Just a few years ago the (kind of) scene report which follows would have been much shorter... Indeed, France has a growing scene, sure it still lacks of leaders and too many bands are suffering from the limits of their own (DIY) possibilities (for Live considerations more especially) but it is damn solid in quality and diversity.
The list is of course non exhaustive but here's a round-up on a great part of the most interesting releases that came out of the French Stoner/Doom community in 2014; bands will be ranked in alphabetical order... if I forgot anything that you might think essential, you can still leave a comment in the dedicated section (that's its main purpose) thanx ! anyway I hope you'll discover some great stuff here and support some of the contacts linked...
A VERY OLD GHOST BEHIND THE FARM came back in early 2014 with "la came crude" (after a debut album and a split with Wheelfall), a concept album consisting in a single song of 45 minutes ! Still oscillating between blackened sludge and infectious stoner/doom, this 2nd offering marked a big step forward in terms of composition... this album is definitely a masterpiece of gloomy hideous horror !
After a promising debut EP in 2011, BARABBAS took more than 3 years to record their 1st full length "messe pour un chien"... a long process that was definitely worth the wait ! During a deadly hour and 8 songs, the band amazingly improved its punchy Trad' Doom with ominous atmospheres and a solid work on lyrics and refined harmonies... a fantastic release really !
The "sombre Novembre tour" with the magickal Goatess was an awesome blast and saw the saints gaining a lot of fans and confidence... If they come to play somewhere near your door in the future, don't miss their redeeming sabbath !!! hopefully now some label could be interested to release this crushing masterpiece on vynil... ? meanwhile make sure to visit their bandcamp -
With "chasma hideout", BRAIN PYRAMID released a brillant album last summer... The fuzzy psyched-out Stoner trio signed with Acid Cosmonaut rds and toured France/Spain/Portugal right away... Too bad that Ronan Grall (voc in Huata but playing the role of bassist here) left shortly after because he definitely brought something special to their sound but Baptiste and Gaston will keep things fuzzing on and bring the band far for sure...
Pretty unknown (even domestically, probably because a bit isolated in the East of France -Strasbourg-), BULL TERRIER managed to put out a very interesting debut album with "be like water"... The quintet finds a great balance between southern grooves and psyched-out Stoner Rock; giving especially an above the average place to long twirling guitar soloing, this band's pretty different from any other around.
CONVICTION is the one-man band of Amduscias - vocalist in Temple of Baal (one of our very best black/Death metal bands), there's a great demo on bandcamp to download for free... an interesting hommage to the good old gloomy Traditional Doom... assuredly to follow, moreover if the experimented guy finds a line-up to complete new stuff and play live -
FANGE is the new band of Ben from Huata and Baptiste from Brain Pyramid, another new proud of Roazhon (Rennes if you prefer, capital of Britanny) hahaha ! the guys also got ideas when it comes to play some of the harshest Sludge you can think about, eyeing on noise with industrial and even old grindcore hints. "Poisse" their debut EP is sick, dig it !
FATHER MERRIN finally released their debut EP "all is well that ends in hell" and we've got here a serious combo delivering crushing Doom METAL with utter conviction and well digested influences (even if old Cathedral is never too far)... They have a massive metallic sound bathed in gloomy heaviness which takes a pretty impressive dimension on stage !
FORSAKEN PEDDLERS is THE perfect (new) band to get into if you like epic Heavy/Doom Metal, "songs of fate and freedom" is absolutely recommended for fans of Candlemass and Atlantean Kodex... a debut recording of such quality is simply rare -
JACKHAMMER from Rennes is a monster of Metallic groove in the Nola vein, very gnarly with great vocals... They're playing regularly in the western part of Frane and their 5 tracks EP is a very good introduction to their loud and kickin' sound...
MARS RED SKY 's "stranded in Arcadia" is - with no doubt and by far I guess - the french album that had the more success in the worldwide scene in 2014... This 2nd album is a little jewel where the band's unique fuzz and vocals take a new dimension. The deal with Listenable rds seems to have opened new doors to a band that lives for the LIVE and never disappoints wherever they play !!!
After a long delay, MOURNING DAWN "les sacrifiés" has finally been released in 2014 by Total Rust Rds and it really makes another proof that France is particularly at ease with blackened sounds ! the kind of great band that first suit to Black metallers, then catch doomsters attention with alternatively slow, atmospheric and tortured doomy moods... great work that hopefully should maintain a certain dynamic for composing more quickly new stuff !
PRESUMPTION's EP "from judgement to the grave" is a nice introduction to this young Doom'n roll band from Le Mans that still needs to develop its identity but in no way lacks of faith and energy, that's a name to follow for sure -
SERPENT VIEW comes from Toulon (Mediterranean coast) but their Doom has nothing exotic at all, the instrumental band crushes like rarely these days on our soil ! at times versing on impending sludge/doom, at times more atmospheric with a taste for tribal-like percussions and pagan moods... this really needs to be discovered and hopefully will lead to more sometime this year -
If you're into punchy Heavy/Doom Metal with sharp guitars and a slight epic edge (which could remind the mighty Obrero at times), "The Godless" by STONEWITCH is a refreshing little demo that you would dream of getting from the hands of your postman... musicianship is more than pretty tight here, a great metallic bath into the early 80's metal, that's damn good !
WITCHTHROAT SERPENT consist of long experienced musicians coming from various horizons of the (extreme) underground, if the band reckon an obvious admiration for old Electric Wizard, the guys are playing more tightly than your average new band and perfectly got it for occult and weedy atmospheres... it looks like this band could become something quite important in the near future; find them again in the 2015 section...
