Noteworthy Report: March 2017

Welcome my friends to a very, VERY late Noteworthy Report of Against The Fragmentaire. As you know, ATF is a project I run on my free time, and these past two months were busy as fvck putting me off track.

In today’s overcrowded metal scene, more than 100 albums get released every month, and March had more than his fair share of “big” releases, from the highly anticipated fourth album of Woe, to a new Forteresse release, and from the –also highly anticipated– furious album of The Furor to the debut of all-star Doedsvangr. On top of the fierce competition for fan attention, Mastodon released their new album which –as uninspired as it is– overshadowed pretty much everything else.

Yet the underground never sleeps; if you aren’t easily entertained by the “low hanging fruit”, March came with some impressive gifts that passed under the radars of big publications. Without further ado, these are some of the most noteworthy releases.

 

Vacivus – Nuclear Chaos

The UK blackened deathsters (ala-Portal) return with a short but killer EP. Soul crushing riffs reduce everything to dust. Nuclear Chaos is upon us, embrace it or perish!

 

Harvest Gulgaltha – Altars Of Devotion

In a similar vein, Harvest Gulgaltha play “cryptic necromantic black death metal”, or in other words, minimal blackened death. The majority of the album is slow-paced and feels like sinking in quicksand. So much gloom and despair it feels otherworldly.

 

Mistveil – Amnesia

This is quite a debut from my compatriots Mistveil. They play melodic doom/death metal in the vein of Saturnus and early Draconian. I personally enjoy such music during the cold winter nights, but this is just my preference and timing isn’t a factor of quality in any case. You don’t want to miss it!

 

Nordland – European Paganism

This here is an album with what I call a “barrier-to-entry”. The first minutes of the album feel like they pointlessly thrust in every direction, but at some point you get what they try (and ultimately manage) to do. The album is exactly what the title says: they pick threads from pagan black all over Europe, and join them in a unique piece of art. You will hear Enslaved (both early and late), Ancient Rites, Fen and a bunch of other influences beautifully married in unity. A really interesting as well as demanding listen.

 

Wormwood – Ghostlands: Wounds From A Bleeding Earth

The Swedish folk black-metallers released their debut album this month. Filled with mostly awesome stuff, fans of Thyrfing and Amon Amarth will want to check it out. There are some odd, off-putting, Iron Maiden-ish moments here and there, but I guess this never killed anyone…

 

Pillorian – Obsidian Arc

Born just this past summer by veterans of the scene (including John Haughm of ex-Agalloch), Pillorian released their debut album in March, sharing their take on avant-garde folk black metal. If you’re a fan of USBM don’t skip this album…

 

In the following days I will release the April NWR, as well as a special NWR of releases that I listened and cared enough to share but fell through the cracks of time and ultimately never got to talk about them. So stay tuned, and as always, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Interview with Au Champ Des Morts

Every time I write a review, I try to get in touch with the band and get some more information around the album and the musicians responsible for it. And it is always a pleasure when this actually happens. Back in February I wrote about Dans La Joie and a few days ago I had the pleasure of talking with Cécile G., a very down to earth personality with a lot of insights to share. Go ahead and read this…

Give me some historical background on the band and the members.

Cécile: Au Champ Des Morts started up in August 2014 when the both guitar players, Stefan Bayle (ANOREXIA NERVOSA) and Migreich (VULV) first met during an underground festival in France. They’ve decided to make this project a real band and in 2015, the line-up was completed by the arrival of Wilheim (NEURASTHENIE, EXECUTION) on drums and myself (OLEN’K, ANOREXIA NERVOSA) on bass. After recording the album, Migreich decided to leave the band so now we’re evolving as a trio.

What is the feedback on the album so far? Are sales going as you expected?

The feedbacks on our album are good and far beyond our expectations. We are very touched by the welcome given to our work. Regarding sales, we don’t know yet and it’s still too early to say because our album has been released at the end of January. And honestly we don’t expect anything, I mean, we did not really thought about this, especially since this is our first album, so we will see. At present, I don’t think you can predict anything concerning record sales in underground music.

You incorporate a lot of different elements in your songs. Can you name some of your influences?

Our influences are very varied, to sum up, it goes from black metal, cold wave, old hard rock, essentially bands from the 80s to now. And to name but a few I will cite bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost, And Also the Trees, Dead Can Dance, Austere, The Devil’s Blood… There are too many to quote them, but we are really passionate and we always listen with pleasure to the cult albums as we always looking for new stuff too.

What are the lyrical themes about?

