They say French is the language of love and romance.
Which is probably why I don’t speak it very well.
HEY-OH! Thanks. I’ll be here all week. Try la ratatouille…
But soyons sérieux, folks, if you couldn’t tell by the album title or any of the song titles, Le Berceau des Deiux is sung in French, which, of course, I do not speak much further than the cursory “je m’appelle Andrew” and knowing why French omelettes aren’t made with two or more eggs.* Thankfully, however, classic speedy heavy metal is a universal language, and one I understand as well as I understand anything at all. Riffs and attitude, melodies and power? That is all that really matters.
From the opening salvo of “L’Exode” (“the exodus”), Tentation hits the ground running, all blue-collar chunky Saxon-esque riffage and rollicking rhythm, with Patrice “Darquos” Roheé’s midrange chest voice offset with gang-shouted punctuation in the chorus. Guillaume Dousse’s guitars sound strong and full, his riffs pretty straightforward and often not as pyrotechnic as many speed metallers, but he’s also the only guitarist here, so there’s less room for wizardry and only room for rock. (He does have a nice solo moment in the classical-ish guitar interlude, cleverly called “Interlude,” a short but pretty counterpoint to the chunkier riffing elsewhere.) Drummer Laurent Metivier pushes the whole affair forward in tight lockstep with bassist Guillaume Pastor, and Le Berceau is nothing if not energetic. Though it’s powerful and clear and certainly gets the job done, I wish Darquos’ voice had a little more grit, a little more roughness around the edges. Still, that’s a minor quibble, and one I won’t dwell upon too much—the band around him is spirited and spry, more than capable of adding that edge.
Second track “Le Couvent” flirts with a King Diamond-y carnival horror, a spoken-word breakdown is bolstered by a synth pad and wrapped up with a malicious King-ly cackle, one of the few times Darquos deviates from his natural range. Across all 42 minutes, Le Berceau des Dieux is a strong collection of trad metal tracks, with standouts in the stuttering roll of “La Chute des Titans” and the shout-along glory of “Conquérants.” “Baldr” starts moody and bleak, wind-blown sound effects atop Pastor’s bass, the combination briefly reminiscent of W.A.S.P.’s all-time classic “Widowmaker,” before shifting into the album’s power ballad, and further testament to Tentation’s skill that they can pull off a ballad without derailing the rock. At the end, the requisite metal anthem about the power of metal rolls around to close out Le Berceau, coming in the form of the subtly titled “Heavy Metal,” which features guest vocals from members of Iron Slaught, Hexecutor, and Titan, and is a fine and fun celebratory closer.
Nothing on Le Berceaux des Dieux breaks new ground, but it’s not meant to. It’s an homage to ground already broken, and as such, it’s a sound success. If classic French heavy metal gets your blood pumping — and it should, so if you aren’t familiar, maybe start with this — then here’s a recent revisitation that holds its own alongside its influences. Vive le heavy metal.
* Because, in France, one egg is un oeuf.