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Misanthrope > Misanthrope immortel > Reviews > lostalbumguru
Misanthrope - Misanthrope immortel

Unique & Flamboyant - 83%

lostalbumguru, November 19th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2000, CD, Holy Records (Digipak)

Misanthrope Immortel is an impossibly French metal album; very florid, ambitious, and almost Baroque in its grandiosity. Despite asking for a significant suspension of disbelief from the listener, the rewards are there if you're willing to go along with the bombast. Moreac's bass and keyboards are super professional, and Phelipot's drumming is first-rate despite being played on electric kit. As much as a well mixed acoustic drumkit is the gold standard for making compulsive musical rhythms to carry a musical work along, in some cases an electric kit can do the same job, in a different way. On ...Immortel, the drumming is very high-level anyway, with completely effortless tempo control, and delightful time shifts and missing and extra beats. There's also more than enough double bass and fast patterns to keep metal fans happy.

The riffing is all excellent too, nicely tight and directional, with interesting slightly recessed melodies, sometimes under the keys, sometimes entwined with them. The guitar solos are really something else too, weird scale fragments and a lot of neoclassical flourishes, and eccentric flair. Boitel and Boscher are a shred super-team on ...Immortel, and everything instrumentally on this album is like a classical composer took a load of wormwood and opium and fell into a time machine, and somehow ended up in the offices of Holy Records in 1999. Vocally, Courtois screams and bellows between power metal and melodeath, sometimes in English, and sometimes in his native French.

Lyrics on Immortal revolve around war, and mystical journeys, and what we might call a hybrid of historical narratives and quasi-historical fantasy themes. These stories may have happened, or they may sound as if they could have happened, but the esoteric bellowing and musical, overwrought mixture of melodeath and power metal is so compulsive, you can't question any of it. Opener Eden Massacre tells you everything,

In the delicate art of massacre
Entrails of DanteĀ“s Inferno
Terrorized I enjoy my pain
Branded with embers

Slaughter on the Earth of joy
Butchery in the garden of Eden
In a world gone down to madness
Eden Massacre

The Sorrows of the Devil (Les lamentations du diable) is a stand-out track where melodeath and eccentric power metal collide with just the right amount of unusual keyboards, and heavy riffing and even a few blast beats. Too heavy solely to be in the power metal world, and too odd, and overflowing with flair and colour, to be run of the mill melodeath, ...Immortel had to be made by a French band, Misanthrope. No other metal nation could concoct this blend of heaviness, historical fantasy, theatricality, and mildly occluded, mystical rumblings, and massage it into coherence with complete integrity and sincerity, mais oui.

The album art for ...Immortel is very cool, cogs or bullet-holes as sunflowers, mannequin hands as birds and as angel wings. Violence and mystical tenderness all together. The only criticisms are that despite having two great guitar players, Misanthrope doesn't allow them as much space to shred as you'd like, so you get occasional but very elegant solos, and more often flourishes and brief motives to highlight song parts. I'd have loved even 15% more ostentatious guitar abuse, but hey, ...Immortel is a very aesthetic album.

If you like softer metal, Androgyne Night, is slower and a little Stratovarious-esque. The Soul Thrower, and Verdun 1917 are more aggressive and directly metallic, but really ...Immortel's eccentric swaying between melodeath and fantastical power metal is uniquely beguiling. There are no real production complaints and the mix isn't much dated in the quarter century since the album was conceived and applied. The only negative is that Misanthrope makes their own brand of weird metal, and ...Immortel is so incredibly Misanthrope, it might be too much to take in on the basis of one spin, but I recommend giving it a few turns, and overall, the ambition and oddness are incredibly fun.