Les Chants du Hasard - Les Chants du HasardI’ve been lurking the metal blogosphere for around a decade now, and while I hesitate to call myself a scene vet, I’ve read enough write-ups from various webzines to know how coverage of a record like the self-titled debut of France’s Les Chants du Hasard generally plays out. Most scribes hunger for the discovery of some nebulous “next big thing” that carries the potential of turning a genre on its head. As such, many writers are overly eager to gush over potential innovators; when met face to face with what their promo sheet describes as an all-orchestral black metal album, they’re often too willing to jump on the hype train, regardless of quality. I can’t really say I blame them, as a record as genuinely unique as Les Chants du Hasard is undoubtedly an exciting prospect. That being said, hyperbolic claims regarding this record should be taken with a grain of salt, as it’s a compelling experience that doesn’t quite live up to its ambitious goals.

With Les Chants du Hasard, sole member Hazard set out to unify the realms of black metal and classical music. I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about the history of 1800s orchestral music from which Hazard drew his primary inspirations1, but I do know more than a little bit about black metal, and I can safely say this LCDH nails the genre’s atmosphere. Years of listening to black metal have diluted its inherent shock value, yet this record sounds downright frightening in comparison to most releases of the style. Huge, dissonant horn swells and swirling strings are blanketed by venomous black metal croaks in richly layered soundscapes that peak and valley in melodramatic fashion. The compositions can range from hugely bombastic (“Chant I,” “Chant III”) to mystical and restrained (“Chant II,” “Chant IV”), granting LCdH a respectable and refreshing sense of track identity and variety.


Though not necessarily in my wheelhouse, I have no real issues with LCdH’s songwriting. Where the album falls short, however, is in its aspirations to be a “new” kind of black metal record. The blackened vocals certainly lend a dose of unsettling intensity to the proceedings, but from song construction to instrument implementation, I can’t really detect anything that resembles black metal from a structural standpoint. I should reiterate that its atmosphere and experimental stylings feel deeply rooted in the avant-garde nature of many of black metal’s more unusual acts, and this may just be enough to convert more adventurous listeners. Just keep in mind that, if you’re lured into LCdH by any buzz hyping it up to be a black metal album of any sort, you may ultimately feel like a victim of false advertising.

Les Chants du Hasard 2017This isn’t to say that I believe Hazard or the label’s PR intended to mislead listeners in any way. LCdH is a release that has clearly had a metric ass-ton of thought, time, and effort placed into its construction, and I’m astounded at Hazard’s ability to skillfully handle all vocals and instruments. It’s packed with off-kilter movements that stick in the mind like cosmic tar from the first listen; moments like the distorted, disturbing vocal layering in “Chant IV” and the methodical march of crescendoing strings and chants in “Chant III” are wonderfully weird instances of creative expression. Yet a record as intricate as this one practically demands a production job more nuanced than your average metal release, and in this respect, LCdH misses the mark. There are countless layers at work, yet the mixing doesn’t do this complexity justice, crowding the winds and strings together. This can sound especially obnoxious when layered vocals are piled on top, and it’s a damn shame that arrangements this dramatic aren’t accompanied by similarly dynamic volume fluctuations.

What Les Chants du Hasard has accomplished with this release is truly something to behold, but I’m just not sure that it’s for me. Go ahead and call me a plebeian, but the strictly orchestral music just ain’t my bag, and hardly anything about it appeals to the black metal fan in me. Still, if you’re up for a non-metal record marketed to metal fans, this is an appealingly unconventional release that packs in some undeniably disturbing and unexpected moments of sheer creativity. Even though I won’t be returning to it much in the future, you can bet I’ll be blasting LCdH for impressionable trick-or-treaters come Halloween.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Websites: leschantsduhasard.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/leschantsduhasard
Releases Worldwide: June 23rd, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. His influences include Modest Mussorgsky, Sergej Prokofiev, and Richard Strauss, for those curious.
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  • Dethjesta

    Interesting, no doubt about that, not really sure it works for me either.

    I totally agree though, that the place for this is Halloween. It’s very creepy and eerie.

  • Wes Allen

    That photo is ridiculous. Plus, I think he forgot his monocle.

  • welyyt

    It always sucks to see someone come up with a somewhat innovative concept and not completely succeed in executing it; this sounds much more interesting on paper than in practice.

    The photo is awesome though.

  • My wife would love this for the simple fact that everything is “Chant #”. She always refers to songs as “Track #” and rarely by their title and with her thick accent this would make her sound like she was very knowledgeable.

