Ars Moriendi - Sepelitur AlleluiaEarlier this year, I penned a review describing my unbiased approach when listening to and reviewing an album. But, bias is a real thing and, boy, can it be difficult to ignore. Especially when the band being reviewed is an old-time favorite. I think that’s why, deep down, all reviewers love new bands. It’s much easier to approach a new band with minimal bias. Especially when you get bored with an album that you should be writing a review for and decide to check on that next promo waiting in the queue [No more queue for you!Steel Druhm]. The only thing I knew going into Ars Moriendi was that this black metal outfit is from France, which means they’re probably weird as shit. But, being the fan I am of Spektr, Reverence, and Blut aus Nord, I wasn’t too worried. So, not expecting anything novel, I put in my buds and fired up Sepelitur Alleluia. And, oh lordy, I was taken by surprise. It turns out there is more to Ars Moriendi than meets the eye (or ear).

Like others on the interwebz, the biggest surprise about Ars Moriendi is the fact that “they” are a one-man band. Sure, this isn’t some new thing, but if you look at the band’s entire discography, it’s rather stunning that a single, twisted soul could conjure up such an assortment of atmospheres, driving riffs, and wide-eyed oddities. For instance, the journey down the black path of “Ecce Homo” begins with church choirs before traversing thickets of bass-guitar leads, synthy landscapes, alternating rasps and barks, and a blaring trumpet. Yep, I said trumpet. And not the cheesy kind of trumpet buried in the back of a Dimmu Borgir symphony. This horn gets all the limelight and, somehow, is the exact thing this track needed. It’s like Chumbawamba if Chumbawamba was a really good black metal band. After the track reemerges from Arsonist’s signature chugs, it concludes with a dramatic brass and woodwind duet. The description may bring Sigh to mind, but Ars Moriendi is a little more restrained than those crazy Japanese black metallers.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Closer “Fléau français” capitalizes on every twist and turn the band has ever explored (be it this album or any of their previous three). Though “Ghost,” from their Du tréfonds d’un être release, may be their roundest piece, “Fléau français” is their fullest. For the first six minutes, the closer feels like the sequel to opener “Sepeliture.” But, the next twelve minutes take things to the next level. First, the song slows to a bass-led, ’70s rock improv session, filled with sporadic guitar solos. From here, it drops off into a synth-induced valley, where drums rap like the quickening of a heartbeat. The tribal beat builds the song up to post-black swoonings and its melodic tremolos climb and climb to a climax never quite obtained. Though the peak wasn’t all I wanted it to be, the beautiful piano outro is worth the trip.

unicorn-drunk

The remaining three tracks on Sepelitur Alleluia are a bit more normal. “Sepeliture” alternates between fast and slow, exchanging traditional black-metal tremolos for post-black builds that use the bass guitar for greatest effect. After “Ecco Homo” dissipates, Arsonist’s razor-sharp riffs make “À la vermine” the most aggressive track on the album. It’s got a steady stream of hooking riffs that encourage massive amounts of headbanging pleasure. Especially when Arsonist’s rasps exaggerate the marching leads. Had “Ecce Homo” and “À la vermine” traded places on the album, the effect would not have been the same. “À la vermine” is the perfect successor to “Ecco Homo.”

Unfortunately, the remaining track, “Je vois des morts,” doesn’t stick with me like the others. It has a beautiful, clean-guitar intro and outro, but the core of the song is rather typical black metal. It’s got the same kind of melody-meets-aggression found across the record, but its omission would most likely strengthen the album. Having engrossed myself in the band’s entire discography in this last week, I’m having a hard time deciding on this album or Du tréfonds d’un être as their finest. Regardless, Ars Moriendi is an impressive black metal outfit and this gem arrived just in time for some cold, autumn nights.


Rating: Very Good!
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Archaic Sound
Websites: facebook.com/arsmorie
Releases Worldwide: October 15th, 2016

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  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    That unicorn is a lush.

    • The Unicorn

      Alcoholism runs in my family lineage as you can see…

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        You lush!!

      • sir_c

        it makes one horny, doesn’t it?

        • basenjibrian

          Stop with the corny humor! We are metal intellekshuals here!

          • sir_c

            nothing beats a… oh crap… it’s everywhere in all its cornyness

  • Ein Sophistry

    “Black Metal” + “French Metal” is coming to be a damned near instant sell for me.

    • basenjibrian

      Mais Oui! Vive la France Noire!

  • Sharp-Blunt Boy

    I’m just drinking my second espresso, which might explain the heightened excitement coursing through my veins, but: chumbawamba, sigh and dimmu referenced in one review. Wow!

    I’ve been mostly underwhelmed recently, so this should be the shot in the arm i need.

  • Eli Valcik

    Can we get some Unicorn themed AMG merch?

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      I just want AMG merch in general tbh. Having Monsterth’s chili recipe comment or AMG’s top 10 for 2012 printed on a shirt would be baller.

      • Dr. Wvrm

        I was considering begging for an Angry Mona Lisa copy to print on a black t-shirt or something. I don’t even need a logo, just that beautiful cookiepuss.

