Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ange - 2012 - Moyen-Âge


01. Tueuse à gages (4:05)
02. Le premier arrivé attend l'autre (4:16)
03. Opéra-bouffe ou la quête du gras (5:54)
04. Les mots simples (3:34)
05. Moyen-Age a) Un goût de pain perdu (7:55)
06. Moyen-Age b) Camelote (2:50)
07. Moyen-Age c) Le cri du samouraï (3:43)
08. Moyen-Age d) A la cour du roi nombril (10:24)
09. Moyen-Age e) Les clés du harem (3:47)
10. Moyen-Age f) Je ne suis pas de ce monde (8:25)
11. Moyen-Age g) Entre les gouttes (7:16)
12. Moyen-Age h) Abracadabra (5:18)

-Tristan Décamps / Keyboards, piano, voice
-Hassan Hajdi / Guitar
-Thierry Sidhoum / Bass
-Benoît Cazzulini / Drums, percussion
-Christian Décamps / Voice, Guitar

Ange is finally back to full form on this album. It's taken a long time but I believe that this is the best album they have done since Guet Apen's, and I would probably rank it in Ange's top three albums with Guet Apens and Au-Dela Du Delire. It has been a very pleasant surprise, and includes a near 50 minute suite on it. Unfortunately I do not understand French, but I'm sure if I did the Moyen-Age suite would be epic beyond epic, knowing Ange's track record.
It starts off with the upbeat Tueuse A Gages. A nice opener, the real magic though is when the electric guitar comes in, it has a very nice tone that unfortunately is not explored further. It a very different sounding Ange than you've come to know from the 70s. The music is definitely different, seeing that the only original member left is lead singer Christian Decamps, who also sounds quite different on this album, especially on the opening track. His voice is not as theatrical and almost sounds a little bit like he's trying to sing opera on the opener. One thing that worried me was the absence of Christian's brother Francis, who used to play keyboards, and was a staple of the classic Ange sound, but I must say that Christian's son Tristan who took his place is extremely talented and I enjoyed his playing throughout. The next two songs are a bit slower and darker, and built more around Christian's voice and the drummer, with extremely talented guitar player Hassan Hajdi occasionally breaking in with bluesy riffs, and some haunting playing of Tristan's. I have to mention that Hassan seemed quite versatile, and guitar tone kept changing throughout the album and had a very nice variety and I quite enjoyed it. The last song before the suite, Les Mots Simple, is a light upbeat song built around Tristan's bright keyboard playing. Christian's voice, though almost unrecognizable as his own, sounds almost beautiful on this song, and this is a definite a highlight.

The Moyen-Age suite begins with Un Gout De Pain Perdu, begins with dark, marching percussion, and mysterious guitar playing, which leads into Christian's very mysterious vocals, here's where you can finally see some Ange's famous theatrics. It sounds like the beginning of a long epic tale. As this song marches forward, getting more powerful as it goes, it almost reminds me a little of Magma. Each track of the suite tends not to stray too far from the main theme of the track, and some of the longer one's can get slightly tedious on subsequent listens. Camelote is very short, coming in under 3 minutes, and is another highlight. Christian voice is very emotive. It is a very fun song, and I imagine is about Camelot. Hassan has a little fun in this song. Then we have hard rocking Le Cri Du Samourai, kind of a throw away but good enough, almost had me singing along near the end though even though the only word I knew was Samurai.

Then we have longest track in the Suite and on the album, A La Cour Du Roi Nombril. This song definitely sounds the most individualistic and that it could be its own song and not a section of a much longer suite. Again we see more of Ange's theatrics with Christian sounding insane with maniacal laughter. Everyone shines on this song, with great playing done by all and it definitely feels like it's telling quite the story, even if I have no idea what it's about. It seemed to go by quickly and I listening so intently that I barely thought a minute had passed by the time it was 6 minutes in. This definitely has a spacey quality to it. A Fantastic track, another Highlight of the album. We then have a break from that long epic with the shorter Le Cies Du Harem. It sounds like it's building up to a louder faster section but when I think it's just about to change it just starts another verse. It does change about two minutes becoming a little quirkier sounding, adding violin to the mix. Still a good little song though. Some of it reminded me a little bit of The Fixx in parts but that's probably just me.

After that nice little break we go into the second longest song on the album, Je Ne Suis Pas De Ce Monde. This is to me the song that most reminds me of chanson, at least during the quieter parts focusing on Christian's vocals. However during the faster more upbeat sections of the song Hassan's guitar playing s more heavily featured and has more fun riffs. Hassan really did surprise me throughout this whole album with his immense talent. About 4 minutes in when it slows back down you can hear Christian singing along with one of the great mini soundscapes Tristan produces throughout the album before going into a nice bluesy guitar solo. This song sounds like a great journey is starting to come to an end, but isn't over quite yet. This song fades into Entre Les Gouttes, which sounds quiet and mysterious until the heavy guitar riffs break in, but they don't last for long, and about 2 minutes in we have soft nice vocals that I'm not 100% sure if they are Christian's or not, and I think it may be his son, Tristan's. This is a very powerful ballad, the only complaint I have is that it drags on. It eventually fades into ambience which slowly builds up with the drums. Another thing I haven't mentioned yet is how great the drumming work is by Benoit Cazzulini, he also surprised me like Hassan did, both fantastic musicians. It ends with powerful guitar playing by Hassan and fantastic drumming by Benoit.

The Suite and album finally ends with Abracadabra. Another upbeat light song built around Tristan's keyboard and Christian's voice. This song sounds like an end to a long epic journey, and is a fantastic conclusion to an excellent album by Ange.

One thing Ange has always done very well and is especially noticeable on this album is that I feel like I know where the story is going even though I don't understand the lyrics. This is what really made this stand out. This Ange definitely sounds different than the classic Ange but I don't think that's a bad thing, because every musician on this album was amazing, and the sound this album has is extremely promising for future release. After many years of making okay albums Ange finally hit gold with Moyen-age, a high point in their career, and I truly hope they keep make more albums as good as this. I recommend this to any Symphonic Prog fan, but I think that if you are an Ange fan you are required to get this album, one of their all-time greatest, and I'm sure this will give me much more enjoyment in the future.

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