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4 stars These newcomers perform a superb Progressive rock. The musicians play a contrasted and refined music that alternates energetic themes, acoustic parts with sophisticated orchestrations and beautiful vocal parts in French. This music can hardly be compared to other French progressif rock bands'. Although this mature work clearly displays a large palette of international influences - Spock's Beard, King Crimson, Queensryche, Genesis, . - the variety and the substance of the compositions is really splendid and all the clichés were avoided. These four talented musicians worked for three years and got involved into a really tough work : every harmonic aspect, every rhythmic pattern and every melody were polishd up. All the artwork was also very carefully dealt with : it is a good illustration of this ambitious concept album. In a nutshell, a definitely excellent first album ! Listen to the samples on their website and get one copy of "L'Arbre-Cimetière", you won't regret it !
Report this review (#33520)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sacrebleu! The French are back into the leading edge in terms of new good prog acts, adding to their rich history during the golden years of Ange, Atoll, Mona Lisa, Neo, Arachnoid, Shylock et all... In the last 5 years , new bands such as Taal, Silver Lining, Xang, Seven Reizh, Saens, Aside Beside, Raison de Plus and a slew of others have left powerful marks on the prog audiophile.

Maldoror come out of the red, white and blue with a stunning display of biting & complex brew of the classiest symph-prog around. These 4 gifted musicians are tight as can be, interweaving their talents to produce a masterpiece. J.C. Rouanet is a dedicated technician , more in the heavy chugging rhythm style of a Martin Barre, but with a very distinctive lead guitar style that is often awesome and creative. The keyboards weave modern patches with more conventional multi-keyboard embellishments (piano, organ, synths and tron. The real star, in my opinion , is the stellar rumbling and reptilian bass played by Stephane Descamp, who really puts on a display of your classic prog bass history, at times fat and moody, then shifting in a blitzing propulsion , always inventive. Drummer Silvain Goillot pulverizes his skins with measured aplomb, unselfishly pushing the themes to unequalled heights. The vocals are handled by keys man Christophe Bellieres in a style arch typical of classic French prog, very dramatic, verging on hysterics with a heavy sense of theatrics in the direct spirit of Descamps, LeGuennec & Balzer. The music is -guess what - an album length story about the power of dictatorship and of the struggle of the innocent and unjustly oppressed . It's a torrid affair, replete with powerful themes, sophisticated arrangements, stylish flourishes and the ubiquitous "time changes" that keep things constantly on or near the edge , breathtakingly risky and off-guard. All twelve pieces flow according to the story, with the middle Acte II of particular brilliance and sheen, with a barrage of rippling lead guitar and synth solos , each better than the other.

This is symph-prog of the very highest calibre , never sloppy or needlessly meandering, that multiple listens openly suggest at classic status. The French are showing that they can be true masters in other fields besides soccer. With the above new bands, Maldoror is another jewel to reckon with . I have been waiting since the Riverside album for another hard hitting prog masterpiece and I have been rewarded with this unexpected gift. Rank way up there!

