I rarely write my introductions first. This paragraph, the one right here that you’re reading right now usually appears later on, as if by magic, after I already have an idea of where exactly the review is going. I tell you this so that you’ll understand when I say that I’ve already squandered most of my allotted word count gushing over Deus Sive Natura down there, so I don’t have much time to be all flowery and introductiony. So here’s what you need to know: Evohé hail from France, play pagan black metal, and Deus Sive Natura is their third full-length, following up Annwvyn, which I thought was good, but not quite gripping. Deus Sive Natura, on the other hand, grips and does not let go.
To get right into it, on Deus Sive Natura, is sort of what I imagine would happen if Thrawsunblat and October Falls got in a room together after an intense discussion about the state of Mother Earth. The style of pagan black metal the band deploys consists of icy riffing, textured with tremolo leads, icy rasps, and occasional cleans. Evohé eschew keyboards, stringed instruments, or any of the usual melodic deployments used by their contemporaries. Instead, chanted cleans and acoustic or clean electric guitars provide a melodic side that isn’t exactly prominent, but is rather just present enough to prevent repetition or monotony in the sound—an important feat, considering the 60-minute runtime.
And yet, it really doesn’t feel like a 60-minute album; instead, I really enjoy listening to it thanks to its pacing. “Different Worlds” starts things off with immediacy. No instrumental intro tracks here, just in-your-face riffing, blasted drums, and energy likely to shatter your speakers, grab you by the throat, and drag you to the heart of the nearest forest. For all that though, “Different Worlds” is one of the less exciting tracks on the album. It’s in “The Tears of Forgotten Times” that things really pick up. Everything about this song is sublime, and, on first listen, I believed it would be my favorite of the album. If you listened carefully in that moment, you’d have heard “…Of Ancient Lores” laughing at me. The great thing about these tracks is that, despite their seven-minute runtimes, neither one ever lags or feels too long. “The Tears of Forgotten Times” uses well-placed chants to spice things up, while “…Of Ancient Lores” slows down in its midsection before employing the grooviest bass “solo” you can get away with in black metal as a prelude to an absolute explosion of mystic power.
Perhaps a better way to demonstrate the strength of Deus Sive Natura would have been to point out that closer “The Thousand Eyes of a Lonely Soul” is a 17-minute pagan black metal track posted at the end of an album that would otherwise have been a very digestible forty-five minutes long and I love it.1 The song, and indeed, the whole album, is long, but, as I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a problem. The production on Deus Sive Natura is ideal. It minimizes distortion and thickness, preferring a clear aural experience. At all times, I can hear and feel the punch of the drums, discern each riff and appreciate their varied textures, and follow the bass. For an album of this length, the songwriting, production, and master need to be done very well, and they are. I should say that not every song on the album is exemplary. “Nemesis (Hall of the Slain)” and “A Thunder of Misfortune” are good, but not great, and I can’t help but wonder how much happier I might be with this album were it this strong and only fifty minutes in length.
It’s almost not worth it to wonder, though. Deus Sive Natura is powerful. This is a notable step up from Annwvyn, and the kind of experience that warrants multiple listens just to find all of the little details that elevate each song from good to great, and from great to excellent. Evohé have put out a very ambitious album with Deus Sive Natura, and I am excited to see where that ambition takes them from here.