Throughout the years of my humble experience in non-professional black metal promotion, I learnt that if there is no passion, it’s not worth it. Simple as that. If you cannot connect to the actual music on an emotional level and live it through, you will become just another worthless grumpy scribbler that writes about whatever he is thrown at. In this sense, If I don’t identify myself with what I am listening to, I simply pass on to an album that will resonate with me. Case in point – Aorlhac’s “L’esprit des vents“.
France is currently blooming with exceptional bands, which continuously offer precious material and Aorlhac is one of them to take the blame. The band started their epic journey in 2008 and as far as I could see, their work has been received very well. And today, it hit me why. Aorlhac’s discography doesn’t stretch across great lengths, however, with each album their work raises the bar to a magnitude that can only be outlined as “L’esprit des vents“; the 3rd full-length of the French collective, which saw the light of day on 2nd March 2018 and stole my heart instantly.
This CD comes with a track list of 10 songs that closes in nearly an hour of play time, with only a single instrumental, namely the title track. “L’esprit des vents” happens to be the 3rd installment of a trilogy that was initiated with Aorlhac’s debut back in 2008. What inspires these tunes relates to local occitan legends and stories of prominent figures that left a significant mark in the historical timeline of France. Now, I could not go any deeper than this unfortunately, since the lyrics are in French. Anyway, the music itself is expressive enough to evoke vivid images, so let’s jump right into it.
Random fact: Aorlhac is the name of the town (Aurillac) of where the band derives in Occitan language.
“L’esprit des vents” is yet another reason of why I advocate black metal. It breeds passion, dedication and honours all principles of making art at its finest. Be it from compositional standpoint, execution, production and presentation. It is firmly rooted in the 90’s epic wave, shining with a strong character that captivated me from the very beginning. This album delivers a great deal of excitement effortlessly through the sheer amount of infectious melodic tremolo picking, furious rhythms and vocal dynamics.
Overtaking the forefathers
Generally, I am totally fine when I see a band establishing their craft onto the solid bedrock of a genre that was, is and will always work if approached wholeheartedly. Given the album’s setting, I could not imagine any other means of exemplifying French folklore except for the epic tints and immersive melodies that radiate with intensity that hits right into the emotions. But it’s not just the well rounded guitar execution fusing captivating melodies and fury in a flawless manner, nor the masterfully performed drumming bursting with frenzy that makes this record such an amazing follow-up. Moreover, it’s not for the fact that this trio made no compromise to such an extend that they left no gaps of boredom turning time into an irrelevant fact and replay-ability to a burning desire. It is in fact, that notion of substantiality that fills in the fabrics of the track list with an incredible richness of variability; subtly borrowing elements from blackened thrash & heavy metal for even greater complementary effect to the abundance of breathtaking moments.
Although, at times the album might be reminiscent of basically most of the medieval / pagan-inspired metal recordings out there for it packs knightly guitar arrangements that are somewhat iconic for the aforementioned genres, Aorlhac managed to pull it off with just the right twist; they chose not to make it the backbone supporting the entire record. In fact, it is just a fraction amidst the orgiastic tempos that serve as icing on top for additional versatility. So fear not; this is not epic black metal by the book! It is a role model of how one can perfect a foundation as long as he is ready to surrender himself to passion completely.
Speaking of passion , the vocalist, namely Spellbound, shows an absolute commitment to painting dramatic scenery through his distinctive battle cries. He portrayed the lyrics in such a lively manner as if he himself lived through those harsh times racing against Death’s hourglass. Exceptional delivery, indeed! Of course, the polished mixing & mastering also doesn’t fall behind, which is why it is such a pleasure to listen to, deconstruct and analyze the track list. Last but certainly not the least is the cover artwork. Just take a look at the majestic landscape by Stan W-D whose artistic experience translates ideally the magnificence of “L’esprit des vents” into the visual spectrum.
“L’esprit des vents” is by my standards a masterpiece rushing with vigor that moved me a great deal. It felt close, inspirational and authentic in just about every stage of its production. A work of passion and breathtaking quality. Enjoy!
Special regards to LADLO Productions for providing a physical copy.