Herzel – Le Dernier Rempart


Artist: Herzel

Album: Le Dernier Rempart

Label: Gates of Hell Records

Release Date: 19/03/2021

Country: France

We take a look at Herzel and their debut album Le Dernier Rempart, set for release on March 19th on Gates of Hell Records, in partnership with Clawhammer PR.

The band hail from Quimper, Brittany, France and formed back in 2013. Prior to this debut release, the band put out one demo Unis Dans la Gloire in 2015. The band is made up of Mordiern Le Dissez (bass), Gurvan Lardeux (guitar), Kèvin Le Vern (guitar), Thomas Guillesser (vocals) and Ion Philippon (drums).

The band play a unique brand of epic heavy metal, drawing influences from a number of places, some more standard for a band of this nature and some quite unique and unusual. This is a blend of pure and straight forward heavy metal that rocks hard and inspires awe, mixed with a number of progressive and unique regionally specific elements. The band list their influences as being Manilla Road, Warlord, Queensryche, Heir Apparent, Omen and Virgin Steele, as well as Celtic and French traditional music. They also list influences from Breton artists like Dan Ar Braz, Alan Stivell, Glaz, Seven Reizh. You can definitely hear all of this in their music and that last part about the Celtic and French traditional music is one of the key things that makes the album so distinctive.

One of the more unique factors about the album is that it’s all in the French language, which is actually a nice twist and gives the release a very distinctive sound. Personally, I think that this decision works in the favour of paying homage to their region and the tales that they have told regarding it. It’s always refreshing to see a band do something different and this is no exception. Speaking of tales told I should mention that the release is a concept album, which is split into two halves, both of which focus on the band’s region of Brittany. These themes and concepts are yet another factor that helps the band stand out as unique. They state that:

“Part one contains two songs dealing with Brittany history along with an instrumental traditional song. Part two is the concept about a hero named Herzel, who, through trials and tribulations, eventually delivers Brittany the Sword of the Gods (“L’Epée des Dieux”)”

The end result of all of these factors is an album that not only rocks hard but stands out from the crowd as unique and memorable. Instrumentally the band is extremely technically proficient. The guitar work is stellar and extremelt varied. We get some truly impressive heavy metal and at times almost NWOBHM style riffs and gallops that will please many listeners who are old school fans. There are a number of prog rock elements thrown into the mix in places giving even more of a distinctive sound. You will also find plenty of unique elements drawing on the band’s selectively chosen influences. Track 3 Le Dernier Rempart is a perfect example, while including standard instruments such as guitar and bass etc. also has some fantastic Celtic folk elements. You’ll find this again towards the end of track L’Ultime Combat, one of the definite highlights on the release.

The bass on the album deserves definite praise, not only is it clearly audible in many parts, but it happens to also be impressively technical in nature for a release of this style. There are moments where it truly shines through the mix and these are probably some of my favourite parts on the album instrumentally speaking. The drum work is also truly impressive, demonstrating a number of techniques and styles that draw on the bands many influences. Overall, the entire band perform extremely cohesively on the album and the stellar mixing work on the release allows each element to shine without overshadowing anything else. Lastly, we have the vocals which are perfectly suited to heavy metal music. They have a truly epic quality to them, but in a heavy metal sense, not in a power metal way. The fact that the lyrics are in French as mentioned makes things all that much more unique. You will be treated to some impressively high notes on the album, but they’re used selectively and a such add some dramatic effect when they appear.

On the whole this is a fantastic offering of heavy metal music and one that deserves everyone’s attention. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of the style, you should be able to find enough unique elements on the album to keep your interest. The instrumental work itself is stellar, the vocals are on point and there’s a lot of unique elements at play. So, give this bad boy a spin today.

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