Even after all these months I still don’t know what to make of this album. One moment I would find this French band’s unorthodox take on the “Death ‘n Roll” sound exhilarating, the next I could swear that these songs have about as much charisma as Vladimir Putin. Sometimes it works for me while other times I have to work to “get” this band’s music. So yeah – “Antebellum Death ‘n Roll” is a strange specimen indeed…
I must admit that I don’t really know a whole lot about this band aside from the fact that it is a side-project of the SCARVE vocalist (as well as guys from YYRKOON and AGRESSOR) and that it fucks with my head whenever I pop it in me ol’ stereo. If I had to categorize this band, as all us Metal-o-philes love to do, I would say that it’s a very twisted cross between NEUROSIS, latter day ENTOMBED with a twist of CELTIC FROST thrown in. Quite a strange recipe. However, unlike most “Death & Roll” bands these guys don’t routinely resort to cheap Stoner Rock rhythms to get their groove across. No, no, most of the grooves on this album are buried in a murky veil of rambling bass-lines, drone-y vocals and a significant amount of harmonica ditties. Musically the material is mostly mid-paced but they do speed up occasionally, like on “Black ‘n Roll” and “The Bright Side Of Death” (great title!). But for the most part this album lurches forward at a steady pace, spewing it’s freaky brand of Metal at the listener. I would probably call “How To Become A God” my favorite on here – it’s opening harmonica-meets-Death passages are just too good to ignore. “Decay” is also good, especially since it is more of a straightforward rocker, while the eerie yet slightly “romantic” instrumental “Lorelindorenan” is also a standout.
But, as is common with albums of this nature, there is also too much fluff and shit strewn in between the abovementioned highlights. At times the music slows down to a snails pace, with strange whispers and faraway drum beats take center stage instead of the kickass rockin’ moments. “Damballah” and “Burarum” are prime offenders in this regard. It breaks the flow/groove of the album and comes off as simply weird for the sake of being weird.
The real highlight, however, is the brilliant DVD that accompanies the album (or at least my promo copy came a as dual-disc. Thanks, Osmose!). It contains a full live show with crystal clear visuals, and a shitload of onstage energy (plus fire-breathing… hooray!). Watching this DVD is proof of this band’s potency, but the thing is that it’s almost too good – on the regular album they never reach the high level of energy that permeates the show on the DVD.
Anyway, maybe it’s just me nitpicking… It’s an entertaining album but it’s a tricky listen, hence the neutral rating. Don’t expect this stuff to grab you straight away. As a matter of fact, I remember an interview Terrorizer did with this band a few years ago where the band stated that the only way anyone will really appreciate their music is when there are fun things like forests, moonlight and mushrooms involved…
So off you go then… (just remember to take a club with you in case some of those pesky Black Metallers are performing blood rituals in the area).
(Online July 24, 2007)