Therion: Les Fleurs du Mal
I speak French fluently, when there's a movie on television I take the subtitles off and tell everyone what the actors are saying. Well actually that's not exactly true my French is dismal, a trained monkey could speak it better, my french language skills are so very limited or should I say virtually non existent with the exemption of saying "hello" and the numbers 1 to 4. Though I do know some other French words but I can't say what they mean so I suppose they can't be counted.
So why am I babbling on about the French languauge? Well one of the best bands on this planet we call Earth have a new album, that band is Therion and their last release Sitra Ahra was one I was very fond of but it got some mixed feedback. Well this time they have thrown another curveball and that ball has gone over the fence out of the park then bounced down the street and into the lake. Yes at first I was scratching my heading thinking "what the?" But then I thought, hey this is Therion and they haven't let me down yet.
Les Fleurs du Mal is Therion does France (Well kind of anyway), a Therion album with French, yes French vocals and while it may take a while to click it is far from the train wreck many might be expecting, this train is a smoking rock solid machine with no signs of going off the rails.
Mastermind Christofer Johnsson's latest creation has been released an a different label as it's not your usual Therion, the title is a reference to French author and poet Charles Baudelaire's controversial collection of poems titled "Flowers of Evil", and six of these poems were banned for many years due to their subject matter. Les Fleurs du Mal is a cover album of Christofer's favorite French songs and all of which have been given the Therion treatment.
The French lyrics which are all sung very well by both female and male vocalists and quite passionately I should add do combine well with the music of Therion. With the exception of the non English vocals "Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son" retains much of that vibrant metal feel that Therion have previously presented us with .While "Une Fleur Dans Le Cœur" also has some of those familiar Therion traits which you hear throughout this album, next track "Initials B.B." really sounds great the orchestral/vocal mix comes together so well. Les Fleurs du Mal is an odd release though that quite a number of Therion fans may find hard to take in, I can't honestly say that I totally enjoy all the songs as I find myself losing interest at a couple of points but then more often then not I was promptly drawn back in by a change in the music.
As Therion celcbrate their 25th Anniversary and a substantial collection of many fine albums along the way, and while I do look forward to the next Therion release of original material, Les Fleurs du Mal provides us with something different that's for sure. Les Fleurs du Mal is not the best Therion album I have heard but this is one cool release nontheless.
01. Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son
02. Une Fleur Dans Le Cœur
03. Initials B.B.
04. Mon Amour, Mon Ami
06. La Maritza
07. Sœur Angelique
08. Dis-moi Poupée
10. En Alabama
11. Wahala Manitou
12. Je N'ai Besoin Que De Tendresse
13. La Licorne D'or
14. J'ai Le Mal De Toi
15. Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son
16. Les Sucettes [bonus]
Added: December 8th 2012
Reviewer: Scott Jessup
Related Link: Band Website
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|Therion: Les Fleurs du Mal
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-12-07 19:19:41
When a band is hell-bent on following their instincts no matter where they lead and satisfying their your own stylistic whimsies, there often comes a point where the difference between what they want and what their fans would like to listen to, begins to part. With Les Fleurs Du Mal, Therion may well be about to begin a long journey down that path.
Talk of art projects, operas and stage shows (although not necessarily linked to each other) herald in a new direction from this innovative and uncompromising outfit best known for their convincing, head-on collision of bristling metal riffs, operatic vocals and classical themes and arrangements. It is no exaggeration to suggest that albums such as Vovin, Lemuria and Sirius B heralded in a new age in symphonic metal, leaving Therion as leaders of an ever greater following pack. However after an absence of only two years, the change of focus and delivery is quite stark between 2010 offering Sitra Ahra and Les Fleurs Du Mal - an album inspired by the work of French poet Charles Baudelaire, who had much of his work banned long beyond his own lifetime. Instead of huge bombastic choirs, operas and orchestras, LFDM instead uses a collection of traditional French songs as the albums base, giving the likes of "Mon Amour, Mon Ami" and "La Licorne D'or" a fresh twist, while still serving up an almost traditional folk vibe. It isn't folk metal, in fact it is still closer to symphonic metal, what with singers Lori Lewis and Thomas Vikstrom (the latter of which being voice and pronunciation coached on the French language vocals throughout the recording of the album) still stretching out and hitting the stratosphere. However the whole album feels far less grand or bombastic than this band's previous work, instead providing a claustrophobic, intimate air that can become overbearing and tiring.
Introductory track "Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son" illustrates the style at its best, with staccato riffs and stunningly arranged vocals making a strong impression. Although one far less chest beating and uncompromising than Therion have becomes known for, while the different version of the same song that ends the album hits even harder. From there "Wahala Manitou" tones down the guitars, using harmonised vocals to make its point, while "Polinichelle" utilises a scurrying guitar line to lead varying vocal lines on many a different path.
This is an album that you really have to work hard with to try to understand, and not just lyrically, with the guitars often taking a back seat to stripped back classical themes and vocal interplay. However what makes the lock harder to unpick is the similarity in slow trudging pace from song to song, with the tracks all shuffling in and out of site in two or three minutes excursions, without really having enough individuality or length to make a lasting impact. As ever with Therion, everything is beautifully crafted, stunningly presented, perfectly produced and painstakingly pieced together, however in the end Les Fleurs Du Mal remains unapologetically difficult to engage with.
This is an album to be admired. Impressed by the sheer focus and the belief it has taken to put together. One where you have to marvel at the inspiration that brought this idea to life. However whether it is one that you'll slide out of the CD racks, or dial up on your i-device often, well of that I'm not so sure. Whether Therion fans see this album as the beginning of a long and rewarding chapter for the band only time will tell. On the strength of Les Fleurs Du Mal, it could genuinely go either way.
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