ORPHIQUE – Consécration Cadavérique (2022)REVIEW

Lyre in hand, surrounded by beasts. — An intimate voice blooming into snarling choir as their melancholic diorama broadens in tragedian resonance, the great success of Montreal, Québec-borne atmospheric black metal project Orphique‘s first impression on this debut album should be obviate enough to the moderately trained attention span with an ear for mournful and at times intricate melodies. Deeply layered and thus inherently sophisticated compositional aptitudes should likewise perk the ears of those tangentially interested in modern progressive-lite musicianship, as the artist virtually glides through the moderately distant lux of ‘Consécration Cadavérique‘, yet this should not suggest arrogance or intentional showmanship but rather an instinctive intelligence in craft of tuneful, grand ideas which are passionately sentimental. Equally dire and imaginative in its glorious upheaval, this emotionally driven work ultimately ups the ante for skull-tapping Québécois black metal dramatism while largely skirting typified or derived results.

Poète, composer and vocalist David Potter‘s vision for Orphique comes remarkably well-realized in debut likely thanks to his associations with melodic death metal band Sacrificed Alliance and progressive post-black metal band Existe from which he’d pulled musicians to ensure ‘Consécration Cadavérique‘ hit a high modern standard right out of the gates, likewise including current Deviant Process drummer Michel Bélanger amongst a few other session or song-specific musicians to round out the event. They’ve described the result in very specific terms as melodic black metal akin to the 2009 released Sombres Forêts and Gris‘ collaboration album ‘Miserere Luminis‘ and this is apt enough in terms of conveying sentimental post-black melancholia and aggression in dynamic melodic form. I’ve otherwise found this album appropriately “modern” by comparison in its well-oiled movements via a pronounced rhythm section and expressive performances from Potter, who keeps the mood wafting between funereal solemnity and glowingly nostalgic dramatism, a sentimental austerity with a shade of depressive instinct.

Death’s-head embodiment. — The ten plus minute opener and main opus of the full listen “Onirique” serves as the test of resolve for the curious listener and a brilliantly representative chunk of what Orphique present here overall in terms of dynamic ease between fluid tremolo picked melodic rhythms, virtuosic yet waist-set bass guitar work, and a dramatic pairing of acoustic guitar and keyboards to help maintain consistent shaping of this elaborate form. The lead guitar here is especially fine, nothing so stylized that it’ll feel like custom gear for the brain but ideal in its relevance to peaking moments within the piece. The trade between steadier and violent pace lulls and enchants to start, though the melodies are simple and patiently developed per their sentimental intent this quickly characterizes ‘Consécration Cadavérique‘ and sets the tone beautifully. Perhaps the most impassioned piece on the full listen “Vampirique” would ultimately be the piece to convince and impress me upon repeat listens, generally serving my favorite moments on the album including the reprise into the verse at ~3:15 minutes and the thrashing meloblack turn taken at ~6:17 minutes.

Those first eighteen or so minutes of the album are the body, the flesh of the full listen and likely enough to impress most listeners attuned to this style of black metal yet the second half of the record will challenge anyone seeking more of the same going forward. The album’s sole single “Chromatique” showcases their folkish, galloping sort of post-black tinged side with a lighter dirge and deeper sentiment applied. At the very least it’d felt like a corner had been turned at that point within each fresh listen, especially when we consider the piano-driven and bloody-throated invocation of “Chimerique” which follows. To finish off the experience “Sporadique” is perhaps the fastest, most brutally kicked song on the album and the one to indulge in progressive black breaks and acoustic guitar framing in between snarling phrases as Potter‘s vocals reach peak expression. Though these three songs represent something momentarily typical, something entirely nontypical, and another defining piece from Orphique none of it’d felt inconsistent with expectations build on the first half of the record and it’d been interesting to see even more possibilities arrive within a debut that’d already proven somewhat signature to start.

Stately, sorrowful, and with glorious intensity behind every phrase there’ll be no denying the conviction with which Orphique present their premiere statement. ‘Consécration Cadavérique‘ certainly doesn’t aim to be a populist black metal item though the render, curation, and performances within arrive fine-tuned and readily distinct, brimming with an inspired touch. The only major criticism that’d stuck after several full listens, the lack of truly rousing rhythm guitar work, is more a reflection of my taste in ‘heavy metal’ affront rather than theatric presentation, the latter of which drives the majority of this experience. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Consécration Cadavérique
LABEL(S):Sepulchral Productions
RELEASE DATE:November 24th, 2022

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