Thursday, 7 April 2016

Cauchemar - Chapelle ardente (2016) / 90%

Death Magnetic Doom

I've been following Cauchemar since their entry in the metal world with their excellent debut EP “La vierge noire” in 2010 and their first gig ever with Vulcain, Midnight in Inepsy at their traditional Montréal venue, the Katacombes. Luckily, their second full length effort shows that the quartet kept progressing for the better since their formation as it's a total doom tour de force.

While not intrinsically different from Tenebrario in the sense that it's the same music style, it's still heavy/doom metal, there's enough new elements to say that they're out of their comfort zone. The first really noticeable addition is the organ found in several songs (like the mesmerizing “Voyage au bout de la nuit”), it adds another layer of ancient paganaltaresque metal to their already olde sound. It's also more epic than before with some longer songs like the sublime closer “La nuit des âmes” or the ethereal “Funérailles célestes” and I think they should expand this side of their music a bit more. At least it brings an additional variety to their songwriting. Finally, the whole band is better as a whole, their songwriting has improved and the musicianship is at its best. The addition of Xavier Berthiaume on the drums is noticeable and I feel that Andrés Arango's bass playing is more special and audible here than it was on their previous effort. Frontqueen Annick Giroux's vocal range has also progressed a lot since their beginning, I feel she's using her voice in a more meaningful way on this album, she's using her strengths (deep female voice with a lot of personality and character) well and she really shines on the latest two tracks of Chapelle ardente. Their music is both tighter and more atmospheric than before and that's a good way to realize that they've progressed as a band.

Their blend of busy but relatively lo-fi traditional metal is definitely one of my favorite styles of music and you really can hear the love and care for their craft within the nine songs. That's a constant concept with Cauchemar and if you know Annick, you know it's a true statement. They breathe and eat heavy metal and you want to follow them into the abysmal nightmare.

One of the sole issues I had with the album is that it can be somewhat uneven, there's some little quality drops on certain tracks but nothing dramatic. It's also perhaps not as catchy as Tenebrario but that's not necessarily a bad thing... There's still catchy, fast tracks like “L'oiseau de feu” or “Main de gloire” but in general, it's a more subdued album.

Francois Patry is once again an absolute beast on the guitar, the dude is indeed tighter than Satan's butthole.
The tone is also perfect for this style of metal, it's not modern at all and recalls the sound proto metal bands were using with the speedy doom acrobatics of Pentagram. Nevertheless, my favorite moment remains the clean, acoustic overture of the aforementioned final offering “La nuit des âmes” (possibly their best track ever), it's the most subtle piece of music I've heard Cauchemar play and it's outstanding.

Overall, it's a very strong, straightforward, rich and enjoyable album. It's still a joy to hear well written occult French lyrics in my doom metal and I'll always be thankful to Annick for sticking to her guns.

Emmène moi dans ton monde car la nuit est longue
Emmène moi dans ton monde, ce soir je suis prête

This was one of my most awaited albums of 2016 and I'm far from disappointed, it's a great album and Cauchemar's best effort. It's fun to see a local band that you've been following for a while improve and evolve! I can't wait to see them live again, I've already heard some of the new tracks live when they played with the majestic Magic Circle back in January and I was already convinced by their new compositions. Long live the nightmare!

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