4 etoiles

Report this review (#33521)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars Last Wednesday night was a moving battle between my two passions: music and soccer. In the morning I received a parcel with many progrock CD's. Due to a very busy daily schedule I had to postpone my wish to a first listening session until the early evening. My first choice was the debut CD "L'Arbre-Cimetière" from the very promising French progrock band MALDOROR, mainly because of two very positive descriptions from fellow reviewers on the Prog Archives site. I had to do it quickly, soon the European Champions League Soccer Finale between my favorite team Liverpool and the shrew Italian AC Milan squad should start. I was very impressed by MALDOROR's wonderful and moving 24-carat symphonic rock sound but the finale had just begun. After 45 very disappointing minutes Liverpool was 3-0 down and I decided to switch off the televison and re-start my 'MALDOROR-CD-session'. I was halfway and got every song more excited but then a friend send an e-mail that Liverpool had fought back to 3-3! This stunning information urged me to put on the television. I witnessed a very tense soccer game with eventually Liverpool as the Champions League winners after extra time and a captivating serie of penalties. For me it was "Tears in my eyes" from URIAH HEEP and the stadium speaker start "We Are The Champions" from QUEEN and "You Never Walk Alone" from Gary And The Pacemakers, the Liverpool anthem that can be heard on the PINK LOYD album "Meddle". After the game I rushed to my CD-player and listened to the rest of the album. My conclusion: MALDOROR is one of the most promising progrock bands I've heard in the last five years: the 12 compositions sound wonderful, alternating, elaborated and compelling and features lots of shifting moods, impressive keyboards (Mellotron, organ piano, and synthesizers) and great harder-edged guitarwork. I hear elements from ANGLAGARD, KING CRIMSON, GENESIS, MARILLION and KANSAS but MALDOROR doesn't sound as a deravitive, they manage to blend their tribute to the Seventies progrock sound with the typical French theatrical approach and lots of original musical ideas. Prog Archives allows a lot of space for the symphonic rock dinosaurs (to me this is OK!) but I would like to say: THIS CD IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!
Report this review (#33522)
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This band from south west France present an elaborated progressive rock concept album with medieval influences. Lyrics are in french but it is not a problem if you don't understand the story, vocals are very beautifulls with fantastic melodies and great musicianship. The other reviewers spoke about Ange influence and I have to add that this music remind me: "La vieille que l'on brûla" from another good french band Ripaille.

Please, get a copy of this great gem, sit comfortably in your armchair with a glass of wine, turn down the light a bit, close your eyes and have a nice time listening to this wonderfull masterpiece. 5 stars Website:

Report this review (#69621)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Maldoror takes its name from the work Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror) by Isidore Lucien Ducasse known by his pseudonym of Comte de Lautréamont. It is about a misanthropic man named Maldoror that has renounced all his ties to humanity and its moral laws, but it has no clear plot to it. In this album they incorporate some of this work along with other sources like Arthur Rimbaud poem - Le Bal Des Pendus (Hanged Men's Ball).

This music feels as though you have entered into a mystic, mysterious and dark tale of old. It is reinforced by the lyrics, which are old fashioned, and of high level, some of it even taken from the great poet Arthur Rimbaud. The vocals, to me, are one of the highlights of this album. They are deep, emotional, and even sensual, with a wide range, fitting the music spirit perfectly. The music is melancholic, as are the lyrics. It is mostly in slow tempo with some parts being faster, but this does not mean the songs lack energy. On the contrary, they all have much power and dynamics and I hardly notice the tempo of the song being slow. I get carried away in the brilliant tunes created by this talented band. The music sounds at time as old French folk themes adapted to modern standards. On other occasions it is more aggressive with the guitars giving a rougher edge to the songs, and it is always enhanced and even fueled by the excellent vocal performance.

This deserves to receive a 5 stars rating since not only it gives me great pleasure listening to it, but I find that this album is built and structured in a fabulous way, leading you through this voyage in the Cemetery-Tree. Each song gives another aspect to the album, adds more emotions and textures to the music. In my opinion, the album as a whole is a brilliant work, and even listening to each song separately is an enjoyable experience. But I will give it 4 stars as it is not exactly there, in the masterpieces position just yet. But not far from it too... Get this!

Report this review (#78043)
Posted Saturday, May 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Maldoror" stroke hard with their debut album. As soon as the listener has heard the short opening number (the title track, part I) he knows that something special is on its way. It is fully reminiscent of KC and is to related with the opening number of "Caricatures" (from "Ange" : "Biafra 80"). Fantastically scary.

The relation with "Ange" cannot be avoided. The theme of the album takes apparently place during the medieval ages and the vocalist Christophe Bellière (very pleasant I must say) sounds rather theatrical, you know like Descamps (Christian). There is even a Descamp (Stéphane) who is holding the bass here...

This is truely of symphonic jewel of an album. If by any chance you like bombastic music, intricated instrumental parts, Crimsonesque filiation (the early days one), you will definitely like this album. French knowledge is a plus of course, but it is not as necessary as for the early "Ange" production. This album can fully be appreciated without understanding all the lyrics (but still, it helps...).

