Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2014
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

What's this? Surrealistic doom metal? - 75%

Sean16, August 1st, 2006

I’ve always have a particular taste for the French doom metal act Anthemon. I still consider their debut Arcanes as one of the best gothic/doom albums to have ever been released (yes, better than Draconian’s Arcane Rain Fell with which it shares far more than title similarities) while the following Dystopia was an impressive piece of atmospheric doom metal, though more common and a tad repetitive. Now with this Kadavreski the band is once again willing to discover further realms – so let’s see first what this new “experiment” is all about.

Nothing wrong with exploring new directions of course, as long as a band stays within the boundaries of its own genre, here doom metal. Coming from Anthemon, it’s all the less surprising when one knows one of the guitarists is the man beyond Monolithe, the band that would feel dishonoured if it ever recorded a song clocking at less than 50 minutes. But this time the guys may have gone too far. Most of you may be familiar with the “exquisite corpse” concept (“cadavre exquis” in French, hence the title) invented by the Surrealists – you know, each person from an assembly writes a word from a sentence without knowing what the other has previously written. Is it possible to transpose it from writing/poetry to music, that’s the question Anthemon tried to give an answer to. And this answer seems to be... well, NO.

Looking at the “words” which would constitute the “sentence”, the guys as usual seems to have chosen amongst the best they could find. As its predecessor Dystopia this album exhibits lots of (sometimes too much?) atmospheric keyboards, alternates majestic slow parts with more lively, closer to traditional metal ones, all fronted by Loic Malassagne’s kind of unique voice, still reminiscent of a more pompous Matt Barlow. In addition of that the grand piano, which was present on Arcanes but had disappeared on the previous album, is back, this time more in a neoclassical approach – closer to Michael Pinella than to My Dying Bride. Granted, there might be some iffy findings like the most aggressive, growled passages which don’t really fit with the general atmosphere, or the drum machine. Who the fuck knows why they chose to use programmed drums here instead of a genuine drummer like on the previous albums, as it really WASN’T a good idea. Sorry, but a machine won’t ever bring as much depth as real drums.

But now if the “words” overall look fine, this isn’t the case of the “sentence”. The fact is, there is no “sentence” at all. Not only each of the five bandmembers wrote his own part separately, only knowing the last bars of what the previous one had written (or at least, that's what they say), but each one took good fun in multiplying breaks, tempo changes, instruments switches and the likes into his own part. I tried to distinguish the moment when one part ended and the other began, it’s perfectly impossible. Even the messiest song necessarily carries some bits of coherence, as the composer(s) know(s) what has been written before, so has to take it into account, even if it’s on a subconscious level – at least I guess so, I’m no psychoanalyst. But the way it has been written this track only defines THE ESSENCE OF INCOHERENCE, making John Petrucci’s 3264th wankery project looking fully structured. Why not, as it’s what the concept was intended to be, but I don’t see how any listener couldn’t end up losing interest after around half of the song, if not before, regardless of how good the different parts are.

Now let’s say a word about the three other tracks. The band seems to have made a big mistake by making obvious that Kadavreski was the only “important” song of the album, even calling this song “side A” while the other ones are called “side B” even on the CD version (and I don’t even know if there actually exists a vinyl version by the way). That sums it all: the “side B” tracks are supposed to be B-sides, fillers, as if the record was some overlong single more than an actual album. The closing track Weight of the Feather is indeed forgettable, way too overproduced with its tons of synths and vocal effects masking an obvious lack of actual substance, without mentioning its annoying repetitive ending. The two other tracks, by contrast, are as strong as anything on the previous album, and ironically far more pleasant than Kadavreski itself.

To come back to the previous comparison, Prints of the Sand Glass especially sounds as if the guys had used the same “words” they used for the title track, from the haunting riffs and semi-acoustic parts to the grand piano, this time arranging them to form a fully coherent “sentence”. It may sound rather bombastic, especially with this grandiloquent chorus, but after all Anthemon has always shown an obvious taste for grandiloquence, so there’s no real surprise here. All is Cyclical is in the same vein, maybe a tad less impressive and more reminding of the work on Dystopia, but still works very well.

To conclude this album is almost impossible to rate. Kadavreski alone confuses me, without mentioning the seemingly filler-intended tracks which end up sounding better than the title track. For the ones who are familiar with previous Anthemon works, there’s no reason they dislike this album if they can look further than the many “oddities” it conceals as well as the annoying drum machine. For the others, this is certainly the WORST introduction to this (very interesting) band.

Highlights: Prints of the Sand Glass, All is Cyclical