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Vitrail – Les Pages Oubliées Award winner

Vitrail
Les Pages Oubliées
by Andrew Graham at 05 May 2021, 6:32 AM

By the point in time we are at in the development of the metal movement, perhaps unhelpfully, known as ‘post-black metal’, it has become something of a bad stereotype that most of this stuff is French. But, as with so many stereotypes, they exist for a reason. Yes, this is a post-black metal record and yes, it is French. It is also a fantastic listen, so listen up purists, snobs, and fans of all stripes!

French-Canadian band VITRAIL, formed in Quebec in 2019, have added a worthy page to the large and, to be sure, varied canon of the post-black metal style (seems more like a vacuous umbrella term to me but I digress!) Intense emotions are given vent here, and not just of the classically angsty/nihilistic black metal anger variety that one would expect. Also on display is a deeply thoughtful kind of introspective sadness, which pairs with this anger in a fashion that is almost beautiful in a way.

This much is evident from the opening sections of album opener “Devant l’autel”. Melancholy sadness and raging fury bounce off each other, represented in the former by jangling guitars that could be familiar to fans of blackgaze, and on the latter by more conventional blastbeats and grating black metal vocals. “La Tempête Apaisée” treats us to some of the tastiest solo guitar work on the album, and a rich tapestry of blues-inspired melancholy. “Dans Le Secret” opens with a mournful, almost doomy passage which permeates the mood of the whole song. “Poursuivre Le Vent” is a more ‘conventionally’ post-black metal offering (think early ALCEST or HERETOIR). Sorrowful and nostalgic melodies permeate the track, truly beautiful.

“Pendant” continues in this vein, whilst also showing off some of Richard-William’s spectacularly masterful drumming – his blastbeats are perfectly in time and it’s glorious! The melancholy continues to grow stronger with each track, “Le Semeur” continuing the trend. (I wish I could spice up the vocabulary and not use ‘melancholy’ but it’s such a specific emotional state and VITRAIL have nailed it just as well as any of the more established acts that specialise in post-black misery!

“Sur La Montagne” almost reeks of a power ballad, but with that signiature blackgaze fuzz. Even with Simon’s raspy blackened vocals this is emotionally potent stuff. How it’s possible to blend power ballad and blastbeats together, I would not possibly have guessed! Room is even made for some quiet and contemplative moments. There is huge emotional maturity and depth to be found in this music. We close with “Aux Armes/Repentance”, which commences with a lengthy build-up before finally releasing the tension with some classic black metal riffage. We progress into more blackgaze-flavoured emotional meditation, drawing to a close with acoustic guitars adding their part to the already rich backdrop that rises up to a thoroughly satisfying climax.

Make no mistake – this is excellent stuff! The post-black metal genre, group of genres, area (whatever the hell you want to call it!) is, as I have said, well-populated by this point so it takes a truly great act to be noticed and stand head and shoulders above the rest. With further albums of this, or greater, quality under their belts, VITRAIL are surely destined to be included in the same annals as ALCEST. Bravo, gentlemen, bravo!

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Devant l'autel
2. La Tempête Apaisée
3. Dans Le Secret
4. Poursuivre Le Vent
5. Pendant
6. Le Semeur
7. Sur La Montagne
8. Aux Armes - Repentance
Lineup:
Simon Tremblay – Vocals and Guitars
Fred Custeau – Bass
Richard-William Turcotte – Drums
Record Label: Melogy Records
     


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Edited 17 June 2021
 

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