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Fantômas - Fantômas CD (album) cover





3.51 | 57 ratings

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3 stars The first offering from Mike Patton's merry avant prog metal quartet sets the precedent for their future releases: bizarre concept (30 short tracks corresponding to pages of a noirish comic book), skull crunching metal interspersed with deranged samples and effects, highly expressive wordless vocals and a nod to John Zorn, both a longtime hero to and a sometime collaborator with Mike Patton.

A track by track review would present an interesting challenge and would also probably induce a nervous breakdown in any reviewer who tried it. Thanks to the wonders of gapless playback, this album can be experienced as a continuous piece of music that would fit onto one side of a C90 with a couple of minutes to spare. The results are highly atmospheric, with similarities to Japanese noiseniks like Boredoms and Ruins, elements of death metal a la Napalm Death and the sheer out there weirdness of John Zorn's collaborations with eYe. There are some incredibly effective tracks, but interesting ideas are not always developed and after a while it all starts to sound a bit repetitive; they may not play the same riff twice, but there's a limit to how many times a quiet atmospheric passage followed by a sudden burst of molten metal only to stop after 90 seconds can be effective, and this CD maybe overdoes it. For a flavour of the album try Page 4; at 4.23 it's the second longest track on the album and pretty much contains the whole concept in microcosm. Fantomas probably sounded a lot more impressive in 1999, but time hasn't treated it that all that kindly. It's probably better experienced after hearing some of Fantomas' subsequent albums and some of Patton's collaborations with John Zorn. It's not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but much better work was to come from both Fantomas and Patton's numerous other projects.

Syzygy | 3/5 |


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