Francophone metal band Nova Spei stays true to their French roots

The Montreal-based band releases their second album as they continue to grow in a music scene dominated by anglophones

The Montreal band Nova Spei released their second album ‘Sequentis’ Nov. 12. Courtesy Nova Spei

The choice between singing in French and singing in English can be a deliberate one for metal artists in Quebec, but for Nova Spei, it was a matter of convenience.  

Nova Spei, a Montreal band with a blend of groovy, djent, and progressive metal, released their second all-French album, Sequentis, Nov. 12. 

Dany Soucy, the founding member and lead guitarist of Nova Spei, said that since releasing their debut album back in 2017, they have been working on singles and collaborating with other local artists.

“After releasing the album, we started doing a few shows and then we got on the label Bam&Co - Heavy, which represents Anonymus and B.A.R.F.,” said Soucy. “Both bands then released an album each and offered [for] us to play with them on tour.”

Between 2017 and 2019, Nova Spei toured all over Quebec and began composing Sequentis by the end of 2019. Because of the pandemic however, the album was delayed for another year.

Earlier this year, the vocalist for Nova Spei, Dany Duplessis, also appeared on the album Notre-Dame-de-l’Enfer by the francophone band Thrash La Reine.

Thrash La Reine’s guitarist and vocalist, Renaud Baril, said that they appreciate collaborating with other metal bands who also sing in French.  

“We have a couple of shows booked with Nova Spei and [there is] good chemistry between the two bands,” Baril said.

According to CJLO’s metal director, Andrew Wieler, since the largest consumers of metal are anglophones, many bands opt to sing in English to reach a wider audience.

Many francophone musicians Wieler has spoken to have decided to sing in English because, as he described it, “the choice comes down to being a potentially larger fish in a smaller pond, or a small fish in a huge pond.” Since the most successful Quebec metal bands belong to the latter, newer bands who aim to replicate their success sacrifice what could set them apart in order to appeal to the larger anglophone community rather than the smaller francophone community.

We do this for the love [and] for the passion of music.” — Dany Soucy

“In Quebec, I think [the band] Voivod is the basis for what most bands thought success could [look like], so they modeled themselves off of them, singing in English and all,” Wieler said.

Voivod, having opened for the famous Canadian rock band Rush in 1990, is seen not only as a success story for Quebec metal, but a success story for prog metal in general. The English-performing band began their career in 1982, and soon became one of the first Canadian thrash bands to become internationally recognized. 

So although English appears to be the obvious choice for some metal bands, Wieler noted that francophone metal has been more common in Montreal over the past 10 years.

Soucy said that when he started the band in 2012, he didn’t have a language preference. But bands like Anonymus and B.A.R.F—who have been around for over 20 years—pioneered the francophone metal scene in Montreal and inspired him to be open to having a vocalist who sings in French. When he met the band’s lead singer, Dany Duplessis, who speaks very little English, having French vocals became the obvious choice.

“We also didn’t want to enter the easy metal cliché,” Soucy added. “In fact, I won’t mention any percentages, but a large majority of bands who enter the metal scene will take the anglophone route.”

Given that Nova Spei’s band members are on the older side and don’t have the ambition to tour the United States, sticking to French lyrics will allow them to tour Quebec and—hopefully—a few francophone European countries.

Despite singing in French in a genre where most listeners are English-speakers, Nova Spei has shows booked until at least 2023 all around the province with bands such as Anonymus, Thrash La Reine, and several local bands. Once they finish touring, they will start thinking about releasing a third album, as Soucy is certain Nova Spei will continue to grow within the metal scene despite it being overwhelmingly anglophone.

Regardless of what the future may hold for the band, the guitarist emphasized that Nova Spei creates music first and foremost for the love they have for it, not for fame. They are also open to collaborate with anyone, regardless of how known or unknown they are.

“Even if someone who was just starting a band wrote to us, wanting to collaborate, [we’d be open to it]. We do this for the love [and] for the passion of music,” said Soucy.