    • welyyt

      It really annoys me when bands do the “Track #” thing; it’s like when someone asks you “What’s your favorite song from this album?”, and you’re like “I don’t know, it’s probably III or VI.”.

      It just reminds you that Demilich had the best song titles.

      • Oh, I definitely agree. It is really hard discussing music with my wife sometimes because I ask her what she thought of a song and she doesn’t know what I am talking about or she’ll come home from work and say, “I couldn’t stop repeating ‘Track X’ and ‘Track Y'” and I have to think about it to figure out which songs she’s talking about.

      • sir_c

        The only time a number is to be used is when you ask your friend if he prefers 10 or 15 year old scotch.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Now I need to know what kind of an accent she has.

      • She moved here from China in 2006 to get her masters degree. I met her thanks to Iron Maiden and Megadeth (she was 8 months pregnant with our son at the Iron Maiden Somewhere Back in Time tour and I couldn’t convince her to stay home!). Her English is much better now but it still gives people a hard time if they don’t know her.

        • PanzerFistDominatrix

          That’s a good how-we-met-story! Being a Stranger in a Strange Land after crossing a Sea of Madness can sometimes lead to Wasted Years. For you two it evidently didn’t so Heaven can Wait :-)

          • Thank you kind sir and I certainly appreciate the references, most impressive that you kept them all to Somewhere in Time!

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            Thanks, I did my best – but I can go From Here to Eternity!

    • Eldritch Elitist

      To clarify, each song does have a proper title following “Chant xx”, but I omitted them because I think reviews read better when they’re not interrupted by long song titles.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        So I guess you’re not writing that “Yer Metal Is Olde” for Demilich, then…

  • Thatguy

    You are a nice guy, EE, and quite gentle in making it clear that this is not something most of the AMG readership would be interested in. This is clever, well written and well played, but it is simply horrible to listen to. It ain’t metal in any sense and it is naive and uninteresting by the standards of modern orchestral music. The avowed 19th century influences do not need reviving.

    If I had to rate this it would be 0.0 because – to me – this is worthless.

    • Drew Music

      I love it when we can’t agree here, for such an angry place this has to be one of the most agreeable comments sections on the interwebz.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You know we are ALL waiting for you to rate the picture.

      • Thatguy

        I don’t want to be predictable.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I’m living proof that too much power metal will make you soft.

      • Thatguy

        No, that’s SD.

        • Drew Music

          Round Two: FIGHT

          • Thatguy

            But I agree with EE! He is just a kinder critic – and probably a nicer man – than I am.

          • Drew Music

            Ya done implied the Steel be soft, good sir, and I do believe that them’s be’s fightin’ woids.

          • Thatguy

            Ah, so I have. I think I already did that though.

          • Drew Music

            …hence ’round two.’ Who are you, and what have you done with Thatguy?

          • Thatguy

            Thatguy is not a miserable old bastard.

            He just hates power metal.

          • Drew Music

            I’m a miserable young bastard who hates power metal, this e-friendship shall remain intact.

          • You wot m8?

            As he should!

          • [not a Dr]

            This statement contradicts all the Band Photometer results up to date.

        • The steel in the name is for a reason.

          • [not a Dr]

            All this time I was wondering why you called yourself a holy electric snake fish… St Eel.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Danny Elfman + Black Metal Vocals ?

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Listening to this is like listening to an orchestral intro that never ends. I keep waiting for the Metal to kick in.

    • Drew Music

      666% accurate, m’dude.

  • David Briers

    This isn’t entirely new really – it’s very reminiscent of Elends output (particularly Les Ténèbres du Dehors back in 1996) – however, as a big fan of that band, this is totally my cup of tea so at least one lurker on this site will be listening to it a good deal! :)

    • basenjibrian

      Shoot. I just posted another comment about ELEND. The Umbersun and World in their Screams is on my top twn (or at least top twenty) albums of all time. And I buy far more music than I can really afford.

      • Suffering Zappatash

        +1 for the Elend love-in! Les Ténèbres du Dehors is probably my favourite of theirs! I’m liking this album and this may tide me over until a new Elend album comes out!

        • basenjibrian

          California Lottery is $150 Million tonight!

          I promise that if I win, I will pay for the final production and release of the remaining Elend music! (ROFLOL). They have said that they have quite a bit of unreleased music, so….

