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Fantastique - 95%

Grimulfr, November 13th, 2008

From the cover art by the great Gustave Dore, guaranteed to make me notice, straight through to the very metal album closer piano solo that Beethoven would have loved, Artefact challenges you to listen, no multitasking. Like current Primordial with seven troll steps back toward early Enslaved with a nod toward Ihsahn on the way by. Keep an ear tuned for low growls spoken on “Finale”, similar to that used on “Neolithic Era”, clean vocals on “Reverence”, very minimally used shouts on several songs, tons of blastbeats, and a cool acoustic guitar solo on “Finale”. The choir is back on “My Inner Sanctum”. The guitar line near the end of “Stellar Winds” reminds me of Isa. This album is often fast paced with tons of time changes and many tranquil moments with beautiful sequences that seem even more so book-ended by the ultra harsh.

If you are new to Artefact I suggest you perform your inaugural listening ritual in the following way: Imagine yourself a true French black metaller preparing for an icy winter walk. Put on your homemade Torgeist hoodie, lace up your boots, strap on your bullet belt. As you head out the door the obligatory intro starts up, with a medieval-ish, feel, hail Leonin, cold atmosphere to match the 60 below temperature outside, so off you go with “Gargoyles Unleashing” to blastbeats, raging guitars and vocals between a shriek and a snarl. The lyric line “dancing on the ruin of your faith” gets your black heart smiling. A decision to follow the path of a frozen river fits the mood of the music, the melodies carry twice as far in the crisp air and details seem extra vivid, and you find yourself absorbed into the starts and stops, twists and turns of the music, letting your feet lead the way on their own.

The melodic lines are quite adventurous, but then you have always had an appreciation for Greek black metal. As you are really starting to connect with “Medieval Ancestry” you realize the coldness in your fingers and toes is creeping, so you start to run to beat the cold back out. Watch out for overflows where water shoots several feet into the air through weak points in the ice and swirls around faster than you can react, instantly freezing to glass smooth around your feet. As you realize your feet are wet it dawns on you that they will freeze solid, thumping like firewood sticks on an oak floor as you run franticly to shore, death a certainty if you do not dry your feet immediately, but your hands are shaking so violently you can’t light a match and you know in the mists of your delirium, is that a choir I hear, that come morning someone will find you frozen solid gripping the match that you failed to light in your teeth. What is that haunting singing floating in on melodic keys? “Fountain Of The Enchantress” is just a phantom, soon you will cease to feel anything and a great tiredness will overcome you- just let me sleep- pull yourself into “Reverence” and warm yourself with the rich textures and flowing harmonies. You may yet be swept from the brink of oblivion by the hauntingly beautiful keyboards.

The fast pace gets your blood pumping back into your extremities again. With wild abandon you thump along on oaken limbs until you plunge through into a chasm carved out by the swirling intensity of the river that matches the music. The water abruptly changes direction under the ice leaving cavernous empty pits behind. As you realize there is no escaping this steep walled tomb to be, and the adrenaline rush has left you in a state of exhaustion, delirium sets in and you swear you hear otherworldly chants of “Reverence” which are instantly dashed with the ferocity of “Catharian Ruins”. Is it too late to save your feet and hands, your nose? Blackened dead skin hangs from your face. Your lungs burn with every inhale but the acoustic music is so beautiful, will “Stellar Winds” bring you through this ordeal? “Stellar winds transport us dreamlike sublimations in the mind’s eye” Is there a majestic bonus downloadable track of triumph like on Magic Spellcraft? Sadly no. As “Finale” is but a passing memory and Gargoyles again play through your brain this time on solo piano you know you have gone beyond the realm of flesh and you think hypothermia is not a bad way to go. “The shadows of darkness will haunt you till your death.” The “Gargoyles Rest” and now so can you, forever, because you have just experienced the future of black metal. Si vous êtes un adepte du black metal moderne, un disque indispensable pour ce d'année 2008.

Originally written for http://teethofthedivine.com