Oriflamme’s black metal combines furious intensity with atmospheric appeal. When the band play fast they play with fire and vigour, but when they slow down is when the real dark magic happens.
Sinister melodies augment the blast beats, (courtesy of the drummer of Atramentus), striking at the listener from beneath the waves of distortion. Oriflamme’s use of melody is frequently subtle and nuanced, blending it into their second wave base to add texture to the cold riffs and rhythms. These faster sections offer some surprisingly catchy and memorable guitars too; the first four minutes or so of Un Mal Ancien is a great example of this, although you could pick any of the upbeat moments really.
As alluded to earlier though, it’s the band’s slower sections that really hit the spot for me. Brooding with menace and weaving grim moods with ease, Oriflamme are adept at producing engaging atmosphere. When they lock into an atmospheric groove or build and develop a mood-based soundscape, Oriflamme truly shine. Sticking with Un Mal Ancien once more; six minutes or so in, and the mid-paced section transforms into something wickedly malevolent. I feel compelled to also mention the longest cut Ultime Rempart, which boasts a variety of such moments.
Grim screams are the vocal assault of choice. The singer rages with angry bile, shrieking venom at whomever or whatever might be close. The vocals almost sound like an afterthought to the music, as if the band have concentrated all control and focus on the instrumental aspects of the songs, and then dragged in some feral daemon to scream over the top of it. This is an illusion, if course, and despite this description of mine, their approach works well. The vocals succeed in adding a venomous counterpoint to the music’s layered darkness.
L’égide Ardente is a strong debut album from Oriflamme. Merging elements of the Norwegian second wave with influences from the more contemporary French scene, L’égide Ardente is worth spending some time with.