There’s been a time, back in the early 80’s, when France was full of great metal bands – Britain’s seeds had instantly flourished there and the French wave was also thriving. ADX, ΒLASPHEME, HIGH POWER, VULCAIN, SATAN JOKERS, H-BOMB and all other Francophone groups have offered some really amazing albums back then, there’s no question about it. Undoubtedly, TRUST have been the pioneers whose steps were followed by all their fellow countrymen of that era but if there was a band leading the scene that had been SORTILÈGE and this claim is mainly based on the absolute greatness of their homonymous EP; this monumental debut release is reissued by High Roller Records on November 17th, in both LP and CD formats, giving us the opportunity to praise it once again.
I must admit, I am not just a fan of SORTILÈGE; I am a HUGE fan of them, I worship their music and I definitely prefer their recordings in their native language. The choice of French may have costed them their big time in their prime but it has been quite a proud answer to the big shots across the Channel. Yes, they did yield to their labels’ request for English lyrics later on – not a bad thing at all to have their songs in both languages. As it happened with other reissues in the past, the High Roller edition also includes the English versions of three original tracks off the EP (“The Amazon Warriors”, “Gladiator” and “Blade Killer”). Additionally, it contains two more bonus tracks: “Esclave De La Mort” and “Reine De Sabbat” from the 1981 demo, rare gems that offer pure delight even thought they were dug up going far back in time – one must give credits to Patrick W. Engel’s mastering for his excellent work.
The original tracklist of SORTILÈGE’s self-titled EP consisted of five songs: “Amazone”, “Progéniture Destructrice”, “Gladiateur”, “Sortilège” and “Bourreau” that proved to be of making-history quality. EP was recorded on July 1983 at Stonesound Studio in the Netherlands and it was released two months later by the Dutch Rave-on Records. It has been obvious since their very beginning that SORTILÈGE can make the difference but it was with the release of their EP that they stood out from the French metal scene, making themselves an iconic band, their name to gain glory for all eternity – even without achieving the widespread recognition they deserved, the aficionados of true metal never ceased to hail SORTILÈGE.
I really find it needless to write a track-by-track review for this EP. I’d better try to describe them as a weather forecast: “Amazone” is a gathering storm of fury, “Progéniture Destructrice” a blasting whirlwind, “Gladiateur” a short break of steady, mild rainfall, “Sortilège” a raging torrent, “Bourreau” a dramatic downpour, “Reine De Sabbat” a mild breeze and “Esclave De La Mort” a cold, ominous gust of wind. Well, once you hear them you can judge for your own; it’s not often that you hear rhythm section so playful and tight as the one Daniel Lapp (bass) and Bob Snake (drums) created and you certainly don’t come across the kind of musicianship that Stéphane Dumont (lead guitars) and Didier Demajean (rhythm guitars) demonstrated in this release. Dumont’s compositions are simply amazing, full of melody and power, real heavy metal anthems, straightforward and impressive at the same time. What made them timeless though, is Christian Augustin’s unparallel voice. The one-and-only “Zouille” is the DEFINITION of what a metal singer should sound like; an exceptional vocalist whose performance is equaled only by the legends of the genre.
So, to put it short, SORTILÈGE’s self-titled EP is not only a MUST LISTEN TO but also a MUST HAVE IT album, a REAL TREASURE of underground heavy metal. Why another reissue of it? Because it should be heard properly and decently and High Roller took real care of it – posters, photo cards, booklets and all the goodies included! Also, because SORTILÈGE’s legacy should never be overlooked, the magic circle never to be broken; especially now that the band (at least Augustin’s incarnation) has returned to recordings, their history must be repeated and their old releases need to be heard again and again, repetition being the mother of learning as the saying goes.
Now you know their name, you know what SORTILÈGE are about and there’s NO EXCUSE for not saluting this great band!
“Maintenant tu sais son nom, Tu sais comme il s’appelle, Il se nomme Sortilège!”
Check the discussion about the album in our forum pages.