I’ve never been an expert in ‘80s French heavy metal. Oh sure, my CD collection has a few titles from the likes of Sortilege, H-Bomb, ADX and (a whole lot of) Killers, but most of the French metal bands I listen to today (Lonewolf, Elvenstorm, Hurlement, to name a few) have more in common with the German sound than the classic French lineage. Which is exactly what makes Tentation such a breath of fresh air. Tentation are a relatively new band, having formed in 2012, and this self-titled 6-song debut EP (released through their homeland’s excellent Inferno Records label) marks their first recorded output.
The cover artwork is a bit misleading, as the black-and-white photo with the half-naked chick, the crucifix, the mirror, and the mysterious hooded horned skull thing definitely conjures up notions that this is going to sound like Mercyful Fate and we’ll all be hailing Satan or something. Not so. Flip the digipak over and you’ll see four dudes sitting around a table drinking beer and modeling their leather jackets, bulletbelts, and patches from the likes of Ostrogoth, Glacier, Helloween and so on. Yeah, that’s more like it. To my ears, Tentation have devoted themselves to recapturing the classic early 80s French sound of the likes of Sortilege and H-Bomb. How would one describe that French sound? Well, they sing in French (of course), and definitely have some similarities to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but also some other formative European bands like Gravestone or Faithful Breath. The French bands liked to play fast, but they always had lots of melody in both the guitars and the laidback characteristic French vocals. Even if you couldn’t understand a word they said, the endearing voice and searing guitars would carry you away. At least, that’s the effect albums like H-Bomb’s ‘Attaque’ or Sortilege’s debut had on me.
The truly amazing thing about this Tentation EP is that the band have successfully reproduced the energy, the passion, the vibe, the naivete, and the power of that early 1980s French metal style. Every nuance is as it should be, from the raw production values to the simple catchy songs (“Bruixes” is one of the best songs I’ve heard in 2015, an absolutely brilliant singalong anthem with a driving riff and smoking guitar licks) to the exuberant performances to the H-Bomb “Double Bang” cover tacked on at the end. I am not aware of other modern-day bands mining this fertile territory, so hats off to Tentation for doing it, and for doing it so well. Okay, somebody who’s a real connoisseur of French heavy metal might be able to nitpick this thing to death. Not me. I will simply bask in the glory of Tentation’s 24-minute EP, and encourage you to do the same. This is music that makes you feel happy to be alive, that puts a smile on your face as it harkens back to a simpler time, and that delivers unbridled passion and power for miles. I can’t wait for this band to record a full-length album!
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~