Saturday, September 29, 2012

Therion: Les Fleurs du Mal - Review

CD reviews are not a regular feature on this blog, but I like making an exception for this album: Les Fleurs du Mal by Therion. On sale since yesterday at the shows of their "Flowers of Evil & 25th Anniversary" Tour, and shipped yesterday to the fans who pre-ordered the album, it is a special case. Unlike for regular albums, no previews were given, no promotional copies were sent to the press. There were only some rumors the album would consist of covers of French chansons.

I didn't know what to expect - in fact, I only knew it'd be on sale during the tour, so I ran to the merchandise booth when I arrived to the Effenaar venue yesterday to see their show. I bought it, and put it in my purse right away to go and secure a good spot for myself (in fact, I ended up leaning against the stage for this show). After their regular opening song "O Fortuna" from the Carmina Burana, they continued with the opening song of the new album "Poupée de cire, poupée de son", I was very surprised. I immediately recognized the song, and I thought they played it for a joke (Sabaton made the entire audience do a YMCA during their show a few weeks ago, and I've heard a good deal of funny covers by now). But no - it turned out to be part of their new album. They played 3 or 4 songs of the new album during their concert, and then I listened to the entire album on my drive back home.

My first impression of the album was that it's just weird. French chanson with Therion's symphonic metal - hmmm. It's not the best album for a nocturnal drive on the highway either. I thought playing the new album would provide me some blasting metal to keep me awake while driving back from the gig, but it turns out to be more an album which requires you to sit down with a cup of tea or wine and enjoy it. After a few sessions of listening to the album, I'm still in doubt on how to rate it: I like it in a weird way, but I miss up-tempo songs. Lori's vocals are outstanding though - I remember the first time I saw her performing with Therion live (5 years ago I think), and I thought then I should retire as a vocalist and just do engineering. Of all singers I've seen performing, in metal, rock and classical music, she's by far the best - she has an incredible vocal range, a brilliant stage persona and she sings flawlessly. I don't expect this album to become my favorite Therion album - it's lacking the dark richness - but my ears appreciate the sound.

Here's a track-by-track review of the album:

01 Poupée de cire, poupée de son
This song was the first song of the new album that I heard during their show yesterday. It's a weird rendition of the song, and in a way, it makes the idea of a doll (poupée in French) even more vivid. Vaguely reminiscent of "La Chanson d'Olympia" as well.

02 Une fleur dans le coeur
A song which I can only describe as "beautiful", in all its aspects. It's sung beautifully by Lori, and is also part of their set during the tour.

03 Initials B.B
The sound of this song is more metal-oriented. The intro is great, the rest didn't really work for me as of now. The vocals are deep and bring a sense of 60 sexiness into the metalworld.

04 Mon amour, mon ami
The rendition of this song is very delicate and experimental - I associate it with the first CD by the former Norwegian band The 3rd and the Mortal (Tears laid in earth). After an atmospheric intro, some Gregorian-like chanting is added and then the structure turns into a power ballad - with a twist.

05 Polichinelle

The sound in this song is more familiar to the previous Therion albums.

06 La Maritza
This track is fully centered around Lori's vocals again - but the result is too much "napkin waiving wedding kinda song" in my opinion.

07 Soeur angelique
A song which didn't really catch my attention.

08 Dis moi poupée
After many slower songs with mostly female vocals, this song brings more versatility and a great change in sound.

09 Lilith
Great dark atmosphere (but that's what you'd expect from a song titled "Lilith").

10 En Alabama
Weird again, a song with a stint of Americana in it?

11 Wahala manitou
Here, the sound is more circus-like and vaguely reminds me of The Doors' second album "Strange Days"(although that could be related to the artwork of that album)

12 Je n'ai besoin que de tendresse
An uptempo song, with some great screaming after all the soft and beautiful singing in French. Even though it sounds weird and funny, I like this song a lot.

13 La licorne d'or
Best feature of this track are the backing vocals that add darkness and depth to the sound.

14 J'ai le mal de toi
A very good and layered song which they also perform during their tour. After a few listening sessions, I really appreciate the song. The video that is released for this song adds to the dramatic feel.

15 Poupée de cire, poupée de son
A reprise of the opening song.

16 Les sucettes (Bonus song)
I'm pretty sure they had a lot of fun recording this song - and it's mostly just that: really funny.

18 comments:

  1. this is best album of therion

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  2. Well, I like Theli and Secret of the Runes best :)

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  3. It's a thoughtful review, but the album seems great after a few days of spinning. will scare the prejudiced listener though.... but that's been happening with every therion album since theli. good sign, i'd say.

    (sorry for posting as anonymous, but i found this by chance and might never come back visit again, so bye bye)

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  4. Great review! I am looking forward to listening to this new album. I will say of the three song's Therion has released I've really only cared for J'ai le mal de toi. Which as you said is just a wonderful piece of music. I can't help but hold my breath when Lori starts to really sing at the end of the song. She and Thomas sound so beautiful together. I'm glad to hear Therion decided to take a chance. Sometimes it's just important to make the music you want to make.

    That said my personal favorite Therion album has got to be Vovin. Great song after great song. Not to mention Sarah Jezebel Deva at her peak. She was making gold then Nexus Polaris, Vovin, Median, The Stargate, the song she did with Graveworm. /sigh. Those were the good days.

    Sorry to have ranted on your blog.

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  5. They know what they are doing and they do it really well

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  6. Thanks for all the response.

    And I agree with Edward when it comes to Sarah Jezebel Deva - I accidentally bought Nexus Polaris on a festival because the cover looked interesting, turned out that she was singing on there and I was absolutely amazed by the work she did around that time. I haven't been really giving much thought to her new solo work though.

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  7. Thanks for the in depth review!

    I'm a fan from the USA. I will order the album as soon as their web store is back up, but I just listened to most of it on youtube.. It's a weird idea for an album and one that didn't give me the excitement that usually comes with a new Therion release

    It defiantly is missing the "dark richness" and the songs are quite brief for Therion, but I'm enjoying it. I thought (and still think) breaking ties with the Niemann brothers was a bad move, but this already sounds better than Sitra Ahra.

    Andre V

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  8. Hello, I'm a Therion fan from the U.S. I pre-ordered this album simply because it's from Therion, and they're my favorite band. When I found out it was just covers of French pop songs, I was a bit worried, but after listening to this a couple of times, I'm VERY pleased with the way it turned out. And you're right: Les Sucettes is absolutely hilarious. Not my favorite album (that goes to the Lemuria/Sirius B double album), but definitely great a Therion album, well worth the money payed for it.

    -Dan93

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  9. Love the album from the beginning! Now I can't get enough of it. Want to hear it again and again... my bottle of wine was soon empty. During the first listing of album yesterday. They did a great job again!

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  10. I got the album a few days ago and after listening to it thoroughly, I can say that it is really great! It was unexpected, because all of the songs are covers, but they certainly didn't let me down. It's not my favourite album, but it is very interesting and unique in its own way.

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  11. Thanks for all your comments! You can now find more reviews I wrote of metal and other dark CD releases at graveconcernsezine.com

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  12. I haven't listened to this album in a week or two and suddenly I realized I'm missing it. It has some nice versatility in it and while not all songs will get your attention, most of them will. As someone mentioned above, to the prejudiced listener this might sound terrible but after a couple of spins more, I bet they'll like it too.

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  13. Hey Eva, great review! I have a question I was hoping you could answer for me. I have been looking all over the internet, but to no avail. On your CD that you bought at the concert, what label is shown on the back? Is it END OF THE LIGHT? Thanks!

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  14. Yes, it says "under the exclusive license to End of the Light www.endofthelight.com License de Adulruna"

    Hope that helps!

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  15. That helps! Thank you very much :)

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  16. well... is not like Lemuria or Sirius B ( my favourites by far )and is not like others even ,it doesn't make any sense to enumerate here all the Therion albums which is unlike this but the certainty is...I like it. Is not that kind of ancient mistery that involve the songs from Lemuria or Sirius B but I feel emotion when I hear the french romantic chansons discreetly enveloped by metal. Is a kind of dangerous release thinking about how conservative may be the metal music consumers but I think that Cristofer is a mature musician who can assume everything what he want or he likes to do. This is "ars gratia artis ".

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  17. Nice review of a great album. Thank you.

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  18. Thank you all for your great comments! So good to hear from other Therion fans :)

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