Album Title: Voici L’Homme
Label: Scarlet Records
Date of Release: 17 January 2020
The start of 2020 sees a change in the Man of Much Metal. No, I haven’t stopped pretentiously referring to myself in the third person as you can see. Instead, I have decided to review an album that I would normally walk through fire to avoid. You see, this is an overtly religious, Christian album. As someone who has no time for religion, I often find it too difficult to stomach listening to albums that spend the entire time talking about God and how wonderful he/she/it is. Nope, not for me, just like overtly blasphemous records are tough to take for those with faith.
However, I was searching for records to review around the turn of the year and checked out an advance track from ‘Voici L’Homme’, the third album from French melodic power metal band Darktribe and I have to say that I enjoyed the experience. Forget the lyrics, the music itself struck a chord with me and I felt compelled to listen further. It helps that the band flit between English and their native tongue on the title track, so even with my mediocre grasp of French, much of the lyrical content whooshes over my head so that I am blissfully unaware of the biblical connotations.
I also refrain from looking at the godawful front cover wherever possible. I mean, it is beautifully painted but the subject matter makes me shudder.
Thankfully, this is a music website where I review music, not go off on political or theological rants, so I will park my prejudices here and now focus on the music at the heart of ‘Voici L’Homme’. And it is here that the band excel most.
With no knowledge of the quartet prior to checking out this record, I cannot tell you how this differs in content, style or delivery to previous output. But what I can say is that ‘Voici L’Homme’ is a rather positive album, where quality power metal compositions abound, chock full of melody, a surprising about of crunch and muscle, and a faint hint of progressive leanings here and there. The latter can principally be heard in the use of dynamics, allowing songs to ebb and flow beyond the paint-by-numbers intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, outro framework that a frightening amount of power metal bands utilise. There is also a good use of keys to add atmosphere and a symphonic edge to the music.
At 50 minutes in length, ‘Voici L’Homme’ is the ideal kind of length for a record of this nature as it ensures that the ten tracks have the best possible opportunity to make their mark. And, for the most part, the compositions do not squander this opportunity, although I do feel that ‘The Hunger Theory’ with its spoken-word section towards the end is a little too twee and bloated, despite some great riffs in the early stages. It also rather strangely just fizzles out like a disappointing firework on a soggy bonfire night.
There is also an argument to be made to suggest that ‘Voici L’Homme’ is front-loaded a little with the best material. After the ubiquitous instrumental intro, the record comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders, battering us with a barrage of great music to begin with. And whilst there isn’t a huge dip in quality later on, I do find myself wanting to revisit the opening tracks again rather than seeing the album out to the end.
But when Darktribe are on top form, they are really great. The likes of ‘Prism Of Memory’, the title track and ‘A Silent Curse’ all hit the nail squarely on the head, balancing a need for metallic power alongside a desire to deliver music that is melodic, entertaining and full of energy.
‘Prism Of Memory’ comes out all guns blazing with a sense of urgency but with real purpose and self-assuredness. The tempo is infectious and the chorus is suitably rousing, with vocalist Anthony Agnello delivering a strong performance behind the mic.
The sound of bells duet with a satisfyingly bruising guitar tone from guitarist Loïc Manuello at the outset of the title track. The verses allow Agnello to rein it in a little alongside a nice rumbling bass of Bruno Caprani and more chugging riffs before the song explodes into the chorus, arguably my favourite on the album due to the killer hooks and the injection of the French language. I also enjoy the increase of symphonics as the track develops, adding a greater gravitas in the process.
‘A Silent Curse’ offers some of the most bruising guitars on the record, chunky and uncompromising. But it serves up more great, breathless melodies, driven along powerfully by the commanding drumming of Julien Agnello. And the mid-track metallic stomp and chug is rather excellent too.
All-in-all, ‘Voici L’Homme’ is an album that has impressed me, much more than I thought it would if I’m being honest. As a result, I’m delighted that I didn’t let the obvious barriers prevent me from listening because if I had, I would have missed out on a genuinely high quality melodic power metal album, fully worthy of the ‘metal’ description. I can’t believe you’ll be disappointed if you’re a power metal fan, so check it out!
The Score of Much Metal: 85%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here: