At last back in stock, the fourth album from French black kommandos Peste Noire, released through Quebecois label Transcendental Creations. Following up their excellent Ballade Cuntre Lo Anemi Francor with an even more epic and intricate sound, L'Ordure √† L'√©tat Pur is as strange and eccentric as anything that we've ever heard from bandleader Famine and his crew of miscreants, continuing to pursue an idiosyncratic black metal assault that blends their French Nationalist leanings and misanthropic vision with a sonic stew that often borders on the absurd. As with Peste Noir's previous output, the band's sound at it's core is based around an oddly janky guitar tone, loose-limbed drumming and screeching vocals that all produce a brand of punk-damaged black metal, and even at their most epic, the band seethes with a rawness that offsets their more offbeat tendencies. Of which there are many.
And what a grand opening. "Casse, P√™ches, Fractures Et Traditions" rises up in a din of howling wolves and folk-flecked guitar, with other distorted guitars playing a mournful chanson-like melody, dark sounds swirling all around as the song looms into view, a kind of blackened French folkiness materializing out of the night, turning to loping lycanthropic majesty of the song proper as the main riff kicks in. It's brilliant stuff, a vicious mid-paced black metal riff ripping through the verse, but then everything suddenly giving way to traditional French folk music later on, accordions and trombones and cello and acoustic guitar all caught up in a maudlin melody. That unusual combination of blackened metal and French folk gets even more tangled as "Traditions" goes on, turning into a ridiculously catchy blast of weirdo aggression that's also peppered with all sorts of other quirky sounds, the crowing of a rooster, random street sounds, and other elements from Peste Noire's environment that all contributes to the narrative behind this album.
As seemingly silly as some of this might appear on the surface, this music is really deadly serious. Other songs like "Sale Famine Von Valfoutre " and "Cochon Carotte Et Les SŇďurs Crotte" are even more blistering in their blackened attack, dissonant riffs and eerie leads racing over ramshackle thrash beats and blasts, the latter almost taking on a bizarrely techno-like throb at times. And that electronic music influence gets really overt at times, shifting into a skittering quasi-breakbeat that appears beneath breathy, almost eroticized female voices, hysterical screams, blackened Darkthrone-esque riffing and weirdly funky bass guitar, with gorgeous horns appearing later over another throbbing blackened groove in a moment of utterly grim beauty. Elsewhere, frantic polka beats infest the epic metal, and the music bursts into frenzied speeds and anthemic hooks that feel more informed by old hardcore punk.
And then there is the centerpiece of L'Ordure, the twenty-minute "J‚Äôavais R√™v√© Du Nord" that at first combines the sound of a shotgun being cocked and fired with menacing industrial, that weapon becoming an almost percussive effect as the song spreads out into a Wax Trax-like industrial metal groove, the vocals taking on a gruff, almost hip-hop like flow, only for it to all bottom out into a beautiful, mournful folk song. Violins and cello drift in over this aching and romantic music, followed by beautiful female vocals and flamenco-style guitar, and it becomes the album's most striking passage. Which makes the ferocious black metal that explodes out of that feel all the more powerful. The rest of the song proceeds to blend these various sounds together into a masterwork of folk-tinged blackness, majestic classical metal fusing with snarling thrash and stirring melodies that border on a kind of darkened pop, those achingly familiar strains of folk music winding perfectly around the expressive bass guitar work, that haunting female vocalist trailing after the vicious blackened shrieks, all leading up to the point where the band suddenly coalesces around a monstrous charred groove towards the end, an off-kilter heaviness taking over as the song lurches to it's desperate, deranged conclusion.
In the album's finale, the band slips into one last blackened lament with "La Condi Hu", bringing beautiful vocal harmonies to the song's mournful melody, all melancholy gloompop as the swarming tremolo riffing and scathing vocals surround this lush, lovely heaviness, chugging riffs and furious double bass underscoring the otherwise gorgeous, doleful hook, stretching out across the end of album with one of the band's "prettiest" passages.
There have been plenty of bands who have played with the mixture of folk music and electronic dance music with black metal, but this sounds like none of that. L'Ordure √† L'√©tat Pur is singular in it's weirdness and experimentation, so unmistakably French and driven by its own bizarre genius that it truly exists in a weird zone all it's own. A middle finger to black metal purists, while at the same time espousing a purely misanthropic vision that would wither most newer "black metal" outfits. One of Peste Noir's finest moments.