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Another OTT (over-the-top) album from OT and Neant - 90%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 12th, 2008

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.