NEIGE ET NOIRCEUR "La Seigneurie des Loups"

FORTERESSE "Par Hauts Bois Et Vastes Plaines"

BORGNE "Entraves de l'Ame"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Quebec is certainly one of the most unique places in all of North America. With its strong French European identity and literally millions of acres of dark, cold forests, it's the most natural place for a strong black metal scene to arise. And that's just what has happened. In fact, the province is producing a variety of very authentic BM acts that rival the very best of Norway and France.

Borgne hails from Switzerland and your old pal Dr. Mality was dumb enough to think they were from Quebec. Despite my stupidity, there's little doubt this band is really at the top of the black metal mountain. These guys have created a very creepy, dark, miasmic sound on "Entraves de l'Ame". It is a triumph of freezing low-tech atmosphere, creating music that sounds like it was recorded in a cabin in the middle of the woods surrounded by howling wolves. The song "Die Trying To Take The Rope Off" is an utter and absolute classic of pure, bitter, untainted black metal, right down to the fuzzy guitar, the hypnotic riffs and the inhuman harsh vocals. I can't recommend this album highly enough for those looking for truly dismal atmosphere in BM. "The Plague" and "Dark Mirror" are also fantastic examples of "evil forest" BM at its best.

Forteresse, true and authentic Quebecers, pursue a different path and is very successful at it. "Par Hauts Bois Et Vastes Plaines" features 7 huge melancholy epics of slow, sorrowful black metal, each with the same name as the album itself. This is not "raging" or "hellspawned" black metal, but rather immeasurably droning and atmospheric music conjuring feelings of an ancient time before the arrival of mankind. There are differences between the tracks, but the overall feeling is the same. The first song is inexpressibly sad and tragic.

That leaves Neiges et Noirceur. Although this band has their moments, they don't really measure up to what Borgne and Forteresse create. They don't seem to be quite sure of what kind of band they want to be, ranging from very folky metal to long, bleak soundscapes to fairly traditional low-fi BM with a strong French identity. There are compelling parts here, but it doesn't quite hang together as a whole, so my recommendation must stay with Borgne and Forteresse.

Hard to think of any American band playing black metal on the level of Borgne, they are as grim and TRUE as any band I can think of. Head north to Quebec and get ready to lose your soul...