A cult fixture in the ‘80s French heavy metal scene that retroactively grew in legendry, SORTILÈGE defined a unique national style that had equal footing in the NWOBHM, contemporaneous hard rock, and nascent epic metal. Formed in 1981 and releasing a demo and EP over the new two years, it was SORTILÈGE’s 1984 debut album, Métamorphose – also concurrently released in an English-language version as Metamorphosis – that truly introduced the band to worldwide audiences with a wild ‘n’ weird iteration of heavy metal. While that English version made their unique style more palatable (helped in no small part by its release on Steamhammer), it’s arguably the French-language version that defined the SORTILÈGE sound. And so it went with its superior follow-up.
Again released in both French- and English-language versions, SORTILÈGE’s second album is a tour de force of true-metal passion and performance, mysticism and might. Blithely summarized as French romantic twist on Judas Priest’s transition from the ‘70s to the ‘80s – or, rather, spanning Sin After Sin to Defenders of the Faith – the original Larmes de héros was released in that golden year of 1986, harkening to a fantastical place far, far away where hot rockers bloomed into heroic-yet-tragic epics. The English version of Hero’s Tears plainly spells out the path ahead, but the dramatic (and oft-melancholic) vocals of Christian Augustin in his native language truly chill/sizzle the soul: a veritable French Metal God. Not to be outdone, his bandmates create a canvas at once anthemic and narrative; pacing is crucial across Larmes de héros, as more direct power-surges flank the album’s utterly immersive epic songs. And at nine songs across 46 minutes, you feel like you’ve undertaken a hero’s journey – but one not without a monumental amount of headbanging.