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It’s a columnist colleague who allows me to discover a young Quebec formation called Décombres, which was created at the end of 2011. This is actually a solo project led by versatile Philippe Boucher, also active in Incandescence (black metal), First Fragment (technical death metal) and Chthe’ilist (old school death metal). This finding is timely! There is already a long time since I have had the pleasure of tasting a local product.
Though, if this first album rather came from an isolated Northern Scandinavia village, no one would be surprised. Author’s aesthetic choices are transparent. He plays a black metal directly inspired from indefatigable Norwegian second wave, where Darkthrone and Burzum compete for first place in the influence race. But with a very good result!
Of course, content of this record does not reinvent a style copied a thousand times in twenty years. It was probably not the author’s intention anyway. Boucher, within genre guidelines, deploys classically shaped, but damned catchy, compositions. Good riffs are appropriately scattered on every song, giving them separate identity and memorable airs. The guitar playing is based on a strongly fuzzed high notes succession, creating icy and gloomy atmospheres. As for the rhythm section, it is quite effective, but rather discrete and linear. Its role is usually limited to support guitar layers and voice. Lyrics are in French (at least I think) but the shrill screams that accompany the music make them impossible to understand, even partially. However, there is no need to be clairvoyant to guess their nature: general atmosphere which radiates from this album speaks for itself.
This first eponymous Décombres’ opus is a pleasant surprise. It shows again that orthodox black metal allows talented musicians to express themselves without lapsing into parody or plagiarism. I encourage you to explore this interesting project, hoping for a sequel. 7/10
Originally written for Métal Obscur.
Once again, la Belle Province produced a talented black metal artist and like most of his brethren, Décombres is of the highest quality. Québec's warehouse of métal noire is renowned in the underground and in my honest opinion, it's the best scene this side of the Atlantic. Biased opinion aside, Philippe Boucher, the sole creator of this album is damn talented and his first album is a really fine slab of interesting and classic black metal.
Boucher, also the drummer of a technical death metal band called First Fragment handles all the instrument here and it sounds good. Don't be scared if you think tech death is atrocious, there's no hints of this genre here. It's pretty much Norwegian styled black metal without frills and major surprises, but the quality is there. The riffs are sometimes dissonant and they stay simple most of the time, but they are excellent. The music is guitar driven and there's good short and simple leads here and there, like in the third track "Élévation". There's an epic feel throughout some songs, "Dernier Souffle", the longest track of the album at around 8 mins has this feel reminding me of the early and arguably good Satyricon albums. There 's a cool clean vocals break that took me by surprise, it was quite in the background though, but I feel Boucher should expand this side of Décombres, it was definitely a cool element, I'm probably biaised again by my love for Primordial ! Eh, give me a break, there's some similarities between Ireland and Québec! The kind of atmosphere you'll get here is similar to Darkthrone's seminal trilogy mixed with the more dissonant black metal path, Thrall from Australia is worth a mention. Also, it reminds me of the riffier side of Burzum's early imput with a better and crisper production, of course. The bass is quite buried under the mix, but that's something I was expecting with this kind of black metal, the focus is on the guitar and it's rewarding enough. As far as I know, Boucher being originally a drummer isn't crazy about innovation here, it's professional enough and that's fine with me, the use of cymbals is particularly good. The production is great for a first album, there's no problem there, however, I would prefer the vocals to be a bit more present in the mix, but that's a minor complain. The vocals are your traditional black screechs and while being great, they don't break any new grounds, why would they anyway?
The band's sound confirms my assumption that the Québec scene is quite healthy in its conservatism, there's no shoegazing and post black metal among Décombres' peers, proof that you can be original while not jumping into the trendy wagons of our cousin Neige (the only snow he's familiar is ours when he tours here). Note that I have nothing against these particular genres, I feel that they're only temporary...
Décombres' sound, while truly influenced by our northern brothers of Europe, remains rooted in the Quebec's scene. But, don't expect something like Neige et Noirceur or Forteresse here, there's no folk influences and the atmosphere is created by the fast riffing style instead of long and slow dirges. It's more in the vein of newcomers Neige Éternelle and one of the mentors of the scene, Frozen Shadows without the haunting keyboards though. While we're talking of Martin Marcotte's band, Décombres would fit perfectly on his high quality label, Sepulchral Productions (simply putting this here...) Still, Décombres is its own thing, the influences are obvious, but their sound is fresh and the smell of spring is vivid in the midst of their enchanting sound. The Lyrics are in French, but if you're afraid of the evil French Canadian separatists, rest assured, they have more in common with Monarque and Crépuscule than Brume d'automne and the aforementionned Forteresse. It's dark, personal and evil without being nationalist and satanist. Fortunately, the themes fits the music and that's an achievement in itself. Look for the rubble, every parts are important to create something worthy. That's something Boucher did with this album and he'll certainly do even better as this is his first album.
Apart from the short interlude in the middle of the self titled release, there's not a lot of place to breath, it's a complete album with excellent and varied atmospheres. There's the right amount of melody and agression to please most black metal fans. Phillipe Boucher made a bold statement with this album, he'll be a force to reckon with among the black metal artisans of our snowy province.
Black metal tabarnak!
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