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Ysengrin – Initiatio

by Gary G. Hernandez at 14 July 2020, 8:26 AM

Where to even begin with a band like YSENGRIN? They’ve been around since 2005 and have more demos, splits, and compilations than is legally permitted anywhere in the world except France. Okay, so there is no legal stewardship of Metal, but still we’re talking a lot of material. Oh, and they are based in France, so that much is true. The band has also released at least one EP and several full-length albums, including “Initiatio” which is due to be issued July 17, 2020 on I, Voidhanger Records. After this album the band will participate in one more split and then call it quits.

Let’s talk theme. I should first note that Guido Saint Roch is also a French historian who specializes in the Medieval Period. Not surprisingly, the band’s music is steeped in mysticism, bears a dark folk aesthetic, and reflects Roch’s passion for hermeticism and alchemy. The name “Ysengrin,” in fact, hearkens back to the mediaeval Reynard The Fox fables and references his wolfen archnemesis.

Musically, if you haven’t experienced YSENGRIN, they are a bass heavy, raw, avant-garde Black Metal band. Some would throw Death and Doom into the mix, but they aren’t brutal enough for Death nor sludgy enough for Doom. Avant-garde Black might work, but who’s counting? The thing about YSENGRIN is that no matter how many albums they release, they sound like they were just introduced to the studio. Their recordings are analog, uncertain, and strange . . . which creates a unique, intriguing sound.

Initiatio” includes five tracks from previous demos and four new tracks. The five demo tracks have been re-rendered and reimagined, so the album really does sound all new . . . but still murky and ancient. The title and all vocals are in French, which is old hat for the French but way cool for American monolinguists like me. As noted earlier, this is a bass centric band so if you came for the riffs, keep going. The vocals are a slow, baritone guttural that mixes well with the lumbering bass, ponderous drums, and atmospheric echo chamber action. If Nosferatu was around today (and well he might be), this would be on his playlist.

So best tracks. I have to go with track one, “Potencée D'or,” which kicks off with an acoustic intro before it veers right off into the lo-fi weird zone with a bass line from the CRAMPS or at least TYPE O NEGATIVE and a solo to die for. Next on my list is “Ode À L'escarboucle” which features another couple of killer solos and a thick Goth Metal chug line. Last on my list would be “Monumentum.” Regrets? I could do without “Celui Qui Est Au-Dessus” and “Mia Carne Sepolta.”

Overall, “Initiatio” is a great initiation into YSENGRIN as well as a fine send off. It gives us a taste of their past with a current day twist and leaves us hungry for more. Their catalogue is a collection of bleak accoutrements that somehow never add up to a whole number but instead stay firmly rooted in the irrational. For lovers of the interesting and the odd, this band and this album is a must.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Potencée D'or
2. Celui Qui Est Au-Dessus
3. Pass'age
4. Mémorables (G. De Nerval - Extraits)
5. Ode À L'escarboucle
6. Téménos
7. Mia Carne Sepolta
8. Monumentum
9. Pantaculum Mystagogia
Alrinack – Bass, guitars (acoustic), vocals (backing), percussion
Roch – Bass, keyboards, vocals
Record Label: I, Voidhanger Records


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Edited 14 August 2020

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