The debut from France’s Maïeutiste had the misfortune of coming out right around the same time as the debut Aether, from labelmates Deluge, so it got completely overlooked as that album ended up being in my top 3 for 2015. But a track from the album, “…in the Mirror…”, showed up recently while shuffling songs, and it really got my attention, forcing me to go back and revisit this mysterious little gem.

And that proved difficult as Maïeutiste has a hard sound to nail down. It’s certainly typically French in its avant garde, slightly doomy take on black metal,  but there is also a lot of other things going on as well. The guitars have a certain Deathspell Omega, swarming dissonance to then at times, but also a more somber, doomy  timbre- and all of that is happening in the aforementioned “…in the Mirror…” along with some deep churchy chants, which worked really well. The whole affair give me a little Ave Maria,  Ordinance, Grey Heaven Fall, Secrets of the Moon and Schammasch vibe with its moody, ritualistic aura, but the black metal expulsions are far more French sounding.

Second track “Reflect/Disappear” shows a more relentless, unhinged side that’s tangibly French also, but bleeds into the start of “Purgatoire” a more  purely atmospheric number that reigns things in a bit. But then “The Fall” gets back on track with more buzzing chaos and a creepy acoustic bridge and a disturbing quiet build into “Absolution”, a downright unhinged black metal romp both musically and vocally, with another nerve wrecking outro.

“The Eye of Maieutic Art” is another song that got my attention with a more straightforward, stirring, black metal gallop to start and a really nice melodic trot to close the song out. the 9 minute “Lifeless Visions” is a bit of a  anomaly, as its a virtual funeral doom number, with more monkish chants, and a lethargic, sluggish pace right up until the last minute and a half, where the black metal vortex makes an effective but short climax. “Death to Free Thinkers”, another 9 minute number,  shows yet another side of the band with a tribal intro and a really nice chord profession over some really well done clean vocals. It’s an introspective, somber but melodic number that I didn’t see coming at all.

By the time the 11 minute closer “Death to Socrates” rolls around, the album is in a solid groove, but outstays its welcome a bit.  It could have ended with bluesy instrumental “Annonciation” instead of dragging into the 76 minute mark. But, overall the album is a varied, strange but engaging album of weird black metal that does a little of everything pretty well.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 29th, 2016


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