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Abacab: Mal de Terre

Although French progressive music is not something I am overly familiar with, it is on my wish list as music to explore in the future but as of yet have had little opportunity to do so. Abacab are a French band that began in the city of Lens in 1990. The music displayed on Mal de Terre could be considered harder edged prog, sometimes bordering on the lighter side of progressive metal. Instrumentally, this is very good stuff with lots of crunchy guitar riffs and interesting synth, keyboard and piano sounds that help to give some of these tunes a jazzy aura. The vocals, on the other hand, are not really my cup of tea, and may take some time to get used to. However, the music is so good you should not let that detract you from giving this one your undivided attention.

The band also have something to say as evidenced by the following words translated to English on the back of the CD taking a pessimistic view on evaluating our planet and it's destructive inhabitants:

"This feeling of earth-sickness, this strange "mal-etre",
this is the whimper of our dehumanized society.
One can hear the sounds of our decadence one can see
a black cloud growing bigger and bigger.
This is the sounds that crying children make when they walk on a collapsing earth."

Pretty heavy stuff indeed and not for the faint of heart. I only wish I understood the French lyrics because it is clear the band have some interesting ideas.

Compositionally speaking there is a complexity here that may satisfy fans of the esoteric side of prog, while still retaining some nice melodies along the way. Whether it's the jazz meets progressive metal of "Ne Joue pas avec le Feu" with crunchy power chords and delicate piano playing or the edgy instrumental rock of "Non retour" with its crisp guitar rhythms, emulated war sounds and atmospheric synths giving the song a moody undertone, there should be something here for most progressive music fans. More highlights include the dissonant guitar chords and intriguing synths of the darkly atmospheric "Les trois couleurs" and the eleven plus minute epic "La source" with its moody harmonic guitar intro and powerful bass playing. The song explores different variations and moods as delicate acoustic intricacies and heavy guitar riffage engage the listener. Check out the electric guitar solo as it is perhaps the best one on offer.

The final verdict: musically this is an excellent piece delving into different progressive styles effortlessly and should appeal to fans of heavy and complex prog, progressive metal and even jazz inflected prog. While I have heard a lot worse, the vocals are still a low point for me, but I still really enjoyed this album. Listen to some samples and decide for yourself.

Track Listing:
1. Ne Joue pas avec le Feu (6:05)
2. La cite de Gaia (5:59)
3. Non retour (4:08)
4. Ne me derangez pas! (4:10)
5. Zap infos (2:55)
6. Les trios couleurs (7:22)
7. La source (11:06)
8. Etrangers (5:21)
9. El dorado (4:55)
10. Hackers (5:16)
11. Restez sous vos abris! (7:01)
12. Les pantins (8:08)
13. Les enfants de Gaia (6:47)

Added: June 19th 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's MySpace Page
Hits: 2776
Language: english

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