As anyone who knows me well enough can attest, I function in strange ways. I enjoy my iced coffee in the wintertime. In the summertime, though, when everyone is either at the beach or cruising down the highway of their choice, I prefer to shutter myself in my house, grab a beer, and listen to either Kyuss or funeral doom. Strange, I know, but there’s something to be said about taking it easy on days where it’s overly sunny and hot as balls outside. So imagine my delight when I discovered La Mort de L’Infidele by France’s Sektarism in the promo bin, just waiting for me to engage in enough summertime sadness to make Lana Del Ray blush. And imagine my actual sadness when I discovered that La Mort wasn’t at all funeral doom, sad, or even good.
But it sure starts promisingly enough. Opener “O Seigneur” begins with low-mixed ambient hand drums, a single bass note, and vocalist Eklezjas’Tik Berzerk talking in French. It occurred to me just two minutes into the song that I possess a great disadvantage in that I barely understand a lick of French. Wouldn’t you know it, the entire album is in French. Not a bad thing, as I enjoy hearing other languages and that alone doesn’t deter me from an album’s enjoyment. What does deter me from an album’s enjoyment is a distinct lack of hook or atmosphere, and wouldn’t you know it, La Mort stumbles greatly. A few minutes of droning bass and Berzerk ranting and yelling is manageable. A full twelve minutes of this is sheer overkill. Thankfully, some decently placed ambiance by guitarist Messiatanik Armrek provides the song’s (and ultimately album’s) only build-up, saving the song from complete, utter boredom.
Not quite hating myself fully yet, I plow through the other two songs, totaling roughly 52 minutes. Second track “Brûle L’Hérétique” is the closest to anything resembling actual metal on the entire album, sounding a bit like a non-industrial Godflesh, until the song takes a severe detour into droning ambient territory, with Berzerk ranting, screaming, and howling for a good solid fifteen minutes over the same drum pattern and one-note bass riffs. But nothing compares to the absolute torture that is closer “Conscience, Révolte, Perte du Moi,” which happens to contain not one single saving grace in all of the song’s 32 minutes of droning, screaming, feedback, chanting, and simplistic drum patterns over single-note riffs.
The only upside is the sound itself is mixed well enough. The hand drums are clear, the bass feels full, and the guitars howl and screech without too much noise. All of this becomes a moot point when the music itself isn’t enjoyable. It aims to bludgeon you with volume like SunnO))), drive you paranoid like Bethlehem, and feel the weight of impending loss like Funeral, but manages to succeed at none of the above. While I get what Sektarism are trying to accomplish, there has to be some kind of pull for the listener to be engaged, and other than the small build-up in “O Seigneur,” none exists. Not once did I feel sad, scared, or punch-drunk from all the atmosphere. I felt a great deal of annoyance, though, so congrats if that was the intent.1
In short, La Mort de L’Infidele is such a successful exercise in pretentiousness that I’m surprised Pitchfork and Wayne Coyne aren’t in on this already. If you want to annoy yourself for roughly 64 minutes, then, by all means, have at it. I can’t think of a better album to supplement your bellybutton-gazing. Otherwise, there are far better uses for your time and money. Avoid this to your heart’s content.