An Introduction to French Metal
Here are 15 of France's most un-compromising metal groups to familiarize yourself with :
1. Gojira: “L’Enfant Sauvage”
One of France’s most famous bands, Gojira is necessary listening for anyone interested in the genre. In this song, (literally “wild child”) virtuosic drum fills and searing guitars reminiscent of war cries periodically puncture the staccato pulse, which eventually build to an apocalyptic conclusion. And if you focus a little on the lyrics, you’ll hear that Gojira has a genuine ecological and spiritual sensitivity.
2. Vulcain: “Ebony”
Vulcain is another inescapable touchstone of French metal. One of France’s oldest heavy metal bands, they are as old school — or “ancienne école” — as it gets. Formed in 1981, the band sings about social issues, and identifies themselves as pacifists.
3. Sühnopfer: “La Tour du Pendu”
This black metal band has a much darker and more violent style than our previous two examples, so be warned! Its name is a German neologism and translates into something like “atonement sacrifice”. Hailing from Auvergne, Sühnopfer is definitely worth checking out on your tour around the world of French metal.
4. Lappalainen: “Beyond the Sea”
Lappalainen has a slightly different style, known as “folk metal”. This tune opens with strummed guitars and panpipes — but don’t let that fool you. The crashing cymbals and huge guitars enter soon enough. Folk-metal is qualified as such either when it features instruments like flutes, tin whistles or violins, or when the lyrical themes include mythology, or Celtic and Viking subjects.
5. Dagoba: “Yes, We Die”
This French metal band, named in honor of Yoda’s planet in Star Wars, started small but has recently released records on a big United States label. They play industrial metal, metalcore. This particular tune we is a perfect illustration of their thematic leitmotivs: death, life, psychology.
6. Manea: “Fallen Souls”
This is a very recent group, proving that the French metal scene is constantly evolving. Complex harmonies and enchanting vocals make this lengthy death-metal dirge quite unique.
7. Etoile Filante: "Feu Prométhée"
Another very recent song, and a rather accessible one for non-initiates. Etoile Filante is two years old, and specializes in ambient black metal. And it is exactly the feeling you get when listening to this tune. The usual metal vocals and rough rhythms are superimposed on a psychedelic melody, creating an astounding effect.
8. Fairyland: “Ride with the Sun” SYMPHO
This symphonic power metal band takes you on a timeless journey to a medieval fantasy world and throws you in the middle of a battle between good and evil. Combining standard metal tropes like chugging guitars and thundering drums with delicate touches like strings and synthesizers, Fairyland succeeds in making something truly epic.
9. The CNK : "L’hymne à la joie"
We all know Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. But have you ever listened to the metal version? The CNK gives you a mesmerizing mix of symphonic and electronic metal, and transforms the classical ode into a new artistic work. This band usually deals with themes such as war, violence and dystopia, and those issues can even find an echo in their enigmatic name. Starting out as Count Nosferatu, the musicians changed their band name to Count Nosferatu Kommando, and are now known as Cosa Nostra Club.
10. Loudblast: "After Thy Thought"
Founded in Lille in 1986, Loudblast were arguably the first band to bring thrash metal to France. Originally taking cues from US bands like Slayer and Anthrax, by the time of their debut album, Disincarnate, Loudblast had developed its own unique hybrid of thrash and death metal. With its intricate pummeling rhythm, and spare, brutalist arrangements, "After Thy Thought" captures the raw, kinetic appeal of these Lilloise metalheads.
11. Blut aus nord: "Epitome ii"
Thanks to a recent generation of French metal experimentalists, the country has been a driving force in the genre's avant-garde for the past decade. Blut Aus Nord, perhaps the most influential of this new crop of French eccentrics, make synth-heavy, cinematic songs that stray far from their caustic black metal roots. Metal mag Terrorizer has described them as the band most responsible for the recent sub-genre referred to as "shoegaze black metal."
12. Deathspell Omega: "Abscission"
Deathspell Omega are also part of the French metal nouvelle vague, mixing black metal with the sweeping soundscapes and arcane song structures of post-rock. Typically ambitious, "Abscission" plays on black metal's hyperspeed tempos, quadruple time drums undergird slowly soaring guitars, for an effect that's more droning than pounding.
13. Svart Crown: ”Genesis Architect”
Svart Crown's 'blackened death metal' is considerably more propulsive and technical than their free-wheeling contemporaries Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega. In a song like "Genesis Architect," the Nicoise band keep their atonal guitars and anthemic breakdowns firmly rooted in the rhythmic precision of the best death metal.
14. Amesoeurs: “Bonheur Amputé”
Is it possible to write a black metal love song? Amesoeurs, one of many bands formed by French metal savant Neige, would certainly say so. In this track, wrenching vocals and melancholic melodies share space with the relentless grinding churn more typical of the genre. This is shoegaze black metal at its most unabashedly romantic.
15. Mass Hysteria: “Contraddiction”
Finally, we finish this playlist with a tune belonging to the controversial genre dubbed alternative or neo-metal. The lyrics of “Contradiction” are more easily understandable, and the style is reminiscent of rap and rock rhythms, but the echo of metal is still very present.
Etoile Filante, Manea, Lappaleinin's "Beyond the Sea," and Amsoeurs' "Bonheur" are not available on Spotify.
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