Doomsday Metal

Let's be honest-the Frenchies in the Black Legions never actually released anything worth listening to, quality wise-but they are more than equipped when it comes to super rotten demos recorded in cabins or in the basements of their middle-class...

Sep 1 2007, 12:00am

Neige of Alcest

Let’s be honest—the Frenchies in the Black Legions never actually released anything worth listening to, quality wise—but they are more than equipped when it comes to super rotten demos recorded in cabins or in the basements of their middle-class parents’ homes. Even though music snobs and people with inferiority complexes claim that this scene is the highest form of black metal art, the fame of Les Legions Noires was derived mainly from sending threatening mails to anyone who happened to be in their close vicinity—especially label managers and “enemy” bands. Surprisingly (or maybe not, given the amount of sad music nerds in the world), their demos are still selling on eBay for more than decent prices. Personally, I blame the Yanks. They discovered black metal in the mid 90s and thought that the Gaspar Noé-like atmosphere of the French scene was a particularly perverse, vicious and chaotic one. They got something right, at least.

Amongst the (more or less) 20 bands that the Black Legions included in their ranks, only one of them is still supposedly active today. Mütiilation parted ways around ’94, officially “fed up with the scene,” but unofficially because brain of the bunch, Willy (aka Meyhn’ach, also responsible for Satanicum Tenebrae, right now in Hell Militia and Gestapo 666) couldn’t be arsed anymore and would rather keep himself busy with an industrial metal project that is said to sound like something Marilyn Manson might scrape together on a really, really bad day.

About a year or so ago he finally had to eat his own hat, and we hear he decided to bring Mütiilation back to life, along with Torgeist and a couple of other so-called cult bands, pretending they had never really broken up in the first place. Apparently the idea is to be able to cash in on the benefits of recent online interest. Anyone who’s into them can easily find their stuff on the internet, there are things like “Hail to the Black Legions” and many other scary sounding pirates and bootlegs readily available for anyone with a taste for the particular.

If you were to look beyond the over-hyped past you’ll see that there actually are interesting things still going on in France. The current trend, one which you cannot have missed, is the evil duet of Peste Noire and Alcest. They’re both pretty young bands and share the drummer and multi-instrumentalist Neige. They both have French vocals and are dark in their own special ways. The first is proper filthy black metal à la Française (which, as you now know, means it’s got the shittiest production you could ever dream of), the second is a mixture of “emo and depressive black,” in the words of MkM from mythic Antaeus. Like Joy Division meets Sigur Ros meets Burzum and signed to Prophecy… can’t get much more “now” than that, can it?

Since we’re already talking about Antaeus and the dark side of France, we couldn’t but want to know more about the sudden disappearance of the band after their last live show at the excellent Arnhem Metal Meeting in Holland. Here is a statement sent to us by front man MkM: “To make things clearer, right after we finished the studio recording of our latest album, Blood Libels, our drummer did quit the band. We’ve known since 2003 that he would only be with us for one album, and in the meantime we never stopped our search for a suitable band member to fill his spot after his departure. No one seemed interested or skilled enough to fit in… Still, we did agree to tour as support for Secrets of the Moon on their European “Antithesis” tour. This was our main mistake. The live session line-up of the band did not manage to perform as well as we had expected. That left a bitter taste and the core of the group decided to disband for some time. All the time we still kept in mind that we were going to record two exclusive tracks for a vinyl compilation and a split 10” with Katharsis (Germany), to be released on Norma Evangelium Diaboli. This was due to be recorded seven months ago, but we never found anyone to fill the spot in that time, not even for a studio recording. So right now, Antaeus is on hold, at least until a time when we’ve gathered all the band members we need—something I seriously doubt will happen. The band implies too much sacrifice and basically no feedback anyway.”

Obviously we’re going to mourn this demise, especially since, when we saw them last in London, they came across as a bullet train from hell. After their set was done, LSK was getting hit on so hard by horny English dudes in spiky backpacks, she could hardly walk through the premises.

Thanks to Satan, the new Arkhon Infaustus release “Othodoxyn” is a stunning masterpiece of evil intents, and the excellent French label Osmose seem to have found another interesting dark newcomer in the filthy, muddy Phazm (featuring Pierrick Valence, ex singer of futuristic death metallers Scarve). There’s no doubt that this country conceals even more black treasures…


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