Seth - Les Blessures de l’Ame Reissue (Season of Mist Records)
By: Mike Sloan
[8/10] Seth is one of those bands that was largely overlooked for the first few years they were a functioning band and, looking back, it’s actually quite surprising. The Frenchmen came onto the scene right around the time before symphonic black metal strangled itself to death. Emperor was tearing the world asunder with their landmark Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk; Cradle of Filth had just released their eponymous Cruelty and the Beast; and Dimmu Borgir was in between their masterpiece Enthrone Darkness Triumphant and its proper follow-up, Spiritual Black Dimensions. There were others of similar ilk, but it was truly those big three that put the symphonic version of black metal on the map for good.
Seth followed a very similar approach to both vintage Dimmu and Cradle during the release of their debut Les Blessures de l’Ame and considering how many a fan snatches up whatever is fresh during a period of time, these cats never quite got the exposure they deserved. Compared to the aforementioned grandfathers of symphonic black metal, Seth didn’t offer a ton of fresh ideas to their music, but they played the genre extremely well.
Equal parts scathing black metal in terms of speed and ferocity and slower, atmospheric passages thanks to haunting keyboards and deft musicianship, the music on Les Blessures de l’Ame is precisely what made this brand of black metal so appealing back in the day. The production is what was to be expected; somewhat tinny drums and colder-sounding guitars behind a Shagrath/Abbath/Satyr vocal approach. The keyboards are ever present but they don’t steal the spotlight or drone everything else out, similar to Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.
Seth eventually released three more full-lengths and then disappeared in 2005. Reports are that one of France’s best-kept secrets is back and ready to give it another go, so Season of Mist decided it was a great time to reissue their debut. The overall sound is virtually identical to the original, but the label has tacked on two bonus tracks: “Les Sévices de la Peste” and “Corpus et Anima,” two songs that appeared on the 2000 War Vol. III split with Cultus Sanguine, though the production of those two aren’t as sharp as the album proper.
Les Blessures de l’Ame, which translates to “the wounds of the soul” is a perfect way for someone to discover an overlooked band from several years ago who were right in line with the pioneers of symphonic black metal. It’s not a perfect or entirely original album by any means, but it does rekindle the spirit of a sub genre that was spectacular while it lasted, before it committed suicide. In fact, everything about Les Blessures de l’Ame encapsulates what was so terrific about this style of black metal in the first place. In other words, scoop this one up.