"The Great Maddening" - CD

"Imperium Grotesque" - CD


LE GRAND GUIGNOL takes its name from the style of French theater popular in the first half of the Twentieth Century in which horrible acts were depicted amid excessive gore and the evil-doers went unpunished. The combination of amoral horror and intellectual elitism inherent in such a moniker perfectly describes the band?s eccentric approach to Symphonic and Experimental Metal. With the histrionic zeal of a mad scientist, LE GRAND GUIGNOL throws everything imaginable at the listener in the hopes of discovering something revolutionary. Sometimes these elements hit their mark and sometimes they become nothing more than a distraction, but there is no doubt that it is an interesting production.

What can be most puzzling about ?The Great Maddening? is that the frills are oftentimes more prominent than the meat. The atmospherics, background noises, and vocal trickeries take precedent over the actual music, constructing an engaging group of sounds as well as some distracting ones. ?Degenesis (Amor & Seuche),? for example, contains an entertaining bit of melodramatic narration courtesy of vocalist Philip Breuer, as well as some fervent? coughing. In a similar vein, ?Madness And Her Thousand Young? features female operatic vocalizations, heavily electronic voice modulation, weeping, and some sounds of sexual gratification. That?s all on top of the more traditional singing and screaming associated with Symphonic Metal, resulting is a considerably crowded atmosphere.

Even when the band does get down to business, it finds ways to throw curveballs. ?Lucilinburhuc,? one of the most straightforward songs, suddenly incorporates what might be described as Viking Metal elements, such as the epic hymn-like chorus. While this is done skillfully, it is just rather surprising (though not too surprising since several members of LE GRAND GUIGNOL are session musicians for FALKENBACH), to find this new ingredient on the album?s last track before the outro. However, on songs such as ?Finis Coronat Opus,? the melodious guitars do an excellent job of carrying the song?s weight amidst all of the sonic frivolity, giving some backbone to the musical foie gras surrounding it. Though such a coherent balance is rarely struck, it is refreshing to hear a band so willing to risk a totally unhinged sound. When everything conceivable is tossed into the mix, any conceivable thing can happen and, for the most part, LE GRAND GUIGNOL keeps its concoction pleasing to the palate. It?s an insane kind of pleasing, but still pleasing nonetheless.