Moonreich - Loi Martiale
De Tenebrarum Principio
Black Metal
11 songs (57:01)
Release year: 2011
De Tenebrarum Principio
Reviewed by Tony
Album of the year

Warfare. Never has such an activity been the malefactor that is the very degradation to humanity and the very savior of it. The nature and necessity of brutal war can be disputed by philosophers, politicians, students, and whomever, but what cannot be disputed, is that Heavy Metal will always have lyrical material as long as people are killing each other.

Many Black Metal bands these days are either abandoning their focus on sacrilege or entwining warfare into their lyrics. Over the last decade or so, the lyrical and thematic expanses of Black Metal have widely grown. Whereas through the second wave we only truly had Satanism, Occult, and Nordic based lyrics, now we have nationalism, nature and Earth, and warfare to add to those widely utilized themes. I will admit that I have done very little to enjoy what French Black Metal has to offer. Sure, I did a Blut Aus Nord review, but that’s about it. I am guilty of not exploring one of the finer scenes in Black Metal today. Instead of grazing over a well known and heralded band, I will add a band to suit all of your fancies that surely has the talent and songwriting capability to last in the thriving scene. Moonreich are a French band whose focus (while in French) is surrounding warfare and destruction. The cover has what resembles a skull faced WWII era G.I. and a Panzer in the background. This album is entitled Loi Martiale, or Martial Law in English.

The French Black Metal scene is one of innovation and creation. The likes of Deathspell Omega finding their own unique sound, and Blut Aus Nord conjuring rhythm we could not even imagine when we first heard those sounds. Moonreich are a band that do not innovate, create, destroy, or rebuild. They merely take a traditionally second wave sound and do an excellent job with it. Formulaic music is not necessarily a bad thing. Country has thrived here in America (unfortunately) and I don’t think they’ve moved their fingers off the first position on the fretboard or changed from 4/4 in 40 years. Death Metal in many ways is the same, with Experimental bands either booming or busting. Moonreich take a classic sound and work well with it. Like a good recipe, 4 parts blasting, 2 parts groove, 2 parts riffs, and 2 parts melody, Loi Martiale is an album that I can appreciate for taking a developed concept and excelling with it.

A good Black Metal riff is one that can transmit melody through tremolo picked riffs. The riffs here are only a piece of the puzzle, but they are brilliant part of why I see Moonreich becoming a stalwart in this scene. In fact, the riffs are so memorable that I find myself hearing the first riff from the opener, Le Regard Du Pendu in my head frequently. This track begins with the sounds of a battle and the cries of agony before a spooky synth comes in. Staying in key, the guitars establish that dark melody over extremely fast blast beats. What is solid about this track is the intermittent insertion of the blasts. They do not absorb the track, they just merely add more dimension.

The album continues on in a brilliant manner before the truly strange En Mon Ame Et Conscience begins. The first plucked riff has such a strange quality to it! This album once again displays the talents of the drummer, Odarec, with vocalist PZF also having his shining moments. These are some of the most unforgettable riffs I have heard in a long time in Black Metal. Capturing groove, synth oddities, melody and speed, and blasting fury, Moonreich prove that even in this day and age as Black Metal nears its third decade of existence you don’t need something new to make something brilliant.

Each track brings something new to the table. Le Reveil Du Pendu begins slowly. With eerily strummed riffs and highly audible bass before once again exploding into blast beats. Some tracks end with quiet synth or clean guitar. Le Reveil Du Pendu masks an ending before once again rushing with blasts. Groovy mid-paced darkened riffs line out the final minute. With one high and one low track the above and below effect is wrought beautifully. This song out of the first five has the most blasts, establishing a truly furious track. En Marche Sur Nos Terres begins with a strong rooted riff, booming bass, and menacing vocals and drums. Once again Moonreich bring forth challenging and thoughtful riffs beyond the minor thirds and bar chords. They really changed my perception that there are only so many ways to play Black Metal guitar. Each song carries multi-faceted dimensional transmissions throughout the planes of tempo and technique.

Track 7 is the title track: Loi Martiale. the first minute or so sounds more like a Death Metal approach, made possibly by the strumming and snare pace and the buzzed but clear guitar tone. The guitar tone is a major highlight of this album. Very rarely does one come across a Black Metal album where the clear defining factor is the guitars. Granted, this was done on Transylvanian Hunger, and some albums are measured by their overall talent as much as the atmosphere said talent creates. Loi Martiale has everything. Crushing riffs, marching rhythm, a once again excellent bass guitar, and the simple yet not boring vox of PZF.

The album rounds off with the oft times solid Les Psaumes D’Iscariote, En Preparant L’Assaut…, and L’Aube De Cristal; as well as a bonus track. Every song on Loi Martiale takes an element of Moonreich’s sound and expunges scintillating works on all accosts. This is the kind of Black Metal that is refreshing and unifying at once, taking a classic sound and building upon it with strengths in every regard. Each instrument is played beautifully, with pace, power, and skill shown throughout. PZF’s vocals shine on every line, and based solely on riffs alone we could call this a top notch album.

I doubt anyone will agree with me on the score and badge I reward Loi Martiale with, but there are just fistfuls of riffs and bucketfuls of rhythmic aggression structured so wonderfully that I truly could not get this album out of my player. I would give this surprise of the month if it weren’t my album of the year.

Killing Songs :
All of em'
Tony quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Moonreich that we have reviewed:
Moonreich - Wormgod (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Moonreich - Curse Them reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
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