Just listing the names of the bands that Belgian musician Déhà is involved in would be enough to make for a hefty read, so for the purpose of brevity it suffices to say that he is prolific, versatile and generally offers quality musicianship. Chaînes is one of the souls in his resumé, which took the scalp of the corpse of his former one-man project Merda Mundi and allowed it to be reborn in 2023 with its very first release, ‘Les Litanies des Chaînes’.
Why Chaînes exactly is considered to be reborn from the ashes of Merda Mundi is somewhat unclear to me, as musically the band are a bit away from each other. Yes, they are both Black Metal that almost strictly operates at a menacing pace, they have the tortured vocals in common and Déhà’s minimal guitarwork and menacing drum performance. But while Merda Mundi moved from its crude and raw Black Metal beginnings into a very Swedish sounding beast at the time of the last full-length ‘Hatred’, Chaînes brings forth quite different influences. As the biography rightfully states, the music of Chaînes is where the Black Metal crossroads of Les Légions Noires artists such as Mütiilation meet with the sound of Hate Forest.
‘Les Litanies des Chaînes’ offers six tracks for the devil enmassing 36 minutes of pummeling Black Metal. Opener ‘La Fange existe dans nos coeurs’ has that gritty guitar sound, relentless pace and wall of drums that is so typical for Hate Forest, with the biggest difference being the less guttural vocal style of Chaînes. While at first I had to get used something different than the bellowing of Roman Saenko on a familiar musical framework, repeated listens allowed me to appreciate the piercing vocal delivery with elongated shrieks more and more. In this, it closely resembles the French Black Metal scene of the 90’s, something that is further enhanced by the typical skincrawling atonality that’s draped all over the album. While the first song is a more monotonous approach to the musical formula, the subsequent ‘Que ta Lumière me serve de fin‘ breaks slightly more from the Hate Forest comparison by offering a more dynamic range of tempos. These dynamics are omnipresent in the drum patterns, showing that Déhà is first and foremost a gifted drum beast. The interplay between atonal uncomfortable riffs and the equally disturbing vocals is highlighted in ‘De Vermine et de fer’, where the vocals almost command this unease to arise in the music. Perhaps the best example of the unholy union of Mutiilation and Hate Forest that Chaînes represents is the closing track ‘Vois la lumière aveugler par cent’, a song where neurotic riffs are mixed with a blazing wall o pulverizing pace.
While I personally find some of the tracks are a tad too long for an intense style that inevitably is about a pulverizing pace, it doesn’t take away from the fact that ‘Les Litanies des Chaînes’ is an enjoyable and rather fresh sounding album filled with familiar components. It remains impressive that Déhà is involved in so many projects yet always delivers high quality and Chaînes further enhances his status as a Black Metal powerhouse.