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Well what can I say? This debut album from Aldaaron is one amazing listening experience.
The bands approach towards black metal is very mature and honest. The musicianship is excellent and they create such atmosphere with cold, dreary melodies in each and every track. Lyrics are in French.
The music presented here showcases aggressiveness but at the same time it captures the listener with some real catchy melodies in every song. I hear some influence from the Norwegian band Windir. Many of the rhythmic parts on the album have an almost Viking melodic touch. Intertwine that with fast as hell drumming and shrieking vocals you get one original recording.
One track that I cannot stop playing is track 4. The song is titled En route vers la bataille. This track has one catchy riff that is reminiscent to my ears of the Immortal song Mountains of Might. Some of the slower parts of these songs remind me of the German Viking/Folk Metal band Falkenbach.
I do want to mention that the recording of this album was done with high regards for the listener. What I mean is that the production captures the raw, nihilistic nature of black metal, but at the same time all the instrumentation is balanced out very well. You actually hear the drummer and bassist playing their instruments! Vocals are not to upfront where you can’t hear the music and there not pushed too far back. A very nice mix.
So as I close this. Best words to describe this debut would be:
Raw, Cold, Punishing, Majestic, Wickedness.
French black metallers Aldaaron hail from Grenoble tucked inside the French alps, and if one excuses the metaphor, have crafted a debut album that could be said to be the aural equivalent of a breath of fresh mountain air. Moreover, the battle of Helm's Deep depicted on the cover (taken from the film version of The Two Towers) is perhaps a fitting way of first describing what kind of music is being conveyed to the listener.
The intro wastes little time bursting forth into a furiously paced riff accompanied by a thunderous blast beat. These roaring tremoloed verses are frequent, intense, and mesmerizing (as for example the ending to Nirnaeth Arnoediad Pt.1 is, which cannot help but put a smile on one's face), but are juxtaposed with acoustic guitars and clean vocal passages throughout most songs to compliment and counterbalance the fast parts. On the whole, I am enormously impressed by how well written all the songs are. They seem to know exactly how long to play a riff, when to add a lead, and when to change tempo. The songs all sound fresh, vibrant, and full of energy. Notes are never put to waste and one may assume Aldaaron spent a good deal of time tweaking every last facet of this somewhat lengthy album.
The production is just right for what they play. Everything is well produced, but not overproduced, which is to say that they have struck that sometimes hard to reach golden mean that many a melodic black metal band has failed to do. The band members are moreover excellent musicians. The guitarists have written many classically inspired riffs and acoustic parts and can play a blisteringly fast tremoloed arpeggio with clarity and precision. The drummer is highly proficient in laying down accurate, pummeling, and echoed blast beats and double bass (though he prefers the former), and also makes use of clever fills. The harsh vocals are suitably coarse and venomous. The aforementioned clean vocals are tastefully done, as they are usually heard droning in the background, invoking a pagan atmosphere without overpowering the music. One can also occasionally hear some keyboards floating in the background, and they do a good job of adding to the already strong atmosphere being channeled.
That they come from France is no surprise, as this country produces some of the highest quality black metal today, an opinion I am sure is shared by many besides myself. Aldaaron do not attempt to push any boundaries as some of their countrymen have done and are doing, but what they do attempt to do they do extremely well. Simply put, they have fleshed out a well-produced, tightly played, guitar driven album of pagan/melodic black metal that succeeds in raising the listener to mountainous heights.