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Dictatorship metal! - 85%

HeidraCatharsis, December 1st, 2007

All hail the CNK!

This French industrial metal quartet, consisting of vocalist Rose Hreidmarr(Nicolas Saint-Morand, ex-Anorexia Nervosa) and various other members from the French metal/electro scenes, have sure matured a great deal with this release. Whereas the 2003 debut Ultraviolence Über Alles was a much less ambitious effort, L'Hymne À La Joie(Ode To Joy) is an impressive entity. The music, the promo pictures, the artwork, everything creates a perfect harmony to help get the message of the band through in the most effective way possible. This I consider very impressing, since way too many bands today abandon the visual aspects with the disillusion that the music is everything. Fortunately, the CNK have realized that this is not true.

The artwork, done to a large extent by bass player Mr. Valnoir(Jean-Emmanuel Artfield-Lautrec) is excellent in every sense of the word. I haven't seen such magnificent artwork in a very long time, in fact, I'll even be as bold as saying that it's among the best I've ever seen. The painted imagery depicting the band members in a dictatory fashion, the ornamented sigils giving a feeling of, once again, dictatoric discipline and structure, and of course, the band photos of the members dressed up in uniforms looking extremely authoritarian are all brilliant and help to underline the force of the music itself even more.

The music itself is, of course, what really makes this album what it is. Since the completion of the line-up with the respective arrivals of drummer Mr. Sylvicious(Sylvain Deslaves) and mentioned bassist Mr. Valnoir, the CNK's sound has become a lot more ambitious and worked through. Now, the band's bombastic industrial metal has been spiced up with epic Wagner-like doomsday symphonies, samples of rallying chants and cheers of exalted masses of people, a much heavier and clearer production, and lots of other audial products of the advantages of having two more creative outputs in the band(as well as more money and dedication). The influences are indeed prominent; some Rammstein and Marilyn Manson moments are to be heard, among others, but still the CNK have manifested their own, unique, and very evolved sound with this album compared to the previous album.

One of the definite highlights on this album is actually the intro, L'Hymne À La Joie, which is a metal rendition of Ludwig Van Beethoven's famous classical piece Ode To Joy, completed with marching-like drum machines, heavy guitarr riffs, and huge crowds cheering in the background. I don't think I've ever heard such an effective intro, and it made me want to go and conquer an Eastern European country on the spot, which I subsequently realized was the perfect mindset for what was to come.
Among the rest of the songs, highlights are harder to pick, but Vote For Winners would definitely be one. With great music and equally great lyrics, it really sums up the feeling of the album in its entire. Also, Die HolzHammerMethode is a wonderful track, with its poignant organs and choirs. But I wouldn't want to pick one song over another, this album has to be thoroughly experienced in order to obtain the appreciation it deserves.

Despite the arrival of drummer Sylvicious, drum machines seem to be the most prominent percussive features of the album. But since he does the drum programming too, I guess that could rightfully earn him the title as the band's drummer, since the programmed drums are executed flawlessly and are an essential part of the sound. This album would be virtually nothing without the heavy, majestic military beats that back up the rest of the music.
Mr. Heinrich Von B(Jean-Sébastien Ogilvy) provides an apt melodic complement to the symphonic elements with his heavy guitar riffs. With a sound akin to Rammstein, Ministry and similar industrial metal bands, these riffs provide the most solid basis of the album, adding both weight to the sound alongside the drum machines, and complementing the symphonic melodies as well.
Hreidmarr's vocal contribution is a slight downside, though. I consider him one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time, and was quite disappointed to hear that most of his vocals have been highly distorted and drenched in various effects. However, this too fits the general feel of the music very well, and in the long run, it's definitely a winning concept.
Albeit a bit pretentious, the lyrics are also handed very well, treating the expected matters for such an album; the downsides of democracy, propaganda, and imaginary, strict dictatorships with the band as leaders. Highly political lyrics, in other words.

This is not just a musical album, it's a whole experience in itself. And a very impressive, creative and innovative one, too. Whenever you get a chance to lay your hands on this, do. Whether you like your metal bombastic and epic, hard and raw, or industrial and experimental, I'm sure you'll find several sources of delight in this fine musical opus. As a well-fitting summary for this review, here goes an excerpt from the lyrics to Vote For Winners:

Put yout fucking hands in the air for us people!
Do you want everybody else to lose?
Do you want colour movies to be banned?
Do you want big red cars?
Come on people, will you vote for CNK?