À Travers Les Lambeaux by Shezmu

Release date: July 27, 2020
Label: Krucyator Productions

Canadian black/death/doom trio Shezmu have emerged from their torchlit sarcophagi to create their debut album entitled À Travers Les Lambeaux. The band’s previous EPs (Breaching the Tomb and The Scent of War) have proven the trio can bring their demanding form of sonic darkness. Shezmu are not a one-dimensional type of metal. The band aptly fuses genres to create an impressive amalgamation of some of the most extreme types of metal. The expectations for a further descent into the abyss on this full length release seem well justified…and after many listens confirmed.

As you might expect from this genre blurring band, the vocals (guitars and lyrics) by Olivier Bérubé Emond aren’t delivered in one voice. There is the guttural, disembodied, undead voice that is expected with death metal. However, Olivier provides many extra inflections, grunts and seemingly distant outcries throughout the album. I tend to find death metal vocals can get stale fast if there isn’t some effort made to diversify the vocalisations. So Shezmu certainly impressed in this light. The words, sung in French, speak of dark ancient rites, sinister incantations and death, so much dread and death.

The majority of the tracks hit hard, fast and unrelentingly. Tracks like ‘L’Arrivée Des Temps Déchus’, ‘Les Secrets des Ziggourats’ and ‘Ode À Hathor’ don’t build, they are full throttle from the first note. The musicianship and creativity the band demonstrates throughout this album, all while maintaining the frantic pace of extreme metal is intoxicating. Riffs, riffs, riffs, so many great crushing riffs are balanced beside engaging melodies, the perpetual drive of concussive drums (Marc-André Labonne) and of which is coated in deep viscous bass (Yannick Tremblay-Simard).

À Travers Les Lambeaux is unmistakably going to melt eardrums but like the demonic god Shezmu, the band is also of many talents. The aural thrashings are plentiful but the band also has atmospheric interludes like ‘Interlude – La Rage’ that show a different face of the demon. And even though it is easy to envision this groovy acoustic jam being played around a raging fire, it still manages to have an unsettling and foreboding vibe to it. The songs that book end this album are fantastic. The black metal opener ‘À Travers Les Lambeaux’ has a great energy, some cool canorous passages and plenty of great melody steeped in grotesque growls. Shezmu saves the best for last as ‘Lex Talionis’ is a spectacular cut. Stunning time changes, crunchy, biting riffs, insane banshee-like screams and that lovely atmospheric outro. Well done Shezmu. Well done indeed.

Shezmu’s debut À Travers Les Lambeaux is a great work. It is ambitious, interesting and extreme. It is a delicious amalgam of darkest forms of metal and yet finds various ways to push the boundaries with challenging arrangements, atmospheric embellishments and diverse vocal treatments. Beware, the ‘Executioner of Osiris’ is now among us!

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