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Shub-Niggurath Les morts vont vite album cover
4.08 | 161 ratings | 21 reviews | 39% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Incipit Tragaedia (15:46)
2. Cabine 67 (5:55)
3. Yog Sothoth (12:27)
4. La ballade de Lénore (8:58)

Total Time 43:06

Bonus tracks on 1997 CD release:
5. Delear Prius (4:03)
6. J'ai vu naguère en peinture les harpies ravissant le repas de Phynée (4:19)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ann Stewart / vocals
- Franck W. Fromy / guitar, electric percussion
- Jean-Luc Hervé / piano, church organ, harmonium
- Véronique Verdier / trombone
- Alain Ballaud / bass
- Franck Coulaud / drums

- Michel Kervinio / drums & percussion (5,6)

Releases information

Artwork: Horace Vernet

LP Musea ‎- FGBG 2002 (1986, France)

CD Gazul Records ‎- GA 8613.AR (1997, France) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SHUB-NIGGURATH Les morts vont vite ratings distribution

(161 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(39%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

SHUB-NIGGURATH Les morts vont vite reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A dark, brooding masterpiece of Zeuhl influenced music, Les Morts Vont Vite is actually much closer to the chamber rock of Univers Zero, Art Zoyd or Present than it is to Magma. Ann Stewarts quasi-operatic vocals have something in common with Stella Vander's contributions to Magma, but there are no choral arrangements or massed chanting here. Instead, the vocals are frequently played off the innovative trombone (an unusual instrument in a rock context) or the squalling, distorted guitar lines. There is also little of the rhythmic development associated with Christian Vander - the rhythm section is highly skilled, but tends to play lurching, Faust styled patterns where the beat never falls quite where you expect it. Overall, the perfect soundtrack to an evening spent reading HP Lovecraft.

Highly recommended to lovers of the challenging and bizarre, particularly RIO afficianados.

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An intriguiing album to say the least, and an intriguing composoitional style - largely influenced by Messaien, it would seem - where the music is composed. When it goes off on a jam, however, it tends to get lost and meandering.

Jean-Luc Herve would seem to be the driving force, as the piano is clearly guiding the way for the other instrumentalists. Ann Stewart delivers a good performance throughout, holding her own very well against the serialism and resultant frequent dischords, but with slight intonation issues.

The music, as one might expect from such extensive use of serialism, is generally dark and brooding - definitely an album for connoisseurs or those who appreciate serialism.

Mostly, then, this is a very interesting album simply from the point of view of the compositional techniques and the resultant "zeuhl" type sound - with surprising "bling" in the production given that this was released in the 1980s, but the approach is only partly successful in delivering creative music of distinction, hence this album does not achieve the "Masterpiece" status.

Neither would I say that it is essential, as it will have a limited appeal. There is an immediate "wow" factor, as the playing is tight, the overall style fresh to anyone unfamiliar with the genre, the production is crisp and the exectution mostly precise - but on repeated listens, tends to sound rather samey, and the music reveals little in any kind of hidden depths.

This is a great album to put on if you're holding a party, and want everyone to get the hint that it's over ;0)

If you don't like long and detailed anaylsis, this review ends here.

I provide the analysis partly to help give a foothold into this type of music to those not used to "difficult" styles, and partly because the music lends itself to analysis so well, it'd be a shame not to - after all, analysis is what consumate proggers do best :0)

A cell (a partial note-row) begins the work, by way of a kind of insistent fanfare. Ann Stewart has a tough job against the cell and ever-shifting brass, bass and rhythm section, maintaining semitonal dischords to sinister effect. Tiny decorations appear on the piano's rhythmic cell, and are echoed by the flute.

Around 2:30, the music drops into a dark cavern, as the drums stop to allow a development of the cell, and a buildup topped with shimmering flute.

Don't let the drums fool you, despite the amazing and largely successful efforts to blur the time signature, 3/4 is the order of the day here - but the percussive work is precise without ever being sterile, driving the work forward.

The biggest weakness really is the guitar, which, when left to its own devices, noodles about aimlessly and stands out starkly from the other instruments, which are tightly orchestrated.

The piano "solo" section around 7:30 is quite brilliant, however, concentrating on a mainly rhythmic delivery, elastically stretching ideas developed from the initial cell, and orchestrating the other instruments and voice around it into a single complex web of sound.

