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Lots of potential but songs are all over the place - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, March 12th, 2015

"L'ombre malicieuse" was French BM band Darvulia's debut full-length album and the only one the band recorded when it was still a one-man project. Any comparison between this album and Darvulia's later full-length recordings needs to take note of the changes the project underwent between 2002 (when "L'Ombre ..." was released) and 2006 when the second album came out. "L'Ombre ..." is strong on power, aggression, fury and passion, and the band, restricted to Kobal who played all instruments and did all vocals, has a very raw raging style with highly distorted and bristly guitar tones. The drums err on the side of anger and disgust, and the energy that these negative emotions generate, instead of technical finesse or precision. Kobal's singing veers towards the drunken, delirious side in the manner of other French BM vocalists like Willy Roussel (formerly of Mutiilation).

The songs tend to be all over the place and few really stand out. Probably the best thing to do is to listen to the album as one work of different chapters as the songs can be hard to tell apart. At 35 minutes in length, the album can be heard in a single sitting without the need for breaks. That said, individual tracks sometimes have interesting rhythm or riffing sequences, and had Kobal concentrated on some of these offbeat sequences and made them into the backbones of their respective songs, then each song would have its own distinct musical identity. In contrast to the music which is either too varied in some songs, or not varied enough in others (and what is played in those songs sounds generically BM and doesn't make a lasting impression), the singing is restricted to never-ending haranguing or groaning.

There are two very distinct and (for this genre of BM) completely unexpected instrumentals which focus on percussion as the main or sole instrument: "Débauche Macabre" is a mostly acoustic piece of ritualistic dark folk horror centred around neo-primitive drum-thumping, Kobal's spider-voiced groaning and what sounds like a mandolin; and "Fille De Druidesse" which boasts very dance-friendly tribalistic rhythms and various percussion effects and bells. These tracks demonstrate Darvulia's potential for creating some unusual and experimental soundscape pieces and it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility for Kobal to start a more purely experimental sound-art project and create sound installation works for specific buildings or soundtrack music for avantgarde film or drama pieces.

Another departure from the usual BM-guitar rage (though not by a great deal) is "La Dernière Nuit D'avril" whose introduction promises a detour into moody noir-ish urban blues territory, temporarily anyway. Unusual percussion-based beats and rhythms feature in the middle of the song and I wonder why these don't dominate the whole song.

With so much potential demonstrated here, the wonder is that Darvulia didn't use it all to create a much stronger album than what is presented here. This could have been one of the best debut albums in French BM history.

...pulls the earth from underneath you! - 100%

scovrge, March 17th, 2006

I'm surprised no one has reviewed this album yet, let alone any other works from Darvulia. I generally keep my collection of extreme/black metal low, considering how picky and specific I am with bands who identify themselves as such. Only towards the end of last year (2005) did I finally discover Darvulia. Even in a controlled collection like mine there are albums and/or bands that I listen to more often than others. Darvulia IS one of those bands that I know I will be dedicated to for time to come. "L 'Ombre Malicieuse" really pulls the earth from underneath you! The production is clear, but with a raw essence. The guitars roll over precise and moderate percussion, sounding duplicated as if through broken mirrors. They have a forefront presence, as they should, consider these are some of the best melancholic and mysterious, buzzing riffs I've heard in a long time. It's like they have been a sleep for centuries and finally woke up. I wouldn't say that the bass is non-existent, but it holds this creature up like a ghost. There is so much to be considered unique here and Kobals vocals (among other talents) are no exception. It sounds like a mix of Nocturno Culto's drunken performances and Shamaatae's angry style. On top of this, I can really discern the more natural elements of his voice. There are even feminine sounding screams that chant parallel to Kobal on the "Infestations" track, one of my favorites on the album. I feel confident enough to claim that each song stands up on its own and as an album, they blend together creating one of the most beautiful oddities in existence.