Peste Noire is a black metal band from La Chaise-Dieu, France. It was formed by La sale Famine de Valfunde in Avignon in 2000. To date, all songs have been written by La sale Famine (except "La Césarienne" on Folkfuck Folie and various piano/organ interludes on Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor). The band plays music which utilises standard black metal elements mixed with more traditional gallic instrumentation. The music is often melodic and sorrowful, turning at times towards a more aggressive and chaotic sound within lengthy and elaborate song structures. The band is sometimes referred to as P.N. or K.P.N (Kommando Peste Noire).Band historyPeste Noire was created by La sale Famine de Valfunde (i.e. "The filthy Famine of Valfunde") in 2000, initially under the name Dor Daedeloth. He was quickly joined on drums by Neige who played in the band for the next eight years. Together they released four demos and one split demo tape in the band's first five years of existence. Argoth, a session bass player also member of early Alcest fame, also helped up to the 2002 "Mémoire Païenne" split. Famine (then known as Aegnor/Feu Cruel) would also be the lead guitarist on Alcest's first demo tape "Tristesse Hivernale" released on 2001 through Drakkar Productions in which Famine wrote the main riff of the song "La forêt de Cristal".In 2006, Famine hired new members Winterhalter (drums) and Indria (bass) to play on Peste Noire's first studio album, and to expand Famine’s music. They completed what Famine began to call "Kommando Peste Noire". At the time, Famine had fired Neige from the band and P.N. was a three-piece (Famine, Winterhalter, Indria) when the debut album La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénérescence was recorded and produced in August 2006 by French label De profundis éditions. La Sanie des siècles (which roughly translates as "The sanies of the centuries – Ode to degeneration", "sanies" being "a thin greenish foul-smelling discharge from a wound, ulcer, etc., containing pus and blood" according to the Collins English Dictionary) is basically a compilation of the demo tracks previously written/recorded by Famine on his own equipment re-recorded in Rosenkrantz studio (Abigail, Celestia, Mortifera) with a full three-piece line-up (Neige contributed vocals on "Dueil Angoisseus" (studio version)). "Nous sommes fanés" (the introduction track) and "Des médecins malades et des saints séquestrés", the bonus track on the album, were old demo tracks and featured Famine (guitars, bass guitar, vocals) and Neige (drums).De profundis éditions produced Peste Noire's second album Folkfuck Folie, released in June 2007. Folkfuck Folie features studio versions of the four "rehearsal" tracks from the "Lorraine Rehearsal". Famine described this second album as "Folklore d’égout" ("Folklore from the sewers"). The album was recorded on a tape machine, in the same way punks produced their albums in the 80s, thereby showing the band's disregard for conventions. The lyrics sometimes seem on the verge of autobiography, and they mainly deal with apocalyptic themes, the final triumph of the body over the torments of the mind, primal barbarity, wartime poetry, the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases, and mental disorder, the latter of which is symbolized by the radio sample of the demented poet Antonin Artaud used as an introduction to the track "Folkfuck Folie". The songs are generally shorter than on their debut and the production has a much grittier quality. Famine ironically said that his goal was "to create the ugliest and most irritating sound possible, in order make the album unlistenable after having heard two songs" , adding "You have to be mentally unstable to go through the entire album" . In his own words, Folkfuck Folie was an attempt to weed out the “trendies” in their audience, which put Peste Noire on the map as one of the most rebellious and unconventional act in the genre. Unsurprisingly, there appears to be a widespread popular stigma surrounding this particular release. While Neige’s input on La Sanie des siècles - Panégyrique de la dégénérescence was minimal, on Folkfuck Folie he wrote and played second guitar on "La Césarienne", the lyrics of which are a poem written by Famine.In March 2009, Peste Noire released their third album Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor (i.e. "Ballad against the enemies of France") with a new line-up chosen by Famine, consisting of a new drummer A. (from Darvulia) and new bass player Ragondin who were asked to fill the chairs vacated by Neige, Winterhalter and Indria. This album, whose main theme is based on the nostalgia for medieval France manifested through traditional military songs or royal chants with warlike, nationalistic lyrics, is reminiscent in sound of the