Around 9:30, guitar feedback provides some great ambience, and fuzz bass continues to threaten the existence of this quiet moment, despite being hushed by gentle percussion and electronic effects. The bass becomes ever more edgy, however, and the ambience becomes more and more claustrophobic in a superb build-up, which is "shattered" by gentle vocals.

This develops a nice theme of dark against light, dark eventually winning, as we knew it would, with the piano creating a rippling theme based on the cell, and the trombone and bass in full agreement.

After a while, the voice does become insistent to the point of irritating, in my opinion - I would have liked more rhythmic variation, instead of straight crotchet patterns with the occasional long note, and the entire piece falls into the trap of coming across as rather samey - but only too long by about a minute.

"Cabine 67" begins with another piano cell - but almost entirely rhythmic. The guitar, brass and organ weave atmospherics around mini-explosions in the percussion, all of which rather predict the eventual ensemble, which ambles off very nicely - but as with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu orchestra, the incessant noodling on the guitar rather spoils the precise composition in place in the rest of the instruments. Much more repetitive than the previous piece, the tight and narrow definition quickly loses interest - moreso given that this piece carries a 4/4 drum pattern! The chaotic build-up at the end is good.

"Yog Sothoth" begins with a low D on what sounds like the trombone - but is presumably the organ, unless the trombonist is an expert at cyclic breathing... always possible. The piano creeps in with another cell, and extends it a lttle for interest. At last we move away from simple time to more complex time, with a 5-bar pattern that passes through 4/4/, 3/4, 3/4, 2/4 and 4/4... unless something's up with my counting. Anyway, it's more interesting to work out what time signatures are being passed through than to listen to the music at this particular point. It gets interesting around 5:30, though, and a series of timbral moments are worked through, with key-shifts that are interesting, given that the true serialist approach is to remove any idea of diatonic harmony. However, there is implicit harmony of D here. I can't say major or minor, as the third is almost alternately sharpened and flatted as if by some sort of whim, but the overall dark feeling would imply the minor.

Regular 4 time is re-established around 10:00, and a hypnotic, repetitive passage provides a kind of echoing coda.

"La Ballade De Lenore" begins with what sounds like a note row, which soon breaks down into a brilliant dischort - sparse, yet rich in clashes. The voice and trombone proceed in a semi fugal style over shifting organ, and small melodic motifs continuosly raise their heads until the fuzz bass, feedback guitar and drums crash in. Almost unbelievably, the underlying time signature appears to be 4/4 - this is muddied so well that it took me a few bars to get it. Shows there's life in the old time signatures yet!

As before, the style continues, with the predictable drawing back of the drums and bass, and repeated entry with dark and somewhat over muddy textures. There are moments that are really good, and longer moments that are just meandering noodle. My favourite is the unison voice, piano and trombone section that ends the piece.

"Delear Prius" begins by conjouring up a sinister almost mediaeval or even Dark Ages world with the soprano voice separated by a cavernous gulf from the bass accompaniment and careful, precise percussion. Stabs ring out, similar to some you might hear in Orff's "Carmina Burana", emphasisng this feeling. However, the entire piece continues in this vein and only develops on a small scale, with little changes in the musical motifs, which leaves this feeling somewhat plodding and lugubrious.

And so the great finale, "J'ai Vu Naguère En Peinture Les Harpies Ravissant Le Repas De Phynée". This begins with crashing introductory chords, in similar style to the opeining "fanfare", and maintains the "Dark Ages" flavour, with ever-increasing crashes. The bass and wild, feedback driven guitar promise the build-up from hell, but it is soon apparent that this is not going to be delivered, and the rest of the piece simply uses this idea to pad out the time, it would seem.

A disappointing ending to what could have been a great album, if only there had been some more actual musical development, instead of the microscopic development "in the small". While this sort of minimalism may appeal to some, I would not recommend this album to everyone, and certainly not to anyone who is unfamilar with either zuehl, minimalism or serialism. The surface "bling" may appeal to someone who wants something quite radically different in their collection - but I'm willing to bet that this is not an album that makes it to the stereo on a regular basis, or even gets end-to-ended very often.

