WYRMS – Sarkhral Lumænor – La lueur contre les fléaux (2022)REVIEW

Officially formed as a solo project from musician/artist Tedd L. circa 2007 in the Orléans area (north-central France) Wyrms would become a quartet after the first demo as various members would handle production/engineering and such here and there while the maestro has continued to act as the songwriter, cover artist, and visionary for all of the band’s releases since. The skeleton of their early ideal was revealed on their first mLP (‘La Mort De l’Ermite‘, 2009) wherein piano and keyboards featured heavily in developing vine-like crawls of melodic lead but the rhythm guitar style would be the sole trait to last over the course of their discography beyond. Their debut LP (‘Aashanstys – Rêves et peines d’un misanthrope‘, 2010) landed in the midst of France reclaiming some of its deeper buried identity beyond symphonic black metal’s seeming unending overtures in the 2000’s wherein bands like Artefact, Aorlhac, and underrated compatriots Fhoi Myore gained some minor notice but Wyrms‘ peers in terms of style were closer to ‘Nos sombres chapelles‘-era Sühnopfer minus the ‘Far Away from the Sun‘ influence and with a bit of Sognametal flair applied to the leads, at least at the time. It was a deeply sentimental and elaborately stated record, packed with melodic ideas and pushing on with it for ~6-7 minute per song. The same observation could be used to describe this fine fourth full-length from the band, ‘Sarkhral Lumænor – La lueur contre les fléaux‘, and we could dust our hands of it there and then but we’d be missing out on the steps taken towards what greatness we find punctuating their craft here years later.

Precedence had more-or-less been set and their modus hasn’t changed so much as improved since then, though the focus on keyboards would wane on ‘Morcar Satoric – Les VI chemins du crépuscule‘ (2013) for the sake of a more intense meter and scorched lead guitar driven pieces. We can consider that album exceptional in its own right but it was the well mulled-over follow up (‘Altuus Kronhorr – La monarchie purificatrice‘, 2018) that’d finally broken through, perhaps because groups like Véhémence and Darkenhöld (alongside others aforementioned) had pulled more ears towards a certain shade of French melodic black metal output and perhaps because Wyrms had elevated their sound in the meantime, taking an even more aggressive riff-oriented approach. At that point I’d known about the band but it wasn’t until their one-off collaboration with Griffon that I’d tasked myself with sorting through their greater discography. As with most persistent and impassioned black metal artists we witness no certain devolution from album to album with Wyrms as they’ve slowly laser-honed their approach to lead guitar driven melodicism, edged out their folkish side a bit, and focused on sleek yet disruptive melodic black metal pieces which are unafraid to thrash, chug, and finesse their way to the hooks which land on most every song on ‘Sarkhral Lumænor – La lueur contre les fléaux‘. If you only speak the universal language of namedrop, consider something closer to Sielunvihollinen or the more charged side of Taake depending on the song.

Though I’d have found it admirable enough to even tangentially invoke similar feeling works as those previously mentioned ‘Sarkhral Lumænor – La lueur contre les fléaux‘ doesn’t thrive in mind solely for associations with traditions of melodically resonant black metal but for the sake of its connective, conversationally stated rails of riff and where they’ll take the willing listener. Rhythms which feed grand, moving events that flap between inspirational uproar and maudlin wilt as the ~43 minute record rolls on are the main reason to show up and Wyrms are not at all shy about letting loose with their best and most unholy slipstream up front. “La messe de l épée” kicks open the door, splintering through the mind’s murk with a vintage feeling keyboard introduction before the band is soon hammering away at a virtuosic arrangement for two rhythm guitars. If you’d been looking for the gratification of melodic black metal’s mid-90’s tenets and techniques set within a web-like throng of tremolo’d gusting forth, you’re there right away with this song as it arcs and repeats a few times in glorious introduction. This’d read as mere fanfare once all had been revealed beyond, an impressive but expected ante-up from the band that’d merely built up to the truly unexpected skull-flaying charge on horseback that is “Fort blanc et bêtes noires”. Though the entire song itself is incessantly catchy, the jogging riff at ~4:10 in which soon develops into the thrashing burst at ~4:34 minutes would offer the first sort of addictive moment on the album that I’d found myself returning to frequently. It is the first brilliant moment of many which follow in the larger thread of the album.

With six, 6+ plus minute songs on the record it’d be fair to say we hit on at least one truly memorable moment within each third of the record. “Trouble Mort” being one of the lightly notable moments, its earlier lead guitar lines and melodic resolve recalling something closer to early Windir patternation and reprisal, a part of the guitarists’ repertoire with some precedence found on earlier records. The piece most’ve already heard, sole single/preview song “L’envoyé des flammes”, reprises the use of keyboards for the sake of setting the blustering, sullen tonality of the introduction ’til the ~2:51 minute mark wherein the band hit one of the more successful punkish guitar riffs/hooks on the album. Though I’d been most impressed with the part which follows and retains the sinister mood of the piece there is little most would do to deny the infectious quality of what Wyrms are doing on songs such as these.

The only criticism I’d present with consideration for the listening experience is that it sets itself center stage up front, delivers a few very big moments throughout, but lands a slightly uneven ride through as we pass through less eventful, less confrontational pieces. The strongly contrasted catchier side of their work begins to clash with the more subtle songs, such as the ~10 minute closer “Dans l’hiver et dans la nuit” which only just ebbs into the tuneful side of their guitar work in easing, though unmissable pulls of rhythm guitar work. This sort of back-and-forth isn’t unusual or unheard of in terms of black metal longplayers and most won’t blink an eye between the somewhat average, straightforward pieces and the more direct nut-punchers in the lot but after several listens I’d found myself immerse and enjoying the full listen even if I’d been ready to skip to the instant gratification of certain pieces over others. A character flaw on my part more than an issue of dynamic, I’m sure. Not the most original black metal record out this month but certainly one of the more memorable. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (76/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Sarkhral Lumænor – La lueur contre les fléaux
LABEL(S):Purity Through Fire
RELEASE DATE:September 15th, 2022

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