French medieval black metal outfit Aorlhac returns after a three years gap, the fourth album “Pierres Brûlées” is a supercharged rhythmic album that shows how thoroughly the band has evolved in the last few years. The new lineup includes the founding members of NKS (guitars), Spellbound (vocals), K.H. (drums), Alex (bass guitar), and Wÿntër Ärvn (guitars, vocals). The virtuoso musicians offer a high-energy performance blessed with passionate melodies and the flair of the French black metal style. In comparison to their countrymen like Darkenhöld, and Sühnopfer, the new album brings plenty of forwarding melodic motion. The quintet has enriched the song composition with fanciful guitar sections by adding an extra dose of aggression overstuffing the songs with emotive riffs.
The opening track “La colère du volcan” flows through frenzied drumming paces that reflect on the melodic spectrum. As a result of the fine musical phrasing, “Pierres Brûlées” is highly evolved from the previous album “L’esprit des vents”. “Au travers de nos cris” pushes their songwriting scope, the blasting drums give it a hefty kick, the catchy guitar patterns and the low shrieking vocals rush through the fast-paced tempo of the song. Driven by endless melodic riffs and powerful rhythm, the guitars seems to be measured by the tides of blast beats. The guitar department offers plenty of aggression whereas the melodic patterns gracefully swell to the blasting percussion.
However, the French quintet presents some refreshing structures to the following track “Vingt sièges, cent assauts”, which begins at a fiery pace of the drums, regardless of the blazing solos that are executed in a stylish way. Aorlhac blends the catchy tremolo lines allowing the melodies to ebb and flow through graceful musical landscapes. From its very outset, “Pierres Brûlées” employs the use of rich instrumentation, the high quality of the tremolo riffing weave emotive harmonies. “Nos hameaux désespérés” brings the fanciful medieval tone of the guitar harmonies, even though the band melds the aesthetics of the second wave of black metal, Aorlhac preserves its form of medieval style of songwriting.
By varying riffing palettes, the subtle use of keyboards adds a sweet romantic tone, though there’s something very appealing about the guitars and the cadence of the swirling tremolos. “Nos âmes aux mornes idées” is another highlight track on the album where the guitars vibes beautiful harmonies into the song texture. There is enough consistency among the songs sometimes when the pacing is reduced you’ll hear catchy melodic textures bouncing to the forceful tremolo lines. The tempo changes are quite smooth and full of gallops, Aorlhac’s dexterity grips the cadence and rhythm to create a perfect balance between the blasting sections. On “Pierres Brûlées” the French quintet perfected their craft thus leaving the listener lost in the haze of melodic inspiration, there’s a focus on the songwriting creativity. For example, the interplay of the guitar riffs and the screeching vocals shows a whole new level of fine musicianship.
The two-minute beautiful interlude track “Averses sur Peyre-Arse” adds strings and the cello instrument gives it a unique and mesmerizing folkish tone, the burst of passion this time seems to be elevated. Despite the eruptive pace of the drums the guitar department immediately accompanies it with explosive riffage. “Les vésanies d’Aymérigot Marchès” and “La guerre des esclops” are both fast-paced songs, the drums quickly blast off the cylinders, the addition of the thrash metal riffs in the tempo takes a fiery approach. While the major changes in the song structure deliver in quality, the new album has some flaws. The biggest drawback is that the songs take a while to provide enough hooks, and the long duration of the album spanning fifty-three minutes make some of the songs quite long. From the beginning of the album, the drums stir up an aggressive and fiery approach Aorlhac‘s flair seems a little impulsive this time.
With the album title track “Pierres Brûlées” the powerful melodies are brought to focus again, the multilayered harmonies add a gloomy tone to the song providing some hints from heavy metal. The soaring guitar solos and the blazing riffs bring a perfect closure to the album, finally, if you are into the medieval kind of French black metal then I recommend “Pierres Brûlées” to fans of Darkenhöld and Sühnopfer.
Release Date: September 24th, 2021
Label: Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions
- La colère du volcan
- Au travers de nos cris
- Vingt sièges, cent assauts
- Nos hameaux désespérés
- Nos âmes aux mornes idées
- Averses sur Peyre-Arse
- Les vésanies d’Aymérigot Marchès
- La guerre des esclops
- Pierres Brûlées