Maybe all this a bit academic, but Shub Niggurath appear to be presenting the music in an academic kind of style, and I feel, only partially achieve the objectives. Hence a solid 3 stars - a good album showing great potential in a difficult style, but of limited appeal and somewhat basic when you consider the scope of what could be done using serialism and imaginative composition.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars If the other Shub-Niggurat album was a really perky album with its twisted odd ditties, this one goes a slight bit deeper in the depression. This album makes Univers Zero's world like Univers Billions $ as this is really BLEAK and gloomy and send gothic rock groups back to their cribs. The album takes its name after the 1839 Horace Vernet painting gracing its sleeve.

I have, because of my RIO tastes, heard many sombre album, but like this one, I must say that it might be among the top five along with Present's first two and UZ's Heresie, while not delivering as much energy as those. This album with its gloomy soprano vocals close to classical music and rather complex structures also does hint clearly at some Zeuhl influences, but we are clearly on the outer fringes of rock music more like Avant Rock. However impressive this album maybe, one of the main gripes I have with it, is its repetitive nature with the same endlessly slow patterns and booming bass thumping allowing of course for plenty of doomy guitar wails and gloomy organs, but this comes back on almost every track. But Shub-Niggurat is not just content on slow macabre paces, as when La Ballade De Lénore picks up speed they get down to even more ignominious moods, prompting even Dracula to take the night off!!! (Yes, THAT bad!!!!!!! ;-)

If one day your kid-cousin is turning towards goth rock, and you would like to get him interested in a proggier current than his actual tastes, you might want to introduce him to prog rock through a band like this!!! No doubt he will be impressed and maybe . just maybe ... also interested enough to borrow the album to his buddies and who knows what could happen? Worth a shot, aint'it?

Review by Heptade
3 stars This second generation zeuhl album is somewhat legendary for its aggressiveness and dark atmospheres, which are on a par with or perhaps even eclipse Magma's at times. Since zeuhl is a genre created by one man, Christian Vander, it's perhaps unfair to judge an album poorly because it sticks to the zeuhl script too closely. Having said that, this album is so Magma-ish that it could be Magma! All the hallmarks are there- dissonant, high pitched vocals, tinkly piano, clattery drums, wildly overdriven bass guitar, although Shub- Niggurath does offer something a little different- a lot of crazy feedbacky sorta-jazzy avant garde guitar solos. The atmosphere of the record is certainly dark, oppressive and violent, making for a cathartic listening experience to say the least. The musicianship is impressive, though not quite up to Magma standards. Certainly anyone interested in zuehl should have this album, if you don't already. It's an essential in the (sub)-genre.
Review by Tom Ozric
5 stars I have been lucky enough to obtain this vinyl in recent years, and was totally blown-out by its blinding complexity. The Zeuhl factor is present (I'll spell 'Zeuhl' correctly, this time around - confusing word that is) but that's only applicable courtesy of the rhythm section ; a de-tuned fuzzed-out Bass sound and the crisp and heavy drumming that is imperative to this sub-genre, is featured throughout. The guitar sections are abrasive and harsh, but in-keeping with what is being presented. Atonal vocals from Ann Stewart (usually sung in a tri-tone to the key of the music) creates an unsettling, disturbed air to the pieces here, and that's built upon by Veronique Verdier's Trombone parts, and Jean-Luc Herve's keyboard rig (consisting of a UNIVERS ZERO combination of Organs, Harmonium and Piano), resulting in a Zeuhl styled Rock-In-Opposition recording. It is extremely difficult to put this one into words. It can make you laugh, cry, angry, it can repulse you, it can turn you on - this is a one-in-a- million recording, and, if you're in the mood, it will undoubtedly impress. It's not for everyone, but if you're willing to pay your money and take your chance, it should deliver. 5/5. (Word of advice - don't put this one on if you're making out with your woman......)
Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars I finally got my hands on a copy of this legendary album.Thankyou Greg Walker who just recently got some copies of this cd in to sell. It was worth the wait, and it exceeds the hype. I have never heard anything more sinister in all my life. And I have some pretty dark and scary albums, but this stands alone. I thought of PRESENT, ART ZOYD and UNIVERS ZERO, but what I love about this one is the in your face fuzz bass, the amazing drumming and the distorted, abrasive, scorching guitar sounds.Trombone is prominant as well and of course Ann Stewart's vocals which have been described as soprano but restrained and mono-toned, really add to the spooky mood. Haunting keys and harmonium along with some great organ runs round out the instruments. This band gets their name from a monster in one of H.P.Lovecraft's novels.

