One of my favorite things to do on a wintry Saturday evening is to let the sun drain from the sky, keep the lights off, and enjoy the frosty outdoors while listening to freezing brands of black metal. It’s the perfect way to spend that time, looking out on the ice and snow, appreciating my warmth from the elements, and letting the sounds of whatever band is on tap wash over me.
A great choice for such an experience would be Quebecois black metal band Cantique Lépreux, who are returning with their stunning second album “Paysages Polaires,” which translates to “polar landscapes.” And the music on this seven-track, 45-minute record will make you feel like you’re ensconced in such territory, with the winds whipping, your nose dripping, and the corners of your mouth cracking. It also makes it easy to envision a wind-swept, breath-taking frozen tundra, similar to those in the band’s homeland to which they pay homage. The band—Blanc Feu (vocals, guitars), Matrak (bass), and Cadavre (drums)—add even more substance to a Quebec black metal scene that has barnstormed metal listeners of late, and this record will push you to your emotional boundaries.
“Le feu secret” opens the record with riffs tearing through your senses and the pace reaching full gallop. The growls char as melodic riffs well, bringing the song storming over the horizon. Harsh cries erupt, while the bass buzzes underneath wintry coverage that acts like a storm hanging in place in the air. The pace progresses while clean calls and wails combine, taking the song to its end. “Les étoiles endeuillées” has guitars simmering as the track is slower and more channeled, taking its time to blast you. The growls scrape while the song powers up, with dizzying leads charging before things pull up and a hypnotic glaze takes us out. That takes us into the centerpiece triptych that starts with “Paysages polaires I” that has riveting riffs that fire up, the track heads over the top, and the speed pedal is jammed to the floor. Clobbering growls arrive, while guitars quiver, melodic riffs wrap around the chaos, and majestic savagery crushes and bleeds away.
We move to “Paysages polaires II” that begins with crazed shrieks, storming ahead violently, as bass swelters and the riffs are charged up. Vocals shrieks and shake, while the guitars gush heavily, the low-end rumbles, and the punishment blasts out. “Paysages polaires III” finishes the three-part set with guitars barreling into the darkness, feeling like a scene out of that dark winter night detailed above. The melodies spill into a drubbing assault, while the tempo takes off, the guitars gets fluid, and the final moments give off a frosty ambiance, the ideal ending to this Rene Chopin-written piece. “Hélas…” punches through with harsh growls and a pace that is relentless, with dramatic swings pulling you back and forth and the leads blistering. Some of the guitar work has a classic metal edge, that gives off a wave of nostalgia that brings you to the track’s end. Closer “Le fléau” is the longest song, running 8:14, and it begins with a chilling section that stretches and stings, ripped awake by harsh wails and flushing guitars. The approach is more even tempered, as dark, somber winds causes massive body shivers, and whispers push into another dose of chaos. The leads flood as the song builds to its final stage, while hypnotic playing blends into airy acoustics, and scorching distortion burns itself out in a deep freeze.
Cantique Lépreux’s worship at the altar of total winter is amplified and true on “Paysages Polaires,” a record that is landing at just the right time. The band’s music is made for these times, when the temperatures are soon to be nearing freezing, and your mental and physical limits will be tested. But it’s not all bad. It’s also a great time to stoke fires, enjoy dark beverages, and appreciate the majesty unfurled in front of you.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Cantique-L%C3%A9preux-1508635429464649
To buy the album, go here: https://store.eisenton.de/en/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.eisenton.de/