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Here's an interesting EP from Peste Noire, one that might look ahead to a new, more melodic and structured direction and at the same time looks back fondly to the band's earlier, wilder and more intense history.
On Side A, the music is crisp, sharp and precise and individual bass melodies can be heard below the rapid-fire guitar riffs and melodies which are not quite so full-on as on earlier demos. The drumming is good without being outstanding and there are much fewer episodes of sheer blast-beat fury. Even the vocals are very controlled (with few screams) to the extent that they are dominated by the guitars. The impression I have is of efficiency rather than intense derangement and while for other bands this restrained approach might be something to strive for, with Peste Noire it seems as if the band is treading water and saving its energy for something else.
Well that something else might just be on the other side of the EP. Side B is taken up with just one song, a remake of "Phalènes Et Pestilence", the band's 2005 demo. Listeners can hear the difference between this song and the flip side straight away: aside from the production which is less clear and of a lower standard, the guitar sound seems more distorted and raw, the drums are more frenzied and the style of music is more extreme. Famine fair rips his throat to shreds, and guitars-n-drums range all over the available music territory from folk to organ-dominated melodies, pop, improvised and experimental. Plenty of drama and emotional intensity are to be found here. The effect of it all can be full-on, even overwhelming, and listeners might need to hear this song a few times to soak it all in. Samples and breaks within the track, after which the music might jump off onto yet another tangent and pretend to be flamenco-styled, urban blues or country-western (without changing the guitar tone!), give the impression that the guys are making up everything on the spot - and they might well be, though within a plan hatched by the musicians perhaps. Other instruments such as organ and piano, and weird effects such as a strange wobble sound about the 27th or 28th minute add to the epic nature of the song.
Of the two sides, Side B is better and more enjoyable by far: it follows its own logic, however crazed and messy it appears to us mere mortals, and Famine contorts himself and suffers for his art. After this song, he might be in need of throat transplant surgery. The song holds together much better than would be expected for a track of its length and loose structure and there does seem to be a natural development from something small to a huge ramshackle edifice that still manages to stay upright to the very end.
I'm not sure how really essential this EP is, as the songs on Side A were re-recorded for a later album and "Phalènes Et Pestilence" appears on a compilation of the band's demos. But for sure, if you are a Peste Noire obsessive and must have everything the band has ever done, and you own a turntable as well, then of course this EP is necessary to help complete your collection and you can always drag it out if you just want to hear "Phalènes Et Pestilence".
Peste Noire got on my radar because their music seems to offer a new outlook on black metal. This LP is sadly more common over on US soil than any of their full lengths so I figure I would give this a couple turns. To my surprise (considering the words “hooligan black metal” on the back) this is a very impressive album and this band obviously knows what they're doing.
Side A: (The B Side was recorded at a different time, so Ill get to it later.)
The album opens with a slow into and a very catchy riff, then the track speeds up and the album gets going. The riffs are very obscure. They remind a little of the riffs on the new Deathspell Omega disc, but they have there own unique raw feel to them that sets them apart. Bass lines are similar in nature; very mesmerizing throughout the entire side and the second track even has a bass line intro, which was very surprising considering how little the instrument is used in black metal.
Winterhalter does a good job behind the drum kit. No constant blasting, yet the drums are very fast paced once this thing gets going. The vocals are pretty traditional for black metal. No chanting or anything, just a nice shrill rasp that helps add to the obvious traditional feel the band says they were going for.
This 20 minute epic is really the only reason one should need to purchase this. The entire song has a varied experimental feel to it, and is way more enjoyable then the tracks on Side A. The production on this side actually sounds like a rehearsal recording (compared to the previous side), and really has much more of a raw feeling to it.
Musically, this song has so many moods and changes to it that I lost count. It starts out with a sample, then explodes into full force blasting before calming down again. Then after the first couple vocal lines the song begins its long trip through several different sounding quiet parts and various atmospheres. The clearer parts have a much cleaner production to them than the more violent parts. Additionally they in cooperated several samples into the mix mostly consisting of a public speech (all in French) and chanting.
Peste Noire really shows forth some impressive work on this. Their blend of epic melodic song structures, traditional black metal and experimental riffs is very interesting and I figure it's time I started looking overseas for their full lengths.