Like the main gallows and gibbet in Paris, France for which it's named, two-man Uzbekistani Doom / Death metal project Montfaucon resonates with historic tales of violence and upheaval, exploring the implications and consequences of emotional turmoil, aggression and fear. Drawing from elements of death metal, black metal, progressive doom and symphonic metal, the band's debut full-length, Renaissance is a majestic, eclectic and musically diverse portrait of darkness, desperation and barbarism that presents a new perspective on the ever-shifting landscape of extreme metal.
Renaissance will be released on February 17, 2017 and features mixing and mastering from death metal veteran Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Katatonia). A new track from the album, entitled "Prisoner", can be heard now via the band's Bandcamp page here. Pre-orders are also available at the same location.
"I'm the kind of person who loves math puzzles and mind-bending challenges," says Montfaucon multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Valentin Mayamsin, an Uzbekistan-born musician currently residing in the San Francisco Bay area. "That's why I started listening to increasingly complex music and that's how Montfaucon evolved, both technically and compositionally."
Inspired as much by the literature of Victor Hugo and the history of the Middle Ages as by the numerous bands that motivated Valentin to first pick up a guitar, Montfaucon achieves a sound that's at once brutal and beautiful, alternately direct and dizzying.
From one song to the next, there are hints of well-known acts such as Satyricon, Darkthone, Cradle of Filth, Death, Opeth and Pink Floyd, as well as traces of more obscure artists, including Lux Occulta, Dominion and My Dying Bride. Regardless of how many rocky paths, dense forests or barren wastelands Montfaucon explore sonically, the six epic songs on Renaissance are unified by the haunting piano and keyboard lines of Valentin's songwriting partner Michel Cadenzar, who still lives in the duo's native land.
"All the music came out of lots of experiments," Valentin says. "I liked [our new track] 'Insanity' very much but I wanted to experiment more with guitar and make the other songs less obvious. So, we tried everything: black metal, death metal, even progressive stuff. And then we found ways to tie everything together and make it work so it doesn't sound like 10 different bands going at once."
It's incredible that Valentin and Michel have crafted such diverse, high-impact and intensely melodic songs from opposite parts of the world. What's even more impressive is that as forward-thinking as the songs on Renaissance are, the skeletons were written years ago, and early versions of some of the tracks were played on metal radio in Uzbekistan, and were well received by the region's loyal underground scene. The band even played shows in the country with a different line-up.
But then Valentin relocated to the U.S. to work as a software developer, while Michel continued to work on computers in his home town. For a while, Montfaucon was on ice. But after a few years in limbo the players discovered that raw determination, and a little technology, can break the bonds of distance. When Valentin went back home to Tashkent to visit friends and family, he and Michel decided to resurrect Montfaucon by trading files back and forth over the internet.
When it was time for Valentin to start putting Renaissance together back in his home studio in San Francisco, he struggled at first to find the right gear and learn how to use it. Since he didn't have much experience with home recording, he experienced several setbacks. To make sure the songs sounded as good on the digital files as they did when he played them in his living room, Valentin hired The Faceless guitarist Michael Keene to help him assemble a rig that would yield a high quality recording.
"I thought he would be good to teach me because he actually recorded great sounding Faceless albums in his living room," Valentin says. "He gave me very good advice and we were able to make the guitars sound really strong."
For metal fans who are excited to hear more, Montfaucon are already working on five or six new death / prog songs that will leave listeners speechless. Until then, Renaissance should be inspiring and enthralling enough to keep listeners completely satisfied. Stay tuned for more updates leading up to the release of Renaissance in February.
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