"Incipit Tragaedia" opens with some sparse dark piano as trombone and light drums then vocals come in. It's building. It stops 2 1/2 minutes in as trombone takes over. Piano and drums return. Harmonium slithers in. The guitar starts to make some vicious noise. This is what fear sounds like. Piano becomes prominant 8 minutes in with vocals following. Check out the monstrous fuzz bass 10 minutes in as it comes and goes. The tension builds 11 1/2 minutes in as it sounds like spirits crying out. Vocals are back after 12 minutes with a lot of suspense. Piano is back and then trombone as the pace picks up. Fuzz bass joins in too. It ends with some passion.

"Cabine 67" opens with piano as drums and trombone help out. No real melody though until 1 1/2 minutes in when the tempo picks up. The guitar is ripping it up in an avant-garde way. Check out the drumming to end it. "Yog Sothoth" is dark with piano to begin with. A dramatic entrance of vocals and drums 2 minutes in then the trombone arrives. Check out the scraping sounds and distortion from the guitar 3 1/2 minutes in as the drums pound away with presicion. Nice. This is the closest thing i've heard to what the abyss must sound like. A calm before 5 1/2 minutes in. Screaming guitar 7 minutes in with fuzz bass. Another calm 8 minutes in. The vocals are hypnotising 10 minutes in with piano as guitar and fuzz bass (both from hell) cause a disturbance the rest of the way.

"La Ballade De Lenore" opens with what sounds like church organ before trombone and vocals join in. Drums come pounding in after 2 1/2 minutes as guitar and bass create chaos. It settles after 4 minutes as church organ, trombone, bass, drums and vocals deliver darkness itself. A change 6 minutes in as organ, guitar, bass and drums get very intense. It's slowly building to the end of the song. "Delear Prius" opens with vocals and trombone as drums slowly pound like we're marching to our deaths. Piano 2 1/2 minutes in. Check out the fuzz bass ! "J'ai Vu Naguerre En Peinture" features vocals and a dark mood as trombone plays. 1 1/2 minutes in it gets crazy with those intense, otherworldly sounds. Dissonant guitar is ripping it up while drums pound away. Vocals are back to end it.

For me this is unique, with the prominant fuzz bass and avant-garde guitar sounds in a dark nightmarish background. This is music for the night. This is darkness.

Review by Conor Fynes
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.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Created by a band named after one of my buddies, this album is literally a musical monster that's as enjoyable as it is harsh & eerie. If you feel the need to horde the candy on Halloween without leaving the house, blast this album out of your windows. Unlike heavy metal stuff, which would just annoy passerbys until the cops arrived to force you to shut off that racket, Les Morts Vont Vite would probably give the little kids patrolling outside in their Spiderman and fairy costumes horrendous nightmares. The candy in a bowl by the front door would be all yours, although none of the neighbors would invite you to their cookouts the following summer.

An extremely dark and oppresive atmosphere spreads throughout the body and mind like the fungi from Yuggoth: a throbbing distorted bass, an odd-toned soprano, sheets of guitar "sounds" that invoke aural representations of shoggoths, trombones providing haunting melodies accented by weird piano passages and creepy organ moans. The effect is disconcerting and actually quite "heavy" without being "metal", but I find it also captivating and memorable. It's not something to hum along to, but the menacing opening melody of Incipit Tragaedia is pretty catchy, and this close to 16 minute creature remains interesting throughout its duration. The last portion of Yog Sothoth (which, of course, is one of the greatest song titles of all time thank you very much) is mind blowing, with Ann Stewart chanting the song title in multiple tracks over that monstrous bass, like a subterranean death bell aknowledging the successful conjuration of an Ancient One. The album's other long track, La Ballade De Lénore, begins with a chilling organ and haunted, almost detached operatic vocals as gloomy forebearer of what would suddenly morph into miasmic guitar chaos and desperate drumming...a kind of psycho jazz at times.

Every song here has its share of memorable moments, and remains a dark twisted entity that burrows in the mind from the opening dirge to the final crawling chaos of the last track. I've never found myself tired of this particular work, and rank it among one of my personal favorites in my collection. It's that rare piece of music that's both dissonant and beautiful that sends the listener into the insane world of the Black Goat In The Woods With A Thousand Young.

Iä! Shub-Niggurath!

