Album Review – Valknacht / Le Sacrifice D’Ymir (2014)

There are Vikings in Canada, and they play extraordinary heavy music.

Rating4

coverWhat if someone told you there’s a band from Canada that merges the extremely rich Norse mythology, constantly present in the Melodic Death Metal from Amon Amarth, with the more extreme sonority and obscure atmosphere from Black Metal in a very powerful and engaging way? Fortunately that band indeed exists: it goes by the robust name of Valknacht, and in order to make things even more unique their new album, the excellent Le Sacrifice D’Ymir, is entirely sung in Canadian French.

This Heathen Black Metal band from Quebec (or “Black Métal Païen Québecois”, as they would prefer) started back in 2005 and has already released three full-length albums: When the Might of the Storm Becomes Mine (2009), Chants de Guerre (2011), and now Le Sacrifice D’Ymir (2014), with the latest being in my opinion their strongest work so far. Moreover, although I’m not an expert in Canadian French, it’s easy to notice the presence of very interesting themes such as mythology, history and paganism in their lyrics and compositions, making the whole experience of listening to Valknacht even more enjoyable.

For instance, the name of the album, “The Sacrifice Of Ymir” in English, seems to be inspired by Ymir, father of the race of giants in Norse mythology and the grandfather of Odin, King of the Gods. “In Norse mythology, Ymir is the primordial giant and the progenitor of the race of frost giants. He was created from the melting ice of Niflheim, when it came in contact with the hot air from Muspell.”, according to the Encyclopedia Mythica. Honestly, it’s been quite a while since I saw such an original and appealing album name for the last time. But of course, not only the album name is good: each and every song from Le Sacrifice D’Ymir is a boisterous sonic storm that will please any headbanger that enjoys heavy riffs and a dense atmosphere together with an awesome lyrical content.

Le Sacrifice D’Ymir begins with the intro Normandnorum Ira, which opens the album at a high note and sounds as if it was tailored for an epic movie, followed by the perfect soundtrack for any battle La Bataille De Maldon, an excellent mix of Amon Amarth and Bathory with awesome vocals and damn heavy riffs and drums in its almost 10 minutes of awesomeness. And the Nordic battle rages on with Chants De Guerre, a Heavy Metal storm with a strong chorus that makes it one of the best of the entire album without any doubt.

valknachtThe next track, Sur Les Ruines De Rome, has a very dark and powerful atmosphere, and the addition of some folk elements (such as the flute) works really well when mixed with lead singer Thorleïf’s potent vocal range, which goes from sharp piercing vocals to totally gruesome guttural. And pay attention to the female vocals towards the end of the song, they’re pretty interesting too. Then comes what might be soon considered Valknacht’s biggest masterpiece: Le Sacrifice D’Ymir is a fast tune with an amazing intro and over 10 minutes of pure sonic massacre. It’s impossible not to love the riffs and the whole journey this song takes you through, and as soon as it’s over you’ll probably go back to listen to it again and again.

Furthermore, the epic side of the band continues to dominate their compositions in the last part of the album, with over 20 minutes of music in only three songs: De Murmures Et De Givre is more Folk and Black Metal than all other songs, albeit not as good; while Que Le Sang Constelle Mes Mains kicks off with a nice folk intro before turning into an extremely heavy song with massive riffs and drums. By the way, one interesting detail about this track are its rhythmic variations throughout the entire song, including nice acoustic passages and atmospheric keyboards. And finally we have Le Carmin Des Anges, a very Black Metal tune with an amazing riff in the beginning that remains as heavy as hell until the very end, closing the album in a very powerful way.

All band members did a wondrous job in this album, with highlights to the excellent lead singer Thorleïf and the monstrous drummer Matoleos. Not only that, the album art representing the sacrifice of Ymir is so professional and nicely done it could easily be mistaken with an actual painting at any vernissage, as even non-Heavy Metal fans would certainly appreciate it. The album is available for purchase HERE and HERE. By the way, you can also find an awesome limited edition available through the second link, which consists of a limited digipack (DVD size) hand numbered to 250 that includes the same booklet as the CD version and some extras.

To sum up, Le Sacrifice D’Ymir is a very good album that is here to prove to all of us that “la belle province” of Quebec has a lot more to offer than just smoked meat, poutine, Céline Dion and the Montreal Canadiens, and it will surely make not only the band members, but all “Québecois” metalheads and other Heavy Metal fans across the rest of Canada, very proud of their music.

Best moments of the album: La Bataille De Maldon, Chants De Guerre and Le Sacrifice D’Ymir.

Worst moments of the album: De Murmures Et De Givre.

Released in 2014 PRC Music

Track listing
1. Normandnorum Ira (Intro) 3:07
2. La Bataille De Maldon 9:32
3. Chants De Guerre 6:45
4. Sur Les Ruines De Rome 8:37
5. Le Sacrifice D’Ymir 10:07
6. De Murmures Et De Givre 7:17
7. Que Le Sang Constelle Mes Mains 7:24
8. Le Carmin Des Anges 4:56

Band members
Thorleïf – vocals
Dörv – guitars
Froidure – guitars
Siger – bass
Matoleos – drums

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