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Uplifting French Black Metal. - 85%

Perplexed_Sjel, March 27th, 2006

I’ve always told myself I wouldn’t judge National Socialistic music until I heard the content of the instrumentation. Lyrics have never really been a priority in my eyes. Essentially, music is a feeling and as the ancient strings of the guitar are stretched to breaking point, they’re meant to depict, through mesmerising sound, how I feel and when I find that connection, that is when I know the music has a place in my world, despite the lyrical content. I don’t agree with National Socialism, but I do agree with decent black metal and despite the obvious drawbacks of Sombre Chemin’s presence within the black metal industry, their music does nothing but bolster the opinion of it since they offer a thrilling experience unlike any other band that I have come across. There are many things that could be seen as typical of the genre in this French bands style, but despite the familiar methods of instrumentation, the output strikes me as somewhat different to the majority of bands circulating the current market, as well as the olden generation, may it rest in peace.

Given the bands inclusion of loud, in-your-face rasping vocals, heavy distortion and repetitive soundscapes, one would imagine this would come across as your average, everyday black metal record with an all too familiar tone, setting and vibe. This isn’t the case. I suppose one thing this band has taught me is that, although the methods may be the same, the projection can be distinctly different and the surfacing atmosphere isn’t necessarily a full gone conclusion despite the typical roots. Atmospherics have played a pivotal role in the successful nature of black metal since the dawn of its creation and that is no different in today’s modern era. Bands still rely heavily on a crushing atmosphere to portray the unsubtle nature of the lyrics, which are always an abrasive aspect of the content given the awesome vocals that dominate the listener like a life long fan of sadomasochism. Punishing our view on reality with often out-of-this-world portrayals of negative emotions far beyond the levels of human understanding. Hatred, anger and violence are all aspects of black metal that come attached to the vast majority of atmospherics however, there are, once in a while, bands who may operate these negative emotions within their soundscapes but in a juxtaposed way to the instrumentation.

Whilst the vocalist of this visceral band may be pulling the hatred of hell out of the broken ground, the instrumentation portrays an oddly uplifted sound which isn’t akin to the rest of the black metal market. Despite the regularities of this record - the repetitious riffs on bass and guitar and the hateful vocals - the content somehow manages to sound euphoric through the hateful bliss that emerges as the vocalist continues along the war path of destruction, bringing down tolerance along the way as he attempts to justify the ideas of nationalism and racialism. Even in the would be uneventful instrumental songs like ‘Peuple de Thulé’, despite its obvious funerary sound given the haunting organ and distinct romanticised spoken vocals (which oddly sounds like a beautiful eulogy being read aloud - though I don’t imagine it is), the wind instruments manage to raise a feeling of triumph and euphoria within me that makes me feel some sort of natural high. The rest of the atmospherics, on the other songs, are similar. The tones and textures on the guitar, though limited, are uplifting by nature and this awe inspiring sound allows me to forget the derogative connotations of the lyrics. Ignorance is bliss, right? Though the majority of this record is repetitive, especially the outspoken bass sections, there is some variation to speak of and often notable parts of variation as on songs like ‘Les Feux de Joie (Reprise)’ with its clean vocals and further developed drum section which often deviates throughout the entire record.

Not content with following on from the largely repetitious elements, the drums are always an area of the instrumentation that requires a keen ear as they’re varied. The bass, despite being a monotonous area, is also key to the upbeat element of the record. It functions supremely confidently alongside the guitar and it is in this combinational style where Sombre Chemin press on from their early potential. I’m not as familiar with the sophomore effort as I am with ‘Doctrine’, the sublimely uplifting debut, but as far as I am aware, it isn’t as good, which is a shame. The production has altered to a more downbeat state, I believe, whereas it is uplifting despite being dense and air tight, catching the listeners imagination within a claustrophobic space, unable to breath and with no escape we’re forced to breath in the intoxicating fumes of the romantic French vision that won’t have us all agreeing with their ideological thought patterns. Despite the flaws, this is a wonderful, uplifting black metal record.

Good French NSBM - 88%

Mirkwood, June 3rd, 2005

Despite the fact that France now looks more and more like a multi-race rubbish heap there are still people out there in whom the Aryan spirit is still alive and who find the power to resist inspite of the pressure from ZOG (take for instance the sad story of KRISTALLNACHT). SOMBRE CHEMIN can hardly be called an old band but since the time they started they were able to gain respect in NS milieu and release 2 demos and 5 (!!!) splits. Now it’s time for the debut album. I didn’t have an opportunity to hear their previous works and that’s why it’s difficult to say anything about the band’s progress. But what I heard even surprised me, as expecting to get a next darkthrone variation I heard a very interesting and varied work. The band combines BM with dark ambient in a quite successful way and both these styles are represented here in equal proportions (well, there’s a bit more of Black there really). This combination doesn’t repel but on the contrary, sounds very natural. The BM tracks are generally performed in mid-tempo and sound very melodic, but at the same time they are penetrated with a furious spirit – the spirit of struggle. The vocals are typical for Black Metal, but they sometimes use clear vocals as well. I also liked the ambient parts (though we should admit that metal bands not always make them sound interesting). Thank Gods here we don’t have long boring halfhour compositions a-la early MORTIIS, although you could feel his influence, as well as the influence of BURZUM. SOMBRE CHEMIN make it more freezing: you just sit and listen to the burning fire, dropping water, keyboards and screaming people can be heard somewhere in the background, which makes the atmosphere still darker… In general, this is a very strong work and it’s recommended to NS Black Metal amateurs. The CD is released in 500 copies.