Demo:listen: Pénombre

This week Demo:listen fans the blaze of Montreal’s Pénombre.

Pénombre are a black metal trio from Montreal with immediate appeal as two-thirds of the band are the duo behind heavy-hitting death doom newcomers Shezmu. Although you’d never tell that simply by listening to Pénombre’s demo, Méphistophélès (ou le Diable sur Terre). This demo sounds like it was wrought in hellfire then left to freeze in the ripping winds of the cruel waste.

C.B., guitarist and vocalist of Pénombre, explains how he and his bandmate C.L. from both Shezmu and Warslaves decided on giving some cold northern black metal a shot.

“90s black metal has always been a subject we both love and listen to together. With the amount of hours we spend time jamming, it was only natural to experiment in the DIY/recording [of some] cold, harsh black metal that we love. When we offered I.P. to join us [on bass], he showed us a bunch of conceptual lyrics he’d written. It was a perfect fit.”

“I must say that when we spoke to do a band, I already had a whole concept in mind,” insists I.P., bassist and lyrics. “The aesthetics of Pénombre were already created.”

He goes on to describe, quite pithily, the concept behind the lyrics for the demo.

“In Faust, Mephistopheles is the incarnation of the devil as a man. The 4 songs describe the fall of Lucifer and his desire to rule the earth.

“C.B. is an incredible songwriter,” I.P. continues. “He knows how to feel the atmosphere of a project. He could exactly set to music how I saw my words. Also, it must be added again that Penombre is a very specific project. I had the idea and the fantasy of creating a pure black metal band.”

The drummer C.L. is no slouch either. His playing takes every riff on this demo to the welkin and beyond in his single-kick blastbeast-propelled chariot. And, as far as raw black metal demos go, the production on the drums is immaculate. They’re obscure and raw, but everything is punchy and perfectly audible.

C.B. says that Méphistophélès was produced “pretty much a piecemeal over time.”

“I recorded my guitar parts alone at home with a very-bad pedal and an old 30W Yamaha amp,” he says. “If I remember well, it took the whole day to nail everything right. Months passed, winter came, and we went to our jam space to record the drum parts. I.P. recorded his parts later on.”

While those dark and subtle interludes interspersed like gargoyles throughout Méphistophélès come courtesy of none other than Spiritus from Neige et Noirceur.

“We knew we wanted some instrumental takes on the album, to bring our tale alive,” says C.B. “I.P. suggested Spiritus, to bring his touch to the interludes and introduction we wanted. I was more than happy to have Spiritus working with us, especially after the incredible Neige et Noiceur set I saw at last year’s Covenant Festival.”

Released by Montreal-based tastemaker Tour de Garde, Méphistophélès (ou le Diable sur Terre) is a demo that stands on its own four legs. This tape will be mandatory and cult regardless of what comes next from the Pénombre camp. All the same, it’s great knowing that Méphistophélès is only the beginning. Apparently Pénombre will be playing “two gigs” with “two good bands,” although that’s all C.B.’s willing to divulge.

But I.P. warns: “We’re also working on split 7 inch that will come out on Les Fleur Du Mal . . .”