Seth – La Morsure du Christ Review

For the second year in a row, a return-to-form album from a well-established black metal entity has somehow found its way into my greasy clutches. 2020 saw me covering …and Oceans and their phenomenal Cosmic World Mother, a record that presented itself after a long hiatus as an amalgamation of the band’s experimentation and growth through the years, while simultaneously capturing the spirit and style of the band’s origins. Well, change the year to 2021 and the band name to Seth, and that last sentence still works for the most part. Seth can trace their origins almost all the way back to the beginning of the French black metal movement, their 1998 debut Les Blessures de l’Ame standing not only as a landmark album for the scene, but also as one of the first albums released by the fledgling Season of Mist Records. La Morsure du Christ is only the second record Seth have released since 2004 and is meant to be a spiritual and musical successor to Les Blessures de l’Ame. It succeeds categorically.

Those familiar with Les Blessures de l’Ame might recognize the opening moments of La Morsure du Christ as the title track starts things off with a theme heard on the debut over two decades ago. Without subtlety or fanfare, “La Morsure du Christ” blasts right out of the gate in grand fashion, the majestic organs making it feel as though I’m enjoying a service within the famous sanctuary of Notre-Dame, while the violent drumming and guitars reveal that the cathedral is, in fact, burning down around me. Vocalist Saint Vincent is a relative newcomer to the band, and his tortured rasps reverberate with malevolent power. The track moves between passages of almost folk-tinged melodicism, moments of subdued beauty, and bouts of all-out rage, making it a fantastic example of what the rest of the album has in store.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Seth is the way they incorporate various styles of black metal into one sound without letting any one of those influences dominate. La Morsure du Christ is chock full of atmosphere, but atmo-black it is not. Symphonic melodies abound, but I wouldn’t label this symphonic metal. Pagan/folk themes can be found in many of the songs, but at the end of the day, this record is simply a great example of melodic black metal. “Métal Noir” is a boldly named track that demonstrates everything that is great about black metal today. “Sacrifice de Sang” begins in absolutely gorgeous fashion before launching into its bloody ritual, “Ex-Cathédrale” employs tremolos that haven’t left my brain for weeks, and “Hymne au Vampire (Acte III)” continues a saga that began on the band’s debut. Closer “Le Triomphe de Lucifer” perfectly encapsulates that moment the spire of Notre-Dame collapsed, seemingly in slow motion, into the blazing inferno beneath, the closing organ theme leaving me in stunned silence at the end of each listen and making me realize that this is big, powerful stuff.

And part of that power comes from the production. On La Morsure du Christ, Seth has forsaken the notion that black metal must be raw and lo-fi, opting instead for a huge, impactful sound. Just listen to the toms during the intro of “Sacrifice de Sang” and feel each impact in your chest. There is a rich, full bass tone undergirding most of the record, lending power to both the more intense and subdued moments alike. I don’t understand a single French word that Saint Vincent spews forth without Google translation, but his passionate delivery makes it impossible to miss the message contained within. The songs on the record are uniformly strong, so it is incredibly hard to pick favorites. But at a perfect 44 minutes long, there’s really no excuse to not listen in full.

In many ways, I see parallels between the most recent …and Oceans and Seth releases. Not only are there some strong stylistic similarities, but each album finds a band two-and-a-half decades into their existence, at some point having withstood a long hiatus, releasing some of their strongest material to date. La Morsure du Christ is an amazing black metal album that simultaneously captures the genre’s beauty and ugliness, and I fully expect that fiery artwork to rekindle on my year-end list.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 7th, 2021

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