Distributor/label: Goathorned Productions
Buy Album: https://malepeste.bandcamp.com/album/ce-qui-fut-ce-qui-est-ce-qui-sera
Band Website: Malepeste; Dysylumn
Nostradamus – Bass,
Flexor – Drums,
Xahaal – Guitars,
Larsen – Vocals.
Camille Olivier Faure-Brac – Drums,
Sébastien Besson – Guitar & Vocals.
Split releases – effectively two (or more) band EPs slammed together with a common theme threaded through the middle to bind it all together. It’s a great way of piggybacking exposure off of each band’s respective fanbase, whilst the listener can be introduced to more acts for the price of one release. Stellar. The problem that some of these can possess is a decidedly split personality – it may be clichéd to say, but it can be very Jekyll and Hyde. Much like the psychological disorder, there can be two distinct flavours housed within one body of work, which can have a rather disconcerting feel (at least that’s what the therapist’s been saying).
So it comes as both a surprise and joyous discovery to see the split between MALEPESTE and DYSYLUMN function as one cohesive piece. It’s a remarkably well-matched body of work, as the two bands have, broadly-speaking, the same take on black metal, but feature enough nuances to be able to be separated. To the casual listener, “Ce Qui Fut, Ce Qui Est, Ce Qui Sera” could pass for a single band’s work, and you’d be forgiven for thinking so. It’s like coming across the same person over the course of a day whose mood remains the same, but their caffeine level slowly drops – it’s the same person, but with a few subtle differences (caffeine-withdrawal shakes and baggy eyes aside).
MALEPESTE raise the curtain to “Ce Qui Fut, Ce Qui Est, Ce Qui Sera”, and the immediate impression is that these folk like to play with atmosphere. There’s something wonderfully light-and-shade about their tetralogy of songs. In fact, there’s something of a progression as their set moves along: “Clotho” feels bright and almost Pagan-like in its earnestness, whilst “Lachésis” casts a dark cloud above the terrain before closer “Atropos” let’s the rain fall, culminating in an oddly uplifting ascent towards the end with its female vocals. An entirely apt retelling of the fall of man in musica, as is the overarching theme of the album.
The vocals are assured, mixing bellows with nearly-melodic howls and throat singing, whilst the guitars make pains to distance themselves from the pack. On that note, there’s not much in the way of black metal’s favoured tremolo riffs, as MALEPESTE prefer the mood-altering use of arpeggiated chords and tremolo melody lines to ensnare the listener. It may not have the same thrust and impact as the legions of other bands would plump for, but it certainly makes up for it in memorability. Why the unwavering adherence to the supposed trve and kvlt sounds is perplexing, and we can only thank God (or Satan, or whoever/whatever…) for MALEPESTE daring to stand out on their own.
Countrymen DYSYLUMN follow with their foursome, and their approach is oh-so complimentary to their fellow black metal brothers. Similarly favouring arpeggiated chords over straight-up tremolo hellfire, what follows is an arguably darker, more melancholic affair of despair and suffering (hope those meds are kicking in!) There’s still a strong sense of light-and-shade about these four, as “Nona” springs to life with captivating sadness, before “Decima” chimes in with a degree of levity, offering a spark of hope in the wasteland that is ultimately dashed by the grim “Morta”.
An immediate difference is in the drum production. DYSYLUMN benefit from brighter, higher drums that drive their half of the album on with a degree of intensity that is not quite matched by their earlier counterparts. In fact, their half seems to have a slight edge; a certain crispness to the production that makes for a more bracing listen. It’s only subtle, but it does wonders for the body of work and, in the wider context, does offer a distinct sense of chapters. Both bands’ instrumental pieces (“Prologue” for MALEPESTE, and “Epilogué” for DYSYLUMN) bookend the album delightfully, with careful attention to haunting atmosphere and nightmarish landscapes. If you weren’t already aware that black metal ought to be an uncomfortable listen (in which case, why are you reading this review?), then this will set you straight on that front.
What these two bands have managed to achieve on “Ce Qui Fut, Ce Qui Est, Ce Qui Sera” should be applauded, as it’s truly difficult to offer up two halves of an album that sounds both similar, yet distinct in their own right. The subtleties are there, yet the thread of consistency brought on by the album’s theme weaves a compelling tapestry. There’s an air of familiarity about some parts of the album (as any black metal fan will attest to), but it’s the spirit and craft that carry it along. Like the title suggests, MALEPESTE and DYSYLUMN know what was, what is and what will be: carefully crafted metal with both heart and intent. A release well worth the time.