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After being moreless a technical death/thrash band for one EP (I haven't heard the demos before that, so I don't know what they were like), Misanthrope moves on to this. I can blame most of that on the fact that this band only contains Philippe from the original incarnation, and adds bass master Jean-Jacques Moreac on bass, as well as his brother on guitar. In fact, the whole "backing band" was originally from the thrash band Krakkbrain, a highly original band from France. But this is neither thrash nor anything else...it's, well, pretty sick and twisted music, as expertly purveyed by the French, but not too well done.
To say that this is a doom album would be somewhat accurate, even though the album really lacks the chug and heaviness of real doom. There is an all pervading atmosphere of gloom and darkness, mixed in with some serious mental issues.
"Aquarium" is really the best song on here, and most listenable. It plods along with pretty catchy melodies and interesting twists, never leaving you too confused as to where they are going. "Childhod Memories" is slower, real heavy, with a lot of twists and some very sick lyrics (all the more sick due to the poor English). Then...the rest of the album is a very eccentric mix of weird, illogical turns, a few choice moments, but overall nothing too memorable. There are some really great moments of "La Demiurge," but the other songs really don't have much to offer. Nothing seems to live up to the first two real songs on here, and I think that's mostly due to the confused direction they're trying to take the music. Sometime it borders on jazz fusion, complete with great bass work, sometimes it wants to be My Dying Bride, and sometimes we get some strange blast of goofy technicality for a moment, kind of like Watchtower, before going off in some other direction.
Probably the closest stylistic comparison would be Celtic Frost's Into the Pandemonium, as far as a mix of eclectic styles, and strange uses of synth, but whereas Celtic Frost had something you could understand, Misanthrope seems either off their tits on LSD or just trying to use everything in their arsenal all at once. The sad thing is, no one but Jean-Jacques Moreac seems really good at even playing the music at this point, none the less composing it.
The production is hit and miss. It does add more gloom and weirdness to the finished product, but the guitars and especially drums seem really muted behind everything. The dreamy melodies sound great, but when they're trying to be heavy, the shit just doesn't work. Philippe's vocals are demented as all hell, going from growls, a sort of crying moan to the occasional shriek. If there's one award to be given out, it's to Philippe for his excellent vocal work.
This album makes me realize that France has always been the best at producing really fucked up music (early Anorexia Nervosa, Supuration, Deiseal, Eros Necropsique, and even some of the lyrical themes of Loudblast), but sadly this really doesn't do much for me. A little more time running over the songs and working out the kinks would have made this album a lot better. As it stands, it's amusing but hardly stupendous.