Véhémence
Ordalies

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Par le sang versé, the 2019 sophomore album from these epic/medieval French black metallers, snuck into the back end of my 2019 year-end list, but I if were redoing that year’s list, it would have been a top ten, maybe a top 5 release, as I have spent a lot of time with it since, and come to appreciate how good it and Véhémence is.

Needless to say, its follow up, and the all-important third album in a band’s career was pretty high on my anticipation list for 2022, and even with the $45 dollar pre-order price tag, was an immediate purchase, even if it comes in my CD storage bane, the dread A5 digibook. Still, it’s about the music, right? and Ordalies, (‘ordeals’) is worth every penny as it’s easily going to be one of my favorite albums of the year and should be a clear front runner for black metal album of the year ( I see you, Marrasmieli ).

Continuing the epic/ medieval/ chamber music hues of past releases,  Véhémence resides in the same castle as the likes of Obsequiae, Sühnopfer, fellow Frenchmen Abduction, labelmates Hanternoz and Passéisme , and such, being heavily medieval and dark ages themed with lots of atmospheres, riffs and chord progressions that imbues the waving banners, shimmering armor, and charging Percherons at Agincourt and Crecy. And they have certainly come a long way since the 2018 debut, Assiégé, a dirtier, nasty more pure melodic black metal album. On Par le sang versé, the addition of clean chants, more delicate acoustics breaks, and medieval atmospheres, with a cleaner tone and hues, created a gorgeous, regal, majestic ambiance, that has been further developed and perfected on Ordalies.

9-minute opener (these guys like their longer songs) “De feu et d’acier” (“Of Fire and Steel”) is an absolutely gorgeous, searingly melodic attention getter to start the album and let you know good Véhémence is now.  I don’t speak French, but i was singing along to the chants like a goddamn jeune chorister . Even longer second track “Notre royaume… en cendres” (“Our Kingdom….. In Ashes”) initially has a harsher overall tone, before a despondent midsection with some layered guitar work that could be from any early Anathema album.

After the reprise of instrumental interlude “La Danse des Pluies” (“The Dance of Rains”), we get another haughty, melodic scorcher in “Au Blason Brûlé” (“At the burning Coat of Arms”) with a very cool little flute-y mid-song break. The album’s longest cut, the 11 minute “La divine sorcellerie” (“The Divine Witchcraft”) starts with austere symphonics and a moodier pace before a gorgeous, Sühnopfer-ish melodic canter takes center stage as my second favorite track, after the opener. 

After another interlude “Quand l’hiver viendra” (“When Winter Comes”) , the album closes with two more strong tracks with “Un contre mille” (“One Against a Thousand’), a rousing, militant call to arms, and “Par le glaive” (“By The Sword”) a varied, triumphant end cap with a suitably epic but somber closeout to end the albums ordeals perfectly. And the whole thing is wrapped up with a bright,  crystal clear production and drips with dark ages feudal majesty, as opposed to the more battle-scarred, grimy label mates Passéisme.

Ordalies is a band at the absolute top of their game, and arguably the genre ( or at least the sub-genre)  as well, and is a crown jewel in Antiq Records’ already fine medieval black metal discography.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 14th, 2022

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