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***Over the last several years, France’s CENOTAPHE have unassumingly become one of the most promising new voices in black metal. Operating as a duo—each member with a long and distinguished résumé trailing behind him—multi-instrumentalist FOG performs all of the music, while KHAOSGOTT handles the vocals. The band’s auspicious prior releases (a demo from 2015 and the 2018 Horizons MLP, both on the Finnish label Kuunpalvelus) established a foundation for the band to build upon, and the result is the magnificent Empyrée MLP. In both content and spirit, Cénotaphe draws inspiration from a constellation of 19th century French literary and artistic figures, such as Aloysius Bertrand, Théophile Gautier, Charles Beaudelaire, and the painter, Odilon Redon. It is, however, the poet, Stéphane Mallarmé, who casts the longest shadow over the band. Mallarmé’s work is dense with inscrutable and tangled syntax, every poem an arcane cipher; however, despite his modern and unconventional style, Mallarmé tended to rely on stalwart and traditional poetic forms, like the sonnet. Within the framework of these rigid poetic structures, Mallarmé’s language was itself unconstrained, abstract, exquisitely lawless, but also excruciatingly methodical and intentional.