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Seth: Les Blessures d'Lame

Les Blessures de l'Ame ("The Wounds of the Soul") is about vampires. But lest you think Seasons of Mist is cashing in on the recent obsession with the undead, I'm relieved to inform you that this LP was released in 1998, predating the ever-annoying craze we have now. Rather, Les Blessures de l'Ame was one of many albums to come out during black metal's most formative years, the 1990s. The recent philosophical uproar surrounding the genre has moved black metal in directions previously unforeseen, but that isn't to say there weren't earlier attempts to inject some vitality and newness into the formula.

Seth, though wearing the corpse paint you'd expect of a black metal band, use vampirism as their conceptual gimmick. In one sense, it's a smart move; the group's theatricality serves a vampiric concept well, and the unrelenting darkness of their style is of course a perfect match for undead, blood-sucking creatures. But while it may be a smart choice, it's very much a safe one. From what I've read, this was a fairly well-received album back in '98, but it's hardly aged well, and one wonders why Season of Mist took the time to reissue it. Some current black metal can thinly be traced back to this; some of the acoustic guitar parts interspersed throughout the longer songs are much like the ones used on A Forest of Stars' A Shadowplay for Yesterdays, one of 2012's best black metal efforts. Compared to the best of '90's black metal, however, this can't help but feel like a minor work.

A lot of this has to do with the production value. Black metal is well known for its rough, at times lo-fi production, but Seth's attempts at theatricality via the use of string sections and dramatic screams are undercut by how flat this remastering job is. It also doesn't help that most of this music is pretty flat itself; the almost nonstop blastbeats render the drums redundant most of the time. There's something to be said for a more subdued approach to black metal; the success of Wolves in the Throne Room attests pretty beautifully to that fact. This, on the other hand, is subdued to the point that any attempt at horror through the vampire theme never comes off.

In reading up on Seth, I found words like "legendary" and "influential" being thrown out a lot. I couldn't disagree more; the revival of innovative black metal in the past two years has brought forth a litany of releases that would top Les Blessures de l'Ame anyday. In 1998, I might not have seen this as a bad release. By a basic criterion of a record's success, namely its lasting appeal over time, this is second-rate black metal at best.

Track Listing
01. La Quintessence Du Mal
02. Hymne Au Vampire (Acte I)
03. Hymne Au Vampire (Acte II)... Vers Une Nouvelle Ère
04. Le Cercle De La Renaissance
05. Les Silences d'Outre-Tombe
06. Dans Les Yeux Du Serpent
07. ...À La Mémoire De Nos Frères
08. Les Sévices De La Peste [2012 re-release bonus]
09. Corpus Et Anima [2012 re-release bonus]

Added: August 29th 2012
Reviewer: Brice Ezell
Related Link: Band @ Season of Mist
Hits: 2623
Language: english

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