Wednesday, June 5, 2019

L'Acéphale - "Malefeasance" [2009]

Artist: L'Acéphale
Title: Malefeasance
Genre: Noise/Black Metal, Dark Ambient, Neofolk
Country: USA
Year: 2009

Track List:
  1. Väinämöinen Nacht
  2. Hitori Bon Odori
  3. A Burned Village
  4. From A Miserable Abode
  5. Sleep Has His House
After a decade of waiting, the new full-length album by L'Acephale is finally out, and it's quite good (just as expected). Today, however, I'll post a much earlier release, recorded during 2001-2007 when L'Acephale was an one-man project of Set Sothis Nox La. While L'Acephale is primarily known as a black metal band (albeit a very unorthodox one), "Malefeasance" has little to do with black metal in terms of sound.

The only song that can be called black metal (with a healthy dose of noise, not unlike the tracks on "Mord & Totschlag" which was the debut demo by L'Acephale) is "A Burned Village" which is a cover of an obscure French band A.A.A./Sadastor. All the other tracks on "Malefeasance" are covers/remakes as well, and they delve much further into the industrial/noise territory. "Väinämöinen Nacht" is a dark ambient/drone piece based on Finnic folk chants by Veljo Tormis, and "Hitori Bon Odori" is a rather repetitive (yet not boring) instrumental acoustic track based on a song by a famous Japanese "acid folk" singer-songwriter Kazuki Tomokawa. (I've listened to Tomokawa's full discography, and while it's quite interesting and unusual stuff, it certainly requires a good knowledge of Japanese language and cultural context, not unlike the songs by Soviet/Russian singers-songwriters).

The second half of the album is significantly more noisy, with "From A Miserable Abode" (which is very loosely based on the song ‘Mi Peublo’ by Japanese doom metal band Corrupted) being a lengthy power electronics piece with black metal style shrieking vocals. You probably already have guessed that "Sleep Has His House" is based on an eponymous song by Current 93 which is performed in the same style as the previous track. Overall, "Malefeasance" is a highly experimental concept work which would rather appeal to industrial fans, but open-minded fans of black metal are going to find it interesting too. If you want to learn more about the concept behind this album and other works by L'Acephale, here's a lengthy interview with Set Sothis Nox La where he discusses his influences (from early 80's metal and punk to industrial and classical music) and his fascination with Georges Bataille's writing (where the name "Acephale" came from) in detail.

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