ORAKLE - Éclats

Orakle - Éclats

8 songs
59:54 minutes
***** *****


A group of teenagers started out in the mid-Nineties in the suburbs of Paris to create their own vision of black metal. It took them until the early days of the new millennium to release their first EP, which was followed a couple of years later by a first longplayer on which Orakle were still into deeply disturbing black metal. The second album came out three years later and saw the band acting already in a more progressive and atmospheric way. The next album would take seven years until fruition, and while such a long interval could have proven suicidal, in the case of Orakle it must be said that they used that time to completely reinvent themselves and possibly even the concept of music as we know it.

Having signed to a new label, the band is now marketed as progressive metal, which frankly makes more sense than the erstwhile black metal tag. Comparisons to Opeth and Enslaved can be read on the band’s Facebook page, but the influence of Mars Volta and King Crimson make possibly more sense. Orakle are only progressive in the way that they are really venturing into unknown territory. They are definitely not copying the work of any other artist that came before them. In that regard Orakle are rather an avantgarde metal band.

The eight songs on Éclats are all running between four and twelve minutes, and no matter if the band is opting for more compact material or the vaster epics, one thing their material always has in common is that you won’t find any typical rock structures. A whole bunch of different parts may follow one another, making you wonder how the band is keeping track of so much variety, and then out of the blue the band will join into a catchy chorus with ultra-melodic vocals, all performed in French. At times I feel reminded of French pop from the Eighties, à la Jean-Jacques Goldman, who by the way also had a rather successful progressive rock career with Taï Phong in the Seventies before he became commercial in the Eighties. The guitar work shows occasionally parallels to mid-period Voivod when the Canadians also had a more melodic phase.

It doesn’t make sense to analyse Éclats song by song, as this one hour work of art deserves to be listened to from beginning to end. Of course there are some tracks that will stick more with you than others, like Incomplétude(s), the second song of the album where the band is pulling out all the stops to show from the beginning that they are something else. Another highlight is Bouffon existentiel, an eight minute epic on which the band merges their avantgarde proggy side with French variété in a truly unprecedented way. Once you realise that Orakle’s keyboard player is also a member of the highly acclaimed 6:33, it is no longer a surprise that France has currently some of the most illustrious metal bands to show off. I am usually very reluctant to give an album a maximum rating, but Orakle’s Éclats is definitely proof that new things can still be done, and that in a very extraordinary way. This might just be among the few really great albums of this millennium. Éclats may not be THE future of metal, as it is just too challenging for the mainstream, but it is definitely A future of metal where the spirit of adventure hasn’t perished yet.

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