Vous Autres – Sel de Pierre Review

Well, it’s been… a year? Seriously…? Wtf? It’s only been a fucking year since Vous AutresChamp du Sang landed in the cold, dark corner of my existence? I go back to that debut record like it was a genre-defying piece! A record washed away and only now rescued the forgotten past. Maybe it’s the fact that it feels aged yet relevant. Or because it has an energy and spontaneity of a band not held back by anyone or anything. A band that put it all out there, regardless of the consequences. A band that… OK, so that might be a bit dramatic. But, Champ du Sang is a fantastic record and one that still gets much praise from Madam X and myself to this day. So, when the French duo treaded through a cemetery of thick, black mud—its headstones, broken from the bright, industrial cracks of lightning—to hand-deliver Sel de Pierre into my cold hands, I… wept.

Not like a child. Like a normal human being who gets flushed at the sight of a cuddly kitten on the side of the road. “Did I come here to save you, or did you come here to save me?” Though I know it exists for some, but a mighty black metal release hasn’t hit me this year.1 I’ve listened to and reviewed plenty of good and great ones this year. But I’m not going back to them as much as I’d hoped. When Champ du Sang came out last year, I couldn’t put it down. When an album affects you that much, you create a new standard for what you hold in high esteem.2 So, as you can guess, Vous Autres’ latest opus has a lot to live up to.

For those of you as excited about this release as me, you’ll notice a couple of things right away. First, Sel de Pierre is six tracks and forty minutes long—three songs and twenty minutes shy of Champ du Sang. In the grand scheme of dark, atmospheric black metal, that’s a significant difference. The other thing you’ll notice is that the album could be a two-sided disc—split three and three. The first two songs are a pair, the second the same, and the final set finishes up the trifecta.

The opener “Onde” is a shot off the blocks—outrunning every song on the album. It’s hefty and heavy, dragging you through sharp, igneous rubble. The drums hit as hard as ever, and the vocals are a scream into the night that everyone tries to ignore. At nine minutes, it’s the roundest piece on the album and the most characteristic of the Vous Autres sound. Its battery-mate “Sans Sèves”—technically the “opener” of my hypothetical second side—is just as aggressive. With shrieks bordering on those of Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy) and piercing guitar work to match, “Sans Sèves” is as hopeless as Jesus’s resurrection.

If the two opening halves of my three-on-three release are the most aggressive, the closers are the opposite. But saying they’re “calm” is like saying that the slower sections of songs by Skitliv and Blut Aus Nord are “calm.” It’s kinda fucked up. But calm they are. While both are instrumental and consist of keys and effects, “Nitre” feels like the quiet death of Ava Inferi—even though there’re no prominent vocal parts in the song. With the predecessor’s Carmen Simões-like vocals haunting the heavy bass and drum parts like a Triptykon song, it’s no wonder I hear those gorgeous female vocals carry into the closer.

The comparison between Champ du Sang and Sel de Pierre isn’t the flip of an hourglass. Vous Autres has not lost a beat in their style and commitment. But the differences between the albums are there. And, maybe against popular belief, I prefer the depth and length of Champ du Sang. Around every corner, there exists a surprise or a teeth-gritting build—the kind where drums crash down with each repetitive riff. That said, Sel de Pierre isn’t far behind. To some, it’ll be superior to Champ du Sang because of its length and conciseness. If you disagree or disagree, it doesn’t matter. It means you’ve checked out this killer outfit.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 1,411 kbps wav
Label: Season of Mist Underground Activists | Bandcamp3
Websites: vousautres.bandcamp.com4 | facebook.com/vousautresband
Releases Worldwide: September 25th, 2020

Show 4 footnotes

  1. I know… but let’s not get tied up in this. You know I’m picky.
  2. Well, I do.
  3. The home of Vous Autres’ newest stuff.
  4. The band’s last album but still worth the listen.
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