For the lyrics, we all participate, we write on a theme or something inspired by the music, or a personal experience that has affected us. Symbolic, our vision of the world, our readings…Inspiration comes from everything around us.

But, for this album, once we were working on the track listing, we found that a kind of concept has emerged. I like to summarize it by this sentence “We are the witnesses of death under all its forms”. Indeed, the theme of death is omnipresent in our work, under every of its levels; death of the flesh, death of the soul, death of the civilization, death of the world.

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While on this subject, you stick –like most French bands– to your native language. Was this decision made because you feel more free to express yourself that way or some other reason (they sound more exotic for example)? Do you feel this as a limitation?

In fact we have not really thought about this, it came naturally. Maybe at the beginning we thought it would be easier to express ourselves in French because it is our mother language and we are attached to it, but it is not obvious to sing in French in Black Metal growls, it’s not really appropriate. Even in clear vocals in my case, it’s new to me, I’ve always sung in English or Latin so it’s a good challenge and you have to be careful to choose the words that make sense and can be musical too.

I think we use French because we wanted to deliver something which really comes from us and for the declaimed singing the French is perfect for its theatrical and powerful side too. I do not see this as a limitation, I just find that exercise is a bit more challenging.

What does the album cover stand for? Care to share some info on the artist who drew it?

The cover of our album was made by the talented artist Dehn Sora. He perfectly rendered the atmosphere of our album, the concept of death and its symbolic. Like any great artist, his work has many interpretations, it is for listeners to make their own, it’s the same thing about listening our music. You have to leave room for imagination and sensitivity of each one, art is made for that. We admire his work on contrasts and lights and his way of living black and white, this is what marked us and I invite you to take interest in the work of this artist.

What are your future plans? Do you have any live shows booked?

We’ve returned to composition, and we’re looking for a second guitarist to play live so no shows booked for the moment. It’s very important for us to construct something worthy of the album for what will be Au Champ Des Morts live and we hope to be ready soon.

How do you write music? What is your creative process?

It’s Stefan who mainly composes. The process is simple, usually everything starts from a riff which becomes an obsession. Then a structure is built and melody ideas keep coming. You have to be in a particular state of mind to compose, it’s a kind of second state, something beyond yourself. For that you must have time to devote yourself fully to it, I mean, trying to make a vacuum around yourself, which is not really easy sometimes.

Do you have some specific piece of gear or software that greatly facilitates your job?

Not really. We work the old way, with not really recent material, an old Atari, an analog console, vintage effect pedals, Marshall amps… This suits us perfectly. We only use computers for practical reasons and for recording software. That’s fine when it works but when it breaks down and you’re forced to take a recent pattern it becomes a headache. All this to realize in the end that it works much less well than before. It’s really frustrating to waste time with it…We hate the modern world and its nonsense.

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France has built a trademark-BM scene. How does it feel to be part of it? Is it a blessing or a burden?

We are often asked this question, I do not have the impression of being a part of a “scene” strictly speaking. I don’t know if there is a trademark BM scene in France, as French musicians we have always been interested in French metal bands, so I think you are better placed than me to talk about it. The idea of scene disturbs me a bit in the sense that it evokes a certain form of conformity, or even competition.

For me, it is obvious that in recent years there have been talented and interesting artists in France. I think of bands such as Year of No Light, Throane, Alcest, Aluk Todolo … Of course they share common influences but they have very different personalities. The link is in the way of elaborating the art, and a certain state of mind that drive those bands to compose this way. It deals with sincerity and a will to come back to a more emotional way to make music, without thinking about business or selling. At least that is how I feel and I fully share this vision. If this is what you call the trademark BM French scene then I agree.

Any underground metal bands from your local area we should be looking out for?

Underground metal bands… No, I don’t see. The only name that comes to my mind is Burzum but I think you already know it. There are probably others but I don’t know them yet. The problem of overproduction…

What do you know about the Greek extreme metal scene? Any favorite bands?

I don’t know too much about Greek extreme metal scene, sorry. I know Astarte, Necromantia and Rotting Christ of course. I like Rotting Christ, Stefan knows them well as they went on tour together during the Anorexia Nervosa era.

Before letting you go, any news from the Anorexia Nervosa front?

Even if Anorexia Nervosa belongs to the past, we are always in touch with the members, we are close friends. They are fine. Concerning music, Hreidmarr has several musical projects in progress and Neb Xort still holds the Drudenhaus Studio, he has recorded our album.

Closing thoughts, anything else you want to add?

Thank you for this interview. Let yourself be invaded with Joy and Light…

 

Follow Au Champ Des Morts at https://www.facebook.com/Au-Champ-Des-Morts-1061663760580553