Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Neige et Noirceur - La Seigneurie Des Loups (2010)

Like Forteresse, Neige et Noirceur ('Snow and Blackness') is another Quebecois band deeply immersed in its heritage, though the two have notably different sounds. Zifond is the sole member here, performing all of the instruments and the bitter vocals, and La Seigneurie Des Loups is the second full length offering, after last year's Crépuscule Hivernal sans Fin sur les Terres de la Guerre and a series of demos, singles and EPs. Mixing folk elements with thundering black metal in the vein of Norse acts like early Emperor, Satyricon, and Immortal, Zifond creates dark and bleak vistas which lyrically extract historical events from his homeland, and it's packaged with a lovely, poignant cover (first hundred or so copies come with a DVD packaging, so if you're obsessed with this Quebec scene, don't hesitate).

La Seigneurie Des Loups is certainly a dynamic offering, which works in its favor, as you can expect something mildly different around every corner. There are three notable centerpieces: the 13+ minute "Croix de feu Croix de fer", 16+ minute title track, and 11 minutes of "Les plained de Krolok", and these represent the bulk of the material, each a bold narrative that cycles through a number of styles and sequences that twist and turn through dark emotions. Of these, I'd have to award the title track with the prize, a wolfen epic that opens with doom-like certainty before tripping off into turbulent, raging darkness, with a more sparse, psychedelic infusion arriving around 12:00 into its course. "Les Plaines de Krolok" is likewise fascinating, though it's all cerebral ambiance with a bit of vocal sampling. I also enjoyed the brief folk interlude "1834", with some clean vocals and graceful acoustic guitars that, in a short time, manage to transport the listener straight back to the 19th century.

The album is not entirely even, but none of the songs are necessarily bad. I found "Croix de Feu Croix de Fer" to be extremely unusual, with weird electronic sounds and even a mouth harp intro, and the average length "Ancien Folklore Quebecois", which merges traditional uplifting folk shanty with a siege of black metal riffing, just felt too familiar. But neither of these quite submerged me into their aural tapestries like the rest. I find that the guitar riffs are occasionally lacking throughout. Adequately angry, and performed with a fluency, but rarely evoking a sequence of memorable notes that you don't feel you've heard before. Still, the overall effect of the compositions remains successful, and La Seigneurie Des Loups is not only worth a listen, but has served to pique my interest in exploring deeper the Quebec scene.

Verdict: Win [7/10]


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