Cauchemar – La Vierge Noire

Written on

September 9, 2011

Doom has come a long way in the past fifty years. Ever since the proto-metal days and the formation of That One Band We All Know About (rhymes with mack hammath), doom has been definable and a driving force musically, birthing numerous split-off genres that have often floundered. But still the integral genre of traditional doom metal has weathered the test of time and the cultural and technological evolution that comes with it. You have bands like Arkham Witch and The Devil’s Blood who continue to hold the torch, taking inspiration and incorporating elements from the days of old.

By the standards we have today, traditional doom isn’t necessarily the heaviest genre of metal, at least not musically (that’s my opinion anyway). Relatively anyone can write a doom metal song emulating TOBWAKA or Pentagram but it takes a certain amount of talent to pull it off without sounding like blatant pretenders. When listening to “La Vierge Noire,” the debut 2010 EP from the French-Canadian trio Cauchemar, I feel like it falls somewhere in between the “playing pretend” and “doing it right” boundaries.

The instrumentation, of course, sounds like your standard classic doom riffage, guitar is competent, drums are solid, basslines are fine, but it’s not really the most “original” sound. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just makes the release pretty forgettable in the sense that it gets lost amongst the plethora of other “revival” acts and their near identical style of playing and production. Honestly (and sorry if this sounds cliche), I think it’s just not heavy enough, it sounds way too reserved and could really benefit from increased distortion and an overall “deeper” sound. It feels like going to the zoo and watching the animals in cages, because you know they’re capable of a lot more than what they’re showcasing.

Annick Giroux provides the vocals in addition to covering guitar, and the vocals are pretty much the stand-out element on the whole EP. The fact that she sings in French is icing on the cake, it compliments her smooth and melodic style of delivery, especially on the track “Magie Rouge”. Say what you will about the overall production, this album was mixed well and the vocals are at the perfect level where they don’t overwhelm the instruments and vise versa. A little piece of trivia here is that Giroux is also a culinary artist and has published a “heavy metal cookbook”.

Overall, I felt like this was just an “okay” release from a band that feels like they’re playing by the numbers just for the sake of emulating the old-school sound. They’re obviously all capable musicians which is why it’s so baffling this release turned out the way it did. I do recommend listening to it if you get the chance though, because even though it’s not the most original piece of work, it’s still a stand-out in the “revival” genre and hopefully a promise of things to come.

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Purchase from: Nuclear War Now!