14 years after their first collective effort, Gris and Sombres Forêts join forces once again to release an album that stands out from the rest of the Quebec black metal scene. Ordalie delivers sophisticated arrangements, subtle and technical instrumental playing, but above all, the atmosphere of desolation that charmed audiences in 2009. Opening with a piano melody overlaid with violin strata, “Noir fauve” gradually evolves towards its metal instrumentation. The first rhythmic cell, played on guitar, hammers the root note—an opening worthy of an album by New Zealand’s Ulcerate—before leading to the full deployment of that musical idea. While the overall execution is praiseworthy, the dynamic drumming is a key element that colors the album throughout. Very few of the rhythmic choices seem deliberately borrowed from the black metal canon, which has the refreshing effect of subverting the heavier sections with a percussive attack that’s more nuanced than brutal.
Bowed tremolo on the guitar, arpeggios drowned in delay, extended instrumentation, gradual rises in intensity, depth in the arrangements, creative mixing: it’s all there! The Miserere Luminis sound is clearly recognizable. Most of the album’s melodic and harmonic content comes from the minor keys, making the atmosphere oscillate perceptibly between nostalgia, sadness and despair. The vocals are more varied, though still more visceral than technical. Screams with defined pitches complement the saturated screams, whose fractures and imperfections are clearly audible. These ingredients give way to complex, vulnerable and introspective music, far removed from black metal oriented towards pure aural assault or occultist darkness. A wait more than worthwhile.