Ars Moriendi from France is one of the best Black Metal releases I’ve heard. Not only is it atmospheric, which is how it should be because this genre of music allows for more of that than probably any other, but it’s also experimental and unique, which is all I really need. The album comprises five tracks and all of them are varied in their expression and buildup, which makes things very interesting because it seems like a journey to a destination yet unknown and you learn so much along the way. It reminds me of Agalloch crossed with Oranssi Pazuzu, if that ever were to happen, accentuated with the band’s own style of atmospheric metal and interpretation. It’s not a derivative band where you mention a couple bands and you’ve got everything figured out. This is truly artistic, something that allows for deeper introspection and expression.
The album is littered with strange intros and the music goes somewhere else entirely than where it started off from. All the songs are very individualistic and there’s a certain line intersecting the album where the overall ambience is concerned. It’s very wild, very passionate. No doubt it’s a French band, albeit on a Ukrainian label. The music is bold and devoid of trends or eras. It’s Black Metal that doesn’t conform to the conventional bands or trends of today – it’s far removed from all of that and is doing its own thing, even if its base is late ‘90s melodic Black Metal. It reminds me of simple but ambitious and colourful bands like say Asgaroth from Spain wherein it uses keyboards and its own vision to create effective Black Metal that stands the test of time. This one is similar in intent but uses atmosphere on a more varied platform and applies it liberally across different shades of Black Metal expression. The feelings are tense and the sense of highs and lows are palpable, comparable to Agalloch, but here the music is a lot more dramatic. The band employs keyboards indeed and that’s never overdone but emphasises the music beautifully and dramatizes the effect, often using sweeping melodies and off-beat parts to leave you guessing. The beauty is laden all throughout the album and it’s up to you, the listener, to unfurl it with your own hands.
It’s frustrating in a sense because whenever I revisit this album, I’m engrossed mostly with the first few songs on the album. That’s because they’re so varied and unique in their expression, that I don’t spend enough time with the latter ones on the album. Perhaps that’s because they’re better, and more stylistic, but the whole album must be consumed and in its own time, for you to fully appreciate the madness. It is madness indeed, pure art, brilliant execution and mind-boggling placements. It somehow all falls together despite seeming somewhat incoherent at first. It falls together beautifully when you take each track on its own and picture something ambitious, something outrageous in your mind. Even the latter songs come alive then and then you do the reverse of what you started off doing – being partial to the former songs. This is exemplary Black Metal, one that can truly be called innovative. The intricacies are best left to the listener to discover for himself, lest I ruin the surprise of appreciating each one and its wonderful timing. Even one section does enough to just propel the goodness of this music to a lofty height, for instance the atmospheric part that comes around 4:20 minutes into the second song Vanite. You just wait all your life if you must to unlock this beautiful part which will probably make your day. Or at least get you emotional, which is what music is all about.
It’s a pleasure to have such good music in my life and despite the over-diversification of the album, there’s much common beauty for one and all to appreciate. It’s best to listen to this with an open mind and keep your mind empty for new imaginations to conjure up on their own whim. May this one be judged on its own rights, without any unnecessary comparisons or scene trends, because that would only mean belittling of the expansive, emotional and almost melodramatic music it creates. This is atmospheric music in the true sense – without getting cheesy but using the appeal to take the sound forward in moving ways.
1. De l’intouchable mort
3. De ma dague…
4. Ars Moriendi
5. La singulière noirceur d’un astre