#1
Peste Noire - Ballade Cuntre lo Anemi Francor



Peste Noire are a band that needs no introduction. Their 2006 release, La Sanie des Siecles, took the black metal world by storm, presenting a deliciously unique slab of French BM that wedded a fairly traditional black metal atmosphere to band founder Famine’s impressively creative melodic guitar lines. On the other hand, their subsequent work has failed to generate the same excitement and acclaim amongst the underground, a phenomenon that’s quite understandable when considering the structural mess that is Folk**** Folie, or the relative mediocrity of their most recent output. Not so, however, when considering 2009’s Ballade Cuntre lo Anemi Francor, which stands out as the overlooked gem of Peste Noire’s discography.

Sonically Ballade Cuntre lo Anemie Francor is a dramatic departure from the sound cultivated on La Sanie. In lieu of the more traditional, subdued black metal riffing and production found on the latter album, Ballade consists of an eccentric combination of colorful guitar riffs, rock oriented drums and adapted melodies from nationalistic French war and folk songs. Topping it all of is a depraved and quirky (and at times hilarious) vocal performance from Famine. Where elements of La Sanie were clearly derivative of classic albums that have come before, Ballade presents a sound that is entirely Peste Noire’s own; dramatic, over the top, undeniably original, and perfectly executed in all it’s eccentricities.

The albums second track, “La Mesniee Mordrissoire”, is a perfect summary of this new direction. Beginning with a subverted French folk melody, the song moves into a set of riffs with a decidedly european flavor. Underpinning this lies a repetitive yet powerful rock-inspired drum performance, which lends the track an almost warlike forward rhythm. Tying everything together are well placed and unique guitar leads, clever use of samples, and a vocal performance that ranges from brilliant to outright weird. Furthermore, Ballade never loses it’s unique personaity, even in it’s more palatable moments like album highlight “A La Mortaille!”.

Let’s take a step back and consider what it is that makes the classic black metal records of the past so essential. One might first suggest easily defined musical elements; the song structure for instance, or the production, or perhaps a particular unique musical idea that was developed there. We all know however, that such explanations do not suffice, though ultimately the answer will be different for each individual. Personally, I find the thing that separates the truly great albums from the mediocre ones are the sense of mystery with which they’re imbibed. A mythic quality that transcends the musicians who create it, a primitive feeling that calls to mind a time long past in our history. Ulver’s Bergtatt has this rare quality. So does Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. So does Forest’s A Blaze Above the Ashes. And so does Ballade Cuntre lo Anemie Francor.

Where many black metal acts strive for an aesthetic which is cold and harsh, Ballade is colorful and lush, reflecting the environment of the French countryside that spawned it. Furthermore, what the album lacks in aggression, it makes up for in spades with it’s nationalistic fervor, it’s feeling of nostalgia, and it’s triumphant sense of individuality. Ultimately, Ballade Cuntre lo Anemie Francor is Peste Noire’s best album, and one of the better black metal albums of the 2000s.

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Metal Archives
Sample Track: A la Mortaille!
Sample Track: La Mesniee Mordrissoire
#2
I know I picked a pretty well known album here, but I have a much more positive opinion of this than most people I know so I thought it'd be worth doing.
#3
Spinning a PN album that isn't La Sanie Dies Siècles ?

you're asking too much man...

fine i'll listen to this again even if I do not have positive memories
Cette nuit j'ai rêvé que je mâchais ses yeux
Après avoir crevé par accès de furie
Ta replète panse d'helminthes blancs nourrie,
Trop prompte à déféquer le fruit d'un vit sanieux.
#4
Best review yet man, good on ya as Strangles would say. To be honest I've only listened to the odd track or three from this album. From what I remember it was very hit or miss, good ideas amongst some rather questionable ones. Whenever I get the time I'll give it a listen and comment.

Oh and are you gonna be able to write the next review VG? If not someone needs one prepared.
#5
Thanks BH, I gave it a lot of thought, glad you enjoyed it.

This album undeniably has a lot of questionable moments, it's quirky at times, weird at others, and sometimes just obnoxious (especially vocally). If you judge it as the sum of its component pieces, I don't think it's that special. If you take everything in context though, I think it's an absolutely brilliant album. La Sanie may have more elements that your typical BM fan would enjoy but this album is way more unique and makes a much stronger statement.
#6
I enjoyed this album allot actually when in the right mood, it's depraved and very fun music.It;s been awhile though.
#7
You've swayed me Nihiliste. Upon relistening there are some pretty good parts and the quirky stuff does indeed have some charm. I wonder how many more albums I've overlooked due to negative responses.
#8
Bad way man, best Peste Noire album?

Wouldn't go anywhere near that. Second best, but La Sanie stomps its head in over and over again. Great review though! Nice work.