The handful of releases that French black metallers Vlad Tepes put out back in the 90s have gone in and out of print over the years, usually only appearing in some new limited edition release for a moment before selling out, but now we've finally gotten these classic discs of noisy LLN blackness in stock via the new Drakkar reissues, and I've been playing the hell out of 'em. A key player in the now legendary Les Légions Noires, Vlad Tepes were one of the more straightforward sounding bands to come out of this loosely-knit black metal scene that emerged in France in the early 90s (and which also featured the likes of Mütiilation, Belkètre, Moëvöt, Susvourtre, Vèrmyapre Kommando, and Torgeist), though when we're talking about any of the bands that were part of the LLN, even the more traditional sounding bands still sounded plenty fucked-up and chaotic. And like almost all of the LLN bands, Vlad Tepes were only around for a brief time, releasing a handful of cassettes and splits between 1994 and 1996, but their stuff has been avidly sought after by fans of weird black metal ever since.
Aside from some of the rehearsal tracks that have been included on some of the Vlad Tepes reissue Cds, the Morte Lune recording from 1997 is probably the most low-fi and fucked-up sounding of all of this duo's recordings, a super blown out 4-track production job that sounds like it's been rotting away all these years since this stuff first appeared on cassette back in the mid-to-late 90s. All throughout these ten songs, the sound encounters sudden drop-outs or jarring volume swells, and one probably should have at least somewhat of a taste for extremely low-fi, noise-damaged black metal to appreciate these recordings. Its ferocious, ugly stuff though, and as with everything else that Vlad Tepes released, there are some ripping songs buried under all of the hiss and static and mangled production. Morte Lune has some of their most unhinged material, chaotic tracks like "Bleedings" and "I Died From A Vampiric Grief" sounding so blown out and murky that they start to approach the sort of maniacal violence one would expect out of an Enbilulugugal recording, while the doom-laden crush and raw blackened hatred of "Warmoon Lord" gets started with some Frostian riffage and stumbling rhythms before the band veers into a weirdly poppy hook. Songs like "L'Envol Du Corbeau" are carved out of more traditional black metal forms, but they'e in the minority; "The Dark War" is another one of their punk-infested rippers, galloping thrashing power that taps into an almost Motorhead-esque fury even as gobs of hissing static completely envelop the band, while "I Died From A Vampiric Grief" almost sounds like some ancient hardcore band trying to do a Venom jam and completely fucking it up before going into another one of those bizarre poppy major key riffs. The weirdest moments on Morte Lune, though, come from a couple of experimental tracks: the bizarre ambient dirge "Morts" is one, where simple doom-laden bass guitar riff plods beneath layered vocal noises, monstrous belching and gaseous gargling screams, producing this abstract, vomitous Abruptum-esque mess, and the insane shred-mess and demonic vomit splatter of "Meurtres" that staggers around in similar brain-damaged territory, having more in common with the bizarre LLN ambience of Vzaéurvbtre, Moevot and Susvourtre.
Awesome noisy French black metal that might have been more at home on some moldy old cassette tape, but I'll take it however I can get it; this along with all of the other recent Vlad Tepes reissues on Drakkar are highly recommended for fans of the eccentric Black Legions sound.