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Shub-Niggurath - Les Morts Vont Vite CD (album) cover





4.07 | 114 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Les Morts Vont Vite' - Shub-Niggurath (7/10)

Taking it's name from a beast in the H.P Lovecraft mythos, French chamber act Shub- Niggurath's first album is arguably some of the darkest music to ever come out of the bubblegum-stained 80's. First associated with the French Zeuhl scene of avant-garde music, Shub-Niggurath is quite a far cry from the tongue-in-cheek nature of compatriots Magma. Instead, this music takes the operatic jazz-fusion style first made famous by Christian Vander and company, and takes it far into the depths of hell, R'lyeh, or whatever Lovecraftian nightmare you can conjure in your mind. However, despite an incredibly promising opening sound and first track, 'Les Morts Vont Vite' ultimately loses quite a bit of it's magic and consistency as the album plunders on, although the fact remains that this is one of the most disturbing classics I've ever listened to.

Shub-Niggurath and their sound is defined by a remarkably dark and tritonic brand of jazz- fusion, mixed with the operatic soprano of Ann Stewart. The resulting effect is one of total chaos and dystopia. In fact, the band may very well have had a real masterpiece on their hands, had this debut been more consistent throughout. The album begins with the true highlight and epic of the album, 'Incepit Tragaedia', which is- in it's own odd and atonal way- the most memorable and melodic on the album. A solemn dirge that builds very slowly and intentionally to it's chaotic climax, the odd harmonies between Stewart's distinctive vocal approach and the maddening tones of the lead instruments is brilliant. All the while, the foreboding and sense of doom only grows, to the point where a comprehensive song structure can't hold back the darkness. From there on, the album takes a much more chaotic, almost 'jam-like' nature to it, focusing more on waves of sound and a jazz- influenced improvisation mixed with segments of hymnal doom.

Disregarding the obvious comparisons with bands such as chamber rock legends Univers Zero and Zeuhl innovators Magma, the biggest relation in sound I am reminded of is actually of King Crimson, circa their 'Red' album, in which a gloomy bass was used heavily, and the harmonies used were nothing, if not quite unsettling. However, Shub-Niggurath take that sound set, and makes it about as uncomfortable (read: unsettling yet interesting) as is possible. However, despite the album only getting more experimental as it goes on, the lack of structure can make some parts feel too noisy and chaotic to warrant a memorable experience.

A album of dark proportions I might only be able to compare to Scott Walker's 'The Drift' and some of the most sincere black metal out there, Shub-Niggurath will leave an impression on the listener, regardless of relative enjoyment. While the first track is the only one that is memorable on it's own, this French band has made an unlikely classic of it's first album.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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