      • The Nerd.GO JAYS

        I’m surprised they haven’t already. I mean they’d make a few bucks atleast.

      • Peter Edward Richardson

        where can one find this chilli recipe comment?

        • AlphaBetaFoxface

          I can’t paste the link but it is in the comments section of Madam X’s Naðra review. Absolutely priceless comment that one is.

    • El_Cuervo

      AMG is very sensitive to cries that we’re selling out haha

  • Prostidude

    Wow! Way to let the music breathe in the middle of the embedded song, this is a masterclass in dynamics. Lots of bands would benefit from song structure enhancements, this French dude should start a metal consultancy firm.

    Absolute joy to read your review Dr A!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thanks very much!

      It’s a pretty cool song. And not even my favorite of the album.

  • Alex Timmer

    I don’t know, the music’s good, but the vocals just don’t cut it for me.

    • Alex Timmer

      Though I must say I’m having a hard time turning it off when it’s instrumental. Indeed an assortment of atmospheres, driving riffs, and wide-eyed oddities

      • Alex Timmer

        Okay, maybe I can get used to the vocals. This is an emotional rollercoaster, this is.

        • Alex Timmer

          Aaah the trumpets! CAN’T STOP! D:

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            This play-by-play of your emotions is amazing.

          • sir_c

            I recall once a thread here on AMG about the (im)possibilility to incorporate saxophone in metal.

            I must say that the trumpet comes close as such an instrument, no?

          • basenjibrian

            What about the epic Beyond Dawn? Or Solefald? :)

          • Arsonist Tohliam

            There are the 2 instruments in Ecce Homo, trompette and sax ! :-)

  • GardensTale

    Pet peeve: if you’re gonna use Latin, don’t pronounce ecce as “exe”, it’s “ekke”. Romans did not pronounce the c as an s, ever.

    I’m not an expert on black metal and the vocals take some getting used to, but holy song dynamics batman! This guy knows his contrasts!

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Here I was, thinking it was “etche”…

      • AgonMcDuck

        As a student of Latin of two years (Catholic high school, yo) I can tell you that both are correct–while the Romans traditionally used “ekke,” Church Latin uses that one. Whichever you wish to use I guess depends on if you want to invoke Caligula or the Antichrist. Oh wait…

        Also, “Ecce homo, qui est faba.”

        • sir_c

          Is “etche” not just the Italian way of saying it?

        • András Fodor

          Strange as it might be, I’m pretty sure it’s “ektse”. Anyone backing me up on this?

  • Thorbjørn Thaarup

    “It’s like Chumbawamba if Chumbawamba was a really good black metal band.” Ok – I’m sold. I’ve gotta check it out.

    • Thorbjørn Thaarup

      The new album isn’t on Spotify yet, but I’ve given ye olde ones a listen. Some inspired stuff there as well.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        He has been chugging out a lot of consistently good albums for awhile now. Can’t say anything bad about his entire catalog.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Thanks very much for the link and congrats on the album. It is stunning.

  • ars_nihili

    Let it be known that ars nihili approves ars moriendi.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      One ars(e) approves another. All things are right in the world.

      • ars_nihili

        Is that what “A.” stands for in “Dr. A.N. Grier”?

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          It pretty much stands for any ass-related word you can come up with.

          • sir_c

            be careful what you wish for

  • André Snyde Lopes

    France + Black Metal = Awesome

    Edit: Except Marseille. There are no bands whatsoever here, it seems.

  • Mr T

    Hah! Trvmpets.

  • basenjibrian

    All right! This is a major discovery! I also love Fleau because of the bass line. This is a great review (as always).
    Plus, one of my post-Lottery fantasies is to somehow contact the fantastic black-metal-classical musicians behind my single favorite musical project of all time ELEND and pay for them to release their remaining songs! And this introduction sounds amazingly like ELEND at their greatest.
    Arsonist: Congrats on a stellar release. Black metal that is symphonic and somber yet also GROOVY! (I just found your other albums on bandcamp and I am already a big fan!)

    • Arsonist Tohliam

      Thx very much, Elend is one of my biggest influence and probably my favorit musical project all time !!! If you are interressed by cd version, 2 last albums are available on archaic bandcamp !! Cd version of the new album will be available in few days ! Thx for your support !

      • Marc Rikmenspoel

        I’ve been listening to all your stuff on Bandcamp and Youtube. Your black hole album in particular makes me think it sounds like Yes making a BM album. But everything I’ve heard is good, so I’ll be getting it all. Between Bandcamp for your two most recent, and Amazon for the first two and your split, it can all be had digitally and legally.

        • Arsonist Tohliam

          Cool ! Thx !!

  • AgonMcDuck

    Holy fuck, there’s a LOT to like about this song, but the clean guitar passage starting at around 5:30 is probably my favorite moment. I dunno why. It just made me so… happy.

    I will check out the rest of their work as soon as my internet connection here is not utter shit.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It’s a great song. I’m a sucker for the clean stuff too.