"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Orakle - "Éclats" (CD)

Orakle - "Éclats" CD cover image

"Éclats" track listing:

1. Solipse (4:27)
2. Incomplétude(s) (7:49)
3. Nihil incognitum (5:32)
4. Apophase (4:42)
5. Le sens de la terre (10:00)
6. Aux éclats (6:48)
7. Bouffon existentiel (8:21)
8. Humanisme vulgaire (12:11)

Reviewed by on June 17, 2015

"By the time the final weird guitar chords at the end of 'Humanisme Vulgaire' finish echoing across your skull, you'll know you've heard something pretty damn unique in the metal world..."

The French group's third full-length album, Orakle's “Eclats” doesn't go the traditional route in nearly anything it does. Nominally a black metal release, the album goes the exact opposite of where it might be expected to at any given point, constantly changing from melodic to extreme and back again. Like a heavier version of the latest Subterranean Masquerade release, “Eclats” is a surprise hit that's musically all over the map and delights in meshing harsh and soft as often as possible.

Experimental and genre-bending in the extreme, these tracks showcase everything from jazzy prog to full-on extreme metal, with a range of both clean singing and raspy growls. As should be expected by anything with the tag “progressive,” there's a strong bass presence across the disc, even with the black metal base sound. Those off-kilter, carnival style sounds that have become a staple in the avant-grade scene make a handful of appearances, and you should pretty much already have guessed that some sax comes out to play.

Dynamic and always in the process of going somewhere else, the mixing of opposing forces brings to mind Ne Oblivscaris, and the little ethnic flourishes from time to time will evoke everything from Myrath to Orphaned Land, at least until the next change in sound just around the corner. The French language coupled with segments of clean singing will even occasionally remind a listener of that French pop covers album Therion released a while back.

Orakle rarely fully switches gears all the way into separate genres, even when pulling heavily from them. Sure, there's a dab of power metal here, some gloomy Goth over there, a hint of groove metal pops up, a dash of some good old dark rock gets thrown in, then there's a sudden moment of industrial electronica, but the band keeps it all tightly together into a distinctive style that sounds like Orakle. Don't let that genre joyriding give the impression “Eclats” isn't heavy though, as the black metal parts easily have the legitimacy of underground gems like Eschatos, while still performing the melodic elements at an equally high level of proficiency.

Only a couple of instances occur across the disc where the ping-ponging sound doesn't line up quite perfectly. The ending of “Apophase” for instance sounds significantly different enough from the rest of the song that it might as well be part of something else entirely, and the transition between the ending of “La Sens De La Terre” to the beginning of “Aux Eclats” is pretty jarring due to the huge and sudden change in sound.

The constant variation takes place absolutely across the board, even in song lengths ranging from four to twelve minutes and everywhere inbetween. By the time the final weird guitar chords at the end of “Humanisme Vulgaire” finish echoing across your skull, you'll know you've heard something pretty damn unique in the metal world and its entirely likely you'll be ready to hit “play” all over again.

Highs: Black metal, power metal, French pop and rock, electronica, and more all come together in this genre joyride.

Lows: For the most part the experimental and progressive nature works, but in a few cases the opposing sounds don't fit together perfectly.

Bottom line: Orakle goes as non-traditional as it gets and does everything you'd never expect for a black metal album.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)