P.N. demos, but the style has evolved into a mix of black metal and progressive folk, with crust and hard rock rhythms. It also features piano / Hammond organ interludes played by Sainte Audrey-Yolande de la Molteverge, who is also responsible for the female vocals, notably on Peste Noire's interpretation of one of the Action Française's Monarchist anthems, "La France bouge". Unlike the previous two albums which had been recorded in the Rosenkrantz studios, Ballade was recorded with intentional simplicity and sloppiness by Famine on his own recording equipment, in order to fit with the general national romantic aesthetics and the production was kept lo-fi and raw. Famine, still living up to his controversial reputation, characterized this unique style as "Boyscout satanism" in a very typically French fashion. Following their tradition of using the works of medieval French authors and poets in their albums, P.N. also adapted the 14th-century French poet, thief and vagabond François Villon's poem "Ballade contre les ennemis de la France" into a black metal version, entitled "Ballade cuntre les anemis de la France", as well as 19th century fin de siècle poet Paul Verlaine's piece "Soleils Couchants" - both these poets' roguish, low-life aesthetic being perfectly suited for Famine’s purposes.Having relocated to Auvergne, Famine created his own label, La mesnie Herlequin, in May 2011 to release the band's fourth effort: the folkish and carnivalesque L'Ordure à l'état Pur (which translates roughly as "The pure essence of garbage"). The album's cover artwork displays a graffitied version of Eugène Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People where the allegorical figure of Liberty is parodied as a decaying, walking corpse and Gavroche pictured as a one-eyed pig, whilst another figure has a toilet seat for a head - all of which heralds a new French Revolution with different protagonists and ideals. Notre Dame de Paris is also replaced by the World Trade Center's smoking Twin Towers. The album, which benefits from a warm, crisp and painstaking production, was recorded and mixed between August 2010 and January 2011 at the Green Studio (Fr) by Engwar. It saw the return of bass guitarist Indria and the recruitment of a new drummer, Vicomte Chtedire de Kroumpadis, as well as the integration of real classical session musicians (a cellist, an accordionist and a trombonist) to enhance the various atmospheres or folkish aspects of some of the songs, such as the trombone-driven ska punk and accordion folk song intermezzi in "Casse, Pêches, Fractures et Traditions". The album is elaborate in its construction, complex, multi-layered and baroque because it tells a many-faceted story as it leads the listener on an adventurous journey. Indeed, none of the experimentation or hybrid eclecticism was done for the sake of experimenting or for being eclectic. A large amount of stylistic influences and constant progression pervade the five songs, from the industrial black metal-orientated "Cochon Carotte et les soeurs Crotte" with its zouk intermezzo highlighted by Indria's fretless bass solo, or the rockish dirge "La Condi Hu" underpinned by haunting cellos and introduced by brooding monk-like chants, to the rich, medieval and emotional épinette des Vosges melodies on "J'avais rêvé du Nord" ("I had dreamt of the North"). The traditional/folkish and acoustic elements, including Sainte Audrey's fragile vocals, are pitted against the more modern aspects of L'Ordure à l'état Pur, an album packed with samples of modern urban violence culled from French TV news reports, ambulance sirens, riots, guns being cocked and shots being fired, and BDSM performed over Eurodance beats, all of which together paint a giant fresco of hopelessness, a brutal documentary of collective decomposition displayed on long, drawn out cinematic songs.L'Ordure à l'état Pur is an album of contrasts with an intricate synchrony between lyrics and music, both expressing a disgust towards the modern age.The band's fifth album, simply entitled Peste Noire, was released in June 2013 on the label La mesnie Herlequin. It was entirely composed, recorded and mixed by Famine from September 2012 to February 2013 at his home studio in the Auvergne, itself called "La mesnie Herlequin studio". The new line-up revolves around Famine (vocals, guitars, bass, various drums, bells ...) and Ardraos (drums, accordion), plus a plethora of guests. These include additional vocalists (from the more typical Swedish black metal vocals of Ravenlord and Melkor of "Woods of Infinity" and the Ukrainian death growls of Hate Forest/Drudkh's Roman Saenko, to Audrey Sylvain's clean female vocals), as well as additional instrumental musicians; some of which enrich the album with more traditional/folk influences (such as accordion, hurdy-gurdy, flute), some