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A solid debut of tight and intense thrashy BM - 87%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 6th, 2018

Odd that this band from Toulouse in SW France is still waiting for a review here at MA even after an EP release in 2014 and a debut album in 2017. This fearsome foursome play very thrashy yet melodic black metal filled to the brim with aggression and ferocious energy, especially in the vocals and the drumming. Black March are not ones to muck about with meandering instrumental passages or self-indulgent lead guitar meanderings: their songs get to the point in a matter of minutes with good guitar riffs, a solid and stern bass, and punishing, even booming percussion. Each and every song on this debut album, "Praeludium Exterminii", is a tight and intense production, full of thunder and solid throughout with opportunities for head-banging if listeners feel that way inclined.

After a short atmospheric introduction that becomes martial with piano and a rousing orchestral music background, the band explodes with tearaway scrabbly BM on "Our Empty, Blessed Shelters" and maintains the aggression on a song that displays a lot of moods as its speed goes from fast to medium-fast and back again. The template having been set, the band forges ahead on songs that for the most part are fast but which can sometimes include slower, even funereal doomy sections where sinister lead guitar solos poison the air above steaming bass and rhythm guitars. It's not until the fourth song "Theriac" though that the band really starts to demonstrate versatility in the way songs are composed and played: true malevolent drama appears in the long instrumental section where the march of heavy bass and rhythm strings morph into a brooding solo piano melody.

The band keeps galloping through songs packed with energy, melody and tighter-than-tight arrangements, rarely pausing for breath. Which in a way, the guys really ought to do since their musicianship actually shines more when they slow down and take things more leisurely than when they go for blast-beat broke. Even brief detours into quieter atmospheric piece like "Interlude" quickly become something ominous and tense before smashing into more thrashing, thundering blast-beat BM epics, one of which ("As the Dark fills the Hollow") boasts an unexpected groove!

There's something for most listeners if they can hang on right to the end - the album can be wearying in parts as the music is full-on and intense. My only gripe is that the vocals are too ragged and thin against the music's sheer power, and perhaps need to be death-metal deep if they're to hold their own. The production is clear and strong and the music is precise as well as muscular. Maybe on the next album Black March could loosen up a bit and bring a more deranged and wilder attitude, and let fly with some really demented improvised jams. For the time being, these guys have produced a very solid debut.