|Sainte Ombre - Croyances Eternelles [Demo]
02. Terre d'Espérance
03. Le Repos Des Âmes
05. Derrière Les Pierres
It's incredible how "symphonic metal with female vocals" became such a commonly used tag during the last decade. Yet some people would say it's just "the beginning"... and to stand a chance in this predicted future, a " symphonic metal band with female vocals" has to bring something special, something new to the genre.
Perhaps that's what Sainte Ombre will do although it's hard to tell for the moment, having just heard this one demo - their very first - entitled Croyances Eternelles. First because, as you probably guessed by now, the lyrics are written in French, but also because of many aspects in the music that could be a lot more significant if they were, hum, say improved, mostly through a better production.
Cause this is a real demo - not a fully refined album that labels tend to crave cause that spares them production costs, and some other expenses as well - which purpose is to illustrate the general concept behind Sainte Ombre, to gather feedback and to recruit interested musicians. Croyances Eternelles is mostly the work of David (guitars) and Céline (vocals) and features some computer-generated instruments, like the drums and the keyboards, but it's easy to imagine for instance that a real drummer would easily be able to add to what is already there, following the demo as a guideline. Guitars are real but then again, the recording makes them sound flat and "raw" but it's enough to realize that David knows what he's doing, going through slow to fast passages and solos. Vocals are real too - of course - and they're a major point on this demo. Although I find that the flow and the tone lack power and emotion - you know, I like it when singers are crying out, yelling like mad guys - I must admit that they convey a feeling of serenity, a certain atmosphere I haven't found anywhere else before. And this is actually the best thing about Sainte Ombre and their demo Croyances Eternelles, that atmosphere, carried by the music, the vocals, the cover artwork, even the band name (meaning "Holy Shadow", though it does sound better in French).
So that's no surprise that the "symphonic" tag is induced by that atmosphere, thanks to the keyboard parts, the soft choirs used here and there and well, to the overall composition of the 10 tracks the demo has. Most of them have nice a intro (though some outros may need some improvements) and are not strictly verse/chorus based, leaving room for more instrumental moments so the songs are well balanced, versatile (well, except for "Le Repos Des Âmes", "?", "Onirik" for those are ballads/interludes). Some guitar and keyboard arrangements are to be heard at times, you know, those small details that can make a big difference if used properly.
The lyrics are mostly about religion, but not about which one is better, which one is to blame, not at all. It's just that the stories they tell are based on that and once again it does fit the main concept and the ambiance.
In my humble opinion, Croyances Eternelles is the proof that Sainte Ombre is capable of pulling off a really interesting record. Sure, nothing revolutionary but enough to be one step away from the many bands in the genre. As a matter of fact, they've found musicians to fill in the remaining positions (though I've heard they were looking for violin players) and have started to work on new recordings. Meanwhile, have a look at their MySpace!