|Sainte Ombre - Contes Et Châtiments
02. Mr Le Comte
03. Terre d'Espérance
06. Derrière Les Pierres
08. Destination Finale
It's always nice to hear that a band finally released their first album, especially if you happened to have reviewed the demo prior to this new release.
That's the case with Sainte Ombre and their album Contes et Châtiments, a largely improved version of the demo Croyances Eternelles which I reviewed 2 years ago and introduced the band as something of a symphonic and sometimes almost ambient metal band with female vocals and French lyrics. A good demo that lacked a few things and fortunately, most of them are featured in Contes et Châtiments.
The band now has a stable line-up with a drummer and a bass player to support David's guitars and Céline's vocals. Add to that a better overall production (not something overdone and crushing though) and you get the main difference between the album and the demo.
The other major difference is of course the tracklist. Some tracks have been removed and replaced by new ones, and kickass new ones like the opening track "Mr le Comte". Thus, the balance between ambient and dynamic tracks is much better on this new album, and the identity of the band's music is stronger - and somewhat more metal.
Some problems remain though, the first to come to my mind - or my ears - is that the orchestral parts still sound a little too keyboardish at times but they do fit the rest of the music that is flowing quite naturally. This creates a more "mystical" than "epic" atmosphere as opposed to many bands that intend to have BIG overabused and expensive Wagner-like orchestral tracks. Not that I don't like it, but it's nice to hear something more serene (yet not boring) at times.
Some may think it could have been nice to include a few disturbing passages for the listener to be surprised, but I'm not sure it's needed: It's good as it is and it could even break the atmosphere I was talking about a few lines earlier.
In the end, Contes et Châtiments does bring a slightly different point of view on female fronted symphonic bands: Sainte Ombre is neither another Nightwish/After Forever nor any of the likes, as they come up with a less pretentious and more relaxed music. It may not sound very original at first but it is a truly honest album to me.