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Peste Noire in one of their best moments. - 90%

DSOfan97, November 4th, 2015

The French black metal scene is by far my favorite. Many countries in the world can boast for displaying a long catalogue of quality black metal acts, but such versatility, talent, finesse and willingness for experimentation can only be found in France. Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord, Mutilaation are few of these bands. Peste Noire entered the scene with a bang in 2006 with their debut "La Sanie des Siecles" and one year later they released "Folkfuck Folie" which was fairly different and more depressive. However their most mind-boggling album up to date is this; 2009's "Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor". It isn't mind-boggling because of any unusual structures or avant-garde style, because these things are not present here. What is present here is a raw (in a good way), passionate and thrilling black metal performance.

The music in "Ballade..." is nothing like any band has ever done before (or even after I might say). The guitars create beautiful melodies, that will certainly touch you, the songs aren't just comprised of one or two riffs, they change constantly and the solos (yes there are solos) are frantic, even absurd. The whammy bar is used a lot, so the album sounds like a very old glitching tape recording, and that is amazing. In this way the album sounds even more vintage, just as it should. The whole retrospective feeling is fortified by the injection of brief interludes between the tracks, where pianos, accordions and Audrey's vocals create marvelous melodies. The drums quite often have a tribal feeling to them, like war drums that summon every instrument to take part in the battle. The bass accompanies the guitars and doesn't take the lead at any point.

The production is not as good as it should be unfortunately. It is fuzzy but not always heavy and of course there is that 'old-recording' effect that makes it sound vintage, but I would like to hear a more solid rhythm section in terms of production. The sampled natural sounds (birds, frogs and such animals), however, create a great atmosphere, thus the album's production is easily forgivable and not something that will hold you back from enjoying it.

The only point that I'm not quite fond of, are the lyrical themes. Peste Noire have dealt with national-socialist themes in the past (they had a song called "Aryan Supremacy", for example) and they also deal with them here. They show their love for their nation (and I'm totally okay with that) but they do not stay there. And that is kind of a problem for me. Not that I do not like the album, I love it. And I love how the vocals are delivered, how Famine screams or just sings folk songs about the greatness of France. And Sainte-Audrey's performance on the female vocals is an ear candy as well. It's just some of the lyrics that I dislike.

This album is a triumph for Peste Noire. Their unique, distinctive sound is here, yet it doesn't stand alone. New ideas are brought forth and they are executed in a marvelous manner. From the bellicose beginning of "Neire Peste" to the slow closing of "Soleil Couchants" Peste Noire offer nothing less than a masterfully crafted album that everyone has to listen to. There are many moments that blow my mind such as the outro of "Ballade Cuntre Les Anemis de la France" or the intro of "A La Mortaille!" but there's hardly one that disappoints me. And if the insurgents of the French revolution could pick a soundtrack for their struggle, this would be it.

Favorite tracks: "La Mesniee Mordissoire", "Ballade Cuntre Les Anemis de la France", "A La Mortaille!", "Soleil Couchants" and all the filler tracks (except for "Neire Peste")