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Now we're getting somewhere... - 58%

Edgecrusher, February 13th, 2003

As far as I'm concerned, this is Misanthrope's first listenable effort. "1666..." steers away from the experimental stuff from their early days. Of course, this isn't exactly mainstream either. Clearly, it's a step closer towards the trademark Misanthrope's music they deliver nowadays.

As a matter of fact, "1666..." is looked upon as the birth of today's Misanthrope. Musically, the songs alternate straight death metal, prog and somewhat "avant-garde" (though I'd rather use the term "baroque" ) riffs and licks. S.A.S., the lead singer, goes from death growls to a more weeping voice, adding a theatrical dimension to the lyrics. The guitar work is somewhat reminiscent of early Death, and is accompanied by the masterful work of Jean-Jacques Moréac, arguably the best bass player ever. To give you an analogy, Misanthrope, on this album, could be the illegitimate child of early Death and early Dark Tranquillity.

Some songs on this album make it really worthwhile. Pieces like "Courtisanne Syphillitique", "Medieval Embroidery" or the title track are now considered classics of the band. All those songs showcase Misanthrope' signature pattern and illustrate a band trying to steer away from a somewhat "elitist" background, making its music more accessible.

Unfortunately, "1666..." suffers from severe lowpoints. First, the production is atrocious. The CD almost sounds like it's a vinyl ! Keyboards are drowned in the mush, and sometimes you can barely hear the lyrics. The quality of the writing and the skills of the musicians cleary deserved a better production. Speaking of which, S.A.S. alternates both french and english (and even german on "Schattengesang"). The problem is his horrible french accent when he sings in english, which gives a unintended comedic value to the songs...

Also, some songs remain glued in the intellectual, "avant-gardiste" brew of the previous records. Be advised that songs like "Trumpets of Hyponchondria" or "Mylène" require a certain taste. And could someone tell me what they were thinking when they recorded "Aphrodite Marine" ? This song is an awful ballad, dressed in gothic wrappings. S.A.S. overdoes it on the vocals, weeping his way through the song. Even if you don't like the genre, you should give this song a listen, just for a good laugh !

To sum it up, the album gets good marks for some of the songs in there. Classic Misanthrope ! But I certainly wouldn't recommend checking the band out with this one. This is an album for the fans who want to hear what the band was doing in the past.