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Before coming to this band I thought that the best musical interpretation of HP Lovecraft myths was the song "Yog Sototh" in the debut album of Steve Hillage's "Arzachel". That song is a grotesque imitation of a religious anthem based on a church-like organ with psychedelic dissonances. This whole album is totally scary, instead.

Also here there's a song entitled to the "Blind and Idiot God whistling his flute in the center of the Universe", but this sounds more like a demoniac ritual. The Shub-Niggurath music is Zeuhl, but instead of the jazzy pomposity of Magma they are in a very different territory. The omnipresent vocals of the soprano Ann Stewart are always dissonant, the bass notes of the trombone make the music constantly dark throughout the whole album. The guitar is used to produce weird sounds and the organs have both a rhythmic and filling role.

The band is able to transmit to the listener a dark and evil atmosphere, even more dark than HP Lovecraft's tales, as he was a writer who lived in the first half of 20th Century but heavily influenced by authors of the 19th like E.A.Poe so this connection with the romantic age mitigates the evil that is totally exploited in Shub-Niggurath's music.

As other reviewers have written, there's no need of growling and massacring distorted guitars to give the idea of evil. This music is weirdest than any metal I've ever heard. The dark side of the Zeuhl

Review by Guldbamsen
5 stars Inspired by my recent vacation to Rhodos, Greece, down where the deep turquoise Aegean ocean unfolds its infinite beauty, I thought I'd do a word-wide musical road trip, swooping through all kinds of interesting places - starting up in one of my absolute faves of countries when it comes down to progressive music: France.

I'd like to apologize in advance to all you folks out there who appreciate the value of saving one's 5 star reviews for something special, unique, life-altering - this is going to be quite the masterpiece parade, yet I sincerely hope the people who know me well, also know that I don't throw them around like toffees at a hunger strike in Bangladesh. These are all albums that I've been dying to review for a looooong long time, and I would certainly feel refreshingly more relieved having gotten this crazy idea off my back.

No monkeys aloud unless we set to sea. Anybody who knows anything about anything knows that...

There are some albums that you already with confidence know halfway through your first spin of them, that they'll change the way you think about music forever and never quite looking at it in the same manner. It's perspective is what it is - making a huge bulge in your nice neatly arranged music world. Shub Niggurath's debut from 1986 did that for me. I rate it up among the same marvellous and illustrious echelons of progressive music as where the likes of King Crimson's Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Bubu's Anabelas, Magma's MDK, Amon Düül ll's Tanz Der Lemminge and the mighty Pawn Hearts from Van Damme Generator reside. It's literally that good. It changed my life, even if it sounds like a perplexingly mundane thing to say about something as esoteric and finite as music.

Prancing out on the musical scene in 1986 with an album that sounded like it was recorded at least 10 years earlier - these guys were about as casually nonchalant as a pair of tanning specialists at a drilling facility in mainland Greenland looking for ancient elongated ice cubes. The music sounds like Godzilla with a pair of big steel boots stomping furiously through town. The sheer musical girth this thing has is incomprehensibly ginormous. Much of this comes from the bass of death bobbing back and forth like a 50 foot anaconda doing gymnastics between two palm trees: BOOOUUUHHHH BAAAAAAAUUOOOWWW BOUUW BOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUWWWW BUUUOOOUHHHHH BOOOOOOHHHH BOUUUUUUUUUUUHHHH Responsible of this remarkable playing is Alain Ballaud, that all by himself could power up downtown Tokyo with a good two way stereo rack. He could be a tunnel burrower for all I know.

I've read a lot of different reviews saying that Les Mortes Vont Vite sounds scary and frightening, but the gloom it has is also heavily underlined, and at the same time counter-pointed by a deep bellowing groovy vibe that permeates the music, and I don't know about you guys, but I find it hard to associate funky danceable sounds - even if they are Zeulish like hell and probably every other genre-tag you care to apply to it as well - with fearful imagery. To me it sounds like National Health meet Univers Zero in a dark throbbing daturah induced nightmare. With the incessant feel of the mantraing high priestess incantations and the magic double-teamed percussion cement mixers make my mind wander to stroboscopic radiant images of a heavily sedated Jon Bonham engulfed in spiralling restrained anger. The opening track Incipit Tragaedia has always reminded this avid listener off a vexed blurred and unnerving take on Tenemos Roads. Call me crazy, but that's what I get.....The feel of Dave Stewart's angular organ riffing remoulded into the jittery kaleidoscopic harmonium/organ and piano extraordinaire Jean-Luc Herve who continues to amaze me with his strange and beautiful sorcery. He could have been a fine druid, had he been born in Wiltshire some 5000 years ago.........