ZOMBIE KING four Tracks EP "calling the unknown" didn't catch all the attention it deserved; this female-fronted Stoner Rock band sometimes remind me Royal Thunder, not just for the great vocals.
Now it's time for the 2nd part of this tasty round-up !!! let's get some news on what's about to come out this year from the french scene :)
ABRAHMA's 2nd album "reflections in the bowel of a bird" will be released soon on Small Stone records. No doubt, the band will be touring in Europe again to promote this new one and why not the Sates ? with this label, it seems more than possible...
AKASAVA is a promising young band from Le Havre, influenced by early Pentagram and the most obscure psychedelic/proto-Doom stuff... their first offering will be the "strange aeons" EP; watch out for them, great image and charismatic singer !
BAGARRE GENERALE / YEAR OF NO LIGHT split LP will be soon released, an interesting release with two bands who've got their own (heavy) sound, through some kind of modern Doom bordering on different (post) territories...
CHAOS ECHŒS will release their 1st full length "transient" this summer on Nuclar War Now! Productions; a perfect teaming for a band which makes everything possible to keep all your primal senses awake ! this conceptual album will be released as CD digisleeve, 2LP gatefold, digital and the usual special 2LP die hard provided by the californian label - each with a special rich and refined artwork ! bleeding, horrorful, initiatic, disturbing and experimentative... this album will surely be pushing further the extremities of doom !
CROWN has been very quiet in 2014 but a new album is planed to come out in a few motnhs, as well as touring and festivals (Summer Breeze for example !).
This month, CULT OF OCCULT recorded new songs : two covers and stuff for a split album; and they already plan to record again in April/May what will already be their 3rd album !!! in 2014 the band played alternatively in UK, Holland and Germany, sure that those Sludge satanic worshippers willll still be active here and there in Europe on the Live front too !
DENIZEN the old Stoner Rock band from Montpellier was pretty quiet over the past few years, their comeback with "troubled waters" marks the beginning of a collaboration with italian Arognauta rds... watch out for this bluesy machine !
After their successful demo released on vynil, DOCTOR DOOM will be back within a couple of months with their first full length album - still on STB rds !!!
HANGMAN'S CHAIR is certainly not our sexiest band but they're probably our most solid in terms of identity, rhythm and quality of productions... 4th album was recorded in December and will be called "THISISNOTSUPPOSEDTOBEPOSITIVE" !!!
After a nice little tour with UK's obscure duo Pombagira last spring, HUATA have been pretty quiet, having to face line-up changes... the band is now a quintet (there's a new bassist and dummer, plus Ronan left the organ to just concentrate on vocals and they now have a keyboardist) and actually works hard on composing a new album which should be definitely their doomiest... watch out for they have not finished their ascencion -
After having played several great gigs in 2014 including two dates in Russia, LOVE SEX MACHINE are actually recording their new album, expect some dirty Sludge at the corner !
MUDBATH 1st album "Corrado Zeller" will be out later this month on Lost Pilgrim rds, this band is a sludge monster and this album should be on each fan of harsh and doomy sludge wishlist ! They're actually touring Europe (Switzerland, Austria, France...) and I'm sure there will be more foreign sonic devastations this year !
Heavy-Prog-doomsters NORTHWINDS will have "eternal winter" finally released sometime this year; the follow-up to the legendary "winter" will see the band teaming again with long partners of Black Widow rds... before this, the band will co-release a split EP with MARBLE CHARIOT, a young Trad-Doom Metal act from Bordeaux - the song "witchcoven" has been recorded "live" at home and is a pretty different take from what the band plays usually. Anyway, NORTHWINDS is damn too rare and underrated -
After playing Roadburn last year and giving quite many gigs domestically, REGARDE LES HOMMES TOMBER will enter the studio in March to record their new album for Les Acteurs de l'Ombre prod; a new apocalyptic blackened sludge assault which should reveal them worldwide now...
SILVER MACHINE could be a kind of intruder on a Doom/Stoner blog but I know that many of you here can also enjoy pure Heavy Metal, right ?! this is a demo band but they have an album in the works and they're in the vein of the great old ones with twirling guitars and a good melodic singer, if your still here then this band's 2nd demo deserves quickly an attentive listen !
Toulouse's new band SOYUZ BEAR freshly released their debut demo "MMXV", a promising 3 songs debut full of filthy sludge/doom with billing vocals...
Kreizh-Breizh heroes STANGALA and STONEBIRDS are about to be back with new stuff, can't tell more about the first but "into the fog... and the filthy air" is the title of new Stonebirds album to be released this spring on Pink Tank rds, I've been lucky enough to hear it and what strikes immediately is the MASSIVE sound, definitely a great take on heavy atmopsheric Sludge...
And what if THE BOTTLE DOOM LAZY BAND would finally record a fucking new album ??? the one and only Bottle Ben told me a few weeks ago that it should be for february but it seems really hypothetical ... shit it's been such a long time that "blood for the bloodking" was released now, just the split EP with Void Moon in 2013 was definitely not enough... we need this new album guys and you too I'm sure !!!
After a CD release via Deadlight Entertainment last summer, WITCHTHROAT SERPENT first album will be released on vynil with new artwork by the american label Emetic rds (Eye Hate God, Crowbar, Belzebong...) ! The band will be playing at next HELLFEST too and actually compose hard for their sophomore album -
And I'm sure there's quite a few others good stuff in the works, for example from the camps of FUNERALIUM, BLACK MOTH CULT, ATARAXIE, CARNE, LDDSM, etc... etc... WATCH OUT FOR THE FRENCH SCENE !
Thanx to Steve and Billy for giving me the place to write those lines, all the best to the Sludgelord and Doomed&Stoned !!!