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Herzel - Le Dernier Rempart Award winner

Le Dernier Rempart
by Neil Cook at 21 March 2021, 10:02 AM

HERZEL are from the Brittany region of France, and they are clearly fiercely proud, of their country and specifically their region.  Not only singing in their native tongue, but the album is split in two halves.  Part one is two songs about the history of Brittany, and a nice instrumental tune in a traditional style, and part two is a concept piece about the eponymous hero HERZEL. Telling a story that is steeped in the region.  Musically they are a Progressive Metal band with the emphasis heavily on the Metal.  A sound not dissimilar to NWOBHM from across the channel, with a modern take, similar to acts such as BLAZE BAILEY, ABSOLVA, KAYNE and the like.  Lyrically, I have no French and definitely no Breton, so I cannot tell you what is being sung, but I can impart it is done really well, Thomas Guillesser having a very decent set of Rock pipes.  Boy he can hit the high notes when required!  And the rest of the band are not too shabby either, being able to go from full on Metal to the Proggier sections, and the traditional musical parts with aplomb, show strength and depth for a youngish band (2013) on their debut album.

Opener “Maîtres de l'océan” is an eight and a half minuet epic.  Which starts off with what to me sounds like wind through the rigging of ships tied up in port.  If fact there is a sort of jaunty nautical feel to the music, which once Mr. Google has translated the title for me to Masters Of The Ocean for me did it make sense, but musically it twists and turns, like MAIDEN at their most Prog, possibly the twin guitars giving it that certain feel, and the soloing.  Even the backline have that type of feel, great bass runs and precision drumming.

Track 2, “La Flamme” (The Flame), again I a twisty, turny, sweet Metal song, showcasing Thomas’s vocal range, from rough growls, to high pitched yelps, not to be outdone by his bandmates.  And where these bandmates really shine is the brief regional folk of “Le Dernier Rempart” (The Last Bastion), which thematically leads into “Berceau de Cendre” (Cradle Of Cinder) where the guitars of Gurvan and Kèvin pick up the musical theme and give it a Metal edge progressing into a tasty mid-paced Metal epic, on an album of epics.

The last two songs carry on in the same manor.  “L'épée des Dieux” (Sword Of The Gods), is quite melodic in places, but barrels along on rollicking bass and drums, it is quite the jaunty number, and the vocals are delivered with bags of melody and passion.  Which nicely leads us to “L'Ultime Combat” (The Ultimate Fight) really did remind me of something BLAZE BAILEY and band would come up with.  Yes the vocal styles are different, but the guitar runs could be the APPLETON brothers all day, and power to it, a strong closing track, especially the outro refrain of the traditional music of “Le Dernier Rempart”.

All in all a very listenable album.  Yes I could have probably got more from the songs if I had understood the lyrics, but that is my issue not the bands.  I cannot understand RAMMSTEIN but still really dig their music, this is not different, but as the songs told a tale listening would have been enhanced.  Hard one to score this, I will give an overall 9, but the band should consider this a virtual 10.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Maîtres de l'océan
2. La Flamme
3. Le Dernier Rempart
4. Berceau de Cendre
5. L'épée des Dieux
6. L'Ultime Combat
Mordiern Le Dissez - Bass
Gurvan Lardeux - Guitar
Kèvin Le Vern - Guitar
Thomas Guillesser - Vocals
Ion Philippon - Drums
Record Label: Gates of Hell Records


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Edited 28 May 2023

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