At times, it gets harder ("La Convocation", really good, "Les Nouveaux Mondes"), some narration instead of sung vocals also take place here and there to introduce some tracks ("L' Ouverture Du Procès" for instance). This song is emotive and lyrically probably the most cruel for our hero "Iken" when he is being told that there is only one law : the one of the power in place ("nous restons les maîtres du pouvoir" - we remain the master of the power).

Very interesting narration to start "Le Pouvoir Des Mots". I guess that anyone suffering in a dictatorship must feel the same than "Iken". To face a trial in front of some puppets who already have made their own judgement and condemned the accused whatever he might say is probably a daily business in those countries (whatever when it takes / took place). Anyway, "Le Pouvoir Des Mots" is another strong number. It is also the section of the album that holds the longest tracks (from "L'ouverture Du Procès" through "Simples Physiciens") as well as the most complex ones.

"Simple Phyciens" starts like a funeral party and is a very emotional song. The second part is wild and is more in the "Atoll" style. Let's put it this way : it is just grandiose. Some religious reference with "Ainsi Soit-Elle". Some sort of prayer for the dying truth (so be with it). Nasty (the content of the text I mean not the song) and pessimistic.

"La Sentence" could have been a KC song : strong guitar, repetitive riffs, great drumming, very powerful backings. Our hero will hear the sentence of his "big trial" (grand procès). One of my fave on this excellent album.

Another highlight is the closing number : "L'Arbre Cimetière - Le Grand Livre S' Effeuille". Extremely dark (lyrically). A short phrase will completely upset the listener at the end of the song, so if you would like to be surprised do not read this review further because it will reveal some VERY astonishing words.

You can't wait ? OK, here you go : "Iken, wake up, it was only a dream. You are REALLY dead" .

As if the whole story just did not take place. It will be followed by two minutes of silence and the last section features the sound of a gravedigger at work. Brrrrrrr.

Some more craziness in the lyrics would have been appreciated but maybe that "Maldoror" did not want to do this to avoid an even more evident similarity with "Ange". To a certain extension, "Atoll" is also a source of inspiration. But these are good ones, right ?

Five stars (nine out of ten actually). Do listen to this album, please.

Report this review (#134891)
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars Tszirmay gave me a list of his15 favourite modern prog albums which included this particular record. I had this one but hadn't heard it yet, needless to say I decided to make listeneing to it a priority and am I ever glad I did. The first track reminded me so much of ANGLAGARD that I had to double check what I was listening to the first time I heard it. Glad to see Hibou and Eric also hear that connection (i'm in good company). This is a concept album but because the lyrics are in French it's all lost on me. It's apparently about a man who rebels againt the established power of the day, and the story is divided into 3 parts. Like I said the lyrics have no bearing on my evaluation of this record, just the music. And the music is absolutely incredible.

"L'Arbre-Cimetiere Part 1" is dark with synth-strings and majestic waves of mellotron as the drums play steadily. Guitar comes in sounding amazing. Love the tone. I keep playing this first track over and over. My favourite. "Tristes Cites" is even darker with scary sounds as reserved vocals start to slowly sing. Violin a minute in. The song gets fuller and the vocals more passionate as it plays out. "A La Recherche Du Passe" has this industrial beginning that comes back to end the song. In between we get threatrical vocals with some outstanding guitar that comes and goes. Organ after 2 minutes. "Bal Des Pendus" opens with mellotron and vocals. After a minute the vocals are excellent and the guitar is fantastic. Piano comes in. Piano and guitar after 4 minutes are great. "La Convocation" has a spacey intro as low end guitar comes in. Very doom-like actually. Organ and vocals a minute in. It kicks into gear before 2 minutes. Awesome sound. "L'Ouverture Du Proces" opens with spoken words with waves of sound. The guitar comes in grinding away. Nice. It settles down when the vocals and synth-strings arrive 1 1/2 minutes in. Some nice bass after 3 minutes before the guitar starts to light it up. Lots of tempo changes in this one.

