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Well executed, business-like and immersive - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, May 24th, 2013

A photograph of a far distant galazy graces the cover of "The Dark Gods" which together with the title leads me to think this album, the only one so far released by Foudre Noire, might be inspired by H P Lovecraft's stories of Cthulhu, the Elders and the distant gods they worship and whom they enlist in their wars against Cthulhu's army and their own rebellious slaves. Certainly the lyrics to both parts 1 and 2 of this opus are general enough to suggest a connection. There's also opposition expressed towards Christianity and its values that give lip service to caring for the weak and vulnerable but which privilege priests and their power and abuses above the rest of humanity.

The music is business-like and keeps up a steady tempo. It's constantly active with few gaps and has a noisy style, the guitars trilling endlessly with a scrapey edge to their tone. About the 13th minute of Part 1, the music dies down before a clean guitar drone and for a moment we're held in suspense, wondering what the band will do next. But business is business and the guys continue on their way.

Part 2 has a faster pace and the guitars become shrill with manic riffs. The track now has a slightly demented air. Sometimes the music acts as if it's losing focus: riffs appear to bounce back and forth between hard scrabbling and then veering off as if looking into the distance or behind the music. Vocals are not much different here than what they were on the first part: growling but otherwise po-faced. The music is more varied on Part 2, allowing for a sorrowing and wistful acoustic guitar section before blasting off into more noisy and scrabbly guitar, this time set off by touches of keyboard keening and ongoing rhythm guitar trilling that sounds like radio static. Somewhere around the halfway mark of Part 2, a pure-toned space ambient keyboard effect begins to repeat which lends a cold alien ethereal aspect to proceedings.

The music emphasises repetition of riffs and melodies, and with the constant scratchy noise-guitar textures has a highly immersive effect. It literally fills up all the space between your ears and allows nothing else to enter. On the whole, it's well executed but lacks the volume dynamics that might give it a more sculpted, three-dimensional feel and so it feels a bit flat at times. Music such as this really needs to have a production that makes it seem to come out of the speakers like a big solid object while still retaining a lo-fi edge.

Compared with other Finnish black metal acts I've heard, Foudre Noire seem like quite normal, sane fellows playing straight-forward black metal, sticking closely to a buzzy garage rock aesthetic; only if you listen very closely will you find some non-BM touches that suggest the band might hew to a more idiosyncratic style in the future. Unfortunately since "The Dark Gods", Foudre Noire has been in a dormant state while the members go their separate ways in their main bands, no doubt waiting for the Dark Gods of Lovecraftian lore to arrive from their distant realms.