It’s a dream of every music lover to stumble upon an unknown release by a modern band that totally blows them away, a dream that I was able to experience upon discovering this year’s self-titled EP from Meurtrières. Hailing from Lyon, France, Meurtrières delivers a compact package of hard-rocking medieval themed heavy metal that, personally, checks every box there is to check.
The first track, “A La Spatha”, perfectly sets the tone for the entirety of the EP. They waste no time in diving right into a hard rocking stomp which scarcely lets up for the duration. On a first listen, things are jamming enough to keep your attention but after a couple revisits there really is a lot going on in these songs that reward careful listening, particularly some sneaky leads in there that didn’t catch my ear until the 3rd or 4th listen that really add a sense of depth and detail to the songs.
I get strong early Iron Maiden vibes on this EP. It’s undeniably heavy metal with a punk influenced attitude much like Maiden’s self-titled and Killers albums. According to the band (full statement below), no punk bands were much of an influence in Meurtrières’s music, but given the background of the band members it seems safe to say that the attitude and general aura followed them into heavy metal. There is almost a bit of dissonance between the medieval aesthetic of this EP and how much it makes me want to be strolling down the street in a leather jacket.
The real standout track on this is “La Déferlante”; it’s a textbook example of how to build up a song from a melancholic melodic intro into a roaring anthemic finish. I’m also enamored with how NWOBHM they have managed to make the verse sections, I’d have been unsurprised to find this on the back shelf of an oldhead’s record shop. Bassist Xavier does an excellent job supporting the song on this one as well, crafting a rock solid, groovy foundation upon which guitarists Flo Spector and Olivier can show off a bit. And show off they do, the leads on this track are stupidly earwormy. Going into the end of the track drummer Thomas and singer Fleur work together to take the energy higher and higher concluding in a cacophonous heavy metal finale. On a short and sweet EP especially, you can’t help but love when a band leaves you slack-jawed and wanting more than letting you down gently.
There are a lot of bands floating around now which are obviously inspired by the old school, but decidedly modern sounding. Meurtrières does not fall in that camp, like I said I would believe you if you told me this was a long lost 80s demo found after an afternoon spent crate digging. I’m certainly thankful for the modern life that has been breathed into traditional heavy metal, but sometimes you want pure old school sound and have run out of classic bands. I’m really stoked to hear what this band has to offer in the future.
Below is short excerpt from my conversation with Flo Spector answering a couple direct questions about the band’s influences and direction (translated from French)
Its evident that you guys like the usual suspects, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc and I presume your predecessors like Sortilège. However, I feel like I hear something more… Punk? Could you say which bands have inspired you guys?
Yeah, you’re right about Maiden, Priest and the French 80s scene being among our influences. I’ll add Mercyful Fate and King Diamond to complete the set. I can tell you that no punk bands influence our sound in Meurtrières. We have played in punk and hardcore bands for nearly two decades before making heavy metal, it’s in our vein to play with aggression and high energy, that’s all.
On its face it’s a bit of a strange concept, “hard rocking medieval heavy metal”. Where did this idea come from? Was it the intention to begin with, or something that you all came to over time?
We started with a clear idea in mind, musically, lyrically and aesthetically. We wanted to make old school heavy metal, epic music with some medieval overtones with lyrics and artworks to boot. When Fleur accepted to be part of the band as a singer, we only asked her to write lyrics in a medieval context. She did so great, it exceeded our initial expectations. Our artworks complete our vision. When you listen to a Heavy Metal record, it’s often more of a journey than a simple listening session. You’re already hooked by the artwork that provides a story, then you play the records while reading the lyrics and you’re good to let your mind wander into another world, dimension or time.
Album Rating: 85/100
Favorite Track: La Déferlante