Continuing the wondrous array of breathtaking musicians performing on this baby is the twin duo of guitar man Franck W. Fromy that evokes a certain John McLaughlin-trembling-with-flickering-anxiety feel to him - and the equally enticing trombone player Véronique Verdier. Together they conjure up a mountainous sonic landscape that edges it's wild and flabby tummy over the ash-coloured peaks of Kashmir like a majestic towering figure of power. It swoops through you like a napalm firestorm and leaves you on the tip of your chair throughout it's stubborn driving course with eyes peeled wide opened, erratic breaths and a sense of occasion that rivals a rather sudden earthquake in your right hand pocket. I'd give this record a million stars of white crystallized embers in a heartbeat.

This is essential listening, and anybody into progressive music owe it to themselves to hear this prodigal beautiful colossus at least once in their lifetime. It will make the small hairs on your back stand on end and equip your skull with a way of communicating with chatty black holes cortege-driving through the outskirts of the Universe.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This music has both haunted and impressed from my very listen--so much so that I have resisted writing a review for over eight years--partly out of fear, partly out of respect, partly out of feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. With this, my 1111th review, and the end of my participation as a reviewer here at ProgArchives, I am seeking to put the finishing touches on what ends up being a ten-year excursion into the introspective world of music evaluation. I have chosen to stop at the number 1111 because the repetition of the number one has been significant to me and my wife as representative of the oneness that our re-union reflects for ourselves and for all things in the Cosmos.

With Les morts vont vite Shub_Niggurath has provided me with a message of the discord, chaos, and menace that humankind is capable of ---but more, this music is starkly beautiful for exactly the reason of the projection of "evil" or "menace" or perhaps "toil" and "hopelessness" that the band seems intent upon suggesting. That Earth has been plagued by this particular adaptation of the "human" experiment is without question or doubt; that we have been a plague to one another is debatable but less certain. Humans have been very creative at devising all kinds of methods of celebrating their individual perspectives, beliefs, and values. The manifestations of expression that many of us call "evil" are just one end of the spectrum of creative potential (which, I would argue, is a circle, perhaps even a moebius strip, as all actions, events, and circumstances can be devised as having opposing effects and consequences). The music recorded herein--and released for public display, consumption, and reaction--affects me with the conjuring of sadness--the kind of visceral imagery and emotions representative of the toil of human subjugation and enslavement. The drudgery of the bass and plodding pacing, the dissonance of the chords evoked from the piano and vocalist, the terrified screams (or is it sadistic laughter?) of the electric guitar shredding (literally, shredding), all evoke within me the most cynical concepts and feelings as relatable to the hopelessness incurred and endured by the individual under conditions of abject slavery. Hell.

"The dead are going fast" says the title of the album. "Insipid tragedy" says the title of the opening song.

1. "Incipit Tragaedia" (15:46) a song of such hopelessness and despair whose music does a masterful job of sucking one into the doldrums of its "insipid tragedy" that I cannot help but admire at the creative mastery of this piece of art expressed by representatives of my own human tribe. The piano solo is great in its expression of power and fear-induction, the bass not so much, but the electric guitar is the best: diabolical! (29/30)

2. "Cabine 67" (5:55) the dissonant piano work is quite enough to get under one's skin, but then the chunky bass chords and guitar screaming and squealing are added. Yeow! The flaw here is the oddly straightforward, hopalong "Radar Love"/CountryWestern drumming choices. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say that the song would be quite perfect without the driving force of the drums (as it was in the beginning)! Even the wild cymbal play in the final minute serve more to take away from the menacing mood that the other four instruments (no vocals here) seem so focused upon generating. Too bad! An incredible start gone wrong! Franck Fromy is a genius on the level of (or beyond) that of Adrian Belew. (8.5/10)

3. "Yog Sothoth" (12:27) the least engaging song on the album as it's prolonged expression of doom and gloom are drawn out so long as to seem almost comical or at least absurd--not unlike a 19th Century Gothic horror novel. Again, it is the brilliant, otherworldly manipulations of sound cast by M. Fromy via his electric guitar that provide the song's highlight moments. I wish Ann Stewart's voice had been used less as a counterpoint to the piano and bass, been given more jazzy free reign. (20/25)

