Ever-increasing globalization has led to a decline of the development and endurance of regional sounds. The stylings of Bay Area thrash, Swedish death metal, and Norwegian black metal can come from anywhere now. Bucking that trend is the Québécois black metal scene, where a proud yet unpretentious style has evolved and remained unique to the province within the past ten years. It’s an honest, mesmerizing sound that conjures the atmosphere of subzero winters, forbidding wilderness, and the hardship of bygone ages through an influence of bleak folk and ambient. The scene’s premiere label, Sepulchral Productions, has curated this split shared by four defining acts, each contributing a new ode to an ancient local legend, hence the title, Légendes.

Forteresse kicks off the split with “Wendigo,” the first newly penned track they’ve released since 2010’s Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines (2011’s Crépuscule d’Octobre was actually written in 2006). With albums that lean toward either the more aggressive (Métal Noir Québécois and Crépuscule d’Octobre) or the more atmospheric (Les Hivers De Notre Époque and Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines) side of the style, it was hard to guess which direction they would take here. It seems that their last full-length was more of a refocusing than a rehash because this sounds as vicious as the cannibalistic half-beast of the subject matter, but not without lacking any their trademark freezing aura.

The slightly warmer, Agalloch-esque tone of Chasse-Galerie’s “Le Bois des Belles” adds a touch of autumn with guitars that play like strings on a gnarled oak and melodies that sprawl like its branches. Their strange, snarled vocals are also out of the ordinary and might take a little getting used to. They’re kind of the odd one out here, but I appreciate the variety they provide.

The last full-length from Monarque, 2013’s Lys noir, was like Emperor in their prime teleported to the wilds of Quebec, and “La Griffe du Diable” finds them turning feral in the frozen forests. Its shrill rawness jolts you back to the harshness of winter, and intensifies like an approaching blizzard.

Like a culmination of their scene’s approximately 8-year existence, “Murmures Nocturnes” from the Countess Bathory-loving Csejthe closes the split in quintessential Québécois black metal fashion — epic, melancholic, cold, and hypnotic. It’s atmospheric to its core, but without the pomp that adjective might suggest in another context. There’s nothing here that isn’t absolutely necessary, making its impact all the more powerful.

This is a must-have for fans of the scene and also a great way for newcomers to get a sampling of what it has to offer. So, head over to the Sepulchral Productions online shop and order one of the 500 copies before they’re all gone. Don’t wait around for it to show up on Spotify or Bandcamp because it will probably never happen. These guys are insular and I’d say it’s working well for them.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
May 2nd, 2014


  1. Commented by: ikillednoe

    amazing release

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