Ahhh, Canada, America’s hat. And then there is Quebec, Canada’s ass-neck. Today’s band, Le berceau de Satan (Cradle of Satan) hails from the beautiful town of Sanguenay, Quebec. Looking at some pictures of the town and area, one would think that there is ample natural inspiration for an atmospheric black metal band. However, in the case of Porteur de lumiere (Bringer of Light), released this March, this is clearly not the case.
In honour of the confused, mish-mash presentation of the album, I will now present my review in the form of stream of consciousness.
Intro – Sounds like melodies from the US Civil War. Holy shit, what is going on here with these synth sounds? This intro is like beginning a fight with a broken nose and a severe concussion against a perfectly healthy opponent – sure, you have a chance of winning, but it certainly is a bad way to start.
La redemption – Nice start with decent Mayhem-ish riff. Oh lord, we are getting redemption by conquering level 2 of Castlevania on NES? What the fuck is this Nintendo music? The atmosphere conjured here is one of playing Nintendo back in the mid-80s. Cartoonish sounds and melodies abound.
Eloges au roi de l’obscurite – Main soaring theme is pretty decent. The confusion engendered by previous two songs is exacerbated as riffs and riff styles enter and exit almost at random. Riff salad is not really appropriate because when I eat a salad I have never thought, ‘what the fuck is going on here?’
Some interesting moments where a decent idea is introduced and developed for a short period, but too often the song immediately heads off in another direction.
L’acadamie de la mort – This is what the band should be doing. Not really sure what this music has to do with a ‘school of death,’ but it is pleasant, atmospheric, and interesting. Oh wait, no, of course the band has to insert hamfisted bridge development that totally ruins the vibe. Some bombastic bullshit, some circus chromatics, and some start and stop rhythms that add nothing and indeed, takes away from the vibe that was developing. Well, the song finished moderately well with some more thoughtful development of the original themes. Probably the best song on the album.
Martyr – Ok, some decent atmosphere developing here, cool enough theme. I can’t wait to see how the songwriter fucks this song up and makes it an awkward clusterfuck. And just on time, enter Castlevania video game music. Is the 8-bit video game music suppose to be ironic? What is the purpose here? Are we supposed to be reminded of the glory days of the mid-1980s playing Excitebike and Duck Hunt while wearing our acid washed jean jackets? Reprises the original theme bringing the song full circle, but the whispering is creepy in a bathing-suit area touch sort of way. At least this song is somewhat metal-ish, despite the rape-dungeon whispering.
Le constellation de la vie – Pleasant enough atmosphere at the start, I suppose. Oh shit, the guy is singing. Just what I needed to hear, some fucking Quebecois singing. OK, enough of this shit, I’m pulling my chute. Wait, no parachute? Well, I’m jumping out of the plane anyway.
Some good melodies and riffs are presented here, but far too often there are rediculously bombastic or just plain stupid riffs. Melodies and atmospheres that are intended to be ‘majestic’ and ‘dignified’ come across like a 3rd-World dictator who has proclaimed himself “Field Marshal Admiral and Lord of the Four Elements” and has festooned his clownish uniform with 30 pounds of unearned military decorations. There is some decent material on this album that could make a nice atmospheric rock EP. However, there is far too much extraneous nonsense that ends up making this a confusing, frustrating listen. A lot of rock-oriented metal bands will put pointless, nonsensical interludes between songs in order to make standard rock albums appear progressive. The effect is to make otherwise listenable albums into train wrecks; the individual songs themselves remain fun enough, you just have to commit the sin of skipping tracks. Le berceau de Satan manages to randomly wedge pointless interludes into the songs themselves making this album completely listenable. Canada, especially Quebec, wishes to imitate the European cradle-to-grave welfare state. Let us hope that this Satan goes from the former to the latter sooner rather than later.