The new album from French black metallers Peste Noire is, for anyone new to the band, a surprising and challenging confusion. To existing fans it’s an opinion splitter causing debate on whether this is inspired madness or simply black metal blasphemy. L’Ordure à l’État Pur is certainly something to inspire and generate emotions, however flavoured they may be, with its array of metal styles and harsh vocals within a dark, tormented gothic vision.
From Avignon, France, Peste Noire was formed by multi-instrumentalist frontman La Sale Famine de Valfunde in 2000 and has released four albums, each making their mark on the canvas of black metal. L’Ordure à l’État Pur takes that style and twists it into a disturbing Grand Guignol of backstreet filth. The release consists of five tracks, each a nightmarish vignette of bedlam celebrating the dirty world of scoundrels and derelicts. The challenging aspect of the album is immediate with growls in French spoken over a disturbing cacophony of wails and shouts, noises and screams on opening track “Casse, Pêches, Fractures et Traditions”. The song then evolves into a variable fusion of black metal and gypsy punk rolled in a dark form of folk metal with a twisted circus-like interlude mid track. Eleven minutes in length and sung entirely in French the song, and subsequently the whole album, is a testing and inconsistent event. This track and the closer “La condi hu”, in addition to book ending the chaos, are the best and most completely satisfying songs – they’re not totally without flaws but they do hold a fuller control about them. The latter’s cello parts are simply delicious and haunting and help focus a strong track. In between these two songs the long and meandering tracks ebb and flow with the good and the testing.
Experimentation and boundary pushing is always a good thing in music and at times Peste Noire pull it off well and at other points it simply feels like a collection of odd parts and ideas put together within a riff pushing black metal theme. This though can also be classed as success because each track is a complete tale with a living scene in which abstract and completely unique things emerge. Musically, the band are more than accomplished and produce effective and appetizing heavy riffs that makes every track impossible to ignore. “Sale Famine von Valfoutre” is especially bursting with driving riffs and probing metal hooks and chords. The 21 minute epic “Javais rêvé du Nord” is the most adventurous or forcefully trying track depending how you look at it. The female vocals that start and end the song are delightful and work perfectly against the rasping and grisly delivery of Famine and the substance that fills the time in between is eventful and provoking – in a good way, as well as an impossible to ignore less enjoyable way.
L’Ordure à l’État Pur is startling and inventive, it’s just hard to decide if it’s in an eccentric, inspired way or in an over blown self indulgent way. At times the album shines and is impossible to move away from and at others it goes beyond reasoning. However, if you take the whole package as a portrayal of a black grime fueled world and each track a moment of that life it works, it’s just not that easy to listen to as a whole.