Peste Noire

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

K.P.N. (2006), 6.5/10
FolkFuck Folie (2007), 5.5/10
Mors Orbis Terrarum (2007) , 6/10 (compilation)
Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor (2009), 6/10 (mini)
L'Ordure A L'Etat Pur (2011) , 7.5/10
Peste Noire (2013), 6/10
La Chaise-Dyable (2015), 6/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Black metal was not born as a genre that easily allows musicians to come up with original variations. France was the one place where bands were capable of adding ever new ideas to the paradigm. Peste Noire's originality on K.P.N./ La Sanie Des Siecles - Panegyrique De La Degenerescence (2006), that collects material from the original demos re-recorded by vocalist/guitarist La Sale Famine de Valfunde ("the filthy famine of valfunde") with a rhythm section, lay in the ability to mix blastbeats with all sorts of alternative scaffoldings. After the brief overture of Nous Sommes Fanes, a waltzing Kurt Weill-ian skit, the album delves into Le Mort Joyeux, mixing blast-beats and "slapping" country rhythm while the vocalist screams out of his head instead of growling like tradition demands. Suddenly the guitar intones a majestic melody and then launches into a frantic gallop, thus bestowing an epic quality to the macabre vocals. But Laus Tibi Domine, instead, is a moribund litany in which the guitar simulates a funeral fanfare. The guitar riff of Spleen could be in a song of melodic hard-rock, and the Famine's shrieking gets as "poppy" as it can.
The twelve-minute Phalenes Et Pestilence - Salvatrice Averse begins with an acoustic guitar solo reminiscent of Renaissance music before venturing into a rhythmic journey of sorts: a madcap trotting rhythm mutates into a solemn rhythm that then morphs into childish banging. The music is clearly serving a cinematic purpose, and continues to alternate between different moods. After a melancholy pause, it is again a simple melody by the acoustic guitar that starts the final crescendo. The rhythm picks up again, ending in a wild hoedown.
At last, an unbridled metal guitar spirals out of control in Retour De Flamme (Hooligan Black Metal); but, again, the music twists and pivots in all sorts of manners while paying tribute to the masters of black metal.
The best melody, again played by the acoustic guitar and again inspired by ancient music, probably surfaces in Dueil Angoisseus (Christine De Pisan, 1362-1431), and the guitar plays it over and over again against the backdrop of distortions and screams, like an angel flying over hell.
The nine-minute Des Medecins Malades Et Des Saints Sequestres is the one piece that boasts panzer-grade intensity. It proceeds at a martial rhythm, more interested in crafting a lugubrious atmosphere than in unleashing punishing sounds. Even at the end, when it becomes a devilish instrumental, it is more focused on mood than on violence.

FolkFuck Folie (2007) sounded like leftovers from the previous albums, and mostly short ones (the longest piece is just seven minutes). After L'Envol Du Grabataire (Ode A Famine) for crows and guitar, the band carries out its routine of creative metal in a series of faceless songs, all fury and little brain. The seven-minute Condamne A La Pondaison (Legende Funebre) redeems the uneventful first half with one of their typical chamaleon-like cinematic excursions. It takes forever to start, but then Maleicon intones a solemn hymn. Amour Ne M'amoit Ne Je Li does even better, with a quasi-waltzing guitar melody and desperate vocals over relentless drums. A new peak of violence is achieved by Paysage Mauvais (Bonus Track), but the band fails to capitalize on the electricity they create.

Mors Orbis Terrarum (2007) collects all their recordings not included in of their two proper albums, notably their demo Aryan Supremecy (2001).

Famine continued the Peste Noise project with the mini-album Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor (De Profundis, 2009), his most complex and idiosyncratic collage yet. Unfortunately, it did not pursue some great ideas that were left unfinished as short pieces (Concerto Pour Cloportes, Vespre, Requiem Pour Nioka). There are other missed opportunities. For example, Rance Black Metal De France uses a folk singalong as a launching pad for a demonic hoedown. Not knowing what to do with it, the music stops and restarts as a tamer jam propelled by power riffs worthy of southern-boogie bands.
Where it works, however, the album ranks with their best material. La Mesniee Mordrissoire pulls out a grotesque drunk singalong (worthy of a Kurt Weill musical) from a swamp of distorted riffs and steady drumbeats. One of their most poignant compositions, Ballade Cuntre Les Anemis De La France - De Francois Villon takes inspiration from medieval music but then twists the leitmotiv to become a loose blues-rock jam supporting the raspy narrative (a far cry from the screams and growls of the past).

L'Ordure A L'Etat Pur (Rosenkrantz, 2011), featuring chanteuse Audrey Sylvain, found Peste Noire in a nihilistic mood, but the music couldn't be more alive. From the very beginning Casse Peches Fractures Et Traditions is full of suspense and drama: the instruments intone a medieval dance while a growling drunk character yells his grievances. Then song unveils riffs and singing, but they are still hostile and macabre. After five minutes an intermezzo of circus horns and accordion folk song creates the launching pad for a totally different manic attack. This one morph into a comically frantic musichall skit, although supported by homicidal heavy-metal guitars. Sounds from the farm briefly interrupt what now sounds like a goofy Balkan dance. The epileptic threnody of Cochon Carotte Et Les Sours Crotte pivots around childish blastbeats and even dubstep beats, and ends with a grotesque war fanfare. The 20-minute J'avais Reve Du Nord open with a chaotic cinematic sequence of found noise and found voices over a dancing guitar riff. Then the contralto Sylvain intones a gentle song and the acoustic guitar meditates alone. But immediately the demonic growl and the frantic headbanging take over and annihilate the peaceful atmosphere. However, the acoustic guitar continues to emit a melodic theme, a faint signal of surviving humanity. In fact, the contralto returns to dominate the stage with another baroque tune. The seven minutes of the second part morph from black metal to a loud barroom singalong. The metamorphoses undergone by these pieces border on the surreal: six minutes into Sale Famine Von Valfoutre, the instruments get into an orgasmic feedback loop and reemerge into a different song that eventually rides away in a country-rocking gallop. The philosophical conclusion of the album, La Condi Hu ("the human condition"), is a whispered doom-blues prayer that within three minutes turns into a torrential demonic howl over terrifying guitar chords. The singing reveals both desperation and anger, and the guitar begins to sound like a death toll. The album is a giant fresco of hopelessness and alienation, a brutal documentary of collective decomposition.

Peste Noire (2013) sounds a bit too much like Peste Noire trying to imitate Peste Noire without the same ferocious spirit although with a more mature use of arrangements. Demonarque is a gothic fantasia with chamber and electronic counterpoint, and Clebs Noir De Pontgibaud is the medieval tribute du jour, while Famine is even tempted by rap in Niquez Vos Villes.

La Chaise-Dyable (2015) is perhaps Famine's most lyrical and heartfelt work, the most influenced by folk music, but also his least adventurous musical endeavour. La Chaise-Dyable is the peak of folk-metal pathos, while the nine-minute post-metal suite Le Diable Existe is the gothic centerpiece.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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