French Metal Friday: Sortilège
Think back to the year 1981 and the heavy metal scene. Not only were bands like Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer and Queensrÿche just starting up over in the States out but overseas you also had some great albums hitting the stores such as Holocaust - The Nightcomers, Girlschool - Hit and Run, Iron Maiden - Killers and Riot - Fire Down Under. In short there was something amazing happening worldwide that year. Likewise in France Sortilège was set to become one of the most well know and arguably one of the best heavy metal bands that country would ever produce. In the history of French heavy metal these guys were the real deal. For today at least we'll skip the whole story of the band and instead focus on what made this band stand out and why these guys matter so much. With so many bands formed during the early part of the eighties it is easy to lose sight of how good this band was. All due respect should be given to the rich crop of not only French bands, but NWOBHM ones as well but hardly no one can touch Sortilège when it comes to crafting near perfect albums! The three studio recordings-Sortilège EP,1983, Métamorphose Full-length,1984 and Larmes de héros Full-length,1986 are all such well crafted affairs it is a shame more people don't know of them. This is classic heavy metal that borders on power metal. A good point of reference would be Iron Maiden although I've read where other's point to Heir Apparent, Crimson Glory, and early Queensrÿche. I'd say that is more than fair considering that what the band would craft music wise would come to be known as power metal. The music is rich and the vocals (courtesy of Christian Augustin) are simply top notch. Their sound was certainly infused with NWOBHM characteristics. How could it not be though given the day and age? Maybe not a radically different approach but for the early eighties this was top notch. It was clear and crisp and carried emotion even when sung in French. Now while most French metal bands were never able to break out across the border that wasn't necessarily the case with Sortilège. Yes, the group did release English-language versions of the two albums (Metamorphosis and Heroes Tears) later on. While I have nothing against these versions I do find the original French language ones more even. In their native language the emotion is more evident and my suggestion would be to check out those first. These days finding Sortilège on the web is pretty easy. I know Axe Killer Records re-released the albums, as well as a boxed set compilation and their albums are often found on Ebay and the like. When pressed to answer which album I like the most I answer with Métamorphose. There is really no reason at all it is just my simple preference. Pick any though and you won't go wrong because this is what heavy metal should sound like plain and simple!