Artist: Sorcier des Glaces
Label: Obscure Abhorrence Productions
Genre: Second-Wave Black Metal
The province of Quebec in Canada is a breeding ground for black metal. Something about the older culture, the harsh climate, and the proud people seems to be the perfect spot for black metal to grow roots. There are many well-known bands that represent a distinct Quebecois black metal sound, including Forteresse, Gris, and Sombres Forêts. That brings us to today’s band, Sorcier des Glaces. While they might also be from Quebec, we would be wrong to include them in the Quebecois black metal umbrella of sound. Not only are Sorcier des Glaces quite distinct from that sound, they have also been around for much longer than any of the other bands mentioned, having released their first album way back in 1998. Sorcier des Glaces harkens back to a much older sound, that of second-wave black metal and they play it perfectly.
I wouldn’t want to say that Sorcier des Glaces is pure Emperor-worship, for example, but they are pretty damn close. The way that they write their songs is directed at building that frosty grim sound that Emperor captured so perfectly on In The Nightside Eclipse. Sorcier des Glaces guitars are straight-forward and endlessly buzzing, their synths are subtle and evoke icy plains, their vocals are pure snarled fury, and their drums are blasting away. But do not let that make you think that this is a derivative or underwhelming album. North is an album that has been constructed so carefully and meticulously, you have to appreciate the consummate skill and craft that went into it. Everything sounds so perfect. Every moment of every song seems appropriate. Every shriek is bone-chilling, every burst of speed is heart-racing. Sorcier des Glaces makes it clear: there is playing a well-documented sound, and there is owning a well-documented sound. They are the latter.
The songs on North are all lengthier tracks, ranging from 6 to 8 minutes, and this length is used very well. Sorcier des Glaces knows how to take a track from introduction to main to finale, inserting brief lapses before tearing you right back into the fray with an amazing shriek or a huge blast of guitar and drums. It is music that feels exciting to listen to because there is so much going on within each song. Each moment is full of anticipation because you don’t know where it is going next. For example, the title track indulgences in a short, softer interlude after a powerful introduction, only to ramp things back up, but not as fast the song originally started. Instead, they choose an expansive and epic sound and work in clean vocals paired with their amazing shrieks. The song has so many distinct moments and memorable sounds that it blows me away that they’ve put in this much into a single song and everything flows so well together. It is seriously amazing song-writing.
The album maintains its quality the entire 53-minute length, not once feeling like it has overstayed its welcome or shoved in a filler track for the sake of it. In fact, my favourite song comes at the very end, the immensely satisfying sing-a-long, “Rites of the Black Moon”. Listen to this song alone and you will recognize that Sorcier des Glaces are a master-class act that hasn’t received the praise they truly deserve. If you haven’t heard North yet, I urge you to do so, because it is one of the best second-wave black metal albums I’ve enjoyed in years.