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Fucking BLAM!!! - 97%

natrix, April 29th, 2007

Holy shit...just when you thought that Misanthrope would toil in obscurity and eccentricity foreve, they score a total victory on Visionaire. In part it's due to having proper production (which somewhat hampered 1666), and in part it's probably due to the band having a stable line-up. Whatever it is, it work and it works amazingly.

Overall, you could probably say that this album combines the best of melodic death metal, and combines it seemlessly with jazz fusion and possibly even electronica. Philippe Courtois is still on here, penning bizarre, highly poetic and intelligent lyrics (best in French, I must say), and lending his absolutely unique vocals all over everything.

The whole album is such a smorgasbard of different styles, that it's nearly impossible to dissect it track by track. "Future Futile" is a bit of a straight ahead song with a nice melodies, and "Hypochondrium Forces" is an eccentric and anthemic tune complete with a nearly sing-along chorus. Jesper Stromblad has a solo at the end, sounding just like he does in In Flames. "Bâtisseur de Cathédrale" is just raging, with a ton of cool little bass fills and keyboards used very effectively to provide an oppressive atmosphere. This track also goes through a number of different tempos, but never loses the listener. Easily my second favourite on here.

"Le Silence des Grottes" is a metaphorical song about exploring caves, but is pretty much straight up death metal, complete with absolutely twisted solos of the Vader/Morbid Angel variety. The keys on here are maddening, tearing at your sanity as the guitars, bass, and drums hammer at your relentlessly. It breaks down in the middle into a more atmospheric, doomy part with Philippe using his "weepy" vocal style, but this is all done with pure class. Probably my favourite song on here, and is only matched by the ferocious "Irrévérencieux" in terms of speed and aggresion.

"La Dandy" is a gloomy, dreary tune, somewhat uninteresting when compared to the other songs around it. "2666" and "La Rencontre Rêvée" are very atmospheric, complete with a lot of clean guitars, warm bass lines, and haunting, bizarre keyboard work. Lovely stuff, but as far as them having beautiful sounds, there is an equal amount of grotesqueness underlying them, like a beautiful woman with some sort of hideous deformity, or even mental illness.

The title track features an excellent Cliff Burton-esque distorted bass solo, and more creepy keyboard playing. It's rather plodding, but almost like an afterthought to end the album on a pretty eccentric, fading note.

Everything about this album is perfectly presented. Studio Fredman perfectly captures the band's sound, not making it sound Swedish in any way, and probably helping them refine their approach to keep it eccentric but very focused. Even the fucking packaging on here is marvellous! I could bitch about maybe the drum sound not being heavy enough, but that's the ONLY thing I could rip on.

All the musicians deserve the highest praise, most notably Sergio Gruz with his very tasteful and innovative use of keys, and Jean-Jacques Moreac for his great bass playing. His smooth finger picking style is virtuoso in design, clearly presented and never too overbearing. He fits in alongside Steve Digiorgio, Roger Patterson, and Tony Choy in the realms of death metal bassists. If you are a bassist, you simply have to hear this album.

Totally unique album, both on its own and in Misanthrope's career. They hit the peak here, and never returned.