(Oaken Shield / Adipocere Records)
At a time when the great Norwegian Black Metal bands of the past have either split up or rediscovered the virtues of Death Metal, it is surprising to witness the rise of band from other countries who maintain the classic tradition of the Black Arts once practiced in the far North. NEHËMAH from France are one of those bands, and like Thomas and I have already stressed out in our reviews of their two previous offerings, they have achieved the exploit to sound more Norwegian than the Norwegian bands themselves. I don’t know about the first full length of the band, but when I compare “Requiem Tenebrae” to their sophomore release, I find a lot of progression and a gain of maturity. This time, NEHËMAH got rid of some annoying elements, in particular a tendency to be monotonous after a while, and come up with high class music. The compositions on “Requiem Tenebrae” are far more captivating than before, NEHËMAH have found the perfect balance between fast and slow tempos within one hymn (the only appropriate word to qualify their songs, so much they are full of dark grandeur), so the result, despite its length (most of the tracks are more than seven minutes long) never cross through the borders of the boredom domain. NEHËMAH have digested their obvious influences and found out their own style, so it should be inappropriate to compare them with other bands any longer. Some keyboards are used here, but never to the point to become prominent; the guitars are mixed well upfront for the better I think. In that regard the song ‘Taken Away By The Torn Black Shroud’ could sum up the entire album, so much this track sound majestic and mystic during its duration (more than eleven minutes long!) Lyric wise “Requiem Tenebrae” stands away from cheap Satanism, the whole lyrical concept deals instead with dark occultism linked with a vast scope cosmogony. No wonder then that the album is dedicated to both Aleister Crowley and H. P. Lovecraft. Aside the aforementioned track, another standout one is certainly ‘Conscience Of Evil’; this one sounds highly original (I have even found a faint tribute to HELLHAMMER in it!) while staying absolutely faithful to the classic Black Metal format. “Requiem Tenebrae” is surely a highlight of this year 2004, and NEHËMAH show them as one of the most important Black Metal horde of today. Forget about the so-called “Black Metal” acts sold by cynic labels, and invest your time and money into this one, you will not regret it!
• NEHËMAH - Shadows From The Past (Edouard Vergriete )