Seth – La Morsure Du Christ – Album Review

Artist: Seth

Album Title: La Morsure Du Christ

Label: Season Of Mist

Date of Release: 7 May 2021

My relationship with religion is no secret. I don’t believe in any God, a belief shaped over many years of personal experiences, mostly negative, some of which I have talked about within previous album reviews. It means that when I am presented with an album that is openly blasphemous, I don’t even bat an eyelid. If a band wants to make music to act as a vehicle to express these sorts of views, that’s their prerogative as far as I’m concerned. French black metal band Seth are one such entity, using their extreme metal as the foundation upon which to explore and proclaim their anti-Christian beliefs.

‘La Morsure Du Christ’ has a literal translation of ‘The Bite Of God’, but apparently, a phonetic translation of ‘Christ’s Death Is Certain’. Either way, it’s not a friendly title for the sextet’s sixth full-length album, and first for eight years. Friendly it may not be, but apt it definitely is, because this is an album full of aggression, spite, and vitriol, set to a musical soundscape to match. Or is it?

I say this because, on the one hand, Seth’s music is ferocious, raw, malevolent, and extreme. But, on the other, I can only describe it as absolutely beautiful. This might sound like a contradiction in terms, but please hear me out.

Over the years, Seth have suffered numerous line-up changes, meaning that today’s composition features only two original members, guitarist Heimoth and drummer Alsvid. They are joined in 2021 by vocalist Saint Vincent, bassist Esx Vnr, guitarist Drakhian, and keyboardist Pierre Le Pape. Together, however, they roll back the years and present the world with an album that harkens back to their earliest days and their debut, ‘Les Blessures de l’âme’, released in 1998. As such, this is most definitely a spiteful dose of uncompromising black metal. But there’s an almost disarming amount of melody to be heard within the seven songs on ‘La Morsure Du Christ’, be it at the hands of Le Pape’s keys, or via the guitar work of Heimoth and Drakhian. So much melody. I’m not even going to hide it: this is easily my favourite black metal album of 2021 so far.

I enjoy a dose of uncomfortable dissonance as much as the next person, but I like melody more if I’m honest. And what Seth have done so well here, is create something that is dark, evil, uncompromising, yet beautiful too. They prove on this record that you really can do both; that you don’t always need to be brutal alone to create satisfyingly extreme music, you can imbue the music with a certain catchiness and elegant melody and still find that it will melt faces and drive a knife through your blackened heart.

The opening song, the title track, is the perfect embodiment of what I’m trying to say. There’s no room for a chintzy intro, we’re straight into a furious assault of raw, fast-picked riffing and powerful blastbeats which are a feature throughout the track. But the furious attack is tempered by layers of keys that gives the music a symphonic tone, whilst the riffs themselves are subtly melodic, instantly engaging, and rather majestic. The voice of Saint Vincent cuts through the musical soundscape with a barely contained spite; there’s no doubting the anger and venom in his delivery, despite delivering his diatribes in his native French. The song changes pace nicely throughout, including the introduction of an eerie, quieter segment where things do take a turn for the slightly more discordant. But as the song regains its momentum, the elegant melodies return to juxtapose the overall extremity of the music.

‘Métal Noir’ follows in a very similar vein, where icy cold riffs, brutal drumming and caustic, raspy growls do battle with the atmospheric keys and instantly likeable melodies. There’s even room for a wonderful mid-song change of pace, where those melodies are accentuated by a slower mid-pace tempo that’s so catchy. There’s no doubting the viciousness of the music and the lyrics, but occasionally, given how grandiose and elegant the music feels, you almost forget that we’re neck deep in blasphemy.

My favourite track of the seven on offer is, without doubt, ‘Sacrifice de Sang’. It begins in a more measured manner, building up around some great drumming, slowly introducing the rest of the instruments along the way. The keys are even more pronounced than before, but they compliment the more melodic riffs rather than dominate them, creating an irresistible sound that’s equal parts terrifyingly evil and downright glorious. As always, there’s room for plenty of staccato riffing and blastbeats, but there’s also a more pronounced atmosphere that’s dense and suffocating at times, delivered in a way that’s utterly compelling.

