Calamites & les Calamités

As I said in my review of Passéisme’s album of the year contender, Eminence, Antiq Records is becoming a very good, consistent label, plying black metal that’s a bit medieval , a bit avant-garde and sometimes both, as in the case of the French act, Ascète and their excellent debut album, Calamites & les Calamités.

Also, get your French dictionary out.

Though not as fully rooted in triumphant, medieval/dark ages atmospheres like labelmates Véhémence or recent Passéisme and  Hanternoz albums, Ascète (‘ascetic’) still have a few little spurts of French, historical and regional ethnicity  and lore in their more traditional but modern take on black metal. There’s a few little acoustic flourishes, some spoken words/samples,  the occasional chant/choirs (“Courroux du Lébérou”) or female vocal injection (“Danse de la Sénescence”). In all, it sounds like some of the super creative black metal that started surfacing in the mid/late 90s, and was a little more experimental than their frosty/grim peers at the time (think early Fleurety maybe).

The six rangy songs and 1 interlude (“Héritiers de l’Austérité”) are all enthralling, varied and adventurous with little or nothing predictably structured or delivered. The bright, jangly tremolo riffs, harsh rasps and blasts all reside in atmospheric black metal’s territory (maybe Alcest?) but there is a pleasant (but still sort of somber at times as heard in “Sorlodais Huroux” and “La Lanterne du Mort”), adventurous, impish, folky aura in all of it that’s super enjoyable, but still has plenty of black metal bite.

Tracks like personal favorite “Danse de la Sénescence”, “Courroux du Lébérou” and the 10-minute title track,  all are engaging and varied with lots going on on top of very well crafted, ambitious, black metal riffs to boot, making for a very entertaining black metal album from a label that is fast becoming one of my favorites here of late.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 28th, 2021


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