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Allied in Atmospheric Black Metal - 55%

Sean16, May 20th, 2009

Alright, the first thing that bugged me when I first heard of Ziel Bevridj must have been: why the heck should a French-speaking Canadian give his one-man black metal project a Dutch name? Perhaps does Mr Viingrid happen to be a big Countess fan, and as the lyrics of the other band he’s contributed to, Csejthe, almost exclusively deal with Countess... Bathory, there might be some logic here after all. The one and only purpose of this far-fetched explanation being to introduce Le Sang de l’Alliance, a split album between, precisely, Csejthe and Ziel Bevridj.

Indeed those two bands do not only share members, they also share a very similar musical horizon which could be broadly described as atmospheric black metal. Why someone would found a solo band to play almost exactly the same kind of music he’d been playing with his other band has always been beyond my understanding, but let’s admit for once this Viingrid guy seems to have been right, as the Ziel Bevridj tracks are of overall better quality than the Csejthe ones. The production, however, is equally weak in both cases, as the vocals are buried so deep into the misty guitars curtain they’re often hard to objectively rate. Further, Ziel Bevrijd also features a bold, high-pitched lead guitar which is very likely to scorch the listener’s ears if he dares turning the volume up in hope of better distinguishing the vocals. Coming to the drums, be it in Csejthe or Ziel Bevridj they’re muffled down to the point they sometimes become almost unnoticeable save for an annoyingly weird-sounding crash cymbal. The only moments a bass can be heard are in a few acoustic breaks, and those are restricted to the Ziel Bevridj side. I wonder if Csejthe even uses a bass in the first place.

Songwriting-wise, Csejthe tracks are of pretty limited interest. Amongst the shitload of bands playing this kind of black metal nowadays, this one is average at best. All songs rely on simple variations around a single riff repeated over and over again for around five minutes and, as the guitar is mixed up, the result becomes rapidly tiring and monotonous, all the more than the leading melodies don’t fundamentally differ from one track to another. The vocals, for what can be heard of them, consist in the standard high-pitched barks regularly interrupted by some lyrics-void shriek or clean chant. There’s a bit of female chanting as well, especially on the instrumental, keyboards-laden intro where they’re so high they’re likely to make anyone’s brain hurt. Eventually after another instrumental track which is just too long for what it is (solitary piano, and it’s not Chopin playing there), the Csejthe side leaves the listener with the impression of having heard nothing but a muddy recording of rustling leaves by a foggy autumn day or, to put it more simply, a totally unmemorable release.

Thus, it’s no wonder coming in second Ziel Bevridj will sound like a highly imaginative band. While tracks are a bit longer, they’re also more complex with more melodic diversity, tempo changes, as well as the occasional presence of acoustic guitars to temper the otherwise crude core of raspy black metal. Of course the guy hasn’t discovered anything revolutionary here, but following the far too linear Csejthe those songs sound like a welcomed relief. The vocals on the other hand, in spite of the punctual clean passages, show a more aggressive, tortured edge; think Peste Noire here, an act Viingrid isn’t ashamed to publicly boast influence from. The overall mood is cold and sharp, giving the atmospheric tag all its sense

Eventually, both bands should be credited for playing very fluently: even if some extra effort could undoubtedly be put into the production Le Sang de l’Alliance is definitely not an average bedroom BM release, but a very professional output from two acts which probably played a bit too much on the atmospheric card to mask too obvious songwriting deficiencies, especially from Csejthe, giving the whole work little more than mere background music value. Still this isn’t unpleasant background music, and Ziel Bevridj probably has potential, provided this work doesn’t later prove to have been nothing but a one-off effort.

Highlights: the Ziel Bevridj tracks, especially Oppression Lointaine