The French black metal scene of late seems to have been divided into two main factions – the already very familiar dissonant style fronted by bands like Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, and my recently discovered atmospheric style of bands like The Great Old Ones. Aorlhac‘s musical style leans more towards those of the latter with their third full length album, L’esprit des vents, their first post-reunion release.
One is thrown into a cold atmosphere from the get go with Aldérica, as the band throws out rather bleak riffs that immediately remind one of the works of bands such as Drudkh, with the emotional sensabilities of their compatriots The Great Old Ones. Melody is one of the key elements of the works of Aorlhac, and one often finds himself mesmerised by the more melodic moments on the album, as the lead guitars of Lonn features pretty prominently throughout. For instance, that almost folkish tune at the opening of La révolte des tuchins reminds one of the works of Wintersun and their themes of the freezing winter – bringing together the contrasting emotions of desolation and beauty.
Folk metal also seems to be a huge influence on the band’s music – from the riffs unleashed by Lonn and NKS, to the vocal patterns. The choral vocals on Infâme Saurimonde give the track that heroic feel that one often gets from folk metal releases, and the arrangement of the track even reminds one of the faster-paced material of bands like Moonsorrow.
At the same time there is that urgency that is in their music, with the most part of the album seeing Aorlhac going at rather high octane speeds. The more aggressive moments present even brings to mind the Finnish black metal style of bands like Sargeist or Horna, with the utter coldness combined with the relentless speed, though Aorlhac on L’esprit des vents does has a sharper, more polished sound in its production.
While the dissonant, chaotic form of French black metal may be a more polarising style of the genre to get into, the material produced by bands like Aorlhac may be more accessible to those looking into exploring the more atmospheric, melodic side of the genre. L’esprit des vents may be a new release with a refreshed lineup, but the band has proven that they have come back stronger than before after a 7 year hiatus.