Ars Moriendi – La solitude du pieux scélérat [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

It’s been a little over five years since you poor bastards succumbed to the lousy writing, the horrendous cursing, and the pissed-off caricature that is Dr. A.N. Grier. In dog years, that would make me a little over thirty-five-years-old. Which, being that I’m pretty much that age in human years, means my age doubles.1 Unfortunately, I’m not far off. I may drive like a twenty-year-old, dad-joke like a forty-year-old, but I’m as fit as a flabby sixty-year-old and as spry as a seventy-year-old. I have two cups of coffee and have diarrhea for the rest of the day2 and, two beers later, I’m drunk. Yet, with Angry Metal Age comes Angry Metal Wisdom. As well as a lot of annual visits from old friends to the old-people home. This year, visits came from Darkthrone, Kampfar, Rimfrost, Sorxe, Stormhammer, Via Vengeance, War Curse, Reign of Fury, Second to Sun, and others. One visit I was most excited about was from Ars Moriendi.

Having already appeared on a Dok Tor top ten list, this French, one-man outfit is an underrated treasure. The Darkness has yet to find a more loyal follower. And Suffering has never had a better partner. Combining atmoblack with meloblack, distorted guitars with acoustic ones, and the horn/string-atmospheres of Sigh, Ars Moriendi is unfuckwithable. Twenty-sixteen’s Sepelitur Alleluia was passionate and powerful, mixing the gentle with the aggressive to produce an unforgettable quintet of tracks. Minus track order and the occasional lack of brevity, Sepelitur Alleluia would have landed in the top five of that year’s list. Where will this year’s La solitude du pieux scélérat—who flew by me before I could review them in time—land at year’s end? Well, let’s say, it’s found a home in the top five.

Interspersed with dark, religious soundclips throughout its six-track length, La solitude du pieux scélérat is a haunting concept. The thirteen-minute opening title track is a perfect representation of what to expect. After filling your ears with religious rhetoric, the full force of Ars Moriendi is unleashed. The guitars kick up a pace that the bass and drums scratch-and-claw to maintain. The vocals screaming, shrieking, and grunting through the torrent. The song breaks this sinister spell and morphs into downright gorgeous atmoblack that includes Sigh-like horns and an acoustic guitar outro. Harder, yet more beautiful than the opener, “Rien qu’un songe” is another all-encompassing Ars Moriendi piece that chugs with destructive force one moment and swallows you up in passionate, acoustic pluckings and clean vox the next.

And when you think you’ve heard it all, “Jusqu’à la 13e génération” and closer “Venefica Part.II – Per Flammae” go further. The former gives birth to a glimmering beauty before a headbangable beast snatches her up and mutilates her. It’s a dense piece with greater memorability and emotion than any on the disc. OK, I take that back. The sequel to the band’s 2003 demo is the king of builds and pain-stricken emotion. Like “Jusqu’à la 13e génération,” it’s a driving force meant to grab you, lock you up, and never release you. In once instance, it’s beautiful. In another, it’s hopeless and suffocating. It’s Ars Moriendi at their (his) finest.

Never have I been so thankful for our annual TYMHM pieces (except in the case of Amenra’s Mass VI). La solitude du pieux scélérat is a beautiful, devastating record with more passion than any record I’ve heard this year. And, here at AMG, it gets its chance to shine. And shine it will. Even if its rays are black as soot, penetrating deep into a heart littering the ground in a thousand pieces.

Tracks to Check Out: “La solitude du pieux scélérat,” “Jusqu’à la 13e génération,” and “Venefica Part.II – Per Flammae”

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Math.
  2. On the plus side, I’m halfway through my sixth Lincoln biography!
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