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A Hidden, Nonmetal Beauty - 90%

Khull, November 24th, 2008

Les Mémoires Blessées is the fourth full length album by France's Dark Sanctuary. Now, I came across this album by sheer dumb luck and chance, I didn't know what to expect, I simply thought the album artwork looked cool, and so I got it. Before this review begins, I should warn potential listeners that this album is very much not metal, but rather almost entirely neoclassical with minor ambient elements. If this turns you off, then so be it, but for the remaining folks, read on!

As I said above, metal is relatively non existent in Les Mémoires Blessées. The only track that even features guitars is L'adieu á l'Enfant (1), the fourth track, and even those are for the briefest of moments. Instead, for the entire hour and thirteen minutes of the album we're treated to simply beautiful and well composed neoclassical music. Also in French, no less. Hopefully you, the listener, have a better grasp of the language than I, as I feel it adds another layer of beauty to be able to understand Dame Pandora's vocals.

A somber tone is carried throughout the album, despite the clearly positive lyrical theme of life. Most tracks open up slowly, either with pianos, violins, or Dame's vocals, and played in a low key. From there on the music slowly builds up, but rarely sounding anything hopeful or joyful. Perdition fits this description perfectly, and happens to be my particular favorite track, and also happens to be one of the few tracks not carrying the somber tone, sounding similar to a wedding-themed song.

Though there is no definitive instrument driving the album forward, Dame Pandora does exceedingly mesmerizing vocals. Maybe because I'm a sucker for choirs and chants, but her style of haunting, ethereal vocals fit perfectly with the instruments in the background. Quite often her voice is layered on top of itself, so there are many instances where she mimics the effects of a full on choir, which is impressive. There's a particular spoken passage on Perdition that is simply chill-inducing, and probably the single best moment on the album.

Unfortunately, this album won't appeal to everyone. Although tracks are individually titled and named, simply letting yourself get caught up in the music makes it all blend together into a single song spanning over an hour. Being able to effectively pull that off and experience it really makes this album worthwhile. Definite stand outs are A Quoi Bon?, L'adieu á l'Enfant (1), Perdition, and Les Mémoires Blessées, which is both the title and closing track. If you're looking for a change of pace, or some stunningly beautiful music, definitely check this album out.