L'ACEPHALE is a heady, experimental Black Metal project from Oregon. Of course, you wouldn't know that […]
By Sean McGuirk
May 1, 2019
L'Acephale - L'Acephale album cover

L'ACEPHALE is a heady, experimental Black Metal project from Oregon. Of course, you wouldn't know that from any aspect of this disc, as the band is named after a secret French society from the 1930's and has German, French and English lyrics. If you're guessing this is some kind of Avant-Garde Post-Metal release, you'd be correct! Despite the mystery and the overall pretension, though, this is a fantastic listen, it's not as challenging as it is enveloping, with each track contributing to an overall hypnosis, taking you deeper into it's wondrous void.

The group started in the early 2000's as a solo project of mastermind Set Sothis Nox La, with the stated mission, according to their Facebook page, to fuse "equal portions Epistemic Terrorism and Literary Atavism, basing its transmission in the combination of both Black Metal and Folk elements." Well, OK then! What that means is anyone's idea, but it is clear that Set, aka Brian Booty, is enamored with fellow Avant-Garde, Neo-Folk and Ambient artists like CURRENT 93, LES JOYAUX DE LA PRINCESSE and BURZUM, who similarly use sparse, often psychedelic and jarring dissonance to promote a feeling of transcendence. Use of noise, samples and industrial elements are sprinkled throughout the disc. The track "In Gloria In Excelsis Mihi" contains a French folk singer who croons beautifully over a distant bed of distorted guitars. "Runenberg," perhaps the closest to a single on the whole album, has a straight-forward martial Black Metal cadence, but there's an uneasiness that's amplified by a storm of electronic wails and static that plays in the background. The band utilizes folk and acoustic passages often, much in the same way as fellow Oregonians AGALLOCH did, to create atmosphere and a contrast of beauty against the cold darkness.

"Hark The Battle-Cry Is Ringing" is a kind of twisted World War II battle hymn, with a twangy slide guitar and a background of Tibetan-style vocal droning, that coalesces beautifully with a harsh over-distorted guitar sound in its final minutes. Judging from what came before you know the next track will be the exact opposite in tone, and it is, as "Last Will" stars as a death grind, a furious blast of dark energy, that lasts only moments before transforming back into an ambient fog, with a German-speaking voice narrating it's final minutes. There's a musique concrete feel to the ticking clock in "Sleep," a single acoustic piano key hit that is the glue between manic and depressive episodes: a funereal doom pace that morphs into an all-out crust punk assault and back again. "Winternacht" brings the album to a close with a 19-minute epic of relatively-standard atmospheric Black Metal.

Overall, the band walks a fine line between out-there experimentation and mainstream accessibility. While Set has shown he can do both, it seems clear from his past work with the band and his disparate array of artistic influences, that his heart is in the atmosphere and texture versus the more straight-forward Black Metal elements of the project. Even if your tolerance for the former is thin, you will be drawn in by the record's dexterity and ethereal nature. There's simply no denying the attractiveness of a band that can create something you've never heard before. "L'Acephale" is an exciting work from an act shrouded in mystery. We could use more of that.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








When clicked, this video is loaded from YouTube servers. See our privacy policy for details.
"L'Acephale" Track-listing:

1. Sovereignty
2. Gloria in Excelsis Mihi
3. Runenberg
4. Hark The Battle-Cry Is Ringing
5. Last Will
6. Sleep
7. Winternacht

L'Acephale Lineup:

Set Sothis Nox La - Guitar, Vocals
Jared Huston - Guitar, Vocals
Markus Wolff - Vocals, Moog, Bones
Carl Annala - Guitar
Danny Costa - Bass
Charlie Mumma - Drums

linkcrossmenucross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram