|Translation:||Crypt Of Fear|
I must begin this review by specifying the name of the band öOoOoOoOoOo doesn't read «OOOOOH!» but it's simply a stylized caterpillar. This surely will make easier talking about this release and this is good, because we aren't doing a simple job.
Let's start with saying — after losing count of the times I listened to "Samen" — I still have the feeling I haven't understood everything; and I want to remind you that who writes is a strange character accustomed with Japanese nonsense, who disdained the last Solefald release thinking it was too bland and who enjoyed himself writing about Pryapisme — whose drummer is here as guest musician — and Igorrr, fellow countrymen that know too well the word «experimentation» and which somehow resonate here as well. Despite this, and despite having enjoyed this release immediately, every listening session makes me uncover a new detail, a new shades that escaped my attention before or I had subconsciously took apart in favor of other elements.
Avantgarde with a surprising naturalness, unexpectedly catchy and capable to continuosly surprise: "Samen" is a work which draws into play a disproportionate number of names and genres, fearlessly going from elegance to madness, from a carefree entertainment to emotional reflections; a vast range of sensations alternating and merging to create new ones, always with an attitude that makes the band recognizable and at the same time everchanging. All these beating about the bush probably won't minimally make clear to you the album's content, but it felt right to emphasize what has been said until now.
When the term «avantgarde» started to make his way through the Rock-Metal world, you referred to acts that began from a base linked to this genre and incorporated external elements; now imagine a duo which starts with Avantgarde and then adds another dose of experimentation. A bit like taking some meringues and then drowning them in molasses. In fact it is already difficult to identify elements that constitute the sound's foundation, indeed we can safely say the heart of this release takes as much from the extreme Metal than from the more Pop-oriented Rock, including everything in between; but, as we already said, there are a myriad of foreign factors that enrich the whole: and so we find ourselves immersed in an alternate dimension where Electronic influences, Post- and Prog feelings, orchestral backing tracks, eight-bit synths and Disco music melodies can live together with tremolo-picking guitars and blast beats. And don't forget the incursions into other styles like Jazz, Swing, Lounge, Punk, Trip-Hop, Drum'n'Bass, Reggae… and the list could go on for quite a while. Listening to the tracks bands like Diablo Swing Orchestra, Mr. Bungle and Unexpect come to mind, and these names alone should make you realize how particular is their sound. Baptiste Bertrand deals masterfully with the instrumental side of the extravagant sound, accompanied only by a few guests: the already mentioned Aymeric Thomas on the drums, Rapahël Verguin at the cello, Adrien Cailleteau at the sax and lastly Germain Aubert, author of a guitar solo.
I'd like to spend a chapter apart for the vocal compartment, almost entirely handled by Asphodel: the singer, already known for her experience in more or less known bands with different sounds, like Penumbra, Ad Inferna and especially Pin-Up Went Down, and guest among the other things in the Område's debut, offers an out of any scheme performance that alone is worth the candidacy to my 2016 Top 5. Capable of manipulating her vocal chords in every possible way, her ability to alternate opera singing, harsh vocals and experimentation with a tonal variety that defining it wide would be an understatement: all of this is already index of her extreme versatility; let's add a largely exploited catchiness which sometimes makes us think names like Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries, in a more limited way Amy Lee from Evanescence or — why not — even some Pop-R&B singers who won't be much liked by some of our readers, all however with a personality and a mastery in dosing the various sytle that elevates her to the jewel in the crown of a work that has no real moment of weakness.
I think it's pointless to underline that the production is crystal clear and that the attention to the sounds is high, you should have already undestood that "Samen" is a release where they took care of every single detail and this is true even for the graphical look: in the booklet there are pictures of an exhibition that has the same name as the album and that's clearly linked to it, where simple human bodies placed in empty rooms in different locations are the only material used to compose the various works. You will see that even the visual appearence uses both the simplicity and the complexity to express certain concepts. The lyrics are interesting in the same way, surely not easy to understand and often abstract in the use of the words; however, being written by Asphodel, they seem to adapt perfectly to her varied vocality.
With an album so intense and with a lot of things going on, it's clear this French Caterpillar is way over the larval stage. "Samen" manages to constantly expand its horizons without feeling forced, indeed by leveraging the naturalness through which this process of continous evolution is made; surely this long article won't be able to dissect every single facet of this album, therefore I invite you to listen to it over and over again to realize what we are talking about. As far as I'm concerned, defining this release as a masterpiece wouldn't be so wrong.