Published Nov 20, 2018Yet another shivering gust of "metal noir Quebecois" gives further credence to the French Canadian legacy of particularly cold, atmospheric music on Cantique Lépreux's epic Paysages Polaires.
Drawing heavily on Norwegian second wave bands while simultaneously investing it with the soul of the Francophone heartland, Cantique Lépreux paint vast expanses of frigid plains, unbroken only by microcosms of human lives that struggle to move on. The band emulate an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of emotions through their use of affecting riffs and tremolo picking, which in "Paysages Polaires I" shift from an aggressive blizzard of unrelenting frost to a string of tragic notes that rise out of the chaos, speaking of the suffering and heartbreak amidst the storm.
The vocals carry a particular grotesqueness in their delivery, sounding halfway between screeching and weeping, as though from a looming Arctic phantom. Much like the guitars, the vocals bear several faces, evolving from voice of woe and horror into one sympathetic and pitiful.
Stretches of mid-tempo despair in "Paysages Polaires II" are quickly overcome by the thundering avalanches of double kick and epic heaving gait of "Paysages Polaires III," before the listener becomes discontented or bored.
In perfect reflection of its name, Paysages Polaires presents a multilayered vista that captures the beauty and hostility of nature in distant lands of ice and snow. And amid the titanic landmarks and vastness, a spark of humanity endures in the music, constantly struggling to survive, and giving Paysages Polaires a truly dramatic voice. (Eisenwald)