The last time of the year seems to be the most important one for the Canadian black metal scene, as there are dozens of outputs released. This fact forces us to discuss another record released by a pioneer of the Canadian scene: Neige et Noirceur. Mastermind Zifond has released his third output with Hymnes de la Montagne Noire, but will he be able to convince the listeners with his latest interpretation of raw black metal?
If you take a look on his discography, you’ll soon realize that one-man entertainer Zifond has a similiar release-policy we know from several other bands like Vinterriket. There is just one, but huge, difference between his band and other projects: If you listen to his records you’ll notice a difference in style. Since his last record La Seigneurie des Loupe featured several calm interludes or majestic moments through the use of slower passages with epic riffs, his new record is a pure rampage with varied vocals and only some calmer passages left. What remained the same is the high density of atmosphere that is created, although the quality of it has grown through the improvement in songwriting skills.
The dominating tempo on the record is a higher one, which features really fast, really cold but atmospheric riffs and aggressive drumming. Although this record features raw black metal, the song-structures are full of variation and slower passages are breaking through frome time to time to add some interessting turns, without ever letting the aggressivity go. Another important fact for both – the general mood and the variation – is the change of the used vocal style. The vocals range from – nearly hurting – high pitched screams, that could remind you of Cradle of Filth, and really low pitched growls that could origin from death metal.
Besides those variations in tempo and vocals there are several elements that are shining through from time to time to loosen things up. There are several synthesizer sound walls as well as some dreamy guitar melodies like the intro of Hymne IV – L’aube des magiciens, some samples of natural sounds (wind, the sound of a bird etc.) or some rock/doom influenced riffs here and there. That combined with the fact that no riff is to long-drawn, as they are varied and/or replaced before they get boring, causes the record to be of a good quality. Although the riffs are well composed and quite catchy, they lack something unique and unheard. Some other “real” flaws can be named easily: The machine-like drums are really arduous and the drum patters are predictable and overladen too after a while. Less is more would have been the idiom Zifond should have remembered. Although there is structural variation, the constant thrashing/driving parts are a bit exhausting as well and more calm interludes would have been really nice. The production is, at least for raw black metal, quite good as, although it’s not crystal clear, you can hear every instrument and only the vocals could have been a bit more specious.
Neige et Noirceur respectively mastermind Zyfond just released another quite solid, well done record with only some flaws left to criticise. The cold of the Canadian winter is beautifully set to music and full of atmosphere, so that you can experience it even in the, still quite warm, Europe. The variation of the vocal styles is really well done and the majority of song structures is convincing as well. There are some points to criticise though and all in all I would say the record is slightly above the average.
Date of release: 22 November 2011