Over the years, France has pumped out some of the most groundbreaking and exciting black metal bands. With bands as varied as the shoegaze-leaning Alcest, the often industrial-tinged Blut Aus Nord, to the chaotic maelstrom of Deathspell Omega, the French scene has helped to shape the sound in a very profound way.
Worhs, a one-man black metal project from Paris, single-handedly runs the gamut of sounds that represent the French black metal scene on Le Temps des Blasphèmes, the project’s debut full-length. Like many of his contemporaries, WLWD (the pseudonym for the sole member of Worhs) experiments with different approaches to songwriting and structure; even the instrumentation is a bit out of the ordinary, as all the bass parts are performed on cello. If you’ve heard the band Apocalyptica you already know that cello can definitely create some interesting tones for metal, and even seems to have a natural distortion to its sound. The cello on Le Temps des Blasphèmes serves as both a heavy bottom end, and an extra source of noise, enhanced in part by the recording style, which is very much in the lo-fi, “recorded in a tin can” vein. The melodic bits on the record are sorrowful, and at times heart-achingly beautiful, like the Alcest-like mid-section of the song “Fantisme.” On the flipside, the music can also be very ugly sounding, like the nightmarish “Anitkabir ou le Triste Constat,” which has a droney, almost industrial quality to it, thanks to the slow moving cello bits.
Worhs is pretty good at being able to go from beautiful, orchestral moments with lush violins and various other strings and sad acoustic guitar, to terrifying and heavy from track to track. While the lo-fi recording certainly gives Le Temps des Blasphèmes some pretty eerie atmosphere, I feel that the softer moments would certainly have benefited from a cleaner, clearer production. The distortion caused by this bare bones approach to recording causes some of the guitars and strings to sound a bit out of tune, like on “La Mémoire Profanée.” At times the vocals are a bit too high in the mix, particularly on this latter song, especially when WLWD goes for a droning, clean singing approach. Overall, though, I commend Worhs on creating a pretty diverse record, and the experiment mostly works throughout. A strong first release from a brand new black metal project, and a fine addition to the French scene.