VÉhÉmence - FR - Assiege
De Tenebrarum Principio
Medieval Black Metal
6 songs (45'01")
Release year: 2015
De Tenebrarum Principio
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

French VÉhÉmence is not to be confused with USDM band from Arizona (who have mounted a recent comeback, by the way). I have never heard of VÉhÉmence before and Assiege is their debut release, originally dated in 2014, but now re-released under De Tenebrarum Principio wing. The band's lineup is a complete mystery. The only information of note is that Assiege is a "medieval" black metal album, which may mean so many different things, including the whole adventure being a cheap gimmick. Fortunately, Assiege is truly a black metal album with a very special, indeed, archaic atmosphere, which turns it into immensely interesting experience.

Without either being overly oppressive or overtly folky, Assiege manages to be at home both with French black metal from Legion Noire (maybe I'm stretching it a bit with this statement, but Assiege is compared to Hirilorn’s Legends of Evil and Eternal Death by the label) and Gallic bands like Italian Furor Gallico and French/Breton Belenos. One of the biggest finds by VÉhÉmence is their guitar sound. Slicing, but not painfully, not grating, but instead gliding along, non-stop. Appreciating VÉhÉmence's guitar tone is a must to accept Assiege, but it is not going to be difficult to fathom it. Second, the band comes up with one positive epic and uplifting melody after another, sometimes being downright heroic (title fitting Chant d’honneur), and sometimes not being afraid to invoke something very familiar (is it Army of Lovers I'm hearing between 2nd and 3rd minute on the title track?). Even if the vocals of VÉhÉmence are gurgling, the voice is also very passionate and somehow also legible, and if I knew French, perhaps I could even convey stories of times long gone depicted in Assiege.

The band surely repeats their riffs, but the length of the songs demands it, and you welcome them nevertheless, you just want to hear them over and over. Then, the tracks on Assiege all have their own distinct character, supported and reinforced by songs titles. The opener De celestes cavalcades is punky embark on a journey, throwing caution to the wind, galloping along, sounding almost like cleaned up and toned down Sargeist or Dodsferd. The title track is instead stately, proper and prim, while Le sang respire encore is all about hardship, doomy, slower, with domineering riffs. VÉhÉmence do not rest or meander, the first acoustic break on the album not coming until 2/3 of the way through the album, 4 minutes or so into En Quete du Graal. There it is a quiet before the storm, however, and the storm finally arrives, very Imrama-like, all the way until a strong flute close. From there VÉhÉmence proceeds to rely on their softer acoustic side more (closer nature inspired strum Par sombres forets et vastes plaines being the primary example), but you cannot fault them to open with the acoustic, when Chant d’honneur then erupts so boldly in almost major-toned stirring fashion.

An easy album to like on the first listen, Assiege has enough causes in it that you would want to hear it many times thereafter.

Killing Songs :
De celestes cavalcades, Chant d'honneur
Alex quoted 87 / 100
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