          • Suffering Zappatash

            Fingers crossed for you basenjibrian! LOL

        • basenjibrian

          “Incipit Lectio Tenebrarum”

          Gets me every single fucking time! LOL

          I am such a sucker for Latin, and I was never raised Catholic or any student of the Classics.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    That is some seriously compelling art… I’m going to check the album out just because… looks good… I know I’m the worst

  • basenjibrian

    This may be up my alley. I was a major, major fanboy for the neoclassical/black metal/bombastic over the topness of Franco-Austrian project Elend (financing the recording and release of their remaining material would be a post-Lottery project of mine!).
    I still listen to The Umbersun and The World in their Screams on at least a monthly basis.

    • basenjibrian

      I also (cringe) like Sopor Aeternus.

  • Matthew

    I’m genuinely not trying to be a dick and I mean this in the most respectful way I can put it (as a long-time reader of this website), but I almost feel like the review undermines its own legitimacy. I’ve not listened to this album, and I probably won’t have time to do so for a while, but if you openly admit that you’re not into orchestral music then I’m not really sure why you’re reviewing a piece of orchestral music or what place you have doing so. If I disliked hip-hop, I wouldn’t go and review a new hip-hop album and then mark it down for being hip-hop.

    The review as a whole just seems to miss the point entirely – “Go ahead and call me a plebeian, but the strictly orchestral music just ain’t my bag, and hardly anything about it appeals to the black metal fan in me.” Okay, so you went in expecting a black metal record (for some reason), then were disappointed that you didn’t get a black metal record, and marked it down for being a different genre of music that you aren’t a fan of?

    Aside from this, the only real complaint I can see in this review is that the mixing job could have been better – but fundamentally it seems that your central problem with this is that it’s orchestral music, not black metal, and that you don’t like orchestral music. You repeatedly praise the intricacy and richness of the instrumentation and composition, and note that it unsettles and scares in a way that many black metal albums have been unable to for many years. But the mixing is flawed, it’s orchestral music, and you aren’t sure if this can accurately be called black metal, so it’s a 2.5/5.

    I don’t know, I do just feel this review possibly ought to have been handed off to another writer who wasn’t disposed against the record from the outset, and I say that as someone who hasn’t got any kind of bias in favour of this album at all, having only heard the song they streamed in advance once and very vaguely keeping an eye on the album since.

    • Thatguy

      You should have a listen. I do know a reasonable amount about orchestral music and do listen to it. This is not very good.

      • Matthew

        Which is fine, but at no point in this review is the argument made that ‘this is bad orchestral music’, which is a legitimate perspective. The argument is ‘this is orchestral music which doesn’t sufficiently appeal to my tastes as a black metal fan’, which isn’t a legitimate argument.

        • Thatguy

          Yes, but this has been reviewed on a shitload of metal sites as metal, and on its Bandcamp page it is described as metal so I think the perspective of the review was fair enough. Does any AMG reviewer have expertise in orchestral music reviewing? Likely not, but they, like the rest of us, know what they like.

          • [not a Dr]

            Be careful with bandcamp tags… Saor has the black metal tag, yet Andy Marshal insists that Saor is not black metal: when I asked about the tag, he (or whoever manages Saor’s facebook account) told me that it had been tagged as black metal because it might appeal to fans of the genre.

          • Thatguy

            I let my ears do the talking.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Your points are completely valid, Matthew. This was a tough review to write; I elected to cover this album because it was marketed as a non-metal album aimed at metal fans, and I was in the mood to step out of my comfort zone. Obviously I came to the conclusion that the album doesn’t really sound anything like black metal, and although I listen to film scores quite often, this didn’t really appeal to that side of me, either. I ended up leaving a couple hundred words (multiple full paragraphs) on the cutting room floor because I was floundering trying to put into words what specifically about it didn’t appeal to me, which was extremely frustrating because I felt that it was an otherwise inspired record.

      I really tried to like this album, and I almost did – as you probably know, 2.5 isn’t really a “bad” score at AMG, and if the production were better it might have softened my opinion. Even though the reviewing process was a struggle, I’d definitely review it again if I had the foresight that it wouldn’t blow me away, because clearly a lot of people here in the comments dig it more than me.

  • maartje

    For a mix of black metal and classical with a bit more metal I would recommend Profanum from Poland.

    • iiixf

      fvkk, you stole my comment, I was also going to recommend Profanum as well (esp. that they’re from my country), this is black metal extraordinaire (eldritch, maybe?) – it has all that makes BM what it is, except for instrumentation (frankly, to me BM is more about the spirit, attitude and the dark and menacing, unsettling atmospheres than execution through blast beats cum tremolos Mc BM flurry), it’s like black metal for those who are tired of black metal (that’s how Profanum records were described back in the day). And for more unconventional BM from Poland with incredible atmospherics, but more guitar-oriented, I recommend the band Taranis and their record called Faust.

