REVIEW: SETH – “La Morsure Du Christ”
Amidst the cacophonies generated out of the current state of world affairs, a distant war horn blares off the coast of France, signaling the appearance of a group that is not afraid to return to their pursuit of blasphemy one more time. Seth snatches the spotlight of the black metal community with its latest full-length album ‘La Morsure Du Christ’, an album that revisits the signature identity of the genre from the 1990s, armoured by an edge; the modern and revitalizing approach of the album’s production.
With the band’s last full-length album being released in 2013 (‘The Howling Spirit’), Seth has taken its hiatus steadily and carefully to revisit the spirit of creativity, which has resulted in an album that exhibits dramatic and intense atmospheres, paying homage to the band’s sound and direction harnessed in their 1998 debut, ‘Les Blessures de L’âme’, an album that sculpted the sound of French Black Metal for many years to come.
The band and its record label Season of Mist, consider the album to be a sequel to the debut album, and the execution of it proves the same justly. The band’s current line-up consists of Heimoth (Sinsaenum) and Drakhian (Griffar) on the guitars, Esx Vnr (Arkhon Infaustus) on the bass, Pierre Le Pape (Melted Space) on the keys, Alsvid (AdPatres) on the drums, and Saint Vincent (BlackLodge) on the vocals. Together, they spare nothing in the arsenal of musical craftsmanship and manifest a spiral of morbid nostalgia; a journey that guides the listener through a re-visitation of one of Black Metal’s iconic themes, rebellion against the Church and organized Christian thought. This is reflected in the title that the band has chosen for the album, which, from French, translates literally to “The Bite of Christ” and phonetically, to “Christ’s Death is Certain”.
Instead of building into the album, the band doesn’t hesitate to jump straight into it with the title track, the drums blazing away only to be met with a riffing carnage that sets the pace of the album. Along with distant shrieks that send chills down the spine, a doorway to a world sans the Church is conjured, and no room is left for anything that may be holy within its vicinity. “Métal Noir” follows the same suite, being abruptly halted by the pounding drums and hypnotic chants of “Sacrifice De Sang”. “Hymne au Vampire (Acte III)” follows to be the third part of a composition, two parts of which were released by the band in Les Blessures de L’âme. The last two tracks, “Les Océans du Vide” and “Le Triomphe de Lucifer”, if not enough on their own, are also re-orchestrated entirely on synthesizers as bonus tracks in the album.
Certain other creative executions by the band heighten the anti-religious allure of the album. The artwork of the album, being commissioned by Leoncio Harmr, depicts the Notre Dame on fire, an event from 2019 still fresh in the collective consciousness of humankind. This artwork expresses visually, the intention and spirit of the album, giving it the final finishes that suit its sound and aesthetic. Furthermore, the band returns to the usage of French for its lyrics and employs traditional French poetry techniques that enhance the delivery of the vocals.
It is undeniable that ‘La Morsure Du Christ’ marks a strong return for the band, and in a day and age of such a wide variety of metal music, Seth returns to the sound that marked its presence in the late ’90s; that of thoroughly tense, violent and morbid atmospheres that stir the unknown and the untouched of the soul that rest deep within every heart, regardless of what the heart may worship. Armed with “the bite of Christ”, Seth is ready to make its stride again in speaking of a world with burned-down Churches making space a new one, and warmly (no puns intended) welcomes the listener to visit the same.