I don’t know about many of you but I hate summer. Even though I live in the southwestern United States, I am not a person who can do well in the heat, never have. Often in the summer I turn to the frigidity of raw black metal because for some psychological reason that is beyond me, the raw, cold sounds of black metal help me relax. Summer might not be here yet but winter has definitely passed. That means it’s time for some Métal Noir Québécois! The uniqueness of the scene up north is something I’ve admired since I started the blog with the likes of Mort aux Gueux, Forteresse, and Sorcier des Glaces. Janvier is the latest band to join that pantheon with their self-titled release this February.
Janvier, French for January, are a twosome that combine raw atmospheric black metal with natural polar ambient. The best of both worlds for me. They combine some muddy, razor riffs with field recordings to build an atmosphere that is absolutely perfect. Their sound, still maturing, has its origins in the cold lands of Scandinavia but, as with their Quebecois brethren, Janvier has put their own spin on the sound, making it harsh and malevolent yet melodic at the same time. The things that the early Norwegian scene was never able to do was combine melody with raw, harsh black metal. Janvier has managed to do that, combining the best of both worlds as it were.
As I was listening and coming up with an analysis, I had a question pop into my head over and over. Is Janvier just another Darkthrone clone that simply managed to add melody to the Darkthrone formula? I agonized over this because, well you know I feel about clones. I listened to the album closely, much closer than I normally would. Typically, if I had a hint that an album was being a clone I wouldn’t have continued. I would have stopped the music and gone on to something else. However, this was not a typical situation. I came to the conclusion, after at least six full play throughs, that Janvier might stem from the same cloth as Darkthrone as far as production but that’s where the similarities end. Having melody is the deciding factor. Darkthrone, and their myriad clones, don’t have it. Janvier does. And Janvier uses the melodies in their music to distance themselves from the clones, but also from their fellow countrymen. The melodies don’t just blend the musical sounds together but the field recordings and ambient background noise as well. The ambient stuff makes the album, with it’s very thin production feel a little fuller, more robust. The vocals, supplied by the aptly named Kanibaal (for his ferocious style not his desire to eat people), are fantastic. They blend well with the music. In another setting with different production values the vocals might not have mixed with the music, but that was the intention here, right? Create a harsh and brutal atmosphere with everything they have? They achieved that, no doubt.
Summer is coming and while I can’t stop the seasons from coming I can have music to surround me to give me a psychological boost when I need it. Janvier deserve to start being mentioned with the likes of Forteresse, Mort aux Gueux, Some Happy Thoughts, and Délétère. Métal Noir Québécois is a genre of black metal set apart from the others, a force of nature in its own right. Janvier delivers some heavy, deathly cold blows of its own that only strengthen the genre. Give them a shot!
Listen and support the music!