Article by Corey M
An astounding eighteen years after releasing their debut full-length, Sorcier des Glaces releases North, maintaining their streak of high-quality albums. The themes of their last album, Ritual of the End (one of 2014’s best releases), are still present here and revolve around the band’s signature lyrical and melodic concepts; descriptions of people and places undergoing freezing damnation, in their unique vision of death occurring over epic spans of time.
This music holds the rare power to instill visions and sensations of ice-covered ruins and crippling cold by its melodic prowess alone. However, the vocals and lyrics are praiseworthy as well as the delivery is unnervingly clear, poetically orating scenes of melancholic morbidity illustrated by the music. This is achieved by Sorcier des Glaces’ idiosyncratic approach to writing long riffs with slow and steady chord changes all augmented by faster-moving melodies that anticipate and resolve the myriad melodically unorthodox transitions. It’s so rare to hear this style of complex harmonic activity performed this adroitly that the only similar album I can think of that achieves this level of complexity tempered by an intuitive sense of coherency is Far Away from the Sun. That is a high compliment.
In terms of technical performance, the musicians’ set-up is very similar to what is heard on Ritual of the End. Driving drums impel the helical, tremolo-picked, complimentary melodies which the lone guitarist/bassist cleanly divides into trios. The main melodies are carried by the rhythm guitar’s very long chains of power chords and the bass guitar modifies the basic root notes of the rhythm guitar, adding much harmonic depth to the songs. Meanwhile, one or more guitars play high-register leading melodies that expertly illuminate the emotive potential of the progressions. Playing their instruments at such a wide range of timbre and speed creates a broad, orchestral sound. The band’s creative flexibility allows the orchestra to tower indomitably, or branch out and flow smoothly, winding naturally around musical obstacles, like the trickle of water over irregular, rocky terrain.
The musicians even get a little bit more boldly experimental on North, particularly during the title track “North”, utilizing some long sections of cleanly picked chords that mutate and creep toward obscure resolutions while the bass dances its own giddy cadenza beneath the reverberating guitars. Typically this sort of deviation would wreck the feel of a song in the hands of inadept musicians, but here it is a delight. “Dawn of the Apocalypse” features an epic lyrical narrative enhanced by some more extreme shifts in dynamic intensity of the music. None of the changes are jarring or illogical; rather, they occur organically.
Despite the long and winding song progressions, I would recommend this album even to uninitiated metal fans. The sweeping guitar orchestration will ensnare anyone with a keen sense of musical passion, allowing Sorcier des Glaces’ malevolent shroud to obscure their sense of righteousness as they succumb to the awesome power of ice and occultic magic. North is an excellent album that will provide many journeys into the frigid recesses of the unconscious, at once harrowing and wondrous.
North may be previewed and purchased directly from Sorcier des Glaces at their official Bandcamp page.
Tags: 2016, Black Metal, canada, quebec, Québécois, review, sacramentum, sorcier des glaces
28 thoughts on “Sorcier des Glaces – North”
That’s an awesome review for this album, and I totally agree with everything you said. This album give me chill every time I’m listening to it.Very solid album
will have to give this a listen
This might be the best thing coming out of the melodic black metal style for the last 20 years.
Indeed. So much trash that lingers under the banner of “melodic black metal”. What can be heard here absolutely blasts those other bands out the water.
Most melodic black metal is Judas Priest with rasps and and no song writing talent.
If it’s necessary to point at something that is less than awesome with this release it would be when covering the pedestrian composition of Obtained Enslavement. But one shouldn’t blame SDG for that, although they have chosen better cover tracks earlier on.
I enjoyed that preview track.
This sounds great. I’ll get it, and some of their other albums.
I recall seeing on the SdG Facebook page that “Snowland” will be put to vinyl. The summer(?) release will feature both the original mix along with the re-done version (which sounds very much like the present offering).
Snowland 2012 is a complete rerecording, not just a remix.
Sorry, you’re right!
Disagree. Poor follow up to Ritual of the End.
A little bit off-topic but I need to ask you guys your thoughts on that album from Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations, Metallica and other speed metal acts have covered this band which means it was an influence on the genre.
Is it really a classic or it is just one of those albums that served as an influence for later bands without the music being too good? For 1979 it seems like a great example to exemplify the difference between hard rock and heavy metal to those who can’t note the difference.
