Well, not entirely French. Mostly French. Entirely FREE though.
Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions is a reasonably young French label specialising in you guessed it, French black metal. Starting out in 2009 the label has been building its roster in the burgeoning scene, which typically leans toward crisply produced yet highly textured black metal with some avant-garde elements scattered around. Not every band on their roster is French, with a few outlier releases originating from South Africa, Belgium and Germany. 2015 could almost certainly be described as a breakthrough year for the label, with critically acclaimed releases from Deluge, Regarde les Hommes Tomber, Moonreich, and Maїeutiste. Around this time last year the label dropped a similar sampler pack, featuring a bunch of tracks including one from each of those great albums. I ended up buying 3 of the 4 just based on the coverage they received on our site alone, not because I’m an overly compulsive buyer, but rather that these releases are just quality fucking albums.
The 2016 sampler pack shows that the bumper selection from last year was no anomaly. Even before listening I recognised a few of the great bands on offer here, most notably for me are Barús and Mare Cognitum. The former released quite a uniquely psychoactive and progressive four song EP of death metal last year, and the latter dropped a re-mastered version of their 2012 album An Extraconscious Lucidity, which Dubs summed up quite nicely as a subconscious voyage through a brutally cold cosmos. Another artist I know some of you will recognise immediately is South Africa’s Wildernessking, who have 2 tracks featured on this compilation. As I’m such an elitist/poser (take your pick), I’ve not listened to them prior to this, although I know I’ve seen their name around a few times. Almost all of the 12 tracks on offer here clock in between 5 and 8 minutes long, so you’re definitely getting your
money’s click’s worth. Standout picks for me (aside from the aforementioned Barús and Mare Cognitum) include: the melodic medieval musings of Darkenhöld, the grandiose avant-garde aquatic meanderings of Way To End, and a stunningly delicate acoustic offering from Spectrale acts as a superb interlude, which is later contrasted quite starkly by the intense vitriolic scorn of the penultimate track from Penitence Onirique. This compilation has enough diversity for almost any black metal fan to find something to grab a hold of while simultaneously offering sufficient cohesion between the tracks to make it an engrossing listen from start to end. Go pick it up now!