[11th March 2014]
01.Normandnorum Ira (Intro)
02.Bataille de Maldon
03.Chants de guerre
04.Sur les ruines de Rome
05.Le sacrifice d’Ymir
06.De murmures et de givre
07.Que le sang constelle mes mains
08.Le carmin des anges
Valknacht are a folk/pagan black metal band hailing from the Canadien province of Quebec. The five piece have been active since 2005, and have released two previous albums, with Le Sacrifice d’Ymir being their third. Their sound is fairly grandiose, influenced by mythology, nature, Bathory, and classical music. They call themselves ‘heathen black metal’ which gives a fairly decent idea of what they sound like.
It isn’t likely that the band could have opened the album in any better a way; the majestic, sombre orchestral intro is filled with gravitas, and flows right into the first track. It’s the perfect lead-in, giving the listener a great idea of what they’re in store for. “Bataille de Maldon” feels vast, ancient, and almost martial. Contrast that with a track such as “De Murmures et de Givre” which is a far more furious track that still manages to maintain melody, and you have the general span of the sonic palette of this album.
Keyboards and folk instruments are to be found here, but not in overdose. The main force of the music is from the guitar riffs and leads, as well as the vocals. Some parts are more folky, and others veer towards more atmospheric moods but still maintain a slightly heathen-esque base, almost Falkenbach-like in their execution. The true standouts of this album, however, are the orchestral parts. They have just the right amount of presence to add to the atmosphere without highjacking the music, which can be a problem (see Fleshgod Apocalypse’s Labyrinth or 90% of symphonic black metal), however they are laced throughout the guitar riffs painting a lovely sonic tapestry. They aren’t overly ambitious, but that is a good thing since they are meant for depth rather than being a main focus of the music.
Another thing that must be mentioned are the vocals; there are female vocals used here and, though they are not used often, they are used well. The growled vocals are quite good, if a bit generic in tone. That isn’t really a knock on the vocalist, since it isn’t exactly easy to completely replace your vocal chords, just a bit of an observation. The female vocals are a nice bit of variety, and once in a while, for example on the song “Sur Le Ruines De Rome”, she growls. Variety is the spice of life, and this album certainly has vocal variation.
Le Sacrifice d’Ymir is a fairly solid folk/pagan black metal type album. It doesn’t really break any new ground, but it does do its thing well. The intense blasting sections are nice, but the atmospheric orchestrated sections are much better, and are the real shining moments on this release. The best comparison would be to Falkenbach or perhaps a more black metal Eluveitie. Time will tell if this holds up over the course of the year, but for now this is a highly enjoyable if somewhat standard pagan black metal album, with really nice orchestral elements.
Favourite songs: Bataille de Maldon, De Murmures et de Givre, Le Carmin Des Anges