The wizards of ice return after 2 years with their new album “Un Monde de Glace et de Sang,” and prove once again that Canada stands with their Scandinavian counterparts as a landmark for some of the most frostbitten Black Metal in the scene. Translating in English to “A World of Ice and Blood,” the album viciously delivers just that and shows the second wave vibe of the 90’s to be very much alive and well, but with its own refreshing edge.
The production is notably rawer on this album compared to their previous self-titled effort, and it goes right for the throat on “Crossing the Haunted Forest” with a wall of buzzsaw guitar that acts as a backdrop for all the atmospheric effects, tremolo picked melodies, and other intricate riffs that come together to create the landscape of the album’s title. These diverse elements are interwoven throughout the tracks in a perfect balance to keep the sound fresh without taking away from its grimness. They are still very much present and occasionally take a turn in the spotlight, but generally they are more nuanced and allow that raw buzzsaw guitar to really stand out.
“Night-Dark Winds of Evil” introduces some acoustic and clean guitars, and right before the end there’s a really wicked riff that almost defines archetypal Black Metal. Moments like this are what take me back to the Norway of the 90’s. Keyboards aren’t actually used on this album as far as I know, but there are effects used throughout that mimic one. “La Couronne des Mille Hivers” is a song that fully utilizes these effects. The title track is where things really get epic. This song has acoustic and clean guitar passages throughout, atmospheric effects, a section of what sounds like swords clashing and battle, the cold wind howling, and the layering of riffs and tremolo picking in a way that really exemplifies the band’s musicianship. Even the bass guitar has a standout moment on this track. “(Return to the) Primitive Grandeur” has a guitar solo that sounds like it’s coming from somewhere off in the darkness. All this really conjures up visions of a dark icy forest stained red with blood and carnage from battles waged between bitter enemies. A cover of Necromantia’s “The Warlock” stays true to the original while adding the distinct flavor of Sorcier Des Glaces and fits in well with the whole of the album. “l’Éternelle Majesté des Montagnes (partie II)” starts with some clean singing which shows there is some vocal diversity as well. Clean singing and spoken words appear on some songs, but the emphasis is definitely on the harsh vocals which have a lot of diversity by themselves. Sometimes you can really feel the hate, disgust, and anguish projecting through Sébastien’s voice. There is also a lot of tempo variation, and the songs easily transition from fast blast beat ridden sections to more mid-paced groove, and again to slow and almost doomy parts. Another dynamic is added with the closing piano track “La Couronne des Mille Hivers (partie II).”
The actual themes behind the songs reflect the raw hateful energy of the music and vocals. “Crossing the Haunted Forest” again wastes no time making this apparent. The song’s protagonist is full of hate and seeks revenge against those who caused his pain and anguish. “I will spread the epidemic on humanity” certainly rings true with our current Covid-19 situation, and I can only wonder if our pandemic inspired some of these lyrics or if it’s just another coincidence. “Night-Dark Winds of Evil” states that “(we are) entering a new era of pestilence” while also pointing to rotting corpses, and contemptuously observing the world being destroyed by humans. While the lyrics on this album are brimming with hate, contempt, death, war, destruction, and basically wiping the Earth slate clean there is also a lot of perseverance and glimpses of what comes next. The same throat-ripper “Crossing the Haunted Forest” affirms near the end that “I’ve created a new world, to the glorious past.” Once everything is torn down the rebuilding can begin, and hopefully for the better, so we can return to times similar to the past, like before Covid-19 happened. This idea is reinforced again on “(Return to the) Primitive Grandeur” with talk of overcoming a “hidden threat” and “A return to the earth, to what once was.” Eventually we will overcome the threat we are currently facing and return, mostly at least, to how things were. Let’s keep our shit together and hope we are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Sorcier Des Glaces have produced another quality slab of dark, cold, and hateful Black Metal. This album is well balanced and should be accessible to those who like their Black Metal raw and primitive, and also to those who prefer more melody and atmosphere. The production pays tribute to the Scandinavian scene of the early 90’s while adding enough variation to make it new and interesting. It is a complete package for anyone who likes Black Metal and I honestly have no complaints about it. If I wanted, I could gripe about the run time since I typically don’t like albums going past the one-hour mark, but I never reached the point of feeling like it was overstaying its welcome. Albums like this will help make the upcoming winter more of a fun kind of dark and less like the “dark” we keep hearing about. I look forward to exploring what Sorcier Des Glaces comes up with next and hope they keep bringing that Cold.