All tracks mastered by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in September 2022.
When French heavy metal band Sortilège formed in 1981, they were following the example of their fellow countrymen Trust. Musically however, the band from the suburbs of Paris took their musical approach one step further, forging an amalgam of true heavy metal without being influenced by punk rock (like the early Trust), blues rock (Ganafoul) or progressive rock (Océan).
“Our influences were mainly hard rock bands, the ones we were covering at the time with Blood Wave,” confirms guitarist and founding member Didier Demajean today. Blood Wave were the forerunners of Sortilège, playing songs by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rainbow, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Kiss, and of course Trust.
After changing their name to Sortilège, Christian Augustin, aka “Zouille” (vocals), Daniel Lapp (bass), Jean-Philippe Dumont, aka Bob Snake (drums), Didier Demajean (guitar) and Stéphane Dumont (guitar) recorded their first, self-titled EP for Dutch label Rave-On Records in 1983. The five original compositions: “Amazone”, “Progéniture Destructrice”, “Gladiateur”, “Sortilège” and “Bourreau” were received extremely well by press and fans alike (inside and outside their home country). High-profile support slots in the French capital for Samson and Def Leppard followed, before it was time to record the follow-up to »Sortilège«.
Sortilège’s first full-length album was called »Métamorphose«, and it was released in 1984 on French label Devil’s Records. Didier Demajean, who cites “Majesté” as his favourite song on the record, explains: “»Métamorphose« was a continuation of our EP. We rehearsed a lot and constantly worked on new songs. Stéphane, the composer, and Zouille, the author of the lyrics, being very inspired and prolific during this period. With this album, were taking it up a notch technically and gaining in musical maturity. Our style was asserting itself, and the public was following us more and more.”
Which in turn resulted in more live gigs. “We did a French tour,” remembers the guitarist, “and festivals like the “Breaking Sound Festival” and Le Castellet for the “Bol d'Or”, the mythical international motorbike race, with Warning and Satan Jokers, in front of 15,000 people. Then we played the Espace Ballard in Paris, and concerts in The Netherlands and Germany. Great memories and immense pleasure on stage.”
The High Roller edition of »Métamorphose« contains the “first mix” of the record as a bonus. Which mix does the band prefer, the original first mix or the one that ended up in the record shops back in 1984? “We don't have a preference,” replies Didier Demajean, “both are of poor quality compared to the Anglo-Saxon productions of the time. Not enough time and a severe lack of means.”
There also was an English-language edition of the album out on Steamhammer Records in Germany, and this, according to Demajean, is how it came about: “Our record company suggested that we make an English version to reach an international audience, but the French version is definitely the best and most welcome by our audience. We sold about the same number of albums in Germany as in France, about 30,000. For the rest of the world, very few tangible elements, the record companies' sales reports were unfortunately very shady... no comment!”
“»Metamorphosis« did not have the same echo as the French version, the media didn't talk much about it,” explains Didier the lacking press reactions for the international edition of Sortilège’s debut album. “But for »Métamorphose«, the French and international press were unanimous and quite enthusiastic. The reception was very good, every article was pretty complimentary. This album allowed us to be recognized as a real band on the international hard rock scene.”