      • maartje

        Back in the days I wasn’t really into blackmetal (more into doom/death), but I very much liked Profanum. It took me several listens before I even realised there weren’t any guitaris on it :-)
        Will check out Taranis. Poland has quite a few interesting bands that go off the beaten track. Some other favorites are Lux Occulta and Neolithic.

  • RonRoyce

    I’m going to have to disagree, I like this. Very dark and at times malevolent. I can hear the black metal influences but it is definitely more a classical album than a black metal one. Has elements of Prokofiev running through it.

    What a pity there isn’t a vinyl release.

  • iiixf

    superb Elend-core, the man should think about releasing an instrumental version or use some kind of clean-sung vocalisations (I fvkkin HATE vocals, any vocals)

  • iiixf

    and to continue in the name-dropping fashion (quite a few cult bands have been mentioned so far) I’d like to recommend Dargaard, more darkwave-y classical-ish music (with electronically generated “orchestration”), this time with a fine lady with a so-called angelic voice (btw, this is a separate genre, you might want to try Artesia, another French act)

    • basenjibrian

      I always find them a bit too “casio-esque” in sound, even thought ELEND also used electronics?????

  • Michael Saurette

    Metal with classical posturing or ambitions is the absolute worst.

    • Nag Dammit

      Agree. I hate anything pretentious like that. “Look at me, I know about classical music. That makes me better than you, you know.” Well, if you’re so good at orchestral music, go and be the next Bach.

      Classical music can be awesome when it is not mixed with other stupid crap like electronica and half arsed metal. That said, I did enjoy the last Fleshgod album but only a little bit.

  • Kind of interesting, if not entirely impactful. The orchestral writing and arrangements are fine. Somewhat aimless sounding. A difficult thing to pull off, I imagine.

  • basenjibrian

    Ok. Been listening to this today. Def. “ELENDCORE”. I would actually agree with the score. It lacks the compositional structure and songcraft of Elend. Its a little monolithic. I cant agree in the least with Thatguy. In a world of dreadful albums this is NOT “worthless” at all.

    Also see this as more “metal” though.

  • Philip Pledger

    Huh. I’m actually really digging this. I’ve been trying to get one of my friends into metal, and he’s a HUGE classical music buff. Definitely going to pass this his way.

  • Lucas Lex DeJong

    I tried. I really wanted to like this record, but its just so dull, and like the review pointed out, there’s not really much here to tickle my black metal fancy.

  • Lithophyte

    I don’t mind this. No, the music isn’t totally challenging, but the atmospherics are dark and brooding. He has clearly got his Learner plates on, and hasn’t outgrown the jejune aspects of being a bedroom warrior.
    It’s not worth a better mix until the singing improves. He really needs some voice training – tracks later in the album suffer because in lower registers he sometimes sounds like a six-year-old trying to sound tough and doesn’t hold sustains with enough power. If the composition and execution develops, the next album should be a lot better.
    I’m from Australia and our record of parliament is called Hansard, so I keep reading the title as Les Chants du Hansard, and think of our parliamentarians trading insults sung in funereal tones like “The member for Monaro couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery!” and “You’d make a cat laugh!”

  • Y.Whateley

    I don’t know, I actually like this – reminds me a lot of the sort of thing that Emperor, early Mortiis, Arcturus, Enslaved, Celtic Frost, Bathory, and other (usually European) bands and one-man acts were trying to accomplish on limited budgets with keyboards in their basements in the early days of avant-garde metal.

    Pretentious? Badly mixed and recorded? Noisy? Crude? Kind of creepy and vaguely silly at the same time?

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, and oh yeah you bet – and that’s what we loved about those bands back then, it’s probably what we still love about them whenever we pause a moment between name-dropping them and pinning them to our vests for free cool-kid credit, and actually listen to them again, and it’s what would have loved about this album had it been released back in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

    This sort of thing is not quite as adventurous today as it would have been back then, but I can appreciate it in the same “let’s put a bunch of weird, jarring sounds together and scare the crap outta some parents” spirit of those pioneers of 1990s avant-garde metal….

    I think I’ll spring for a download of this to play as background music on long car trips, I think it’ll mix in fine with the rest of the weirder heavy music in my collection….