Serment make pact with devil in wintry Quebec forest on debut ‘“Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté’

It’s early June, and it’s currently 92 degrees as I write this, with more intense heat on the way. Not typical in the northeast United States this time of the year, and the dog is pissed as hell she can’t have two walks because she never has done well in the heat. I’m not saying I’m dreaming of an avalanche or anything, but some cooler weather would be nice.

Or we could drop right into “Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté,” the debut from Serment, and be locked right into the claws of winter. This is a solo project for Moribond (also of Forteresse and Ephemer) where he conjures a tale about a pact made with the devil in the freezing Quebecois forests and the journey that takes place from there. Over these stampeding six tracks, Moribond creates a symphonic mindscape, one that reaches back to black metal’s ’90s flourishes when melody and majesty no longer were filthy terms and gets inside your imagination. Not saying it’ll alleviate you of oppressive heat if you happen to be pinned down with that weather right now, but it could help you escape into the ice and snow for a little bit while you tackle this record.

“Ouverture” is a brief opener complete with whipping winds and birds hooting as synth rises, and sounds bleed in leading to “Sonne, le Glas Funèbre” that tears right open. Wild, maniacal howls spread as the playing gets huge and majestic. The vocals then get blurred in the mix as the track feels like it’s swimming through icy waters as black metal melodies rupture. The pace then pummels as it’s swallowed up by synth winds and horses galloping. “Par-Delà Collines et Rivières” has a massive start with a rush of sounds and vicious growls raining down. There’s an absolute deluge as wails spill in and mix with the playing, and the outpouring gains speed and heads into a steady stream. A huge melodic fury destroys and eventually fades into campfires crackling and the spirit fading into the night.

“Flamme Hivernale” opens in a synth fog as the playing unloads and pounds way. Atmospheric pressure picks up and pushes into a wintry hellscape as wild cries and blistering chaos meet. Speed picks up as the song mashes away, stampeding to a dramatic finish that’s taken away by the wind. “Avant que ne Meure la Gloire” erupts and drives heavily as the playing smothers and it feels like heavy snows are falling and coating the earth. The track keeps adding intensity to the mix, blasting away and smoking hard, and then the vicious vocals works into a synth sheet. Graceful violence disrupts, burying everything in soot, while the track works toward a cinematic ending that robs you of your breath. “Hymne à la Patrie” closes the album and is a lengthy instrumental track build with icy keys and freezing ambiance. The playing is both regal and chilling, ending the record by retreating deep into the forest, failing to find a place for warmth.

Moribond certainly achieves the atmosphere he set out to create with “Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté,” as this album definitely feels like you’re locked in the Great White North, encapsulated in an unforgiving freezing world. Serment is a much different vessel for Moribond, though one that’s not totally foreign from his other projects. This music is rawer and more aggressive, which is fitting when you’re pacting with the devil and you need pure violence to survive.

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