4. "La Ballade De Lénore" (8:58) opens softly, respectfully, circumspectly, almost majestically or reverently with organ, trombone church-like vocal of Ann Stewart projecting their religious offering to us until 2:40 when drums, bass, and squealing, wailing, wrenching guitar jump out of the shadows to affront the holy From this point on, the band uses the music to simulate or express a kind of battle between forces of "Good" and "Evil." The use of instruments common to traditional Christian religious worship (organ, voice, and brass horn) feel like the representatives of "Good" while the cacophony unleashed by the bass, drums, and electric guitar represent those of "Evil"--at least that's how we listeners might make sense of it coming from our society's Christian traditions. Perhaps Lénore was haunted by this same internal struggle--on either a religious/spiritual level or in the form of a kind of bi-polar disorder. Another masterful rendering. (19.5/20)

Five stars; in my humble opinion Les morts vont vite is a high masterpiece of human creativity. I love and respect this album yet it is not an album I seek out very often: mostly when I want to be reminded of and marvel at the genius of the human fabrications of "evil" and "despair."

Review by Warthur
4 stars Keeping the flame of avant-prog alive in the mid-1980s, on Les Morts Vont Vite Shub-Niggurath prepare a release that exists partway between zeuhl (especially in Ann Stewart's operatic vocals) and the dark chamber RIO of Heresie-era Univers Zero (the later of which is evoked in particular by Jean-Luc Herve's harmonium). The end result takes a while to sink in, but over time I have found its finer elements begin to shine through bit by bit. The ensemble is large enough to attain a real chamber music sound, and Shub-Niggurath may be one of the few prog rock bands out there with a dedicated trombone player (in the form of Véronique Verdier), who is about to add a certain off-beat air to things.
Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars After forming in 1983, bassist Alain Ballaud spent many years crafting his Paris based SHUB-NIGGURATH into a truly ugly beast that found a unique middle ground between two completely demented subgenera of progressive rock. The first would come from the rhythmic jazz-rock genre known as zeuhl developed by his fellow countryman Christian Vander in his unique musical act Magma where pulsations of sound emanate in a rather orderly fashion and create a musical backbone so to speak that extends into much larger compositional constructs. Secondly Ballaud was equally intrigued by the frightening beauty that was possible from chamber rock orchestrations from the likes of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd where freeform chamber rock elements could conspire to create soundtracks of utter gloom and doom.

While Ballaud would bring those influences to the table, keyboardist Jean-Luc Herve would bring yet another important aspect of the musical process into the picture. His direct tutelage under Gérard Grisley ushered in what is known as spectral music, which is a form of non-functional harmonic textures and exotic scales that could logically be argued were direct descendents from 20th century classical composers such as Edgar Varese, Giacinto Scelsi, Olivier Messiaen, György Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis and Karlheinz Stockhausen. However, in the 70s what would be deemed as spectral music was intricately involved in the compositional process that dealt with the analysis of the sound with a spectograph and how the composer can manipulate the characteristics of the timbre. While predominantly utilized in the avant-garde reaches of 20th century classical music, SHUB-NIGGURATH adopted these principles in the context of progressive rock.

The band released a full-length demo in 1985 which took on all the characteristics of a bona fide album save the rather primitive production values, however the band had developed one of the scariest styles of music that was seemingly set for the soundtrack of the apocalypse, something the world hadn't experienced since Univers Zero's formidable "Heresie" which emerged the decade prior. While the self-titled demo would have to wait over twenty years for a proper remastering and re-release, SHUB-NIGGURATH which took its name from a deity in the H.P. Lovecraft crafted Cthulhu Mythos universe instead went back to the studio to nurture their musical madness in the form of their first official album LES MORTS VONT VITE (The Dead Go Soon) which follows in the footsteps of the demo (re-released as "Introduction" in 2009) and offers a darkened musical journey straight into the very infernal wastelands of hell.

