Can't say I'm familiar with many French bands/musicians except maybe Gorjia, Out and Vanessa Paradis. I'm sure there are more but I cannot place them right now. Malevolentia hail from France (as you can tell by the album artwork) and have been described as symphonic black metal. I'm looking forward to this as I like a bit of Black Metal from time to time, although I was never one to dress in leather, paint my face up like a gothic panda and wander a forest at night (or in the daytime if you're Hecate Enthroned) brandishing obscure medieval weaponry. And if the book "Lords Of Chaos" is anything to go by, the major players of the Norwegian Black Metal scene of the early 90's may have got a bit carried away with what seemed nothing more than a private joke among friends, although it did give us some excellent music. But that was a long time ago. Malevolentia formed in 2003 and have been making music ever since. This is their third album. Hopefully it'll be all grim, necro and tr00 and stuff...
1) Protogonos - Creepy synth and piano instrumental which sounds very orchestral. Could be music from an adventure movie or something.
2) Annuit Coeptis - Oh yes! Sounding like Black Metal from the early days - where the vocals were nothing more than a hoarse shriek and the guitars, drums and bass are buried under swathes of orchestral keyboard. This is promising. So far, it reminds me of early Cradle Of Filth in that whilst it's not as raw sounding as most Black Metal (from that time, anyway), it's not too overproduced.
3) Voluspa - Continuing on from where the previous track left off but better, this one is less a ride into battle on the back of Odin's steed, but more of a route march to Ragnarok with Loki and the rest of his minions. With added female backing vocals. Again, some quality stuff here.
4) Etemenaki - Pretty much more of the same but a bit faster. It has to be said that the orchestral keyboard bits are fucking great! The vocals are well handled too, they're provided by a woman called Spleen, according to the band's Facebook page. Guitars are great too. Some nice riffs.
5) Virtu And Fortuna - Album interlude, not too bad.
6) Magnus Frater Spectat Te - This one switches things up a bit as the ferocious opening then seques off into an atmospheric middle bit before going back to ferociousness. Quite a thumping song too. For me, this is the best song so far as there doesn't seem to be a thing wrong with it. Changing tempos, swirling keyboards, what's not to like?
7) Requiem Eternam Deo - Bit of atmosphere-building keyboard into which is cool, then back into the maelstrom! This is another good song which continues the by-now established pattern of this album. This would usually be a problem but it's perfect for the confines of this album.
8) Alma Matter - Slower than the previous tracks (although I'm expecting that to change), it's atmospheric and enough to imagine walking through a dark forest when it's pissing down. I'm now thinking this may be my fave song on the album...some great guitar solos and orchestral keyboard moments.
9) Qohelet - Like thunder over the mountain, this song blasts into your consciousness. The vocals on this are particularly mad, ranging from the harsh to the maniacal, especially midway through the song where a cheeky laugh is heard! The outro is quite special too.
10) Doxa - Another short instrumental which sounds like incidental music off an adventure movie. With added quality Black Metal towards the end. That was a surprise as I was expecting it to stay as the instrumental!
11) Ordo Ab Chao - Another masterpiece of Black Metal magic, this one is still good, although it has certainly been preceded by mightier compositions. Great keyboards, which have certainly been the highlight of this album.
12) Para Doxa - Another short interlude thingy which is a bit more gentle than the previous ones. Light notes and choir-like singing.
13) Nocte And Nebula - The penultimate track and the air about it is that we're being set up for a grand finale. There is certainly a grand scope to this song with it's perfect arrangements that sound like a medieval battle. This should be the soundtrack to the next Eldar Scrolls game, or even Witcher. Bit stop-start towards the end but it's not too bad.
14) Eschatos - Well this is interesting, a duet on the final track! The song itself is quite mournful in tone and key, which shows there is more to Black Metal than dressing up as a gothic panda and howling at the moon or whatever. An excellent way to round off the album.
Well, I had fun with that album, although I wll mention that I felt the instrumental pieces seemed like they were written with a place at the start of the album as 'creepy intro' in mind. In which case, it would have been best to perhaps just find the best one and ditch the others or at least keep them for another album or even an EP. Other than that, we had some great stuff here. As mentioned earlier, the album reminded me of Black Metal circa 1996. Now this isn't intended as an insult or a criticism but rather a compliment. The thing that put me off the early Black Metal initially is that it sounded like shit from a production stand-point. Now whilst it's true that a lot of the bands which first inspired Black Metal (most notably Venom and Bathory) sounded like shit also, that's because they could barely afford decent instruments, equipment, studios and recording gear. However, by 1996, there was a fine line reached where the albums were at least audible without sacrificing their raw intensity. This album fits this category no problem. It's like Cradle Of Filth before they decided to go commercial (which was NEVER going to work, be honest). I can recommend this album.
8//10 - Oh now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart.
Top Track: Alma Matter.
This album is available on iTunes.