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A call to arms, a cry against alienated urban life - 95%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, March 27th, 2014

Plenty on this early demo by Peste Noire to like ... it features Neige on drums as well as Famine on everything else ... it has that raw production and sound reminiscent of the French Black Legions bands ... and one track "Spleen" is the poem of the same name by 19th-century poet (and critic of urban life and the modern experience as alienating and ephemeral) Charles Baudelaire! Plus the recording spews out anger, desperation, sorrow and loathing for modern industrial life and the ways in which it dehumanises people and traps them within physical, mental, economic and social prisons with spirit and energy.

The demo begins with a virtual war cry in the first very short track: it's a call to arms, a call to listeners to take up the cause against the strictures and modern institutions that keep them suffering. Immediately following is "Le mort joyeux", a furious screeching piece with vocals thick with rage, thundering (if tinny-sounding) drums and storm clouds of steaming acid-burning guitars. In a song of just over 5 minutes, the Peste Noire musicians pack in bursts of blast-beat drumming, surging guitar melodies and riffs full of feeling and intensity, and shrill lead guitar solos that race manically over the rest of the music.

Slap-bang in the middle of the demo is "666 millions d'esclaves et de dechets" (which sort of means "666 million slaves and wasted ones", my translation), a crazed mixture of thumping angry monster percussion, roaring dinosaur voices in the background, angular stuttering riffs, acid guitar showers that strip flesh and burn away bone, and madly bubbling boiling lead guitar melodies. Unexpectedly there is room for a mellow and surprisingly gentle clean-toned guitar tune in amongst the swirling music. The track comes across as a collection of short bursts of music all loosely connected and Famine finds space for some brief self-indulgent lead guitar finger-twiddling. (Trying to purge himself of all his old influences, I suppose.) This track paradoxically comes close to being quite experimental in its structure and in its musically inclusive nature.

"Spleen" is a fairly calm and settled track for what it is - the lyrics express alienation from modern life, despair and loss of hope - and the singing, concentrating on the words, is more controlled than it has been so far with few shrieks and screams. Emotion is expressed by long lead guitar soloing. The final track features snatches of found sound recordings

For a short recording at 26 minutes in length, this demo seems a lot longer, there is so much music that has been packed into it. Rarely do Peste Noire repeat themselves here. There is little to fault on this work though listeners might wish that all the tracks were a bit longer by a few minutes! The entire recording sounds as if the musicians have thrown themselves heart and soul into every moment they play. Darkness, anger, desperation and hatred surge or rush out of the loudspeakers with sheer intensity.

With this and other early recordings, Peste Noire have made a name for themselves with incredibly raw and emotional music railing against the physical and psychological chains of modern Western civilisation. As they see it, death is preferable to such a slave existence ... hence "macabre transcendance".