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Weird Sounds of the French Metallurgic Community - 91%

bayern, February 17th, 2017

ADX and Killers have been in constant competition as to who would be crowned as the finest French metal act, rivalry which has been going on for over 30 years; cheers with this fabulous French champagne; quickly! Bottles up! Both acts have been doing quite well all these years, with a few slips along the way, of course, as ADX managed to edge out the Killers in the-80’s and early-90’s not without the help of the album reviewed here. The new millennium, however, saw the latter coming back with full force with a string of very strong albums with ADX falling behind due to their surrender to the heavy/power metal movement, inexplicably leaving their speed/thrashy roots behind…

The focus here will be on the early days, though, and this is when the band were unstoppable launching their career with the fabulous “Execution” (1985) which brought Agent Steel, Savage Grace and Liege Lord to Europe; in other words, the audience had to hail the more polished, arguably more epic, side of speed metal as opposed to the rougher thrash-prone one of the German fraternity (Helloween, Iron Angel, Vectom, Warrant, Living Death). There was no slowing down, and “La Terreur” and “Suprematie” followed in quick succession establishing the band on the forefront of the metal field in France alongside the aforementioned Killers and a great, but forgotten act, Sortilege. The guys’ penchant to sing in their mother tongue was a major obstacle for them to find recognition outside their motherland (not every team can be Rammstein!), and they decided to change their fortune by surrendering to this annoying English language…

“Weird Visions” also sees the band epitomizing a more aggressive, thrash-fixated sound which should have happened eventually having in mind the brilliant double guitar attack, already handsomely displayed on the earlier works, which was screaming for more aggressive ways of expression. The short instrumental title-track hints at things to come with a marvellous mix between explosive guitarisms and quiet passages, flowing into “King of Pain” which is the staple speed/thrash metal hymn, a soaring shredder with a great catchy chorus, bursting technical chops and a prominent bass bottom. A most evocative beginning of this fairly entertaining album which continues with “Lost Generation”, another infectious speedy anthem with several slower heavy accumulations and gorgeous melodic tunes. “Sacrifice in the Ice” rolls forward in a brisk steam-roller fashion with some of the sharpest riffs around the latter “besieging” the sweeping fast-paced “skirmishes”. “Mystical Warfare” is one of the finest instrumentals in speed/thrash metal history, a pounding marching “waltzer” which grows into formidable gallops those superseded by blazing leads and more drama of the “mystical” melodic variety which is “cancelled” by intense impetuous thrashing at the end.

“Fortunetelling” thrashes with style without breaking any speed boundaries, alternating the tempos at will the guys unleashing another supreme melodic cavalcade. “Behind the Mirror” is a glorious reminder of the speed metal heroics of the preceding efforts, with a more diverse, semi-technical rhythm-section in the second half. “Sign of the Time” is a steady mid-tempo shredder which remains on the calmer side; and “Trouble” wants no “trouble” being a calm short meditative instrumental. “Invasion” “invades” the listener’s aura with some of the most dynamic riffage on the album plus breath-taking lead sections and the next in line memorable chorus. The end would be instantly recognizable as the guys have decided to pay their tribute to Rainbow by covering “Kill the King”, and doing a fairly good job in the process turning this hit into another “eagle fly free” speedy hymn.

The band’s decision to embrace international recognition unfortunately coincided with the decline of the old school as our French heroes had to face the unpleasant reality: that their happy-go-lucky speed metal histrionics would hardly be the most urgently sought after option for the 90’s fanbase. If nothing else, the guys managed to go down in flames with their 80’s swansong being one of the more distinct farewells retro speed/thrash bade alongside Forbidden’s “Twisted into Form”, Kreator’s “Coma of Souls, Anthrax’s “The Persistence of Time”, Artillery’s “No Inheritance”, Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss”, etc. Unlike their archrivals Killers, who carried on through the-90’s like no transformations had ever occurred, ADX took a lengthy break, all the way to 1998 when they tested the soil with “Resurrection”, an aptly-titled opus which saw them mixing their custom hyper-active delivery with a few modern updates, plus a reworked version of an old track of theirs (“Marquis de Mal”). The album failed to generate the projected results, and the guys left the scene again after releasing a Compilation of old material the same year.

Ten years later the band were ready to last longer on the field this time, and “Division Blindee” was the needed return to form which also saw them catching up with Killers who had almost reached the stratosphere with a string of excellent releases in the new millennium. The re-release of their sophomore album under the slightly altered title “Terreurs” didn’t add up much to their score which was done by “Immortel”, the next in line hyper-active speedy shredfest, matching their old efforts every bit of the way. And that was all from the more aggressive camp since the last two opuses circle around a much friendlier material bordering on heavy/power metal. A bumpy, not very smooth ride their second coming seems to be so far, but one shouldn’t cancel completely the prospective emergence of another set of metallurgic “weird visions”.