Review by Felix on September 9, 2019.
Québec goes through tumultuous times in terms of music. Forteresse, Ossuaire, Délétère and further combos have emerged, and they have created their own style. But what about the "motherland" of the Franco-Canadian province? Of course, France has some competent combos, but it has not found a convincing answer to the sound of Québec so far. However, maybe things are starting to move now. Neptrecus from Paris have released their third work and it delivers some parallels to the sound of the aforementioned bands without copying the style slavishly.
The quartet presents seven songs with an average length of nearly seven minutes. The compositions focus on a good flow. Probably due to the opulent configuration, some parts show up again and again, but this stylistic device does not cause any damage due to two reasons. Firstly, a certain weakness for repetition is an immanent element of this style, secondly, more or less all of the repeated sequences hit the bull's eye. Abrupt breaks do not occur, but organic tempo changes or silent intermezzos with acoustic guitars are not forbidden.
Those of you who know the movement in Québec will not be surprised that Neptrecus avoid English. They prefer their mother tongue and the French language affects the overall sound in a positive way. It appears as the natural and only logical choice for an album called Ars Gallica. Moreover, it distinguishes the band from 99% of its European competitors. But despite the somehow patriotic approach and a few numbers of folkloric spots, the album is also highly recommendable outside of France. Let me explain why.
Three cornerstones come to my mind when I listen to this work. Passion, energy and strength. This material is created by guys who love the music they play, no doubt about it, and they have the competence to find the right mix between uncompromising aggressiveness and less furious parts. Some more or less melodic solos, for example, make clear that Neptrecus are aware of the fact that hammering drums and tremolo picking alone are not enough to forge an outstanding output. They also occasionally add some weird melodies, for example in "Ethique de la volonté". This is not to say that the full-length lacks toughness. The heavy side of the band does not come off badly, but the nearly 48 minutes give enough space to offer both melodic understanding and brute force. High velocity, just to close the circle, also plays an important role. It shapes bullets such as "Soyons terribles pour dispenser le peuple de l'être" (and the menacing undertone of its instrumental parts is also excellent).
The fourth song suffers from an overdose of lenience and it illustrates during its last minute that melodic singing is not the core competence of the lead vocalist. But how many black metal bands have written only classics? What does the dude in the last row say? Dimmu Borgir? Okay, I don't want to go any further into that... Neptrecus, to come back to the band which is in the focus here, have created an exciting work which benefits from a proper, heavy and transparent production. Give songs such as the horrifying "Messager de l'oubli" a shot, feel the heat of the eternally blazing flame of black metal and enjoy Ars Gallica.
Rating: 8.1 out of 10