These past few months have been quite the hassle, to say the least. I won’t go into personal details here but just so you know, it wasn’t all peaks and valleys. And every neurodivergent folk in da house will know that overwhelming life events will be hard to deal with than usual. This can come as a surprise when I explain to neophytes why I enjoy sludge music so much.
I like it slow, heavy and telluric, okay. I love the fact that it sends my chromesthesia into overdrive, I love the overabundance of reverbs in sludge, I love how fucking hypnotic the drums sound in sludge, I love the cathartic side of sludge. It’s been twenty-odd years now, and my love for it has only grown fonder over time. Another thing that makes Cerbère’s first full-length album even more special to me is because… they are from Paris, like yours truly, and if I can talk to a wider audience about the French scene, you bet I’m going to do it. We’re not even four months in, and we already have a couple of very good releases from the Hexagon such as Fange, Hiverlucide and Azken Auzi.
To give you a little bit of context, Cerbère is a Parisian doom trio with former members of Lord Humungus and Frank Sabbath (two amazing local bands that I have been very happy to have seen before settling to the UK in 2016). When they formed a few years ago, they decided to go with an interesting concept, to mix black metal growls with sludgy heavy riffs, doomy groovy rhythms and psych influences ala Electric Wizard, although they are probably closer to bands like Regarde Les Hommes Tomber and Celeste, in that sense.
This record starts with Cendre (or Ash in English) which is probably one of the most impressive album openers I’ve heard. This nearly eleven-minute-long track is just thicc with two c’s, doused in fuzzy riffs, glazed with despairing growls from Baptiste Pozzi (guitar and vocals) and tasting like frustration and anger over the outside world and the arseholes that inhabit it. Considering where my homeland is going, I can totally see where they are coming from. It encapsulates all the resentment one feels over daily misfortune and yet, it doesn’t go all the way misanthropic or caricatural at all, especially thanks to the instrumental second half of the track.
It’s catchy, it’s filthy, it’s darker than the blackest black, and it feels like a slow descent to a hellish place…
The same could also be said about Sale Chien (or Dirty Dog), which only lasts eight minutes and forty seconds, and the first half is very much on the instrumental side of things. Playing a lot with the rhythm section’s grooviness, this track is an absolute belter. I can see this one being a staple of their future gigs. It’s catchy, it’s filthy, it’s darker than the blackest black, and it feels like a slow descent to a hellish place where you might meet a three-headed dog, ready to bite and destroy what is left of you. In other words, it’s a fantastic track and both Thom Dezelus (bass) and Baptiste Reig (drums) are the ones you should thank.
Les Tours De Set (The Towers Of Set) is their final track. I know what you’re going to say, how can a three-song record be considered as a full-length? Well, this specific song is exactly twenty-two minutes and fifty-nine seconds long. According to the band itself, it’s inspired by Conan The Barbarian and it shows. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that they do Conan better than Conan (I’ve never seen this film, I just know that one meme from the Internet), but they certainly know how to make it real in our ears, and that’s a bonus.
I would have probably split the song in two to give more time to breathe and recollect ourselves because by the end of that track, I was exhausted. Still a very good ending for a truly wonderful album. I know we don’t really do scores on The Shaman, but it’s a solid 8 out of 10 for me, and if you like it slow, heavy and telluric like me, then give Cerbère a listen and support them in any way you can, because Cendre is definitely putting France onto the map of sludge greatness.
Scribed by: Nessie Spencer