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4 stars Don't be confused. This is in effect their debut demo Shub-Niggurath cleaned up and released on a CD. An excellent idea, in my view. Their debut demo is impossible to find anywhere and the music too good to disappear.

Those who knows their debut album knows that this band is not for the faint hearted. Where their debut album was a full frontal attack of infernal claustrophobic darkness, this album is more subtle and more Magma orientated. It still has all the hallmarks of Shub Niggurath though and will please the fans of this band.

The opening track Yog-Sothoth is a hint of things to come on their debut album with it's cascades of claustrophobic sounds, driven by a piano acting as a bass. The only hint, in fact. The other tracks is more subtle with more gentle use of keys, guitars and female vocals. But the dark claustrophobic music is still present. But dare I whisper it, this album is actually beautiful at times. In particular the final track In Memoriam which is a lovely funeral dirge. This album still has some distorted guitars and the usual bass like piano and the tortured trombone. But where there is normally darkness, this album also feature a more lyrical side of Shub Niggurath.

Quality wise, you either hate or love Shub Niggurath. I don't think anyone can be indifferent to their music. I am on the love side of this divide. This album is not as good as their debut album Les Morts Vont Vite. But it is still a great album. Hence my sprinkling of stars.

4 stars

Report this review (#297286)
Posted Friday, September 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was a real find for myself and I have to thank Torrod for his interview with one of the members for that. According to the liner notes SHUB NIGGURATH used this recording (in cassette form) in preperation for the tour they were going out on. Udi Koomran (who else?) did the transfert and mastering and he did an amazing job as usual. So this is where it started for the band. It's the same lineup that was on the legendary "Les Morts Vont Vite" an album I always play at Halloween. And while this particular cd isn't as dark or as intense as "Les Morts..." believe me there is plenty of darkness and tension. It's very similar in style in fact. Actually the opening track here also appears on "Les Morts..." Piano is ever-present on this album and we also get lots of harmonium and trombone. And of course bass, drums and guitar. Can't forget about Ann's vocal melodies either.They provide an often haunting element. All the tracks were composed by either the piano player or the guitarist.

"Yog-Sothoth" opens with faint sounds that almost hum. The piano around a minute is sparse. It kicks in with power before 2 1/2 minutes including female vocal melodies. It's eerie 4 minutes in then a calm arrives after 5 minutes but it doesn't last long. It's back though 6 minutes in as we get a dark atmosphere. An almost frightening outburst of sound follows then guitar. Female vocal melodies are next. Haunting stuff. "Entreasol" has this ominous and dark presence to start. It kicks in after a minute. Piano and drums lead the way.Trombone after 4 1/2 minutes.

"Introduction" opens with screams and yelling followed by piano and vocal melodies. Sparse drums join in too. It ends with drums only. "Barback" opens with piano, cymbals and trombone all in a reserved manner. Vocal melodies become prominant 3 1/2 minutes in then the music picks up 4 minutes in. It settles back again then builds with a solid beat and chunky bass. It settles before 7 minutes to an eerie soundscape then kicks back in a minute later with power.The guitar is raw and discordant. Vocal melodies and dissonant trombone before 11 1/2 minutes. Just an incredible display. "In Memoriam" features trombone and piano in a dark setting. Vocal melodies before a minute. It settles before 2 minutes then picks up again.

I'm so impressed with this album, it's even better than I thought it was going to be. A must for fans of their "Les Morts Vont Vite" album. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#300329)
Posted Friday, September 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars SHUB-NIGGURATH emerged from the fertile French underground at a time when a new chapter of progressive oriented rock had been taking on the challenge of finding its way into a new decade that wasn't so friendly to its highly innovative and experimental approach. The roots of this band emerged from another band that was known both as Apsara and Altaďs. This Paris based band was finding equal inspiration not only from their fellow progressive contemporaries Magma but also from neighboring Belgium in the terrifying chamber rock possibilities of Univers Zero. Their name is derived from one of the deities in Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft and as it turns out the perfect visual representation for the band's delving into some of the most avant-garde developments that could be classified within the greater zeuhl category.

The band was founded by Allan Ballaud sometime in 1982 or 1983 and would remain active until his untimely death from cancer in 1995. The band consisted of seven musicians in the beginning including Ballaud (bass), Franck Coulaud (drums,) Franck W. Fromy (guitars), Jean-Luc Herve (piano, organ & harmonium, Ann Stewart (vocals), Véronique Verdier (trombone) and Michel Kervinio (even more drums and percussion). This eponymously titled debut emerged initially as a demo preceding their classic album "Les Morts Vonte Vite." It emerged in 1985 as a mere cassette with a production job to match but has since been remastered and re- introduced to the band's canon in 2009 under the title INTRODUCTION. Despite the intent of a re-release there are slight differences between the original demo and the what would be called INTRODUCTION but only negligible differences well made up by the greater remastering job.

This demo is considered somewhat mandatory for SHUB-NIGGURATH fans due to the fact that the tracks never appeared on another album with the exception of the opener "Yog-Sothoth" which is a heavier and rawer version. The band's goal was obviously to create some of the darkest and most terrifying sounds ever heard. While staying within the rhythmic confines of Magma inspired zeuhl complete with the operatic vocal style of Ann Stewart, the music itself relies more on an apocalyptic "Heresie" era of Univers Zero styled chamber rock which the band pulls off effortlessly with a stellar instrumental section. One of the unique factors for SHUB-NIGGURATH was the inclusion of a bass trombone to add hitherto unthinkable bleats to their doom-laden bass fuzz and rhythmic marches into the world of dread.

This demo or INTRODUCTION is very similar to the album "Les Morts Vont Vite" as can be expected since that album continues the dynamics presented here in a more cohesively uniform fashion, however this demo provides a more intriguing experience in a frighteningly raw journey that imposes order of disparately tortured sounds through the zeuhl decree. While a rhythmic march is somewhat loosely contained, the real magic lies in the dissonant guitar squeals, the heavy bombastic outbursts and the ethereal vocal chants of Stewart. Never before has music sounded so tortured and enshrouded in darkness. Ballaud learned well from the Univers Zero playbook and upped their game exponentially.

Part of the appeal of SHUB-NIGGURATH is the fact that pianist / organist Jean-Luc Herve studied under the tutelage of 20th century classical composer Gérard Grisey who was a key figure in what was called the spectralist movement which emerged in the 70s and with the assistance of computer analysis would analyze the quality of the timbre in acoustic music derived from its synthesis, therefore a whole new method of music existing as an aesthetic rather than a distinct style emerged. While somewhat known in the avant-world of 20th century classical music, SHUB-NIGGURATH were instrumental into bringing these techniques into the greater progressive rock universe.

This debut by SHUB-NIGGURATH can really be considered a halfway point between the Kobaian zeuhl magic that Magma unleashed in the early 70s with the intricacies of chamber rock made popular by bands such as Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. While "Les Morts Vont Vite" is surely the first stop in exploring the demented and darkened world of SHUB-NIGGURATH, this debut demo turned archival is not to be missed for it is as haunting as anything you could possibly imagine with a musical backbone to match. If you seriously want some apocalyptic sounds that take you to a vast underworld of avant-extremities then don't mistake this demo for a mere weak version of the debut album. This is every bit as accomplished and worth of a prime time performance that offers tracks unavailable anywhere else.

Report this review (#2086558)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2018 | Review Permalink

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