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Review: Véhémence - Ordalies

Label: Antiq Records
Year released: 2022
Duration: 59:41
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: June 7, 2022
Reviewed by: Micah.Ram
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.91/5 (78.18%) (11 Votes)

The French Black Metal scene more than any other has been quite responsible for my return to truly enjoying Black Metal, a subgenre which I encountered right at the beginning of my days as a fan of Metal and explored to a point of exhaustion. In recent years, the scene in France has birthed many intriguing and incredible albums, and the release of Véhémence’s third full-length album, Ordalies, is no exception. With this being my first entry to the band’s work, I most definitely went backwards to check out the other two albums after binging this one.

Véhémence play a very melodic and epic brand of Medieval Black Metal. The melodic focus is very strong throughout the record and is the most standout feature of the music here, as they poured in many unique stylings such as the ornamented melodic gesture known as a mordent, which brings out the cultural flavors in the music. In addition, there seems to be a dose of counterpoint in the writing, giving it a very classically-oriented feel in places. Vocalist Hyvermor delivers a dynamic performance, contributing both in his unclean and pitched choir vocals, mostly in favor of the unclean style. The drummer, Thomas Leitner, is a very musical drummer full of energy and runs the full gamut of drumming patterns and abilities, most notably making great use of the whole kit for a variety of musically satisfying beats. Admittedly, I found the frequency of drum fills a little more than necessary on the 7th track, "Un contre mille," where he completed a fill at the end of every four phrase for a long while from the beginning when it might have been nice to let it breathe a little more. However, it’s hard to fault a man for giving it his all!

Aside from the tremendous melodic focus, one way this record really works its magic is the way it occasionally leaps into non-metal elements, such as the flute, strings, and other more folky instrumentation choices that really serve well in connecting to the medieval themes. This happens to great effect in the middle of the 4th track, "Au blason brûlé," which has a very atmospheric instrumental and folky build up leading to a high energy finish. The two instrumental tracks on the album also showcase this non-metal approach expertly, contributing to a genuine sense of world-building.

There is not a weak track on this album, but I do still have favorites. One of those is track 5, "La divine sorcellerie," which is a great example of the excellent melodic work, as this track is a melodic masterclass with very engaging harmonies to support it. The drum work is also very sensitive and quite satisfying to focus on here. The closer track, "Par le glaive," is a mid-paced exiting song which varies up the tempo feel with some blasting sections but mostly sits on a heavier groove with bold melodies and a deep-felt set of leads to ride out the final two minutes of the album. It is a very fitting ending track, reaching for a fistful of epic vibes.

This album is packed full of fist-pumping segments and memorable melodies that will likely be lodged into your brain for a long time. After listening to this album ten times, I went to listen to the earlier works. While I think the previous album is great and the first is fine as well, I feel confident in calling Ordalies the finest offering yet from Véhémence and I do not intend to put this one down any time soon.

More about Véhémence...
Review: Ordalies (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Par le sang versé (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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