The remainder of the album is equally as good, with each song providing quality, as well as moments to savour. ‘Ex-Cathédrale’ offers some of the fastest and most aggressive music anywhere on the record, with drummer Alsvid approaching warp speed at times. The riffing is stunning, the vocals are unhinged at times, whilst the subtle organ sounds link in cleverly with the song title. And I love the way that the track gently deconstructs towards the close to reveal strummed acoustic guitars at the death.

Then there’s the closing sequence to ‘Hymne au Vampire (Acte III)’, a continuation piece to compositions featured previously on early albums. In stark contrast to the unrestrained black metal cacophony that preceded it, we’re confronted with delicate acoustic guitars and subtle keys to play us out alongside the sound of a choir in the background. The melody is really beautiful, but the solemn, melancholy feel that emanates through the music is incredibly powerful.

If I’m being completely honest, I might have preferred a slightly stronger production, as the bass has a tendency to disappear from time to time. However, it is hard to complain too much because the sound is authentic of the late 90s and it does fit the music well. But that’s the only criticism that I have to offer because in every other way, ‘La Morsure Du Christ’ is stunning. I liked it on a first spin, as I sat open-mouthed in immediate adoration. And since then, I’ve just become ever more enamoured with this record. The imagery may upset some, but I am drawn to the cover artwork, as it is a stunning piece of art. And the lyrical content may upset in equal measure. However, I really don’t care. At the end of the day, I am reviewing the music and, on that score, Seth have created a stunning record. I don’t say this lightly but for my tastes, ‘La Morsure Du Christ’ is an incredible symbiosis of beauty and extremity, making it easily the best black metal album that I have heard this year so far, and maybe for some time before that.

The Score Of Much Metal: 95%

Further reviews from 2021:

Plaguestorm – Purifying Fire

Drift Into Black – Patterns Of Light

Alluvial – Sarcoma

White Moth Black Butterfly – The Cost Of Dreaming – Album Review

Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen

Bloodbound – Creatures From The Dark Realm

Nahaya – Vital Alchemy

Frost* – Day And Age

Obsolete Theory – Downfall

Vola – Witness

Acolyte – Entropy

Dordeduh – Har

Subterranean Masquerade – Mountain Fever

Seth – La Morsure Du Christ

The Circle – Metamorphosis

Nordjevel – Fenriir

Vreid – Wild North West

Temtris – Ritual Warfare

Astrakhan – A Slow Ride Towards Death

Akiavel – Vae Victis

Gojira – Fortitude

Hideous Divinity – LV-426

Benthos – II

Evile – Hell Unleashed

Ninkharsag – The Dread March Of Solemn Gods

Bodom After Midnight – Paint The Sky With Blood

Morrigu – In Turbulence

Mother Of All – Age Of The Solipsist

Throne – Pestilent Dawn

Sweet Oblivion (Geoff Tate) – Relentless

Exanimis – Marionnettiste

Dvne – Etemen Ænka

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Arion – Vultures Die Alone

Maestitium – Tale Of The Endless

Wode – Burn In Many Mirrors

Everdawn – Cleopatra

Unflesh – Inhumation

Mourning Dawn – Dead End Euphoria

Wheel – Resident Human

Wythersake – Antiquity

Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn

Metalite – A Virtual World

Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm

Ghosts Of Atlantis – 3.6.2.4

Memoriam – To The End

Aversed – Impermanent

Secret Sphere – Lifeblood

Enforced – Kill Grid

Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3

Turbulence – Frontal

Iotunn – Access All Worlds

Warrior Path – The Mad King

Stortregn – Impermanence

Mariana’s Rest – Fata Morgana

Orden Ogan – Final Days

Witherfall – Curse Of Autumn

Plague Weaver – Ascendant Blasphemy

Ephemerald – Between The Glimpses Of Hope

Paranorm – Empyrean

Einherjer – North Star

Epica – Omega

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde

Simulacrum – Genesis

Forhist – Forhist

Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix

Empyrium – Über den Sternen

Moonspell – Hermitage

Infernalizer – The Ugly Truth

Temperance – Melodies Of Green And Blue EP

Malice Divine – Malice Divine

Revulsion – Revulsion

Demon King – The Final Tyranny EP

Dragony – Viribus Unitis

Soen – Imperial

Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida

Oceana – The Pattern

Therion – Leviathan

Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound

Asphyx – Necroceros

W.E.T. – Retransmission

Labyrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus

TDW – The Days The Clock Stopped

Need – Norchestrion: A Song For The End

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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