Friday, February 24, 2012

Vlad Tepes - Dans Notre Chute (1996)

Dans Notre Chute was released in July 1996, as always, in limited numbers. A lot of times, a band will do this because they just are not that good, but such was not the case, here. This is one of the last demos from Vlad Tepes, one of the most revered bands of the French Black Legions. Recordings such as this prove what a shame it was that these guys never released a full-length album, as it would likely be considered a classic by now.

The material on this demo is not entirely original. Four of the six songs were previously released, more than once. The first several tracks were already available on the Broullions I and II demos, as well as the split L.P. with Torgeist. The song "In Holocaust to the Natural Darkness", in particular, had been recorded five or six times, by this point. For whatever reason, Vlad Tepes liked re-recording their own songs, which is sometimes common with demo releases anyway. For the most part, these songs are very similar to the earlier versions, so there was little necessity in playing them again. The two new tracks fit in well, showing a lot of consistency with the band's songwriting. As usual, they manage to utilize a good mixture of old school influences with more of an overall Second Wave feeling to dominate the material. Like Moonblood, some of their inspirations can be heard, yet they possess a sound that is purely their own. The music consists of eerie tremolo melodies, a handful of memorable thrash riffs, and a hellish feeling rivaled only by Mütiilation (especially on "Our Soul's Worries"). There is also an epic quality that shines through, from time to time. This is most noticeable in "Raven's Hike" and "Tepes - The Unweeping". The quality of arrangement and composition on display here is vastly superior to most Black Metal bands that were releasing full-length albums around this time.

The production is fairly good, compared to a lot of the other Vlad Tepes releases, though maybe not on par with March to the Black Holocaust. While things do tend to get a bit unclear, from time to time (not helped by a persistent buzzing sound that lasts throughout the entire recording), it hardly gets to the point where one can no longer follow the guitar melodies. This possesses a similar sound to the old Mayhem rehearsals and live albums, such as Live in Leipzig. It definitely qualifies as lo-fi, but not to the extent where it is impossible to enjoy.

In the end, Dans Notre Chute is among the most essential Vlad Tepes releases. This should appeal to anyone that appreciate raw, under-produced Black Metal in the vein of Moonblood, Mütiilation and Black Funeral. If you have not yet been well-educated regarding the LLN, this would not be a bad place to start.