Today is France National Day. We celebrate the breakdown of the Bastille, a famous prison that incarcerated folks from common misdemeanors to political dissents that dare to question the Royalty decisions. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and revealed French rebellious nature. Up to today, French are notorious for their demonstrations, strikes and rants on any form of political correctness. Is not what metal is about?
I felt it would a great time to list some of the French metal bands I have encountered and before I introduce you to them, I would like to thanks Geo Theoneandonly (https://geotheoneandonly.wordpress.com) that have doing a great job in promoting small bands from the gothic and symphonic metal genre on his Facebook group.
Some people say that the metal scene is dead and moribund. I would disagree with it and tell that such argument is valid only if you keep on mainstream and do not enters the rabbit’s hole. Because deep underground, you have a plethora of very good bands that don’t have access to promotion tools as big players but have social media and crowdfunding tools to have them thrive and soar.
I have decided to include bands from the French-speaking parts of Belgium and Switzerland inside the list, as part of cultural and linguistical similarities in this list.
This being said, let’s start with my favorite lists, all bands have been sorted by alphabetical name.
If I have to say something about Adrana, it is certainly Anne’s voice. Surely the best French female opera voice in the French metal sphere and easilly rivals with other singers more established as Tarja, Simone or Sharon. Litterarly blew my mind the first time I heard.
A French band from Tours, they have a full album “Ancient Realms” released in 2011, a very nice first album that have very nice melodics and symphonic structure, nicely blending with Anne’s voice. Starting with “Fall of Ancient Dusk” that help us discover Anne’s talent immediately followed by “The Frozen Path”. Another track that I really like is the “Old Guardian” in which Anne is doing a great performance.
Aside from Anne’s voice, you have in some tracks the classic duet “Beauty and the Beast” that nicely blends in. My favorite is “Obsidian Collapse” in which Anne collude with what I call a dwarf growl (clear, acute and primal growl) that nicely contrast with Anne’s voice that have this tragic tone straight from Greek mythology. The band is currently preparing their second release for later this year and I can say I am waiting for it.
Alkemy is a very new band from Romandie (French-speaking Switzerland). The band have been so far touring and singing music cover. The originality of the band is to host two founding female front-singers, Katia and Jess. So if you want to hear them, you will have to see them performing live.
If you want to judge their vocal qualities, look up for their cover of “Ghost Love Score”, my golden standard for comparing singers to Tarja. Very good start for a new band. Lets see now how they can transform into some artistic creativity.
Alwaid is a gothic/symphonic metal band from Lille, as we call in French “les chti’s”. They have a full album “Lacus Somnirum” released in 2014 and for a first album, it is very good. The female singer is fairly good and overall this gothic metal atmosphere of the band reminds me the first releases of Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation, when the gothic metal scene was just opening for female-fronted bands. A nice group to discover especially if you are living in Northern France and Belgium (as they tour locally).
Azylya is a gothic/symphonic metal band from Belgium. Altough they have been founded in 2009, they have only one full-release listed: “Sweet Cerebral Destruction” released in 2013. Its style reminds me something very close from Evanescence, with a darker tone. Jamie-Lee Smit (the front singer) is very active on social media and one of the friendliest singer in Geo’s Facebook group. You should definitively try if you are looking for something in the vein of Evanescence but much darker and more metal.
Darkonelly is a new doom metal band from Dijon. What I would have a doom metal band listed? For a simple reason. Opera voice! Doom metal is always linked to guttural growls but this is first time I ever heard a soprano voice into a doom metal band. And a damn good soprano, pitching in very high vocal ranges. Marion-Lamita Peubey for a first timer is one of the highest opera soprano vocal I have ever heard in any band. It is just mesmerizing. She is very talented to attract you to their first EP “Stories from Beyond”, especially if you are like me attracted to high pitch soprano voices. Add on top of it melancolic melodies and lyrics and I would recommend it if you want to “broker du noir”
You can listen to their first EP via Bandcamp and give them some retribution if you like it.
Ethernity is like Azylya another band from Belgium. Ethernity however is playing in another register and more into the progressive metal genre, just to warn you about it as it may sound different. They have one album released in 2015 named “Obscure Illusions”. The instrumental part is sounding awesome and Julie Collin-Spreutels voice is playing in another domain than symphonic voices I are accustomed to listen. A great alternative from lyrical voices and growls.
Midnight Sorrow is a symphonic metal band that I particularly follow as they are from Strasbourg, my hometown. So it is always grateful to be able to support local band, especially for such a band showing already some high-caliber. Surely, they don’t have yet a full album, just an EP “At first”, but you can already feel the quality of it. It is taking straight roots from Nightwish, Within Temptation and Epica by crafting the symphonic elements very nicely. Mauween has a very nice voice and we have some very good “Beauty and the Beast” duet here. They currently funding an indiegogo campaign so if you are looking for a band to support, you know what you have to do!
Pyrah is another band from Strasbourg, so again very honored to support a band that has some potential. Very good starter with their first album “Where am I?”. The band is still not defining in a particular genre, but for me sounds more in the progressive metal genre. Give a try and see if you like it. If yes, go and support them through Bandcamp. An interesting feature of the band is the particular variant of “Beauty of the Beast” as Stephany ensures both the clean and growls, that reminds me of both Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Vicky Psarakis (The Agonist) or Floor Jansen (ReVamp era), also note the good performance of Lucie on the drums, it is always nice to see some gender diversity aside from female-front singers.
Finally, “la piece de resistance” as we call it in France. One of the best symphonic metal album this year “Tears of a Hopeless God”. Whyzdom is certainly a veteran among all other bands listed as it was formed in 2007 and have three full album releases. The band is from Paris and have witnessed three different front singers, one for each album (Clementine Delaunay, Elvyne and Marie Rouyer) but Whyzdom is the French Symphonic Metal to what French wine is: it just getting better as it getting older. “Tears of a Hopeless God” naturally explored the symphonic approach by Vynce Leff earlier in “Blind” and brought this very nice piece of “baroque” that make themselves different from other Symphonic metal. The fluff and the puff that made Versailles so French!
Marie voice is just getting better and better and have less the “French accent” that Elvyne had in “Blind” and I believe Vynce found the winning formula for the band. For 2015, this album remains the highest rated of all the album I have reviewed on my blog, so it tells you something.