more classical (i.e. cello), and others just downright strange (e.g. carnyx, lituus). The album, which is anti-urban ("Niquez vos villes" [Go fuck your cities\]), explores themes of local history, notably of the legends ("Le clebs noir de Pontgibaud" [The black mutt/dog of Pontgibaud) and literature ("Démonarque") of the Auvergne, by providing a reinterpretation of a Crusade song from the thirteenth century troubadour Gauceran de Saint-Leidier hailing from the Bishopric of Velay, as well as delving into national Medieval history ("La bêche et l'épée contre l'usurier" [The spade and the sword against the usurer\]), and that of the beginning of the 1940s ("Le retour de la peste" [The return of the plague\]). Famine also tries his hand at pure Oi! as demonstrated on the track "La Blonde" (the Blond), dedicated to beer.Miscellaneous recordings and releasesOn April 2007 the Finnish label Northern Heritage released the Lorraine Rehearsal 12" EP. Bearing the legend "Hooligan Black Metal", the EP featured four "rehearsal" songs recorded in Lorraine from August 2006. The B-side is the second version (20 minutes 10 s. long) of the epic track "Phalènes Et Pestilence", composed by Famine in 2005 and then recorded on his own recording equipment (A tape version of the Lorraine Rehearsal was also released on Roman Saenko (Hate Forest, Drudkh)'s label Night Birds Records in 2009. The first edition with black/white artwork was limited to 300 hand-numbered copies, the second with red writings was limited to 500 hand-numbered copies). For the first time P.N. became a four-piece band (still with Winterhalter (drums) and Indria (bass), and Neige (second guitar on the "Lorraine Rehearsal") being reintegrated) fit for playing concerts. On 3 June 2007, Peste Noire played their first concert in Toulouse, France.At the same period, Famine worked on two more songs called "Sérénade" and "Hôpital", a blend of folkish Black metal and post-punk with electronic beats featuring Sainte Audrey as guest vocalist. He released these songs under his own name Valfunde in a split 7" EP with Amesoeurs produced by De profundis éditions in November 2007. In the liner notes it says: "Recorded and mixed by Famine on outdated equipment with low-priced microphones". Famine quickly dropped the idea of Valfunde, which wasn't his solo project but rather a short-lived side-project using electronic beats. Instead, Famine used the post-punk ideas he had for Valfunde in Peste Noire's third album Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor (2009).Also released in 2007 was a self-released double protape box Mors orbis terrarum containing all Peste Noire's demo tracks from the sold out demo tapes, and also a split 7" EP with Finnish black metal band Horna which contained the new track "Paysage Mauvais". The Mors orbis terrarum compilation was re-released as vinyl by Debemur Morti Productions in September 2008 (This vinyl release includes all the demos featured on the tape box, except the very raw Aryan supremacy demo and the second demo version of "Phalènes et pestilence" which was on the B side of the Lorraine Rehearsal vinyl released by Northern Heritage in 2007).La Sanie des siècles was repressed by De profundis éditions and Transcendental Creations on cd in August 2008. A vinyl version of the album was co-produced by De profundis éditions and Finnish label Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions in August 2009. The tape version was produced in 2013 by Night Birds Records in collaboration with Todestrieb.A tape version of Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor was released in March 2009 by the label Tour de Garde from Quebec.A limited vinyl version of Folkfuck Folie co-produced by Mikko Aspa's Northern Heritage and De profundis éditions was released in April 2010. It includes a long 2007 interview printed on newsprint answered by Famine. A tape version of Folkfuck Folie was also released on Roman Saenko's Night Birds Records at the same time. It was limited to 300 hand-numbered copies.In April 2012, La mesnie Herlequin released Les démos, a double CD boxset containing all the Peste Noire demos (all the songs recorded between 2001 and 2005), including the Valfunde tracks.In August 2012, La mesnie Herlequin repressed Peste Noire's third album Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor on CD with new artwork. The first pressing had been released by De profundis éditions in March 2009.Band conceptOne of PN's leitmotifs is that of Satanism (although not any type of Satanism, as PN preaches the worship of Indoeuropean Satans or Devils inspired by Pan, not the monotheistic Jewish cult of the Semitic Satan) which as a theme is common in black metal - but PN's themes certainly cannot be reduced to just that. According to Famine, in hindsight, Peste Noire really play "Gothic" (as in Gothic horror), "Fantastique, grotesque, archaeofuturist black metal".Even if Famine's music is indeed characterized by anarchic disdain and/or aristocratic sarcasm (Famine acknowledged the underlying influence of grotesque artists such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder and François Rabelais in Peste Noire's music), thus giving it its distinctive voice, Famine's vision of Black Metal is also based on nationalism and Peste Noire is proud of French cultural heritage, especially that of medieval France. Famine used some texts written in Old French by medieval French writers such as François Villon (for the song "Ballade cuntre les anemis de la France"), Geoffrey of Paris (for "La bêche et l'épée contre l'usurier"), Christine de Pisan (for "Dueil Angoisseus") and Guillaume de Machaut (for "Amour ne m'amoit ne je li") and from modern French writers, such as Charles Baudelaire ("Le mort joyeux" and "Spleen"), Paul Verlaine ("Soleils couchants"), Tristan Corbière ("Paysage mauvais"), and Robert Brasillach ("Psaume IV") in the band's first albums.They have been suspected of being a National Socialist band but Famine categorically states that they are French nationalists. Famine further explained why Peste Noire’s concept is based on nationalism when he stated:"Black Metal is the musical memory of our bloodthirsty ancestors of blood, it is the marriage of Tradition, of old racial patrimony with fanaticism, with the rage and the rashness of a youth now lost. It is a CHTHONIC religion: a cult of the EARTH and a return to it, therefore a nationalism; a cult of what is BELOW the earth: Hell – the adjective “chthonic” applies to the Infernal gods as well. BM is a fundamentalism, a music with integrity (from latin integer, complete) which helps me to remain complete in a dying world, amidst a people in decay, unworthy of its blood. It is the apology of the dark european past. It is a psychosis which helps us to flee a reality we cannot tolerate anymore."Regarding the presence of Asian bass guitarist Indria in some of Peste Noire's albums, Famine has made it clear that elitism and nationalism are equally important for him, and that since he viewed Indria as the best bass guitarist in the French black metal scene he saw no contradiction in hiring him in 2005. Famine insists on the fact that in French nationalism, a minority of foreigners is allowed to become French by proving their worth and their will through time, because it is a milder, smoother and less ethno-centric style of Nationalism than its German counterpart. He uses the example of the French Foreign Legion to illustrate this aspect of French nationalism. Famine also used the dark-skinned Indria as an alibi to bypass censorship which is very heavy-handed when it comes to White nationalism in France. He also acknowledged that Indria was "a whiff of irony and provocation in a far-right world full of narrow-minded bullies."On La mesnie Herlequin's introduction, Famine also wrote: "To all those who might possess the irrational temptation to place La mesnie Herlequin amongst the ranks of the « far-right » or the even more laughably « NS », we will have to crush their wet dreams by defining ourselves as, at best, rightwing anarchists (which would explain why, at a concert in Montreal in 2008, PESTE NOIRE succeeded in stirring up both rightwing skinheads and local antifas against them at the same time, lol)."ExposurePeste Noire lays claim to its underground status by choice, not by accident. The group has always signed with small independent labels which exist on the periphery of the commercial mainstream circuit; a circuit which is incompatible with the ideology of black metal, according to Famine. In 2011 Famine pushed this approach even further by creating his own label and studio, La mesnie Herlequin, located in La Chaise-Dieu, in order to have complete control over the production, recording and distribution of his work, and to dispense with all the middlemen that stood between its creation and sale.There are no official Facebook profiles or Myspace/Twitter accounts for Peste Noire. La mesnie Herlequin's website is the only reliable source concerning Peste Noire on the internet.ConcertsIn addition to their first concert in Toulouse on 3 June 2007, Kommando Peste Noire also played concerts in Lyon on 23 June 2007 and Bordeaux on 16 December 2007 with Mayhem. On 19 January 2008, Peste Noire played a concert in Oslo, Norway (at Betong) and one in Boismont on 18 July 2008. In August 2008, they also made a 13-date tour called "Les Treizes Nuits de la Peste" with Akitsa in Quebec, the French-speaking part of Canada known as New France prior to its conquest by the English during the Seven Years War. The band refused to play in the USA. It was the first time a French metal band had ever toured Quebec.