Ten Years #44: Peste Noire

Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
44. Peste Noire (721 plays)
Top track (65 plays): Ballade cuntre les anemis de la France, from Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor (2009)

Peste Noire is probably the most French thing to ever happen to metal. Famine has frankly stated, if the interview excerpts I saw were properly translated, that he intentionally aims to make his music as terrible and possible. This is something quite successfully achieved in the nearly unlistenable L’Ordure à l’état Pur, released two years ago. That album seems to me a big “fuck you” to everyone who failed to give Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor an abysmal rating on Encyclopaedia Metallum. Its unprecedented levels of tastelessness successfully mock modern consumerism through an acute awareness of that about popular culture which inclines us to lose all faith in humanity. (Famine even traded in his traditional black metal/skinhead garb for a nu metal image in the packaging.) Maybe Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor, released in 2009, was intended to be a parody too, but in that instance Famine let his actually incredible song-writing abilities and aesthetic awareness get in the way of producing anything which can honestly be regarded as terrible. I am rather inclined to call it one of my favorite albums of all time.

One of the most interesting people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing was a highly educated skinhead obsessed with extremely racist, nationalistic bands in the punk/skinhead/RAC sphere. He didn’t share any of their ideologies in the slightest, but he was able to set aside disgust in what they stood for and tap into the sort of raw emotion that drove average working-class individuals to proclaim such extreme views. Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor might be said to mock this sort of music by maintaining the emotional appeal while deflating the fictionalized history typically necessary for its evocation. It embraces French nationalism as a parody, presumably. At least, it presents a raw, ugly image of the past that hardly meets the standard conditions for pride or beauty. Yet Famine’s vulgar vocals and lo-fi, distorted, “black and roll” instrumentation come coupled with an intense feeling of nostalgia that persists throughout the album. The parody, if it can be called a parody, stems from the presentation of nostalgia for something grotesque, but towards this end Famine committed his artistic talents without restraint. It is a nostalgic ode to a sick, sinister past, juxtaposing musical representations of unjustifiable violence and intolerance to a feeling of warmth and comfort. On the one hand it is deliciously dark, and on the other it is a legitimate embrace of nationalism in its most honest clothes. Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor is an album that has always fucked with my head, and I love it dearly.

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