Hasard – Malivore (I, Voidhanger Records)

Wednesday, 17th May 2023
Rating: 9.5 / 10

The journey of an artist, and what leads to an epic breakthrough, can be important to understand to see how we’ve arrived at this moment in time. The story of the eclectic composer known as Hazard is a unique one. The French artist has been creating music under the moniker Les Chants du Hasard, which constitutes taking classical and orchestral music from the 19th century, and mixing it with black metal stylized vocal arrangements. According to the promotional materials, his music has had a focus on the works of Modest Mussorgsky, Sergei Prokofiev and Richard Strauss. Not yet experiencing any of this previously, we went back and checked those works out, which are unlike anything yours truly had laid ears upon before. This consists of three albums of mainly classical symphonies with a twist, more specifically 2017’s Les Changes du Hasard, 2019’s Livre Second, and 2021’s Livre Troisième.

Now we arrive at Hazard’s latest project, to which he dubbed simply as Hasard. Moving away from the purely classical nature of his discography, he went in a different direction with his latest Malivore, taking these symphonic influences to craft an orchestral style of precise black metal. We know what you’re thinking; symphonic black metal isn’t exactly a new phenomena, and you’d be absolutely correct. However, you’ve hardly heard symphonic black metal like this. Hasard brings the suffocating dissonance of Blut Aus Nord and adds a haunting classical undertone that would have possibly even made Chopin or Bach a tad envious. Hazard also worked with Wreche mastermind John Steven Morgan on the piano pieces, which ended up being a prudent decision, as the resultant is a flood of aural nightmare fuel of which engulfs the listener and doesn’t let up for a millisecond.

Classical instruments are used in harmony with pianos and discordant guitar riffs, along with Hazard’s deep and snarling vocal delivery, meshing to formulate what is vile hallucination to the most menacing degree. Note that Malivore consists of five tracks, each of at least 8 minutes of length, so there aren’t any quick hitting entries to be found. Instead, we have all-encompassing, painstakingly detailed, complex arrangements that are overflowing with sinister intentions. A combination of organs, thundering blast beats, and brooding guitar rhythms create a sense of foreboding that drives opener “Hypnocentrisme,” which is an over 11 minute opus that is beautiful as it is unrelenting. Serenades of crackling flames, layered with ghastly orchestral arrangements, and low register growls end this behemoth, leaving the listener wonder what kind of ingenious musical hellscape just hit them.

We flow directly into the next track “Vicivers,” adamantly beginning with droning auras that any doom connoisseur should appreciate, framing a viciously comprehensive pummeling. The orchestrations on this track – especially the cellos – are burned into yours truly’s psyche, as they’re infectious and memorable. The title track is even heavier and more directly crushing, smothering the listener with darkly sustained riffs, then dragging further into the abyss with delicately weaved symphonic arrangements. “Choral Inane” continues this theme amongst a flood of piano that aids in creating momentous tension, while “Interspace” brings this horrific vision to a grandiose conclusion via particularly stellar drum work and chilling harmonic vibrations.

What we have is one of those full-lengths that while we described some of the nuance of each track, it’s absolutely best absorbed as a singular piece of music. There’s absolutely nothing traditional present; instead, we have an otherworldly approach to heavy music that’s brimming with creativity and virulent elegance. Malivore is a disharmonic, disturbing, relentless, and maniacally powerful masterwork. If a vivid, audible nightmare has ever been more impactful than this, please email me immediately, as we need to hear it. Good luck topping what Hasard has accomplished here, however, as this brilliant composer has found his own unmistakable formula to greatness.

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