Quebec-based metal horde Kenaz blast through every track on Volonté de fer ancestrale with animalistic ferocity, as if they were berserk warriors preparing to destroy their enemies. This makes sense given the album title, which translates to “Ancestral Iron Will.” The six intense tracks on this full-length deliver just over thirty minutes of black metal terror. This album is a soundtrack to all-out war and is not for the weak, musically or lyrically.
Admittedly, I know very little about the black metal scene in Quebec, my short trip to Montreal for the Messe des Mortes V festival in November 2015 notwithstanding. But this French-speaking province of Canada seems to love metal in general and black metal specifically. One would hope that a band like Kenaz might thrive there, especially in a scene known for their fierce national identity. Kenaz appears to have gone through several lineup changes since its inception in 2004 behind founder Thursiak Andresson. This most recent effort (released in November 2014) only lists two members, Thursiak and Skoken (Dave Jobin) of Nord and Triskèle.
I assume that Volonté de fer ancestrale is composed of only guitars and vocals over separately tracked drums. All elements seem to have been given equal prominence in the recording and mastering process, making the final result feel and sound like an unrelenting aural blast furnace of hatred. I recommend listening on good headphones or a decent stereo so you can hear the depth and breadth of each song; otherwise, Volonté de fer ancestrale is going to sound muddied. My initial experience with Volonté de fer ancestrale was in my car, and the vocals did not stand out enough from the wall of mid-range sound to keep them from bleeding into the musical backdrop. Despite listening to is multiple times in different locations to try and develop a different context for the album, something about Volonté de fer ancestrale always left me feeling assaulted, but in best way.
This is not background music; this is grab-you-by-the-throat-and-throttle-you music. If you like what is sometimes called war metal (such as Conqueror or Bestial Warlust) but with a decisive pagan influence and much more raw production, you are going to love what Kenaz is throwing down. The songs on Volonté de fer ancestrale lack the structured thrashiness typically found in war metal, but the frenetic drumming and lyrical themes are unmistakable. The project’s hearty vocals fall squarely into the blackened pagan metal realm, and unsurprisingly for a Québécois project, Kenaz’s vocals are in French—the most aggressive sounding French you can imagine.
Volonté de fer ancestrale is a satisfying listen, albeit a bit brief compared to the group’s excellently written and produced full-length, Resurgeance Nordique. I wish the album was a bit more fleshed out and possessed more musical diversity, however. With the exception of the epic final track “But Ultime,” the songs don’t stick with me; they don’t have any memorable hooks or catch in my memory. In a way, the recording seems like something to tide fans over while the band goes through an evolution in personne—and perhaps inevitably a musical transformation as well—but that is only speculation.
01) Volonté de fer ancestrale
02) Maitre artisan de la douleur
03) Rituel sacrificiel
04) Tempete solaire
05) Aigle de sang
06) But ultime