This has been long overdue – a nice frosty blast of Canadian (more specifically French-Canadian) Black Metal. The last time I went down this road was a few months ago when I listened to CONQUEROR’s “War Cult Supremacy”, an album that still stands as one of the most blindingly intense and hateful pieces of music ever in my book. That album was one hell of a sonic fistfuck and more than proved that Canadians, despite their generally high standard of living, are, per capita, probably the angriest bunch of people you can hope to find. This is the country that spawned the so-called War Metal genre after all, with bands like REVENGE, ANKHREHG and the aforementioned CONQUEROR coming to mind. Now, Montreal’s MONARQUE isn’t quite as intense as these other acts but “Fier Heretique“ is nevertheless a quality slab of grim yet oddly melodic Black Metal that more than met my needs.
“Fier Heretique” is actually a subtle (some might say restrained) affair, relatively speaking, with none of the riffs jumping at you and it ain’t really that aggressive either – it’s mostly mid-paced Black Metal that strongly recalls a slower SETHERIAL or even ISVIND. There’s also a Pagan vibe hanging over some of these songs that never hurts, while the vocals are competent if somewhat unspectacular (staying mostly in a far-off croaky range). So in many ways this is an average album but what saves it from total mediocrity is the fact that these songs are generally very well-structured, with none of the melodic nuances or tempo changes feeling contrived. Like any good BM album, “Fier...” has lots of spirit and feeling, and it didn’t bore me even after several listens. The intro and outro pieces blow ass, but apart from these missteps this album is very consistent, with “Marches Funebres” being the absolute highlight here, with a late melodic break segueing nicely into one of the most triumphantly epic yet sorrowful lead sections that I’ve heard in a long time. Imagine the cold melodies of DARKTHRONE’s “Wreak” coupled with those found in KEEP OF KALESSIN’s “Skygger Av Sorg”, add some trademark Canadian melancholy and you have a classic track on your hands, and one that more than justifies digging out this here album.
This album won’t floor you from the off but it squeezes every bit of power and emotion out of its admittedly limited range, and thinking about it I can’t really ask much more from an obscure Black Metal band. This does what it does very well, so when all is said and done this is a pretty nifty album and yet another quality chapter in Canada’s extreme Metal canon.
(Online May 29, 2008)