"Le Pouvoir Des Mots" features marching style drumming with spoken words for a minute. Some beautiful guitar comes in with reserved vocals, synth-strings then drums. The guitar becomes aggressive before 3 minutes. Drums and synths are prominant. It's mellow again. Check out the guitar 7 minutes in. "Les Nouveaux Mondes" opens with dramatic vocals before synths and vocals take over. Mellotron 3 1/2 minutes before vocals and a heavier sound. Mellotron choirs 5 minutes in are incredible. "Simples Physiciens" opens with samples as synths and drums take over before a minute. Nice deep bass lines take over for synths briefly. Vocals 2 minutes in as bass throbs. Vocals get passionate as guitar comes in tastefully soaring. It changes before 4 minutes to a brighter sound. Amazing guitar 5 minutes in. "Ainsi Soit-Elle" opens with theatrical vocals but a pleasant melody follows. Grinding guitar 3 1/2 minutes in as organ and drums shine. Check out the bass as spacey synths then come in late to end it. "La Sentence" opens with synths then drums before guitar comes in aggressively. Great sound 2 minutes in. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. Outstanding track ! "L'Arbre-Cimetiere" opens with reserved vocals and piano although it gets full fairly fast. Fat bass before the organ arrives a minute in. Themes are repeated.

This is one of those recordings that I find challenging and enjoyable to listen to. Lots of twists and turns yet the same sort of style that I love is always present. For me this is perfect.

Report this review (#173062)
Posted Thursday, June 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Maldoror is often referred to as a French symphonic rock band in a style similar to Ange. While this is true for the affected way of singing and the rocking organ sound, I can't see the comparison in terms of songwriting or quality.

The musicianship and instrumental parts are fairly good but due to a lack of memorable hooks and true creative spirit the album never plays in the same league as Ange. Not only is the instrumental material rather generic, the actual songwriting, when stripped from their symphonic arrangements, never reaches above French chanson-rock clichés. The epic vision, the darkness and emotional impact of Ange might be suggested in the nice opening instrumental, but is largely absent from the remainder of the album.

A lot of people really love this album, and since this sure isn't a 'hyped' band, the other reviewers can't all be wrong. But this type of prog, based on French chanson and accessible melodic pop is a bit too docile and formulaic for me. For fans of French chanson in a prog-rock context (Harmonium and such)

Report this review (#299948)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A French band taking up the legacy left by Ange and the 1970s French symph prog scene.

The comparison with Ange is obvious. L'Arbre-Cimetière has the same fluent, lyrically pastoral symph prog as them. The sound is excellent and the same goes for the musicianship. The theatrical French vocals is a joy to behold although I do not understand a single word French. But this language is perfect for this music.

My gripe with this album is the lack of any really great song. Great melody lines is scattered around this album, but Maldoror has not managed to string them all together in coherent units. This is their only album and it is eight years old. I get the feeling that Maldoror had a lot of potential, but it has never been fulfilled. Which is a great shame. This album is a very good album, but nothing more.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#618752)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Maldoror is one of the forgotten and unknown franch progressive rock bands with one album released so far. The debute album named L'Arbre-Cimetière issued in 2004 is a great one full of surprises both in vocal department and in musical arrangements, at least for me. Taken influences from french school of the '70s like Ange or Mona Lisa, maldoror managing to creat a pleasent and enjoyble album from start to finish. Theatrical symphonic/neo prog with quite tight musicianship and some great ideas overall. The music is dramatic and quite dark in aproach, as the vocal parts aswell, but it works very well here, some turbulent moments on the first and second act. I forgott the album is divided in 3 acts, each act having 3-4 pieces. From mellow parts to more edgy Maldoror has a very valueble album, often regarded as one of the true followers of legendary Ange. The music is sophisticated, rich in musical passages, complicated twists between guitars and keyboards, a very good drumer and a strong vocalist on top. I really like this obscure record, one of the best I've heared from the recent french school. 3.5 stars for sure, nice cover art that goes hand in hand with the music, powerful and dark in same time. For fans of Ange, Mona Lisa ,3.5 stars for sure.

Report this review (#985337)
Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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