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(74:17, Fantai'Zic Productions)
TRACK LIST: 1. Pierre 8:00 2. Thomas 6:49 3. Jacques 6:16 4. Barthelemy 5:23 5. Matthieu 5:16 6. Jude 6:10 7. Simon 6:40 8. Andre 5:52 9. Jean 4:53 10. Philippe 5:20 11. Jacques fils d'Alphee 6:12 12. Judas 7:26 LINEUP: Matthieu Morand – guitars; orchestrations Pierre-Yves Martin – basses Thomas Das Neves – drums Alain Germonville – vocals Laura Kimpe – vocals With: Lorraine Francois – harp Helene Dautry – cello &: 13 additiomal singers
Prolusion. The French band AKROMA was formed in 2003, and from their base in Nancy, they have released three full-length albums since their formation. "La Cene" is the most recent of these, released by their native label Fantai'Zic Productions at the start of 2014.
Analysis. While I guess this may well have been done by others before them, this is the first time I have encountered a concept album based around the biblical story of The Last Supper. Just how much or not this is a retelling of the biblical tale, a dramatization based on it or a more fictional story using the persons and main storylines of the Bible I can't tell though, but those who know their French have an elaborate set of lyrics at hand that will cover that aspect of the production in minute detail. When that is said, I don't think this will be a CD that will have any great sales in religious circles, this due to the chosen style of this band, with a fairly firm base inside extreme metal. Extreme metal can be many things of course, and Akroma's excursion to this realm is among the more complex ones. This isn't a band content with merely using distorted guitars and frantic pace as the cornerstones of their compositions. And if anything they actually tone down the impact of the guitars quite a bit, and then especially when shifting towards the more frantic oriented parts of their repertoire. Furthermore, this unit also alternates quite a bit between styles, so while frantic, intense metal is a cornerstone element, it is by far not the only one visited. Galloping power metal escapades, majestic and slow-paced doom metal passages, quirky thrash metal excursions – all have their place here, usually alternating between each other and the frantic riff barrages and appropriate drum patterns that hit it whenever the band opts to shift to an extreme sequence. Riff patterns tend to be quirky in most of these styles, and all along there's a symphonic backdrop present too. From majestic emulated strings to powerful fanfare-like brasses, whatever guise of metal is explored at just about any time can have the word symphonic added to it. The one extreme element that is a mainstay is the lead vocals however: intense shouts, guttural croaks and growling are the order of the day, with a certain emphasis on the first. A recurring feature in that department is also the operatic female lead vocals of Laura Kimpe, generally, but not always, appearing in the second half of the compositions, usually in a relatively calm section of those. Speaking of which: regular, but not always recurring, features in these compositions are tranquil interludes, with gentle plucked guitars taking the lead and one occasion even with the frail notes of the harpsichord used to good effect.
Conclusion. This is a fairly varied production as far as extreme metal goes, and if not directly progressive metal in sound then it is most certainly one in spirit. Although I would guess that this is music too intense for those with an interest in classic progressive metal, those who tend to enjoy both regular progressive metal and the more extreme metal styles out there should find this solid and intense album to be of interest. In particular those amongst them who enjoy occasional moments of operatic female lead vocals and a liberal use of symphonic backdrops in their metal.
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