LES CHANTS DU HASARD — Les Chants du Hasard (review)

LES CHANTS DU HASARD — Les Chants du Hasard album cover Album · 2017 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Here's a little something about me: I'm 28 years old and I've heard over two thousand different albums in my life, mostly coming out of the metal music genre. This means I've long reached the point where a lot of the new music I hear has started sounding uninteresting and generic, even when it's technically good or even great stuff. I'm sure every fan of music can relate in some way. This also means I'm always on the hunt for something that can surprise me. The latest album I've found that fulfils this criteria is the self-titled debut album by French solo act Les Chants du Hasard.

The musician behind this project calls himself Hazard. On his Facebook page for the project he brands his music as 'orchestral black metal'. This gives the impression that he'll be producing something in the spectrum of symphonic black metal as made popular by groups such as Emperor and Dimmu Borgir. There's a twist though: Hazard has some policies that he strictly adheres to while creating his craft.

No guitars.

No bass.

No drums.

Just orchestra.

That is of course orchestra topped by harsh black metal styled growling, with some cleaner chants used more rarely, particularly in Chant II - Le Soleil. Now that, I'm sure no one needs to be told, is certainly different. Of course there is a genre known as black ambient that takes a similar premise that Les Chants du Hasard likely owes something to, but this album is better described as some sort of blackened classical music. Or classical with a mind of black metal. You can't really call it metal because aside from the obvious growling there is absolutely nothing to do with metal here, but its influence is undeniable.

Due to the existence of symphonic black metal the fusion of black metal and classical elements isn't the most outrageous idea ever presented, but the manner of this album certainly isn't the most obvious way of doing it. Listening to it for the first time gives the mixed impression of not being entirely sure what audience the recording is supposed to be aimed at, though presumably it is the metal audience rather than the classical due to the album being released on I, Voidhanger Records, a metal label. Since the black metal growls are inherently the more inaccessible element here one also has to assume that metal listeners will be more open to giving the whole release a try, as I'm not convinced someone who only listens to classical music (and likely doesn't know what black metal is) is going to be able to accept those vocals smothered over the majority of the release.

Up until a point the concept works. I'm no expert on classical music but I get the impression that it is well composed and suitably dramatic, with different moods conveyed in different parts of the album. Some are pretty epic, some are simply dark, while others go a step further and are downright dreary and depressive. I don't enjoy all the album equally, the earlier mentioned Chant II - Le Soleil actually seeming to be a little bit of a farce on the whole idea by not featuring the black metal growls until near it's conclusion, but mostly Les Chants du Hasard offers up intriguing material that absolutely scratches the itch to hear something I haven't heard before, though I can't really say that it does it in such a way that the album will be one I want to revisit too often.

From a purely objective point of view the biggest obstacle Les Chants du Hasard faces is that the music very much sits on the line between two very different things and given my belief that this album is aimed at metalheads it does seem as if it may be sitting just on the wrong side of that line, as this still sounds very much like a classical album first and foremost, rather than a black metal album that's been done in a different way. I certainly recommend giving it a go and deciding for yourself whether the genre clash works but I expect this one may go down as simply a little oddity in the history of black metal music.

One thing I will add though as a little postscript is that given how great the actual orchestrations are in Les Chants du Hasard's music I'd absolutely love to hear what Hazard could come up with in an actual symphonic black metal environment. I dare say that could result in something to rival even the mighty Aquilus album Griseus (2012), a release that so far I've found to be incomparable in its field.
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adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
It actually grew on me a lot as I was putting my review together, but I couldn't really justify a higher rating.
666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I gave this a listen a little while back but didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to. An intriguing release though, definitely.

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