I always wondered just how long it would take for some Black Metal outfit to turn the mother of all church burnings into a record. And no, this is not about the likes of Varg Vikernes1) who – between other atrocities – garnered some questionable fame by torching a number of spacious abodes of the nailed god.
Instead, it’s French Black Metal that – yet again – caught our attention. RMR here already covered that particular scene a number of times. Corpus Diavolis, Geisterfels, and a few others come to mind. All of them operating in that tight space the Scandinavian folks left over from their forays into the lands of the arcane.
So, here we finally have Seth with their 2021 record La Morsure du Christ. A record that – apparently – turned the 2019 fire of the Notre Dame in Paris into the band’s theme of the moment. Some sort of theory that by burning the place, somehow the Dark Lord will take over.
Seth has been around pretty much since Black Metal became a thing. 1995 is the year of its unholy birth and the founding members bluntly state that they oriented themselves at the main players of the moment. This would chiefly mean bands of the 2nd wave as influences, like Gorgoroth2), Burzum3), or again Enslaved. Or even earlier pioneers such as Mayhem or Darkthrone.
One of the main gospels Seth follow is anti-Christianism. And this direction always strikes me as ironic. Because without the horned god firmly in power, Satan would not even exist. So, if anything, they’re the best Christians of them all. Only that they took the left-hand path. Some obviously try to escape this finding by dashing into fantasy worlds or the pagan left-field to rasp to their unholy souls’ desire. But those are only offshoots, some of them ridiculously bad, others astonishingly credible.
Yet, this record firmly sets itself into the fiery underworld whose blackened stage was set many decades ago. In other words, you get Black Metal firmly anchored in the early beginnings of the genre with a few modern touches. And the way Seth take off with La Morsure du Christ – the title song – will do away with any reservation you may have. Full Black Metal Jacket with a relatively speedy debut full of tremolos, hot riffs, and even hotter drum work.
A traditional start that paves the way for an all-out traditional record? Not quite.
Seth take no prisoners, sure. And said conventions are firmly woven into that metal fabric of theirs. But they’ve probably understood that the barebone, dried-out, and very lo-fi offerings of earlier Extreme Metal pieces won’t fit too well into modern times anymore.
Instead, the title song majestically waltzes off with a vile yet refined brutality that only seasoned and trve black metallers can muster. You’ll find a smattering of atmospherics in there, too. Yet, that doesn’t suddenly turn that particular bite of Christ into Atmospheric Black Metal, far from it. Instead, all those atmospherics suddenly add that weird piece of spice that will make you go on.
And latest after Métal Noir hits, you’ll detect additional symphonic elements where there should be none, weird clear-voice shouting, and ambient passages in strange places. Boy, even the monologues won’t sound cheesy. But then, and I said this before, somehow the French language seems to work well with the dark and ominous.
Now, never fear. La Morsure du Christ ain’t no pop album in search of Lucifer. None of the aforementioned elements leave one shred of a doubt that this – essentially – is a conventional piece. But one that excels in Melodic Black Metal with artful forays into the Post Black, Atmo, and Symphonic arenas.
I have heard modern Extreme Metal bands trying to create similar pieces in the past. Yet none convinced me the way Seth just did. It apparently takes an original of the genre to pull all those symphonic strings and not lose sight of their creed.
In other words, La Morsure du Christ just became one of RMR’s favorite Black Metal pieces of 2021. A delicately arranged, neatly produced, and – indeed – refined piece. One that shines in the gritty, terrible, and terrifying beauty of the Lightbringer’s grimy underground.