Bon appétit!: 8 French bands you need to know
Sure, you may have rehearsed your dance moves for Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” but France is not only about making worldwide nü-disco hits (or delicious bread). It can also rock pretty hard, oh oui. Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! have proven the French can bring the fun–and the mosh, too–and are now touring America among the likes of A Day To Remember and Of Mice & Men, after releasing two albums on Fearless Records. But the easycore quintet aren’t the only talented alternative band from the country of love that just might invade your speakers soon, as you’ll find out in this 100-percent French feature, which is as tasty as a croissant.
HQ: Paris, France
LATEST RELEASE: Will, Love, Life (Victory)
THE STORY SO FAR: Paris is the city of fine cuisine, romance and brutal metal outfit As They Burn. Formed in 2007, the now six-piece released an EP and a debut full-length, Aeon’s War, which got them to play renowned extreme French festival Hellfest last year. The band caught the eye of Victory Records, who offered them a deal to release their sophomore record Will, Love, Life earlier this year. The album was recorded with metal’s super-producer Jason Suecof (August Burns Red, Motionless In White).
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW ‘EM: As They Burn play an abrasive yet pure blend of deathcore and metalcore. The refined brutality of their songs have gained them critical acclaim from the European metal scene. Their breakdowns are accompanied by subtle and melodic backing guitar tones to create original atmospheres, while frontman Kevin Trevor goes from death growls to clean singing. As if it wasn’t enough to make you mosh, labelmate and Emmure vocalist Frankie Palmeri also contributed to the groovy, nü-metal single “F.R.E.A.K.S.”
LISTEN TO: “Medicine 2.0”
HQ: Lyon, France
LATEST RELEASE: Des Fragments D’Eux-Mêmes (Bakery Outlet)
THE STORY SO FAR: In the tradition of the French underground D.I.Y. scene, indie-rock outfit Bâton Rouge are not really fond of press pictures, music videos or social networking. They’re not on Facebook or Twitter, and probably don’t know–or care–about AP. It’s easily understandable looking at the four members’ background: The band comes from Lyon, France’s third biggest city, which gave us arguably Europe’s best screamo band, Daïtro (yes, that band which declined a U.S. tour offered by Thursday). Four of Daïtro’s five members now play in Bâton Rouge, who started in 2010 and have released a short full-length, Des Fragments D’Eux-Mêmes, quickly followed by the Contrepied, Contretemps/Amer 7”.
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW ‘EM: Bâton Rouge’s songs are nothing like their former outfit’s visceral screamo, but they do have a few similarities. Both bands stick up to their native tongue, whereas most newer French bands turn to English for convenience or marketing reasons. While not screamed, Bâton Rouge’s half-sung, half-shouted and delightfully out-of-tune vocals do have their share of emotion, often hinting at emo-tinged punk melancholy. The noisy guitars throughout Fragments D’Eux-Mêmes are more grooving post-punk, combined with beautiful arpeggios and setbacks, making it a compelling record and one of the best French releases of the last few years. Fresh off tours of the U.K. and Russia, the band plans to enter the studio in November to record their second LP.
YOU LIKE? YOU’LL LIKE: Drive Like Jehu // Sonic Youth // Tubers
LISTEN TO: “Que Des Fils”
HQ: Paris, France
LATEST RELEASE: Breathe In Life (Sumerian)
THE STORY SO FAR: Few people in the punk/metal French scene don’t know about Betraying The Martyrs. Loved as much as they’re hated, the metal act have been talked about since 2008 and their birth out of the ashes of different Parisian br00tal/scene bands. Quickly adopting popular elements of American deathcore and Christiancore’s (imagery, sound, faith-based lyrics), the band created some buzz with their first EP, The Hurt, The Divine, The Light, which led their touring heavily in Europe, but also to some highly-mocked TV appearances on several programs about metal. Several lineup changes, including the recruitment of British frontman Aaron Matts, paved a new way for Bretraying The Martyrs. They signed with Sumerian Records and released their debut album Breathe In Life. They are currently putting the final touches on its follow-up, due later this year.
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW ’EM: BTM’s Facebook description reads, “Positive metal from the city of love. The band have made a point of delivering a hopeful message through their heavy mixture of death and metalcore. “We’re not here to evangelize; we just want to share our vision of life, based on our faith,” explains bass player Valentin Hauser. Signing to Sumerian opened the French band to a new audience, giving them the opportunity to tour the U.S. with bands like Suicide Silence and Unearth and play the Mayhem Festival among the likes of Slipknot, Slayer and Motörhead. If slightly progressive, chuggy breakdowns, low growls and clean choruses are your thing, you should probably look toward the Eiffel Tower.
LISTEN TO: “Man Made Disaster”
HQ: Laval, France
LATEST RELEASE: You, Me And The Violence (Deathwish Inc)
THE STORY SO FAR: If Birds In Row had to be summed up in one word, it would probably be “community.” The furious hardcore three-piece—formed in 2009, one week after the demise of two of its members’ previous band—is not a sum of individuals, but an entity of its own. The faces of the three members are always cropped out of promo pictures and music videos, and they only refer to themselves by the letters B, D and T. The point? Even after earning the admiration of the underground French scene with a strict D.I.Y. mentality (all their merch used to be “pay-what-you-want”-based) and two impressive EPs, Birds In Row wanted listeners to pay attention to their “songs, ideas and points of view” rather than their pretty faces.
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW ’EM: This led people to focus on the intensity of their anthemic and socially conscious songs, including the man who made them start music in the first place. “One day, we saw a picture of Jacob Bannon of Converge wearing one of our shirts during a show,” recalls singer/guitarist B. “We printed this shirt in my garage. Seeing one of our cult bands’ singer wearing it got us kind of crazy.” Bannon quickly signed the French trio, who had already toured three continents without a single album out, to Deathwish Inc. Records, and released the band’s first full-length You, Me & The Violence last year. After touring the US with the likes of Converge and Loma Prieta and counting members of La Dispute and Touché Amoré as fans, Birds In Row spent the first half of 2013 back in Europe where they will open for Coliseum on tour this summer.
YOU LIKE? YOU’LL LIKE: Converge // Loma Prieta // Code Orange Kids
LISTEN TO: "Police & Thieves"