Who would have ever thought that metal would come to this way back in the late 70s and early 80s when the genre was really picking up some serious steam? Symphonic power metal versions of French chanson probably didn’t cross anyone’s minds in those days, however in Sweden when the Mayan calendar turned over in 2012 it did. Of course everyone knows that THERION were innovators in popularizing their brand of symphonic power metal with the release of “Theli” way back in the 90s and have released one stellar album after another since but they have been seriously in danger of the whole thing becoming a little stale despite the high quality of interesting tracks they laid upon us. Well, on their 15th studio album LES FLEURS DU MAL (The Flowers Of Evil) they decided to unleash their romantic side by taking tracks by 60s and 70s French chanson artists and adding a healthy dose of Nordic aggression to make an unlikely combo.
The French artists covered here include France Gail, Victoire Scott, Serge Gainsbourg, Marie Laforêt, Sylvie Vartan, Annie Philippe, Isabelle, Léonie, Claire Dixon and Betty Mars. The cast of musicians on board is the regular army with six full band members plus 24! guest musicians adding all kinds of orchestral sounds like trumpet, flute, oboe, trombone, horn, cello, violin, accordion, mellotron and additional guitars and vocals. The sound is full and rich and extremely well produced. The clash of the modern symphonic metal world with 60s / 70s pop music really is a test of one’s eclectic nature and acceptance of strange ideas merging into an unlikely union, but THERION manage to pull this off with ease because they are obviously professional and passionate about every detail of the music they put out.
I have to admit that upon first listen i was scratching my head with this one. There are tracks where the vocals are ridiculously over the top despite being more than impressive but somehow once my mind was blown way open i have to say that this works for me. This is a noble experiment that deserves a chance to shine but personally i wouldn’t want to hear a repeat of this idea for despite my growing to appreciate it, it just doesn’t quite hit me as enjoyable as pretty much all the albums since “Theli.” So hopefully this is a one album fulfillment that doesn’t have to be repeated. Still though an excellent experiment that takes a stab at the unlikely pairing of Scandinavian Viking sounds tackling the subtle intricate sensualities of a Romance language such as French. You probably won’t hear French metal bands like Deathspell Omega or Blut Aus Nord taking this on! Pleasant listening and well done but still not quite as good as the albums ranging from “Theli” to “Sitra Ahra.”