PAYDRETZ “Chroniques de l’Insurrection”

By Dr. Abner Mality

No music is better at delivering a history lesson than heavy metal. IRON MAIDEN comes immediately to mind with their many historical themed epics, but black metal has also provided its share of songs inspired by the past. “Chroniques de l’Insurrection” courtesy of new band PAYDRETZ is one of the most painstaking and thorough concept albums based on history that I’ve heard.

This sucker is so French it makes Jacques Cousteau seem like a cabbie from the Bronx. It is the most French album I’ve ever heard, drowning in Gallic history. The story revolves around the War in the Vendeé during the French Revolution. This was actually a “revolution against the Revolution”...the mostly Catholic inhabitants of Southern France rebelling against military conscription enforced by the leaders of the Revolution. The Vendeé rebels were finally put down, after many bloody massacres and battles. Honestly, I’m a history buff but I had almost zero knowledge of this violent episode of French history. So thanks to PAYDRETZ for enlightening us ignorant metalheads.

The band, containing members of other acts like TAN KOZH and SKYFORGER, tackle the story of the Vendeé War in the most epic way possible, combining raw but melodic black metal with both authentic French folk music and epic song structures. There are hugely effective moments here, mostly in the first half of the album, but truthfully, the record is very long and exhausting to listen to in total. The second half of the album brings in much more of the folk element and there’s a lot of spoken narration that is naturally totally in French. “Chroniques de l’Insurrection” eventually collapses under its own massive weight.

But it’s an admirable try that didn’t miss by much. Points should be added if you’re more into folk and French history. One thing’s for sure...PAYDRETZ didn’t compromise their vision one inch here. For good or bad.