The Best of Quebec Black Metal

Maeskyrn

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When many people hear the term ‘Black Metal,’ they think of tales of burning churches, corpse paint, spikes, inverted crosses, and shrill, fast, aggressive music. But this extreme form of music can also be far more nuanced and emotional than you might expect.

Although the genre may have originated with bands like Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer before being claimed by the Norwegian scene thanks to legendary names including Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Emperor and others, the black metal scene in Quebec has continued to gain recognition on a global scale.

The Black Metal scene in Québec began in the early ’90s, but really made an impact about a decade later. One release that demonstrates the primitive elements of today’s Québécois black metal was Tenebrae‘s Serenades of the Damned, released in 1994. This raw demo relied heavily on influence from the Norwegian sound.

The very first black metal bands in Québec frequently utilized satanic or occult lyrical themes. However, this theme has largely receded in recent years and is no longer in common use.

Many of the bands support the radical political idea of Quebec Separatism and this strong sense of French-Canadian nationalism has greatly influenced the scene, with the most notable example being Québec City’s Forteresse. A lot of bands proudly write their music exclusively in Québécois French.

Montreal’s Sepulchral Productions record label has signed many of the bands from the Quebec scene and have shown themselves to be one of the most important labels for Black Metal music. The label’s legacy is as much a part of the scene as any band, as it was founded by Myrkhaal (co-founder of Tenebrae and then later Frozen Shadows, a band which would go on to become the lodestar for Québecois black metal). Myrkhaal recently told his personal history and that of his label in a recent two-part interview with Bardo Methodology (here and here).

In 2020, the Québecois Black Metal scene is possibly stronger than it’s ever been, with some incredible albums being released this year. We decided it was time to showcase some of the music the scene has to offer. Here are some of the best bands from the Quebec Black Metal genre.

Maeskyyrn

Before the project Maeskyyrn was created, Alexandre Lamothe AKA “Harslingoth, the overseer” and Philippe Hurtubise AKA “Saemyaza, the last eye” were in the band Exorcise The Sky. Following that band’s demise, Harslingoth and Saemyaza quickly started making music and experimenting, mixing the themes of the project, the despair of this dying world and the ignorance of man.

The band released their album Interlude in October 2019 and played Montreal’s Messe Des Morts a month later.

Délétère

Délétère successfully combine furious melodic black metal with feral raw energy. The Quebec City band is a powerful entity among a well-regarded metal scene, able to take the fundamentals of black metal and meld them into entrancing and engaging compositions.

Formed in 2009 by Atheos and Thorleïf, who have been the only permanent members of the project, only accompanied by select musicians in the studio or on stage. In eleven years they have only released two albums, the excellent debut Les Heures de la Peste and 2018’s De Horae Leprae.

In 2019 the band released the EP Theovorator: Babelis Testamentum.

Monarque

Monarque is a one-man project that has created a high bar for the entire Quebecois scene and has collaborated with several other high-ranking musicians from bands like Forteresse, Cserjthe, Délétère and others.

Hak-ed damm

Describing themselves as “Quebec Black Fucking Metal Assault” Hak-ed damm formed when Zokvist (lead vocalist 2007-2016) was looking for a new and intense project, “something raw and brutal.”

In 2017 Zokvist took the decision to leave the band, for personal reasons, but he has a successor in Winterthrone (Endless Horizon, Dépérir).

The band recently released A Scum In The Cesspit, a bonus track available exclusively with the 2020 reissue of their album Nekrowristfucked

Trépas

Founded by members and ex-members of Morgue and Outre-Tombe, Trépas is one of the more recent Black Metal outfits emerging from Québec. The band journeys between harsher moments and more atmospheric passages, all complimented by acoustic guitars and just a dash of doomish sensibility, creating a sound that is their very own in the process. A newcomer that is sure to appeal to fans of the more brooding and melancholic side that scene has been known for.

The band explains, “Lyrically, Trépas sheds light on tormented aspects of the human mind, on the destruction of one’s hopes in the omnipresence of darkness, despair, and on mortal life’s underlying and inevitable fatality.”

Serment

Forteresse guitarist Moribond has a new solo project called Serment.

The first release, Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté is described as “a concept album telling the legend of a pact with the Devil and the quest for a lost heritage, a dark and epic journey at the heart of Québec’s snowy forests, buried beyond the snows of ages”.

Cantique Lépreux

Cantique Lépreux

With their sound encompassing fast and atmospheric black metal, Quebec City’s Cantique Lépreux manage to mix beautiful and harsh dirges in combination with conceptual music based around the North American winter.

Spectral Wound

Montreal outfit Spectral Wound’s take on black metal is equally urgent and hefty. Limber rhythms pair with a certain sonic density that adds to their ferocious compositions without muddying up the mix.

These guys may know the legacy to which they’re contributing but are certainly no amateurish Necrolords labouring in pursuit of underground credibility. Spectral Wound offers up nothing but the real deal, neither striving to break free from the traditions nor failing to uphold the banner of quality. – Vice

Ossuaire

Ossuaire at Piranha Bar – Photo by Steve Gerrard

Another Quebec City band, Ossuaire released two impressive albums through Sepulchral Productions just six months apart. The albums explored the concept on the downfall of Christianity, featuring the characteristic vengeful yet melodic riffing that has helped the band quickly rise among the well-established Québec scene while also developing a more epic side to the music. Another must for fans of the Québec Black Metal scene!

Gris

Gris is a duo formerly known as Niflheim. They have released two full-length albums to date: “Il était une forêt…” in 2007 and “À l’Âme Enflammée, l’Äme Constellée…” in 2013.

The band never performed live, telling Echoes and Dust, “The multiple layers of our music make it very difficult to adapt it for concerts, many musicians would be required. And even if we had enough musicians, we don’t know if the end result would quite resemble the original music we created as a duo. For now, we don’t have the necessary logistical and technical tools to achieve what we would want Gris to be as a live experience.” 

Forteresse

Forteresse – Photo by Catherine Leclerc

Forteresse was formed in 2006 in Quebec by Moribund and Athros. At the end of 2006 and early 2007, the group released their first studio album titled Métal Noir Québécois, an album, unlike other traditional black metal albums, not using the theme of Satanism, but the Quebec nationalism.

After five years of silence, in early 2016, Forteresse announced a new studio album titled Themes for the Rebellion, on Sepulchral Productions. Metal Insider ranked the band second in its ranking of the top five Canadian black metal bands.

Other bands worth checking out on the Quebec Black Metal scene:

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