France has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to black metal. The LLN acts such as Torgiest, Vlad Tepes, and Mütiilation (the only one to last) had their lo-fi charm and tried to combat the infamy of the Norwegian scene. Immediate successors such as Peste Noire and Celestia continued the raw and melodic style that's become such a go to for many acts around the world. Like those two mentioned, Mystic Forest brings about a huge dose of melody, but in a very classical and virtuoso style that's nearly unheard of in black metal. Diamatregon's forged themselves a bizarre path as their 2009 full length Crossroad is an homage of sorts to American blues (you won't really hear it in the music, but the album is a true grower and has such a great, raw, and dismally deep sound akin to the hardships Robert Johnson and the like sang about). Epheles had the aggression and straight ahead attack that some of those others lacked, but added a strong synth touch to the mix. Antaeus, like their namesake, were all about strength as their sound and nihilism has gone unmatched for quite sometime. Finally, there's Glorior Belli's who strangely enough also had a blues influenced album (Meet us at the Southern Sign) and have created a stable, polished style of black metal that's gotten wider distribution than most.
|This cover still baffles me. Note the dog in the foreground, and his stupid face. The wheelchair is just a whole 'nother story.|
Not included due to length and an overall lack of quality is Pensées Nocturnes whose track "Coups de Bleus" is a very faithful and well done marriage of black metal and blues. I'm just saying this because France has such a peculiar scene, from NSBM bands to shoegazers like Alcest to pioneers Deathspell Omega Blut Aus Nord and bands with a complete admiration for U.S. black southern music. There's a lot of other great acts, hope this is just a good jump off.
1. Torgeist - "Devoted to Satan" - Devoted to Satan
2. Vlad Tepes - "Untitled" - Broullions I
3. Mütiilation - "Travels to Sadness, Hate & Depression" - Remains of a Ruined, Dead, Cursed Soul
4. Celestia - "Prisoner of a Morbid Cradle" - A Cave Full of Bats
5. Peste Noire - "Paysage Mauvais" - Folkfuck Colie
6. Mystic Forest - "Braver Les Ombres" - Welcome Back in the Forest
7. Antaeus - "Blood War III" - De Principii Evangelikum
8. Diamatregon - "Wine" - Crossroad
9. Epheles - "Les Siècles D'ignorance" - Souviens-Toi
10. Glorior Belli - "Manifesting the Raging Beast" - Manifesting the Raging Beast