This site is pathetic. Metal is not transcendental art for enlightened reactionaries, more like pulp fiction for depressed white kids. Ya’ll are making metal out to be something it’s not, similar to how anime kids think their dumb nip cartoons are like, super deep and philosophical, dude. Gimme a break.
¿por qué no los dos?
Please stick around and continue sharing your thoughts.
Ha ha can’t it be both?
I think you and Silence have the right idea. Metal’s rejection of the themes and tropes (in both aesthetic and content) that society expects from “great art” free it from the social posturing of the mainstream. The “immaturity” of metal is one of its greatest strengths; it allows it to see past the inanity and insanity of the adult world and tap in to primordial truths long forgotten by most.
To continue on this topic, I want to ask you what it is about metal which dooms all music within its genre to be pulp, preventing it from describing or expressing anything beautiful or profane?
And secondly, which music genre would you say is capable of doing that, and why?
Metal is exceedingly simple music. Even the so called best metal is just noise punctuated by bits of catchy rhythm or melody to trick the listener into thinking it somehow constitutes good music. Not to mention the lyrics and imagery of metal are utterly childish — its either autistic D&D fantasy or “I hate my Christian parents” Satanism. These subjects might appeal to teenagers but at some point you have to grow up.
In fact, I’d wager that the reason most of you are on this site is because you’ve developed an emotional attachment to metal in the naivety of your youth that you simply can’t let go of. Catcher in the Rye, anyone? LOL Who am I kidding, you guys probably just pretend to be well-read to maintain your more-intellectual-than-thou attitudes.
As for me, I am partial to Jazz music, which actually evokes complex emotions outside of the bitter, misguided anger of metal. I also like bands like Phish and Umphrey’s McGee.
Pretty convincing troll until you said you like Phish… Nobody actually likes Phish!
You do have a point though, about how people develop a nostalgic attachment to music and refuse to “grow out of it” even when their life situation calls for abandoning obsolete “immature” perspectives. That is always something to take into consideration when judging music. I didn’t actually hear any worthwhile metal til I was almost into my 20s, which means, for better or worse, never had the chance to develop a nostalgic bias toward any of the music.
As for the metal itself; the best of it has a certain naivety that sounds corny and immature to those who are conditioned to hearing a certain level of guarded irony in music. But this guard is just something that musicians cultivate to avoid being considered corny. Irony is the antithesis of sincerity. If you try to approach music without expecting some cynical distancing from the subject, then you might not hear this immature corniness, rather hearing sincerity that is absent from other styles of music. (Taking drugs is one method of approaching music with measured naivety but your mileage may vary). Of course, there are loads of insincere metal acts out there… but they are easy to spot with a little practice.
“Metal is exceedingly simple music. Even the so called best metal is just noise punctuated by bits of catchy rhythm or melody to trick the listener into thinking it somehow constitutes good music”
“Not to mention the lyrics and imagery of metal are utterly childish — its either autistic D&D fantasy or “I hate my Christian parents” Satanism. These subjects might appeal to teenagers but at some point you have to grow up.”
Like jazz, not all of metal is good. They can’t all be John Coltrane. It is easy to make metal which really is what you describe. Personally, I could just as easily compose shitty jazz.
But at its best, metal effectively and accurately describes real things that exist in the world, both things that exist within human minds (states of mind, ideas, thoughts, emotions) and things that exist outside of them (war, struggle, etc).
You will probably never understand it, and therefore you resort to the accusation of nostalgia. This is such a commonn maneuver by now that it should be a logical fallacy.
You first statement reveals your utter ignorance. Noise punctuated by bits of catchy rhythm and melody. Sure, a legit description indeed. About as legit as jazz being no more than a few typical chord progressions with modal semi random jamming on top.
How do you even define noise? What does it communicate in this context?
A few definitions of noise:
“sound, especially of a loud, harsh, or confused kind:”
So you are commenting on the timbre of the instruments?
What about the structures built with sounds of that timbre?
“a nonharmonious or discordant group of sounds.”
Some black metal and some death metal use dissonance in addition to consonance. There is nothing wrong with that. But a lot of metal is completely consonant, so if this is what you meant by “noise”, then you are objectively wrong.
The deaf think the dancers mad.
Where can I subscribe to your blog, I want some fries with that.
Remember when DMU liked war metal? Biggest trendies run shit here, it seems.
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