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Set of basic raw BM songs with distinct identities - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, May 3rd, 2015

People who love basic raw black metal done in a distinct individual French style might care to stop by Darvulia's third album "Mysticisme Macabre". It's repetitive and somewhat formulaic but there's that sense of near-kookiness or derangement shared with a number of other French BM bands like Peste Noire. Darvulia's style of minimal BM stresses repetitive riffs and melody done with a basic set-up of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Song structures are kept simple and straightforward with repetition as their foundation. There is little room for improvised soloing, technical flourishes or manipulation of atmosphere. For all that though the trio plays as a tight unit and the songs have distinct musical motifs based on dissonant chord structures that unify them and give them their identity.

Songs generally start off fast and then alternate among fast, medium-paced and slow passages. On several tracks like "Hivers Noirs Des Anciens Ages" the vocals may be multi-tracked and layered, and their sound is spidery and death-rattle abrasive. A peculiar claustrophobic ambience is present on all songs which adds to the sense of menace and unease. For such a basic musical approach, the production on this recording is very clear and every instrument can be heard.

Darvulia's song-writing approach works best on middle track "Malesuadus" which features slow sections of sinister tremolo guitar squiggle, reminiscent of cockroaches scrabbling in the background. The slavering, demented singing is constant and is a real stand-out as well. One highlight is "Langues R├ępugnantes" which has a coda of hypnotic tribal-sounding drumming overlaid with evil-sounding alien digital or synthesised harp: it has to be heard to be believed.

If heard all the way through, the album would probably bore many listeners silly due to the repetition and lack of variation in the basic music structures and instrumentation. It is best treated perhaps as a set of related songs, all based on common themes yet each of them a self-sufficient work in itself. A side benefit of Darvulia's barebones approach here is that "Mysticisme Macabre" becomes a defining work of the band's style and this would hold true regardless of whether the musicians continue with their approach or change it on future albums.