Tranzat – Ouh La La – Album Review

Artist: Tranzat

Album Title: Ouh La La

Label: Klonosphere Records

Date of Release: 1 April 2022

There are a multitude of reasons why this record nearly escaped my gaze, but none more prominent than the cover artwork and accompanying album title. As someone who takes a lot of notice over album artwork, the sight of four bemused, smirking men in faded pink polo shirts, looking like they’ve stepped out of a local tennis club, ensured that I scrolled right past. Not even the cute dog that’s with them could save my initial feelings of ‘meh, that’ll not be for me then’. It wasn’t until a few days later that I saw the band’s name in an email from the PR company, alongside the words ‘progressive’, and ‘Devin Townsend’ that I considered changing my mind. The rest is history.

‘Ouh La La’, is the oddly named third record of Tranzat’s career, and first for Klonosphere Records, having self-released the first two, 2016’s ‘Hellish Psychedelia’ and 2018’s ‘The Great Disaster’. Alongside the bizarre cover, it demonstrates in glorious technicolour that the French quartet from Brest do not take themselves particularly seriously. That’s fine, and I’m all for a bit of comedy – I just hope that it doesn’t prevent the band from gaining the serious traction that their music deserves. You see, Tranzat play seriously great music.

The comedy, and sense of fun permeates beyond the cover and actually seeps into the music itself too. At points, we hear some silly voices, a dodgy and random diversion into a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in the middle of a song, or an intro count-in that goes wrong, I presume deliberately. In addition, some of the song titles are bizarre, and the compositions verge on the bonkers, spanning a wide variety of different genres, making it almost impossible to pigeonhole this band neatly into a box. This last point is the key to Tranzat though; for all the tongue-in-cheek comedy and self-mocking humour, these musicians are deadly serious and have applied themselves brilliantly here, to create a soundtrack that defies logic to a certain extent but is wonderfully entertaining and exuberant.

Any thought that ‘Ouh La La’ might be a gentile, fluffy prog rock affair are blown away in the first seconds, as ‘Shall We Dance’ explodes from the speakers in a cacophony of extreme metal, a frenzied blend of death metal and ‘City’-era Strapping Young Lad, with vocalist Manuel Liegard wailing hysterically. From there though, the song shifts to more of a heavy groove, with Liegard and Benjamin Arbellot delivering muscular riffs, alongside a cool rhythm laid down by drummer Thomas Coïc, and bassist Nicolas Galakhoff. There’s a brief decent into a bluesy, jazzy section before the heaviness returns. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, a strong melody emerges, and what was initially a case of ‘this is ok’, turns into ‘ouh la la, I like this’ (see what I did there?!). Liegard also unleashes impressive vocals at this point to heighten the impact, so resonant and powerful. Naturally, the song isn’t done as it starts to deconstruct, but does so with ferocity and eye-watering heaviness.

The album, from there, is littered with brilliant songs, such as ‘Mr Awesome’. This is the track that opens with the deliberate count-in error, but from there, the acoustic intro is sublime, with Liegard impressing with his incredible voice, only accentuating the melodies, as the song gently builds. Even though the soundscape is heavy once again, it has more of a mainstream feel about it, ballad-like in places. But the killer moment is the chorus, where the melody is anthemic and Liegard delivers a devastating vocal performance, sending shivers up and down my spine.

‘Climbing Tibetan Mountains To Learn The Secrets Of The Mind’ begins in thunderous fashion before channelling their inner Mastodon at points within the track. The melodies are strong and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m left stunned by the vocals of Manuel Liegard; the guy really does have it all, from nasty screams to deep resonant tones, to an emotionally tinged delivery when the music requires it. He will inevitably draw the Devin Townsend comparisons too, thanks to the power within his screams, and the chameleon nature of his performances. But this should very much be taken as a positive, not a negative.

What is a slight negative is that there are a couple of tracks that don’t quite resonate as strongly with me. They aren’t bad compositions at all, they just don’t reach the heady heights of the others. It’s subjective opinion of course, but one of those tracks, ironically, is one of the lead singles, ‘Lobster Beaujolais’. There are fine moments within it, but it threatens a little more than it delivers. ‘Morning Glories’ is a decent song too, but it feels a little too long and could have benefitted from a touch more editing along the way, particularly in the extended quitter passages. And do I detect a hint of bands like Nickleback in a couple of places within ‘My Dear Washer’?

But back to the positives, and ‘Lord Dranula’ falls within this category. With punishing heaviness, technicality aplenty, and memorable melodies, it’s a song that darts all over the place, from death metal brutality to odd, bouncy sections but remains cohesive and enjoyable, even in spite of the digression into ‘Happy Birthday’ midway through. Lead solos are a big part of this song too, but that central chorus is marvellous, and pulls everything together.

The melodies are also excellent within both ‘Pillow Fight’ and the album closer, ‘Global Warning’, both of which ensuring that ‘Ouh La La’ finishes strongly. In the former, we’re hit with some of the most overtly heavy and aggressive material on the album, but this is juxtaposed with one of the most poignant sections, where a lead guitar solo sings emotionally over what began as a jazz infused affair, full of subtle technicality. The latter uses its extended length to explore many ideas, including some epic emotion increased by a spoken-word sample at the outset, passages of surprising minimalism, explosions of sound, and much more besides.

I cannot tell you what a thoroughly pleasant surprise this album is. Having initially disregarded it on the artwork and imagery alone, I took a chance and have been handsomely rewarded. I know that we should never judge a book by its cover, but in this case, it was hard not to. All I can say to you, if you’ve got this far, is give Tranzat a chance. If you’re a fan of artists like Devin Townsend, A.C.T., Mastodon, or just a lover of quirky, or progressive music, then this might be right up your street and I implore you to give it a go. If you’re anything like me, you’re likely to be left highly impressed.

The Score of Much Metal: 91%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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