Nous sommes d'Hier

I didn’t discover this French one-man (Ardraos) melodic black metal project until the third album in 2019, Hic Regnant Borbonii Manes. However, I really enjoyed it (honestly, I’m not sure how it didn’t end up on my 2019 year-end list) and I have been eagerly awaiting its follow-up.

The mix of completely over-the-top, busy, shredding, shrill, classically inspired melodies and triumphant medieval atmospheres come across like fellow French act Véhémence or similarly chaotically melodic Passéisme on crack, but I understand how the super busy melodies can be a bit much, especially when cramming so many into tone song are rarely settling into anything.

Nous sommes d’Hier (‘We Are Yesterday’) delivers much of the above, but Ardraos seems to have settled in a bit and allows some of the magnificent, and I mean truly magnificent, rousing melodic riffs some room to breathe and be absorbed by the listener. Albeit super shrill layered and busy, there are just moments where he actually delivers the riffs for more than a bar or two, and it’s glorious. Throw in what appears to be a slightly more increased presence of Gregorian/choral moments inspired by classical composers Charpentier and Cherubini, that elevate those moments into spectacular realms.

Brilliant opener “D.S.F.R” starts the 7-song album (though the last song is a cover of “Le Bal des Laze” by French 60s/70s musician Michel Polnareff ) sets the tone immediately, and about three minutes in you get the first classical/choral moments amid the frantic melodies and it’s fucking glorious. despite its subtle restraint- orchestral bombast this is not, but a more reserved cathedral-like austerity.

But even with those brilliant moments, it’s still Ardraos’s utterly frantic riffing that steals the show with an early Krallice, Liturgy sense of shrill, layered, medieval-inspired tremolos that are mind-bogglingly epic at times. The trumpet blasts that start the title track, transition into one of these many many riffs, and do it without the choral arrangements. As does the almost 10-minute “Pays d’Allen” with its introductory medieval acoustic frolic and haughty, jaunting, urgent main riff and harmonically vicious “Céron”.

That said, when Ardraos does deliver one of them, they are fucking spectacular. Such as “Sermon sur le trépassement”, (where Blut Aus Nord‘s Vindsval helps out), with a truly regal, austere atmosphere back the melodic chaos.  Then there is my personal favorite “Derniers Sacrements” with a few choral chord progressions and injections to just die for, and really show how top notch a composer Ardraos is himself.

Nous sommes d’Hier was well worth the 4 year wait, and improves on Hic Regnant Borbonii Manes in every facet from the riffs to the choral compositions, which, as I spoke to, are borderline elite level.  And as a result, it should be lauded as one of 2023’s very best black metal records.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 12th, 2023


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