VEHEMENTER NOS- Vehementer Nos (Osmose Productions)
France is a country known primarily in the metal world for its contributions to the world of black metal by being the breeding ground for such progressive and challenging acts as DEATHSPELL OMEGA and BLUT AUS NORD. Add to the list VEHEMENTER NOS, another French black metal band who do more than simply copy & paste the Scandinavian formula, fusing together a collage of different influences to create some very intriguing and enjoyable music. For being their debut album this is an especially impressive offering due to how polished it sounds. The band formed in 2000, and with this being their first official release it is clear that they spent a lot of time perfecting their skills, apparent the technical prowess on display particularly from a drumming standpoint. Not only is it technically precise, it enhances the music as a whole, which is what all great drumming does. Far more than simply keeping the rhythm, the drumming here provides a real backbone for the music, and keeps things interesting while maintaining focus. This record has much more variety in tempo than most black metal albums, even those of similar ilk, so there are lots of shifts and changes throughout that the drumming really helps hold together while adding some cool touches of its own (some of the fills are just electrifying). Aside from the that, the riffs on this album are also strong, carrying an evil tone throughout. Many of the parts are easily pigeon-holed as falling under the generic black metal tag, but there is enough variety to make it not feel stagnant. The use of added ornamentation by instruments such as the cello, violin, and flute continues to keep the album engaging and fresh sounding, which is perhaps its greatest attribute of all. By no means whatsoever is this a boring disc, and nor does it sound tired and dated like a lot of black metal, a scene clearly glutted by an amalgam of uninspiring acts.
The album begins with "Contre Le Cycle" , introducing the band's classical influence with some nice instrumentation before the furious riffing comes in and establishes the mood. "Les Dévastés" includes some of the album's best riffs as well, with all of the rhythm shifts and tempo changes that are characteristic of the record. When it starts to get predictable for even a moment, something will change and a new theme will be introduced, so it stays fresh and engaging the whole way through. "Seuls", another standout, uses more great classical sections to set up a killer black metal frenzy. They do revert a couple of times to the samples of rain coming down while the violin plays unaccompanied, which while being a good effect when used properly, when overused it starts becoming a bit cheesy. Still, having other elements besides the standard bass/drum/guitar/vocal attack helps a lot, especially because these are the actual instruments being played and recorded as opposed to keyboard-triggered samples, enhancing the sound a ton. Throughout the album however, the power and emotion of the riffs is undeniable, covering the spectrum of how the guitar can be used to create such a dark and foreboding mood that owes a lot of the mystique of classical compositions. The acoustic parts here are some of the highlights, and not just merely for being as such and providing a relief from the blizzard of the torrential riffing, they are well-written and give something unique to each song. Therein lies the great strength of this album; every instrument serves a specific purpose in crafting the band's sound, an approach that works in giving it such a seamless texture that everything flows together despite the apparent chaos on the surface. Indeed this is one of the most highly polished black metal records ever.
Ultimately, VEHEMENTER NOS' debut self-titled album exudes the powerful confidence of a band who have mastered their craft and are creating something interesting and relevant with their music, and it hopefully will be the start to a long run of great recordings.