There is no nation in the world that does intense atmosphere better than the French, be it music, theatre or television. Whenever you see an album from a French band for review you simply know that you are in for an experience and, quite often, it can be formidable but it is always rewarding. So it is with Herzel, a band formed in Brittany, in 2013 and they have delivered an all action and very epic metal album with themes around folklore, warfare and Celtic legend. They name check some very interesting American metal bands as the main influences on their sound with Manilla Road, Warlord, Queensryche, Heir Apparent, Omen and Virgin Steele all being in the mix and to this rather heady brew they have then added both French and Celtic original music and themes to give them a real flavour of Celtic rock.
They line-up with band founder Thomas Guillesser on vocals, Mordiern Le Dissez on bass, Ion Philippon on drums and twin guitarists in Gurvan Lardeux and Kèvin Le Vern. Thomas Guillesser has a great rock voice and sounds very similar to Paul Di’Anno and he gives the band a real edge and true Gallic flair as all vocals are delivered in the native tongue and the band sounds all the better for it. There is a feel of NWOTHM about the band but the French vocals add an air of mystery to the proceeding with the album being split into two parts with the first two songs detailing Brittany history with one of them a traditional song given the metal treatment and the next four being part of a short concept story about a character called Herzel and his quest to deliver The Sword Of Gods to the people of Brittany.
It is only a relatively short album at 37-minutes but it is frantic heavy metal delivered with a real Celtic feel and there sounds some traditional instruments in the mix too but they are not credited. The guitars are the main instruments at play here and they work in unison to deliver wave after wave of stunning lead breaks. There is also a feel of Lazuli about the album and if they can deliver live like their French compatriots then they are going to be very well received indeed. Ostensibly, this is a heavy metal album that flirts with power and prog rock that is kept in check by the Celtic themes and this blending of styles works, as we all know, very well.
Le Dernier Rempart is a most assured and accomplished debut from a band with so much to offer to the rock world.
Le Dernier Rempart track list
- Maîtres de l’océan (8:36)
- La Flamme (5:16)
- Le Dernier Rempart (1:42)
- Berceau de Cendre (7:19)
- L’épée des Dieux (5:23)
- L’Ultime Combat (7:49)