August 20, 2014

Darvulia - L'alliance des venins

Written by Steven Leslie

Artwork by Tara C.

Anyone even remotely familiar with black metal will know that France has a long and storied history of producing some of the genre’s finest and most revered acts. From the lower than lo fi approach of Les Légions Noires to orthodox and boundary pushing bands like Deathspell Omega and Blut aus Nord. Darvulia continues of the tradition of brilliant black metal flowing out France’s wonderfully diverse scene. The band, that released their first demo in 2000, draws their name from a Hungarian witch named Anna Darvulia, famous for being one of the servants of the notorious Countess Elizabeth Báthory. That should give you a good idea of where the band draws its lyrical and thematic inspiration. While all the lyrics are in French, there is an occult and sinister atmosphere permeating all of their works that should be easily discernable even to those who don't speak the language.

L'alliance des venins is the band’s second full length, released in 2005, a mere three years after their brilliant debut long player L'ombre malicieuse. Storming right out of the gates with a blistering assault of all the usual traits associated with the second wave of black metal made famous by their northern counterparts. While the first few minutes packed with blast beats, tremolo picked riffs, demonic atmosphere and harsh screams may lead many to believe this is standard second wave worship, do yourself a favor and continue to listen. About three minutes into the open track the band throws in a dissonant and sinister riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a DSBM album. This dynamic shift is done so naturally that you can’t help but marvel at the songwriting acumen of this French horde.

These sonic shifts from all out second wave onslaughts to more dissonant and atmospheric sections are where the band really shines. As soon as you think you know where a song is going, they throw you a curveball. Every track on this album is a master class in how to take people’s expectation and destroy them in the span of a few seconds. This variety and incorporation of different strains of black metal means the album never gets stale no matter how many times you listen to it.

Darvulia aren’t afraid to experiment with more rock-based rhythms and riffs either, while always managing to maintain the arcane and sinister atmosphere black metal requires. The aforementioned atmospheric and DSBM elements the band utilizes continue to rear their ugly heads throughout the album. Never quite as mind warping as listening to a Blut aus Nord or Deathspell Omega composition, but still pulled off with stunning style and grace. The bands’ playing throughout is stellar. From the throat scorching, vitriolic screams of R. to the magnificent drumming display put on by Akhron, it’s a masterful example of black metal done right. Anyone with even has the slightest interest in French black metal would do well to check out this slab of black metal magic.

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