Neige et Noirceur Les Tenebres Modernes Cover 2016Beginning with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the atrocities brought forth from the first World War were heinous and grotesque. People getting killed in trenches (sometimes mistakenly by their own allies), the introduction of chemical warfare, and the starvation of both prisoners of war and civilians rounded up by the Central Powers would make for some fertile ground for metal bands to sow. One such band, Quebec’s Neige et Noirceur, decided to take one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the world and create a 40-minute tale of war, death, and various repressed emotions in the form of their fourth album, Les Ténèbres Modernes.

And with a rumbling double-bass military lurch, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” roaring forth like a tank looking to engage against the Central Forces by taking hold of Antarctica. The bellowing of session vocalist Schimera does a passable job of evoking an eerie atmosphere, employing a deep rasp that recalls some of Darkspace‘s more ambient moments, and the downtrodden closing guitar melody performed by sole instrumentalist Sion Daus (formerly known as Zifond because hell if I know) adds a particularly creepy vibe. Sadly, everything else is disengaging. The song keeps to a mid-paced clip, but very little grabs and hooks you, and it doesn’t pull you in like good atmospheric black metal should.

In fact, the only thing that’s consistent about Les Ténèbres Modernes is its inconsistency, as this fucker’s all over the place in terms of quality. From the BOOTS-AND-PANTS School of Drum Patterns in “Ciel d’Acier” to the Tremolo in the Great Hallway of Doom found in “La Saison des Morts,” there’s very little that sticks out as memorable or even good. There are some flashes of incredible Paysage d’Hiver-like brilliance, such as “Battlespirit” or the more straight-ahead bombast of “Walpurgis 1917,” but these are few and far between. Not helping matters any is the band’s over-reliance of ineffective ambient passages and repeated soundbites, such as the completely unnecessary five-minute closer, “Adieux,” which is comprised solely of soundbites, opera singing, and war effects, which would be fine if the rest of the album was at all interesting.

Neige et Noirceur Band 2016

The production also does Les Ténèbres Modernes no favors, as this sounds like it was recorded by a kid hopped up on sugar. On some tracks, the album has a fairly good, warm production (“Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”), and on others it sounds like someone recorded this thing in a hallway with one of my damp Voltron beach towels thrown over the microphones (“Ciel d’Acier,” “Post Mortem”). But a reason why Darkspace and Paysage d’Hiver are so influential is because they suck you into their worlds (or in the case of Darkspace, voids) utilizing left-of-center musical passages, and a true feeling of discomfort and suffocation. That, and for a 40-minute album, this felt like a marathon.

War is an ugly, terrifying beast. Black metal can be, too. With the combination of the two, Les Ténèbres Modernes proved that not all chocolate goes well with certain peanut butters. Neige et Noirceur can pull out the stops if they (he?) works out the kinks a bit more, as this one got lost on the way to Belgium, and ended up in Alaska. Here’s hoping the next album can level me.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Sepulchral Productions
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 24th, 2016

  • Wow, you’ve been hard on them because I think this is a good album in its ensemble. Something like a great soundtrack to a Fritz Lang Silent Film about some dystopian world. I get that it is a difficult album to get into but I think it has its qualities despite the inconsistency in its production.

    • Grymm

      A lot of great albums are difficult, but what separates them from this is there are usually layers of things to uncover. After a week with LTM, it just didn’t grab.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I felt the review was a tad too negative until I read “BOOTS-AND-PANTS”, and all seemingly salty observations were fully justified.

    An unfortunate attempt. Such a topic is capable of yielding outstanding results in the right hands.

  • kmal666

    This is unfortunate. WWI was incredibly brutal and, as Grymm points out, can yield excellent results in the right hands. Since this didn’t work out, I guess it’s back to the last Ares Kingdom.

  • Reese Burns

    You know what, I’m gonna give this one a shot. I like the concept, and atmospheric black metal’s take on WWII would be interesting to hear.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    What battle is it about?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      My guess is The Battle Of Verdun. Why? Because that’s the only battle from WWI I can remember the name off the top of my head.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Oh man you (and everyone else) have to check out the “Dan Carlin, hardcore-history” pod cast and in particular the five part episode “Blueprint-for-Armageddon”.
        The podcast is a probably THE best thing on the internet (Sorry AMG is close second … please don’t ban hammer me…), and this is his best work.

        An interesting point he makes is that due to the scale, drawn out time frames, bizarre luna type geographies, multiple combatants and generally the brain exploding complexity of the western front there weren’t really many battles (as we understand the concept) at all in WWI.

        His telling of the story of WWI is absolute genius and you don’t have to be into history or WWI history to enjoy it.
        The human drama and tragedy the Machiavellian geo political shenanigans. Combined with the horror (horror that would even be shocking at a Canibal Corpse art fair) and the unbelievable stats of the war that even after the 20+ hours he takes to tell the story your left wanting more!

        • Assbutt

          Hardcore History is incredible. “Wrath of the Khans” was the first series I listened to, and it was so compelling that I would sometimes have to stop walking and just stand there engrossed by the story.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Yeah so good, I wasn’t so sure about the current series but the second instalment of got me, particularly the last section where he taks about what actually happened on the ancient battlefields. Interesting that no one actually really knows and getting into the psychology of the moment of point of contact.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I’m gonna check it out

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            You won’t regret it man, as Assbutt says you’ll find your self having to stop everything to listen! ‘Wrath of the Khans’ about the mongols is wicked too.

        • OzanCan

          Uh, could you please share a link? Or is it on youtube? I gotta watch it…

          Edit: I found it on youtube but which episode talks about WWI?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Cool I hope / I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

            You can also subscribe to ‘Hardcore Histories’ via iTunes podcasts.
            You can go to his website which if you just type “Dan Carlin Hardcore History” into google you’ll get to. His website which is pretty cool and worth checking out for the older episodes

            The WWI series is called “Blueprint for Armageddon”