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Monarque – Lys Noir - 90%

Asag_Asakku, May 1st, 2013

Most artists are realizing preparatory sketches before tackling their main work. These drafts, drawings or demos sometimes become valuable by themselves, but their primary role is to allow the author to express ideas and concepts that are then used to accomplish a masterpiece.

Québec band Monarque followed this path, with the release this month of a third full-length in ten years. However, this new album’s genesis is found in an excellent demo called La Mort, launched two years ago. Distributed in very limited number in pro-tape format, it outlined several aesthetics changes adopted by the band, who then took a decidedly epic and melodic turn, recalling Emperor and Abigor first records.

Entitled Lys Noir, this new album has a front cover that expresses well the band’s intentions. Logo (which looks like a shrub) does not appear and the beautiful illustration is a contemporary work created by Maxime Taccardi (« Novissimis Temporibus » painted in part with the blood of its author) that symbolizes the end of cosmos. An excellent introduction to a remarkable album.

After a short narrative, L’Appel de la Nuit opens hostilities with a great mix of aggression and melody. Organ layer and a brief acoustic interlude illustrate a brilliant song writing which is not limited to predefined aesthetic frameworks. It reigns over this song a wonderful atmosphere, but it is with La Quintessence du Mal that we reach the peak. Album’s author creates a long crescendo with breathtaking intensity, with a short tapping sequence and a really effective keyboard final.

Acoustic interlude Solitude allows the introduction Mes Condoléances, long song marked by melancholy and despair, where music replaces words to express strong feelings. Again, structures layout and mixing demonstrate a thorough work with results that go well beyond the usual Black Metal standards. Drumming, both playing and mixing, is also one of the greatest successes of this record.

Monarque’s members finally have a pleasant surprise in store for us that have a symbolic value. The band performs Au Seuil des Ténèbres from the reference-album Dans les Bras des Immortels recorded in the late 90s by Frozen Shadows, pioneer of Québec black metal. Eras collide with this brutal and fast song that adds strength to Lys Noir. However, its conclusion is rather disappointing. Comme les Vers is a good song, but its linearity and lack of depth clashes with the previous titles and leaves an aftertaste of incompleteness.

Never minding this last observation, Lys Noir is a beautiful album that leaves – from the first listen – a strong impression in the listeners’ mind. Accessible and grandiose, it is undoubtedly the most accomplished and mature work in the history of our national black metal scene, the result of a long creation process, in which each sketch have counted.

Originally written for Métal Obscur.