Sortilège - Apocalypso review
|Release date:||March 2023|
02. Attila [feat: Stéphane Buriez]
03. Derrière Les Portes De Babylone
04. Le Scare Du Sorcier
05. La Parade Des Centaurs [feat Stéphane Buriez]
07. Encore Un Jour
10. Apocalypso [feat: Kévin Codfert]
Do you remember the French heavy metal Sortilège from the 80s? No, well it's time to make amends.
If you're a metal head who happened to be around during the 80s, then perhaps there's a slight chance you'll remember a French heavy metal band called Sortilège, but then this is also a band that may have passed you by, as they only released two albums during that time. The first of these was Métamorphose, followed by Larmes De Héros two years later, neither of which made it particularly big during dominant years of NWOBHM. Now in 2023, Sortilège are once again back on the heavy metal scene after an astounding 37-year absence; this time it's with what is only their third full-length release since their formation way back in 1981, Apocalypso, but how does this album hold up nowadays when placed alongside bands from the modern heavy metal scene?
Firstly, this album doesn't contain the original line-up from all those years ago; in fact, the only original member that still features in the band since their re-establishment back in 2021 is the vocalist Christian "Zouille" Augustin. The remaining members of this fresh new line-up consist of Bruno Ramos (guitars), Olivier Spitzer (guitars), Sébastien Bonnet (bass) and Clément Rouxel (drums), all intending to breathe new life and energy into the party through their experience from works with their previous bands, so perhaps a fresh new line-up ultimately means a whole new direction and approach?
For those of you that remember the original Sortilège, you will surely know that the lyrics were in their mother tongue, that being French obviously, and Augustin to no surprise still writes lyrics in that very same language, and why not? His vocal style also continues down the same path as it did all those many moons ago, as his sudden energetic bursts of Dickinson-cum-Dio wails can be heard along with occasional Halford-inspired screams. Although his vocal talent may not be in the same calibre as those all-time greats, his vocal performance is still at the very top of his game, and shows no indication that it's become rusty over time.
I will admit the album itself is far from groundbreaking; however, the songwriting is decent, maybe unoriginal in certain aspects, but there is no sign of repetitiveness in the songwriting, with each track containing its own memorable riff and chorus, and each with a unique structure. There are many major influences present, and you'll notice the album goes back and forth between these influences, as you glimpse the likes of of Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, and Rainbow.
I mentioned earlier that the songwriting isn't groundbreaking, but that's not to say that there aren't standout moments also, starting with the track "Attila", which is a great opener, one that throws you right into the action with its opening war-like horn sound effect before the striking traditional main riff kicks in' this is then followed by a very catchy chorus. Things then take a sudden change as we swiftly move on to the next track "Derrière Les Portes De Babylone"; here, Augustin's Dio/Dickinson-like wails become more apparent, and you also get an incredibly striking Middle Eastern riff melody, accompanied by what sounds like Arab-style chanting. The track itself sounds like a work of Dio himself, perhaps reminding me of something from his album The Last In Line, or at the very least early Rainbow. The following track goes more into Judas Priest territory, the tempo and ferocity notably increasing, with a shredding Priest-style solo running parallel to a traditionally melodic main riff. Another striking highlight is the epic closer "Apocalypso", which is the longest track on the album at just shy of eight minutes; the second half of the song is dominated by an epic solo, as well as a choir effect behind the main vocal. So, like I said before, there's a unique structure behind each track.
With only one original member remaining and an extremely lengthy absence, Apocalypso could perhaps be the start of an impressive new era for this French heavy metal band; they may not have got this start off to a flier, but it's a decent release nonetheless, and hopefully we will hear more from them in the future.
||Written on 14.03.2023 by|
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