VARIOUS ARTISTS
Sampler MMXVIII
(Les Acteurs De L'Ombre Productions)
74:12min

The French label Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions is the go to place to get a glimpse of the who’s who in the current French Black Metal scene, and a bit beyond. The label has in my eyes done some really great releases during the last ten years, where they have been around, always on the look for interesting bands or releases to push. This label sampler is showcasing eleven bands more or less around the palette of what the label has done or is about to do, tracks from past releases, upcoming or just released albums. It starts off with MAÏEUTISTE, masters of French atmospheric Black Metal with a good grey touch of nostalgy and doom. ‘Veritas’ is a rough mix of a new track for a new album, that hopefully soon will hit us. A dark and somber mixture of melodies and nostalgy with a touch of BORKNAGAR over it, quite good, and it has made me looking forward to the coming album, the second of theirs, after the great self-titled debut from 2015. PÉNITENCE ONIRIQUE continues the party and these Frenchmen take us into the realm of bleak Black Metal with a sorrowful melodic guitar lead, slow paced and dark with grim and haunting vocals, not bad at all, and perhaps this track, which also has been released as a digital single, is the first lead towards a new album from this duo, I am really caught by the atmosphere on the track. Next up is MOONREICH which just have released their fourth full length album, and second on Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions, "Fugue", and we get the first part of the titletrack ‘Fugue, Pt.1 – Every Time She Passes Away’ and damn, don’t listen to this one, you’ll never stop again, an amazing journey into nostalgia and sorrow, these guys are brilliant at writing songs and getting atmosphere into them, the guitar lead going through most of the song is amazing, coupled with the rest, and the vocals, damn. I need to get hold of this album for sure. I can’t find much info on VERFALLEN that deliver ‘Derelictus’, besides it is a new French project from Emmanuel Zuccaro (who plays drums on HYRGAL’s "Serpentine"). This is grim Black Metal with a lot of atmosphere and an intermezzo, that works quite well, on classical acoustic guitar. Mid- to fastpaced grimness with good vocals and great guitars with a Scandinavian Black Metal feel anno 1995. I’ll be glad when I get the chance to listen to some more music from this band, as this track is quite promising. DARKENHÖLD has been roaming for a good while with their off the mill Black Metal with medieval influences, they’ve done some good tunes during the years, and here’s one of them, ‘Glorious Horns’ from their 2014 album "Castellum", which Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions released on tape and digitally. Black Metal as we had a lot of from the late nineties to the mid-00s, and since then has popped up here and there, though these guys are actually doing it quite well and listenable. AU-DESSUS hails from Lithaunia and released a hardhitting debut EP in 2015 and released their just as mindnumbing debut full length "End Of Chapter" last year. We are getting the track ‘III’ from the self-titled EP here, a massive wall of noisy and distorted guitars, breaking rhythm patterns, sick sick puked and screamed vocals and a bleak doomsday atmosphere, all intertwined into a mindnumbing experience, that is quite hard to stop listening to, so well-written and delivered! The next band from the South of France is back with their third full length album "L’esprit De Vents’, the third and last album in the trilogy that started with "À La Croisée Des Vents" in 2008 and continued with "La Cité Des Vents" in 2010 and now AORLHAC is ready with the new album 9 years later, but better a tad late than never. Atmospheric and epic Black Metal in the olden Scandinavian tradtion with their own twist and folklore of course. I better see and get this album checked out, judging from this track, it should be quite good. SPECTRALE is the very odd child out on this sampler, we are getting some diverse music all the way through, though this ensemble, the brainchild of Jeff Grimal from THE GREAT OLD ONES, is an acoustic jazzy progressive journey into the spaciest corners of the mind, this track is really well composed and delivered and has made me wanting to seek out more of this madness, guitars, drums, cello and magic, an ambient journey into another dimension. Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions has picked up one of the stalwarts in the French Doom Metal scene MONOLITHE and released earlier this year the band’s seventh album "Nebula Septem" and from that album we get the first track ‘Anechoic Aberration’. A heavy and dark atmosphere drags you into a grey vortex, where the senses gets torn apart from the plagued vocals, the haunting guitar riffs, the dragging yet thunderous rhythm section and the eerie keys and guitar leads. Again an album I need to check out, as I haven’t gotten that far on this years releases yet. Noisy and dreaming Black Metal with a grim feel to it, when it doesn’t drift on, into dark distorted soundscapes. The track we get here ‘Aux Diktats De L’Instinc’ is off HYRGAL’s first and so far only full length album "Serpentine" which Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions just have released on vinyl and re-released on CD as well. A hellish mix of traditional Black Metal and more modern gazing Post Black Metal, a mix that works quite well as the main theme is aggressive and bleak, and the gazing parts somber and evil, with an atmosphere that keeps it all together. The last track on the album is delivered by the band that apperantly was the core reason for Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions to start their business back in the day, the psychotic one mand force PENSÉES NOCTURNES with the track ‘Paria’ from the second album "Grotesque" from 2010, a great album and a great track, if you like to become fucked up, bend over and be fucked up again. The track is a tour de force of emotions hurled around in a giant rollercoaster, a base in Avantgarde Black Metal, taken much further and much more wicked than ever. Flowing shifts from traditional Black Metal to eerie screams to noise, to circus music to whatever you name, in seconds, without expectation, over and over again, so fucking brilliant! Well, if you haven’t gotten the clue yet, here it is, you gotta go and check out the bands from Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions, as the label is quite great at finding interesting bands and releases to push in our direction, and this sampler is of course a good way to start the adventure into the bizarre world of Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions and the whole sampler is up for a listen on their Bandcamp site: https://ladlo.bandcamp.com/album/sampler-mmxviii, www.lesacteursdelombre.net

Anders Peter Jørgensen

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