|Title:||Le Noir Village|
I'll admit that reading the name Sparda I immediately thought of "Devil May Cry", but actually it's the pseudonym chosen by an artist already known in the French underground scene for being co-owner of Antiq Records, as well as being involved in some other bands; Créatures is his solo project born in 2008 and developed during these years, whose concept is surely peculiar.
Let's start saying that the music — aside for some Doom and Death hints — is deeplya Black in its essence: decaying and morbid, with a bit of madness à la Peste Noire. Tremolo riffs and sick atmospheres reign supreme, accompanied by medieval references — higlighted by the style of the booklet — and by French singing. But I'll have to make you wait a bit to talk about the vocals.
Despite its distinctly Black Metal nature, the project absorbs lots of foreign elements: first of all the theremin, present in many parts adding a heavily horror tone to the sound, but it's not the only example and surely the many decorations are not an end in themselves, rather they are fully engaged in the realization of the concept. The idea of talking about a XII century village — magnificently painted on the cover — as the scenery of som supernatural and dreadful events is applied to the songs by giving the mthe personality of the fact they represent: the gothic "Il Était Un Monstre Assoiffé De Cœur", one of the best tracks, perfectly convey the character of the vampire thanks to the church organ and the piano which reminded me of Japanese blacksters Tyrant; similarly, the ritualistic break made of oriental sounds and percussions percussioni in "À L'Orée Du Mal, Le Pacte Interdit" is suitable to stage the demonic pact which is told in it. Other elements such as trumpets, ocarina, the violin-cello collaboration and more traditional acoustic guitars revolve around a Black core which would be good enough in and of itself, thanks to well structures compositions alternating melodic moments and pure insanity outbursts, like in "Cadavre Abandonné"; in addition to his ability of creating many interesting riffs, Sparda can count on the drumming provided by Ehrryk of Gotholocaust fame, strictly linked to typical the Black Metal style but at the same time capable of following the sometimes wonky rhythms imposed by the mastermind; the bass is equally noteworthy, being put in a relevant position thanks to the mixing and providing pleasant lines giving its best especially during the solo in the fourth track, which creates a great synergy between the two instruments.
We can finally get to the vocals, surely the most peculiare element of the album: Sparda wanted to have a different singer to perform each character of the six stories, realizing something similar to an opera; so there are many different styles, like the spoken word by Géraud De Verenhe's priest and the sweet soprano voice of Josie Frost's Éléonore, as well as the demonic voice of Haement and the elegant vampire-ish one by Oz. The more typical Black Metal performances are provided by various screamer, among which Sparda himself as the dual character of the werewolf Lothaire/Loup Garou, deepening his voice when the monster takes over and sometimes reminding of Vaerohn (Pensées Nocturnes); it is also worth mentioning Lazareth's Angel, present in more than one track, but honestly every singer gave a very good performance.
"Le Noir Village" is a well made work, capable of getting more captivating after every listen thanks to its ability of telling the stories of this village both through the music and the words; don't be afraid of the French lyrics — a choice I surely approve of — because even if I don't really speak this language, the album is so pleasant that it is worthy struggling a bit to follow it with the help of the pics of the booklet and an automatic translator.