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Atoll - L'Araignée-Mal CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.11 | 171 ratings

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4 stars Impressive sophomore effort.

Atoll's classic album "L' Araignee-Mal" was one of France's best 70s entries, the sound somewhere in the midst of Ange, Pentacle, Arachnoid at times, but also mixing in a good deal of jazz-fusion jamming and a bit of Yes/Genesis influence in places. The results were pretty spectacular. This album is overwhelmingly energetic and rocking with only a few mellow sections. It will please those who want to hear some of the theatrical Ange thing but with more muscle, more bite.

"Le Photographe Exorciste" begins with a breezy happy synth but soon the song turns from dream to absolute nightmare with a section that is positively scary, a complete hellish freakout in the theatrical flare that will no doubt bring some Ange comparisons to people's minds. This band does sound like Ange on occasion but they are more fiery overall on this album. The scary part passes and the mood is more contemplative again with synths and a middle gear pace. Percussion is very accomplished as is the bass playing. Some feisty guitar work at the end with percussion noises that sound like the middle section of Ritual. "Cazotte No. 1" is an amazing fusion send-up that positively jams, very aggressive and driving. "Le Voleur" calms way down with an opening of delicate violin preceding some dreamy vocals, keys, and bass. This one sounds a bit like their mellower countrymen Pentacle in the beginning but it eventually will get more aggressive. Wild guitar runs and intermittent violin bursts will get increasingly raucous as the song progresses. Next is the epic 4-part title track. Part 1 begins with violin, odd percussions and muffled spoken vocals in the background creating a disconcerting mood. The drums begin to get restless and the violin starts twitching with increasing tension. At 2 ½ minutes the tension breaks and the bass kicks in pushing the drumming to some real acrobatics. After building awhile things break again and we get a smoother section where the lead guitar and vocal join in. Part 1 ends on an up note with upbeat guitar leading straight into part 2's opening keyboards. This section will feature ever building keys, drumming, and gut wrenching vocals. Part 3 is a spacey and jamming vintage keys fest, a showcase that would make Wakeman smile. Part 4's finale starts off quite laid back (for Atoll) with dreamy leads over some lovely keys. The band kicks in eventually and by halfway the sound is pretty much full steam again. The climax is a blaze of furious solo tradeoffs of guitar, keys, and violin just wailing a bit and passing the baton to next guy.

This is a solid 4-star album for me that I can recommend to anyone looking for an adventurous ride. The remastered mini-lp sleeve sounds pretty decent to me although I notice others think the production is not so hot. There is a live bonus track that is a heavy jazzy jam and this has noticeably lower sound quality but still listenable. The booklet has a very thorough band history and unfortunately, lots of the spiders that are the theme here apparently. True I'm not a spider fan but Atoll still has a great album here. It seems pretty unanimous that this is their finest hour so Atoll newbies may wish to begin with this one.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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