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A barbaric prelude - 90%

VoV, October 4th, 2012

Out of nowhere comes Souverain and their second offering: Prelude Barbare.

This MCD opens with a nice little martial industrial song called Hymne à la Guerre (Hymn to War). Noise, military percussion patterns, some clean, echoing voices in the background and some string instruments playing a slow melody. The song is calm, yet warlike in nature and sets the kind of ‘’spiritual experience’’ atmosphere common in martial industrial music, à la Arditi for example, though much more melodic.

This is followed by two vicious (barbaric!) songs, the first being Lugh, dedicated to the Celtic deity of the same name, the other being Peuple du Sanglier (People of the Boar), some sort of homage to the band’s Celtic pagan comrades. Both are similar with ferocious drumming, from blast beats to ‘’thrashy’’ d-beats, to double pedal, accompanying melodic (mostly) tremolo picking guitar riffs, the likes heard on Gorgoroth’s ‘’Under the Sign of Hell’’ album (to give you a simple idea), albeit with an extremely pronounced militaristic feel. Where the songs differ completely is in their structure and in their endings. Lugh ends with an epic, neofolk part on clean guitars, accompanied by the mandatory military percussion pattern and the same, clean, echoing voice heard on the first song. Peuple du Sanglier on the other hand, ends in a full blown martial industrial part, with an electric guitar briefly appearing in the middle.

To close the mcd, we get an instrumental song called ‘’Le Sacrifice des Nobles’’ (The Nobles’ Sacrifice). Acoustic guitars, toms, snares, string instruments, leaving the brutality behind to finish off with a very melancholic song.

I’m on the fence production-wise. The overall sound of the music and individual instruments are perfect, but the mixing seems strange at times. But when you stop to consider that these are unmastered pre-mixes, you’ll get a whole new perception. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Souverain’s metal side reinvents the wheel, I must say that they hit a notch of originality in the feeling it gives when you listen to it. If you understand the French language you will find out that the lyrics fits perfectly with the music, while the singing itself adds a new melody, becoming as important as the music itself as Branmaur seems to use his vocals as another instrument, literally. These lyrics are very poetic and quite diverse as all the songs have their own subject while still fitting in perfectly together.

I’ll give this a 90 out of a 100. Diverse yet consistent, the overall package is original enough to allow Souverain to distinguish themselves in this vast ocean of modern day black metal bands and the growing metal noir quebecois scene, while still being traditional enough to please long time black metal fans. This is well worth the download, as it is the only way you’ll get your hands on this now.