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I have to admit that when I first heard that this album (which I had already pre-ordered) was going to be a cover-album I was pretty disappointed, I had expected new awesome material by Chris out of the quadralogy for a long time. Nevertheless, now I think this album couldn’t have been any better.
So, what’s the point of releasing a bunch of covers by old forgotten pop artists in French? And also name it based on a poetry book which has nothing to do with the songs? Only Chris can tell us, but I’ll let you know my interpretation of this. Les Fleurs du Mal (the book) talk about how terrible is the behaviour of people by insulting them with pretty raw poems. Here these songs, at some point, fit in this concept. A few songs, for example ‘Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son’ talk about people’s thoughts in a sort of ironic way. Therion, by adding their music elements, make this ironic approach bigger and easier to notice. Other songs, for example ‘J’ai le Mal de Toi’ show how people can commit terrible acts against themselves because of one of life’s aspects; love. If you start analysing song by song what it talks about you’ll see that this album actually makes sense, but that’s not the point of a music review so let’s begin with the music.
What makes this album music different to the previous ones (from Sirius B to Sitra Ahra) is that the orchestration is more like it was on Deggial or Secret of the Runes, it consists of traditional little ensembles that can be clearly heard on most of the songs. The vocals are a bit of a mix between old and new Therion, here we haven’t got a choir but we also haven’t got a lot of non-operatic vocals. Lori and Thomas really shine in this album and prove us all that they are the best singers Therion could have at this moment. Apart from them, Snowy sings in a couple of songs and also a woman called Mari Paul sings in 3 songs adding a really romantic (and sometimes erotic) feel to the album. No, Linnéa doesn’t sing in this album, but Johanna (the belly dancer) sings in one song. The singing is quite diverse, but without doubt Lori is the one who sings the most, it sometimes get a bit too much of Lori, but her voice is so beautiful that at the end it doesn’t really matter. Their French is very well sung so you wouldn’t normally get annoyed by it. I like French a lot, but I still think that anyone who doesn’t like this language would still love the album.
It's hard to describe this album since it's atmosphere changes from song to song. Some of them are quite romantic, light and fresh ('Polichinelle', 'Sœur Angélique', 'Wahala Manitou', etc) while others hold a dark atmosphere ('Mon Amour, Mon Ami', 'La Maritza', etc). It's quite interesting to see how you can get a dramatic dark song from a simple poppish ballad. Even though a lot of atmospheres are involved in the songs, they somehow fit together here. No fillers can be found, though some songs might not be your cup of tea. You really have to listen to the whole thing to find the ones you like the most, if they're not all of them. I recommend the ones that have 3 different vocalists in them, since they seem to be more progressive and touching, these songs are 'Une Fleur Dans le Cœur' and 'Mon Amour, Mon Ami'. Notice that there are two different versions of 'Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son', the first one is a little slower and is sung entirely by Lori, while the second one is faster and features Thomas' vocals too, also the second one has more orchestra but less guitars. It's hard to decide between them, so let's just bring them both into the record! Other songs that stand out here are 'Initials B.B.' with its sexiness and harsh chorus, 'Dis-moi Poupée' which is almost entirely sung by Mr. Snowy and 'J'ai le Mal de Toi' which one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. The only song that sounds a little awkward is 'Les Succetes' (the bonus track), but it anyway kind of grows in you after a few listens if you can cope with the childish feeling that it has, just like 'Je N'ai Besoin que de Tendresse' which is a little more apropiated for the album.
Concerning the artwork, if you don’t like lesbians don’t watch it. It is pretty well done and fits perfectly the album, but putting 4 couples of lesbians plus a few naked women is a lot. I’d recommend getting the limited edition (the one with the yellow digipack) since it’s not that explicit.
I highly recommend this album to any open-minded music fan and most of the Therion fans that have enjoyed their latest period. It’s definitely not for the death metal Therion fans and any metalhead who has prejudices against pop music. The band really took a high risk by releasing this album without the support of a record label, so please buy it. It's quite original, unexpected and great.
Hightlights (though it’s hard to pick just a few): ‘Une Fleur Dans le Cœur’, ‘Initials B.B.’, ‘Mon Amour, Mon Ami’, ‘Dis-moi Poupée’ and ‘J’ai le Mal de Toi’. There are no skippable songs though.