Intricate black metal is alluring as it satisfies many musical cravings. There is a rawness in the growled vocals and a beauty in the layered sounds. There is also an interesting juxtaposition in the furious tempos and almost meditational atmospheric breaks. French metal scene pioneers, Seth, released what the band is referring to as the sequel to their debut album almost 23 years later, La Morsure du Christ. This album is a nod to Seth’s beginnings and their original style consisting of blast beat drumming, snarled vocals, rhythmic and melodic guitar, and expertly combined sounds.
La Morsue du Christ features seven tracks—there is also a bonus that contains synth versions of two of the songs from the album. The synth work throughout is impeccable and adds something special, so having two songs completely showcasing synths and the talents of Pierre Le Pape makes for a dynamic and compelling release. The synth tracks are dramatic and feel as though they belong in a movie soundtrack. The whole album tells a story, and these bonus tracks only enhance it.
The album opens with no delay; the high-energy drumming and riffs are immediate. There is a symphonic feel as the synths, which here are reminiscent of string instruments, are heard clearly in the backdrop of viciously growled vocals, guitar riffs, piano, vibrating bass, and blast beat drums. This energy and overall vibe carry throughout the album with some atmospheric moments added. The songwriting is brilliant, and it is obvious that this band is not new to the scene. The technical expertise is heard and felt in each passing moment. La Morsue du Christ is an intense listen that carries a sense of urgency while also holding so much beauty.
It is hard to pick a favorite out of the main seven tracks, but I would say that the track that stuck with me the most is “Les Océans du Vide.” It begins with an ominous synth melody before guitar is added and marching drums. This melodic opening only lasts for seconds before a booming growl breaks out, the drumming intensifies, and riffs are added. Guitar is showcased in this song as it is heard in many ways, including quiet moments with prominent riffs. The synth work also stands out in this track. Spoken vocals are heard as well as more agonizing screams making it a very powerful piece.
The following track, the last of the main release, “La Triomphe de Lucifer” is heavy and drives the whole theme of the album. La Morsue du Christ literally translates to “The Bite of Christ” and phonetically “Christ’s Death is Certain.” The cover art features an image of the Notre-Dame cathedral in flames from the tragic fire that took place in 2019. The band explains that “in a world moving further away from religion and spirituality, the demise of this landmark symbolizes the end of the Christian reign and the ultimate betrayal of God. From the ashes of the cathedral, a godless world will come into being.” This final song features organ and choral vocalization amongst a fury of riffs, perfectly encapsulating the message of the album.
La Morsue du Christ is my first experience with Seth. I was pulled in by the ornately textured tracks and the Season of Mist label (a favorite of mine that works with many wonderful bands and artists). This release pushed me to explore the rest of Seth’s discography. I am also eager to see where the band goes next and how their sound will evolve. For now, I will continue to spin La Morsue du Christ and continue listening to and experiencing the back catalog.