Néant are indeed productive and constant in their assault. Black ink injected into your veins. Madness is reached in the cave, where dark rites are being practiced, where summonings are being uttered... Away from here, distant in time. The Magic and the Truths shall shed some light on the mystery, droning, screaming, dissonant and organic. The dark rites are put into place by repetitive, entrancing patterns. The waves shatter the cliff, yet it still stands. Thundering and unvaried is the drumming spectrum, as an attempt to weaken the foundations. More dissonance and distortion is brought by a solitary lead guitar, cutting its way through the shades. And then... Silence.
As a matter of fact, this silence is quite noisy. The basic thrash design is presented as a variation to Akitsa regular cold harshness; the result is quite effective: sounds like a recollection of minimalistic very noisy rock tunes, through an old gramophone, turning at 78 rpm. The record skips? No, the design is acting in a repeat mode, before fading into oblivion. Vertuous Cults are highly reminiscent of really poor raw black metal gimmicks, such as the entity named Zarach'Baal'Tharagh; the drumming device is an obstacle to the quality of such hymns, and the rather conventionnal approach kills the atmospheric value.
Fortunately, the Chthonic tribute presented in continuation is simply great. Mother Earth feels this interlude in her roots... the simple folkloric music aesthetic is taken to a cold, melancholic tune. This is but a island of peace in an ocean of raw hatred. From myths and history Akitsa came, and thus remains, unchanged, unspoiled, in ever-similar schemes. Typically mid-tempo Black Metal drowning in static; whither flaws are made essence, where a very simple Burzumic lead can change the flow of blood. And thus remain: cold beauty.
Pride has its place among the hatred and bleakness; epic chants of death surround the living, mocking birds harass the meek and feeble. Low end is present but not overwhelming; the screams seem to be feed in eternity, from an unknown well of hatred and despair. Dark, endless.
Akitsa is a place where misanthropy takes all its meaning, where love becomes pride, where nice boogie tunes turn into lovecraftian cynical visions of dread, where all turns to black.
My favourite lunatic French-Canadian black metal band Akitsa embarks on a slightly different musical direction on "La Grande Infamie" from earlier efforts like "Goetie" and "Sang Nordique". Tracks on this album consist of mostly unvarying riff-based rhythm patterns over which one of the guys screeches or growls the lyrics (or screech or growl just for the heck of it) and while some songs may feature something close to a lead guitar solo, there's not much on the other hand that can be said to resemble a melody. Yet there's something about most tracks that I find memorable and distinctive to them, though other people not familiar with Akitsa may find the music monotonous and the singing in particular excessive and absurd. There seems a greater willingness here than on the previously mentioned earlier studio albums to experiment with ambient music elements (opening song "Le rite des Cavernes"), folk-oriented acoustic music ("Chthonos") and stripping obvious song-like structures from a track so we end up with just buzzing washes of guitar and disjointed rhythms held together by groans and screams (the 21-minute whopper "Foret Disparue"). This album is very much an acquired taste and is best recommended to those who are already familiar with Akitsa's style and range of music which on this album comes close to black metal / near-industrial, at least in its structure, with very little garage or punk and melodic influences that could sometimes appear on earlier works.
You may well wonder how 21 minutes of buzzing guitar drones, half-dead drumming and vocals akin to cars skidding across the road so hard the tyres breathe white plumes of smoke can hold up but I assure you they do, thanks to the determined monotony which is sometimes relieved by a silvery-sounding lead guitar solo, and to the demented "genius" (yes I use the term advisedly) of Akitsa who insist on screaming like they've got piranhas attached to their sensitive parts but won't let them go. Past the halfway mark the screaming drops out and the lead guitar riffs assume a melancholy, even tragic air and it's at this point that I realise that the band is expressing a romantic nostalgia for the forests and lakes of its homeland in Quebec without the needs for words or any kind of emoting.
Other tracks worthy of mention include "Le Rite des Cavernes" which combines a long drone, an industrial rhythm and waves of grit in the background; and "Chthonos" which features beautiful guitar streaming upon which OT's growls intrude. If you can't get enough of Akitsa's OTT (as in over-the-top) opera diva tantrums, the tracks to look out for (but keep the volume low) are the strident martial "Magie et Verites" which has a strong marching rhythm; the blurry-noisy "Silence" where one fellow sings in a lower register with distortion (and yes, that's funny, a track called "Silence" by Akitsa); the super-fast "Cultes Vertueur" which features death-rattle vocals over bee-swarm guitars; and the title track which alternates high-pitched yelping at levels only dogs can detect with yodelling against a background of blurred noise guitar showers and lead guitar riffing.
Even if you don't understand much French, you can still get a bit of an idea of the duo's fierce pride in their French-Canadian heritage and their attachment to the country from the rhythms they use, the singing when it is occasionally lucid and the emotions evoked by particular riffs or passages of instrumental music especially in tracks like "Chthonos" and "Foret Disparue". There is much passion and force which lift the music from what would otherwise be monotony and never-ending repetition. Then you have Akitsa's tendency to exploit an opportunity to over-do something to excess: they scream where others would sing and where others would scream, they go completely ballistic. I do fear for the future of Akitsa in a way as there's only so much shredding a human throat can take before the vocal flaps turn into ribbons and it's time for one of the Akitsa guys - or maybe both! - to get their tonsils surgically removed.