Peste Noire - _L'Ordure à l'État Pur_
(La Mesnie Herlequin, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (5 out of 10)
Ohhh God. Alright. Where to begin with this record? No, scratch that. Where to begin with Peste Noire? Peste Noire was one of my developments with a non-mainstream black metal band which has decidedly kept with the tradition of being non-mainstream. Their records are abrasive, the vocals are atrocious, and they have a healthy flirtation with the NSBM scene, all adding to a grand pageant of ugliness. They are also French, which may or may not make things worse. The thing is, Peste Noire does not want their music to be beautiful, accessible or even liked among people. Black metal to them is about making the music as repugnant as possible, thus challenging cultural aesthetics and perceptions regarding morality. Lead singer La Sale Famine de Valfunde's voice sometimes sounds like a dying lamb. No, scratch that -- it does sound like a dying lamb.

_L'Ordure à l'État Pur_ translates to roughly as the "excrement / filth / trash in its pure state". I cannot think of a better album title, as Peste Noire creates one of the most repulsive black metal albums which seems to have people from different lingual backgrounds all covering their ears.

Before the listener really gets into _ L'Ordure à l'État Pur_, one must understand this album is the musical equivalent of allowing a half naked madman to run around the studio with instruments, chickens and shotguns. It is important to realize front man Famine goes fucking bananas in this record, and while I rarely use food metaphors in my reviews, it is the only fruit that is applicable. Black metal, gypsy punk, traditional French accordion music, electronica and zany sound effects which would make Spike Jones jealous all are thrown onto a pile of dynamite and detonated in a shed. It is equally important to realize Peste Noire is doing this to piss off and take the piss out of the listener. Half of the time _L'Ordure à l'État Pur_ is brilliant, while the other it is fucking bananas.

"Casse, Pêches, Fractures et Traditions" begins the album with a ten minute overture of raspy black metal which melts into a surprisingly sweet and well adjusted accordion melody. If the record simply faded in and out of unrelated genres it would be one thing, but doing just that with such clumsy grace gives _L'Ordure à l'État Pur_ an awkward feel. The disparity does not end here. There are wonderful horns at the end of "Cochon Carotte et les Sœurs Crotte", but that only comes after the near minute of a woman screaming and a chunky guitar riff. The album's 20 minute epic "J'Avais Rêvé du Nord" is divided between an industrial riff, sound bites of French dialogue, poorly executed acoustic guitar and wonderfully sung female vocals by Audrey Sylvain. There are points when I suspect the band members intentionally miss notes to provide dissonance. Jesus God, Peste Noire, I do not have time to contemplate your ugliness.

When compared to other Peste Noire records, _ L'Ordure à l'État Pur_ fits into the band's quest for boundary redefinition, but maybe too much for anyone's good. The 2006 release _La Sanie Des Siècles - Panégyrique de la Dégénerescence_ is one of the band's highlights in lo-fi scathing black metal, but has been dismissed by the band as too popular for black metal. It is hilarious to think of any release by Peste Noire as commercial when compared to the whole of popular music. Regardless, _L'Ordure à l'État Pur_ will never be considered too popular, as its listenership will most likely drop to a manageable group of pretentious black metal enthusiasts.

_L'Ordure à l'État Pur_ is one of the most interesting metal records of 2011; whether or not it is any good is still up for debate. Peste Noire is a lot like looking at conceptual art. The audience will be divided between those who "get" the dead bunny nailed to a wall and those who do not. Perhaps in fifty years, _L'Ordure à l'État Pur_ will be heralded as a push into a new cultural direction for metal -- until then I am going to continue covering my ears.

(article published 7/23/2011)


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