VI- De Praestigiis Angelorum

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, September 13, 2015

French black metal band VI has been around since 2007 but has been fairly quiet on the release front, only putting out an EP and split with Aosoth before this year’s De Praestigiis Angelorum full length. This isn’t necessarily that surprising, as all three of its members are active in other French acts like Aosoth, Merrimack, and The Order of Apollyon. But it’s evident that the longer incubation period has been used to write material that delivers on all fronts. There’s the similar type of swirling guitar leads and technical riffing that’s not uncommon from French black metal, but VI’s abrasiveness and haunting atmosphere has enough substance to stand out.

Comparisons to Aosoth are likely going to be unavoidable, considering that the guitarist and bassist in VI are also part of that group so there are some similarities to the way that the two use dissonance and technical riffing that provides plenty of twists and turns. But that doesn’t mean that De Praestigiis Angelorum could simply be another album from the other bands these guys are involved in, as they find ways throughout to diverge off onto their own path. There’s a bit less density to the material when compared to some of the other French acts, as instead of building layers upon layers until they completely suffocate you there’s a bit more breathing room. VI instead uses this extra space to make the guitar leads razor sharp and the drums pound away at your eardrums with warlike precision, and even when the riffing heads towards melodic territory it still maintains an overwhelming amount of intensity. What this release also excels at is the ability to switch gears at a moment’s notice and present listeners with multiple abrasive and atmospheric leads per song that are likely to stick with them for some time. The technical ability of the three instrumentalists is very apparent, as they’re constantly moving between faster blasts and slower, ominous sections without missing a beat. Tracks like “Une place parmi les morts” also incorporate some subtle sweeping melodies that get under your skin, and its moments like this that showcase VI’s strong songwriting ability.

INRVI handles all of the vocal work on VI’s debut, and his pitch is an extremely raspy one that cuts through the harsher instrumentation and grabs you right by the throat. Though the overall range stays at about the same level for much of the album, the sheer intensity leaves a strong impression and plays a large part in adding that extra layer of abrasion and rawness to the material. I like that the group has decided to place INRVI front and center in the mix rather than leaving him to get drowned out by the swirling guitar and bass riffs and frantic drumming, as it allows the performance to pick up additional steam as the instrumentals ramp up. De Praestigiis Angelorum also includes some interludes that have operatic female vocals that are downright spine chilling, and this perfectly fits the overall aesthetic that the band is going for.

VI has taken some of the twisting and turning guitar leads that Aosoth and other French bands have to offer and put their own spin on it, adding even eerier melodic instrumentation and some well-placed samples into the mix. The type of chaotic, technical riffing that is so prevalent from French black metal has resonated with me quite a bit over the past decade, and VI is another worthy addition. From beginning to end De Praestigiis Angelorum delivers chaos and darkness that’s filled with riffs that will stick with listeners for some time to come, and it’s clear that this band is not going to simply sit in the shadows of their other projects.

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