This is such a head scratcher of an album. The best way to describe it is death/ doom/progressive metal roller coaster ride built by Tim Burton, which takes you through a dark, seedy, almost historical fantasy of the dark side of mankind, ranging from modern day issues such as that creepy old man who lives in the next apartment block that 'likes' children, to libertines of 18th and 17th century. It's bizarre in so many ways. What this is, is progressive death metal without being full of blast beats, like most death metal bands. It twists, turns and each track is laid out so you very rarely hear a repeated verse.
The album is spoken alot in French with french accents which I think gives it a more showman and eccentric twist.
What strikes you most about this album first is the eccentricity of the orchestral and choral arrangements. The album starts off with a brief French lesson. Then moves into what can be described as drunk Frenchman down and out, moving around a dark alley with the sound of sirens and refuse collection lorry in the background.
All this sounds like a scene from modern day life, but then a few tracks later we're hearing names like Moliere, and the sounds of a baffoon on stage.
One of my favourite tracks is Daguerréotype. It sounds like a Victorian Christmas movie soundtrack from a weird Terry Pratchet or Tim burton film, with choirs and fantasy orchestra which later thread themselves in and out of the music. What you also get in this odd theater of metal is happy eccentric French narrated passages which sound a lot like someone presenting a weird freak show on stage a hundred years ago in a dark french theater, audiences clapping and laughing, as well as sounds of elephants, and a man talking like a cat in the track Black Mummy Cat. As nice as this sounds, it actually has a very dark undertone.
It's one of those albums that makes you laugh or smile with it's eccentricity. It did with me anyway. It takes a good 4 or 5 listens before the whole thing sinks in. The metal side of it is almost lost in the weirdness and doesn't stick in your head until repeated listens. As for the metal side of it, it's quite technical. A mixture of death, industrial, and gothic metal. They use a good mix of chugging guitars, occasional blastbeat,keyboarding, technical double bass drumming in some places, and even use the odd bit of saxophone in the slower parts...and throw in some harpsicodes, accordians and Ukeles. The vocals range from shouts, sorrowful narration, deep clear voices, death, and black metal screams. Nothing
is left out on this album.
It leaves you scratching your head wondering what the concept of it is, but not really caring either way. I think I've just about figured it out !!