(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Assiege' (2014), 5/10
Par le Sang Verse' (2019), 7/10
Ordalies (2022), 6.5/10

French black-metal duo Vehemence, formed by guitarist Tulzcha, debuted with the amateurish medieval black-metal album Assiege' (2014). Now fronted by vocalist Hyvermor and expanded to a trio, Vehemence returned with Par le Sang Verse' (2019), a more mature, crisp and melodic work. Epopee - Par le Sang Verse' (9:09) is the archetype of anthemic and stately, despite the somewhat mechanical drumming, and is lifted by one of their typical bombastic refrains. La Sorciere du Bois Lunerive (10:01) is instead typical of the contrast between almost comically ferocious sections and calmer sections (even a solo of acoustic guitar), and boasts another pompous refrain. L'Etrange Clairiere (11:42) begins with a two-minute acoustic overture in full medieval style and then plunges into another catchy guitar riff with blistering drums. Halfway there's another acoustic intermezzo, this time a flamenco-tinged one but it turns into another (flute-driven) medieval dance. La Derniere Chevauchee (9:38) opens with an emphatic declamation instead of the usual growl and then scales new heights of hysteria before it settles into its melodic riff. A pub singalong at martial pace propels closer La Fronde des Anges (8:32) towards the galloping instrumental coda, the grandiloquent finale to what has been an epic journey. This is the rare medieval-metal album that is not pretentious but instead relies on solid melodies and riffs.

Inevitably, something is lost on Ordalies (2022). The melody of opener De Feu et d'Acier (9:17) sounds like a patriottic fist-pumping world-war song, and that be comically antithematic. Six minutes into Notre Royaume En Cendres (10:15), after the routine break, we get the most rousing melody of the album, which returns in full horror format in the last two minutes, but the first six minutes were a bit painful. Au Blason Brule (8:52) first exaggerates the metal frenzy and then is bogged down by a spoken-word break before it finally picks up strength for the searing instrumental coda. The opera choir at the beginning of La Divine Sorcellerie (11:15) is wasted since it doesn't return, and the medieval dance that later merges with the metal assault (rather than interrupting it) is simply a snippet repeated over and over again. Thomas Leitner is a competent drummer and a force of nature, but sometimes the drums fill too much space, almost asphyxiating the song, especially since the singer is not exactly a virtuoso. The result is still an emotional, gripping album, but not as well-rounded as its predecessor.

(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )