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Tracklist: 1. L'Autre 6:37 2. Le retour du bouffon 6:26 3. Neurotic 4:54 4. Scheherazade 10:23 5. Coma 5:06 6. Araignee 5:25 7. Le Festin 7:55 8. Carnage 6:55 All music: by G. Coppin, except 5: by S. Kerihuel, & 8: by P. Di Faostino & G. Coppin. All arrangements: by G. Coppin & J-P. Brun, except 1 & 2: by P. Di Faostino. All lyrics: by G. Coppin, except 3: by G. Le Cocq. Line-up: Gilles Coppin - keyboards Jean-Philippe Brun - violin (+ vocals on 2 & 8) Stephane Kerihuel - guitars (+ vocals on 5) Philippe Di Faostino - drums & percussion Emmanuel Martre - bass With: Geraldine Le Cocq - vocals (on 1, 3, 4, 6, & 7) Guest musicians: Sophie Bellard - vocals (on 5) Antoine Guyomard - narration (on 7) Produced by Halloween. Recorded by Jean-Luc Bernard at Halloween's studio. Mixed & mastered by Jean-Pascal Boffo (!) at "Amper" studio.
Prologue. "Laz" (1988), with its dark, Lafcraft-inspired, music and lyrics (in English), was the only Halloween album that I've heard until now. The "View From the Rating Room" review of it can be read by clicking here. (In fact, there are five sorts of reviews on ProgressoR: Key Reviews, Overall Views, Detailed Reviews, Short Reviews, and "Re-Views From the Rating Room".) As I see, only three members of the band's original and classic line-up are present on this album: Coppin, Brun, & Cocq.
The Album. . Almost all the songs that are presented on the latest Halloween album "Le Festin" (there are no instrumentals on it) are, on the whole, rather dark and dramatic, which is typical for the band's creation. However, this album is by all means stronger than "Laz", for instance. "Le Festin" is a very intriguing album, which, moreover, doesn't contain any weak spots at all. So my objective here is just to describe its contents. On the whole, "Le Festin" can be regarded as an album of a unified stylistic concept, despite the fact that it features three lead singers. (On most of them, though, I still hear an outstanding, incredibly diverse singing by a wonderful vocalist-chameleon Geraldine Le Cocq, whose parts are mostly of a theatrically dramatic character, as usual.) L'Autre, Le retour du bouffon, Neurotic, Coma, Le Festin, and Carnage (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, & 8) are the songs that present the dominant stylistics of this album. The transition from slow and rather dark interplay between various instruments to intensive and complex arrangements (and the other way round) is typical for all of them, though Le Festin and Carnage (7 & 8) sound slightly more eclectic than the other songs on the album. Also, while the first of them is the heaviest composition here, Carnage (especially the second half of it) is the less dark and dramatic song on the album. The main soloing parts on "Le Festin" are presented by passages of violin, piano, and string ensemble, solos of synthesizers and bass guitar, and riffs of electric guitars. There are not that many solos of electric guitar on this album. As for those of them that are long and really essential, these are featured only on Le retour du bouffon, Scheherazade, the album's title track, and Carnage (2, 4, 7, & 8). All of them, though, are truly masterful, as well as those of the other instruments, including drums and percussion. The excellent solos of the latter are especially evident on a pearl called Scheherazade (4), which is the longest track on the album. Structurally, this song is, overall, close to those six tracks that I described first. The way of development of the arrangements that are featured on Scheherazade is also typical for the album as a whole. However, beginning with the amazing Sitar-like solos of guitar and up to a final note, this song is filled with wonderful flavors of music of East both instrumentally and vocally. Geraldine's vocalizes in the beginning of the song are especially astonishing. They possess a definite Eastern influenced sound. I can't remember any of the Europeans (in a general sense and regardless of gender differences) who would have ever reproduced that specific way of singing so expressively as Geraldine. Araignee (6) is the only song on the album, the basis of which entirely consists of the slowly moving structures. However, the slow passages of piano and violin and interplay between them and the mid-tempo solos of acoustic (!) and bass guitars are here supported by an amazingly diverse, as always, singing of Geraldine Le Cock.
Summary. Halloween is one of those few bands that were capable to create something really new and unique within the framework of Classic Art-Rock in the 1980s. By the way, I perceived their unique, dark kind of Symphonic Art-Rock as a peculiar reaction to that atmosphere of despair, which surrounded Prog during a 'dark' decade. Now I see that Halloween not only created a distinctive and truly original style, but also constantly and very successfully developed it. While basically, their latest album, "Le Festin", is still in the vein of the band's original style, laid in the 1980s, its contents clearly show that Halloween entered the new millennium as one of the strongest and most profound bands of the genre.
VM. July 31, 2002
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