In Case You Missed It: Sainte Marie des Loups & Vonlaus
Two overlooked black metal gems brought to you by The Culling of Richter’s Bandcamp Wishlist.
Well, you might not have overlooked them, but I certainly did. After listening to twenty seconds of each song, I shoved them onto my Bandcamp wishlist, hoping I would either feel inspired to purchase or else remember to delete them some day. If you’re using your wishlist correctly, like me, then it is somewhere between half and twice as large as your purchased collection. No matter how much you cull, it is always too big. It keeps you awake at night; it is giving you kidney stones. It is a sobering mirror for your worst consumer instincts (gluttony, conformity, social signaling). The reality is that you could delete the entire thing in one fell swoop and your life would not change for the worse; if anything, you would be liberated to go out and make your parents/guardians proud. But your parents secretly wish you were never born and life is a pitiless grind and every once in a while it is good for your mental health to treat yourself to the empty spiritual calories of an impulse purchase. Here are two of mine:
VONLAUS — S/T
The boom of Icelandic black metal has dwindled to a trickle over the last couple years, and Vonlaus appeared quietly out of nowhere last year to add a few more drops. Although the musicians who created this three-song EP are undoubtedly also involved in Svartidauði and/or Misþyrming, Endalok, Wormlust, Sinmara, Almyrkvi, Naðra, etc., what’s on offer here isn’t exactly emblematic of black metal from the land of people who proudly have sex with elves. It’s not particularly raw or cavernous, chaotic or chthonic. It actually sounds a bit like Mannveira on antidepressants — that is, prevailingly mid-paced and straightforward but not decrepit with lo-fi misery. With a clean production and almost rock-oriented bent, it goes down much smoother than most other fair from in or about Reykjavík. It is really only the manic distress in the vocals, to my ears, which connects Vonlaus to the scene. Maybe the reason they didn’t make a splash was that they’re playing it a bit on the safe side. I like what I’m hearing, but I’d like to see them push it the next time around. (Push what? Doesn’t matter, as long as they push it real good.) FFO: Iceland in spring and summer, when the tundras are green and the sun never sets.
Released independently on January 22nd, 2018, with a cassette version supposedly forthcoming from Mystískaos and Vánagandr.
SAINTE MARIE des LOUPS — S/T
And here we have another stripped-down cut of black metal, although France’s Sainte Marie des Loups likes it raw. How raw? Bloody. The riffs are all Burzumic buzzing, blown-out squalls of fuzz played at two exclusive speeds: kinda slow and kinda fast. Cosmic synths occasionally distinguish themselves from the distorted vitriol, while the drums pound ignorantly away — to little avail, as they are barely audible. Normally I would be miffed by the almost comedically abysmal drum production, but I can’t say I’m not charmed by the bass drum that sounds like someone whapping a wet paper bag with a felt mallet or the toms that sound like someone has loosened all the lug nuts on the rims, completely detuning the heads. In bizarre contrast, the vocals are front-and-center and clear as day, even articulate by comparison. Despite the orthodox simplicity and disregard for fidelity that Sainte Marie des Loups employs, the songs are believable, delectable, perhaps even casting the illusion of depth. For reference, imagine a more melodic Cultes des Ghoules, or a more intelligible Black Cilice. FFO: Nothing much.
Oh, hey, and because I know a bunch of you are perverts who get off on this sort of thing, here’s a photo of the cassette:
Released by Fallen Empire Records on digital and LP on August 5th, 2018. No idea where or if you can even get the cassette anymore, and I won’t research it because I don’t care.