LES MORTS VONT VITE is an interesting experience as it somehow eschews all categorization. While proceeding in a rather blatant rock context with a percussive drive, a bass driven groove and post-punk meets no wave sounding guitar torture, the music itself mirrors a far more avant-garde intellectualism reserved for the off-kilter offerings of 20th century classical composers. The zeuhl aspects bubble through in that they keep the pace as if they are an unheard driving force that only pierces through the darkened din as to keep the listener from spiraling into a dark and forbidding dimension where minds are completely lost and sanity is banished into unthinkable camps of incredulity, a place where sonic demons reign with impunity and hellish soundscapes tear souls apart for eternity.

While similar to the demo, LES MORTS VONT VITE is less forceful for the most part and also hosts a far superior production value. The guitar grunge and bass fueled doom fuzz is turned down and the acoustics of the instruments are allowed to be heard in full frightening form. The tinkling of minimalistic pianos haunt the soundscape as the spectral vocal hauntings of vocalist Ann Stewart provide a hypnotic wordless etherealness that keeps the musical outpouring from completely sinking into the darkened abyss. The addition of a bass trombone adds a mysterious serious of bleats and extra layer of rhythmic dysfunction that blends into a never- ending series of off-kilter counterpoints that offer various time signatures layered upon each other. While the track "Yog Sothoth" is recycled from the demo, the version here is completely different as it generates more of a surreal mood setting rather than an grinding doom.

The album consists of four lengthy tracks with the opener "Incipit Tragaedia" hovering near the sixteen minute mark. The first three tracks craftily navigate through mostly surreal soundscapes that incorporate the avant-prog and zeuhl elements and meld them with the classical infusions of the avant-garde. The true bombast however is reserved for the closing "La Ballade De Lénoire" which paradoxically is no ballad at all but rather a brutal mix of thundering percussive attacks, blistering bass bantering and dissonant guitar abuse straight out of the no wave playbook of bands like DNA and Theoretical Girls. Strange microtonal melodies are generated and everything seems somewhat familiar yet slightly off center, a trait that i consider quite desirable in magnificently dramatic music such as this. The 1997 CD reissue contains two equally compelling bonus tracks: "Delear Prius" and "J'ai Vu Naguère En Peinture Les Harpies Ravissant Le Repas De Phynée" which are well worth inclusion although they are quite short in comparison. This album is the stuff nightmares are made of! Some of the most brilliant sounds ever to conspire to scare the living daylights out of you. Masterpiece!

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 339

Shub-Niggurath is a progressive avant-guard rock/zeuhl band from France founded in 1983 by Allan Baullaud. The band is named after one of the deities in Cthulhu Mythos created by the famous American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.

Shub-Niggurath originated playing dark and intense expressionist music influenced by the legendary progressive French rock band Magma and the contemporary classical music. Aside from the members of the band being fans of the former, the pianist and later on also guitarist, Jean-Luc H'rve had studied composition with G'rard Grisey, a French composer of contemporary classical music. After the first album the band started developing towards structured improvisation and electro-acoustic experiments. The band was dissolved in 1995 following the death of cancer of their leader, the bassist Alain Ballaud. They released two proper albums in their lifetime, their debut 'Les Morts Vont Vite', in 1986 and their second 'C''taient De Tr's Grands Vents', in 1991, later followed by their third 'Testament', released in 1994, which is nothing more than a compilation of unreleased material from the 90's. Besides these, there exist two highly rare cassettes, only releases, a self-titled demo anteceding the first album and a live recording released in 1989 by Auricle. Plus later, in 2009, the band also released a fourth studio album named 'Introduction'. But 'Introduction' is in effect nothing more than their debut demo tracks of Shub-Niggurath cleaned up and released on the CD format.

Their debut studio album 'Les Morts Vont Vite', received critical acclaim for its innovative avant-garde inclinations, and major developments over the Magma's sound. The album is very dark and is very close to the RIO/Avant-Prog style.

The line up on the album is Ann Stewart (vocals), Franck W. Fromy (guitar and electric percussion), Jean-Luc Herv' (piano, church organ and harmonium), V'ronique Verdier (trombone), Alain Ballaud (bass) and Franck Coulaud (drums).

'Les Morts Vont Vite' has four tracks, plus two bonus tracks on the 1997 CD release. The main melodic thing is the harrowing soprano vocals of Ann Stewart. The music is developed in an expressionist landscape of ascending and descending chromatic chord progressions on electric guitar, piano and trombone. The music is channeled through the utter darkness and evil. The guitar solos here are more like tortured and primal sounds than anything from jazz or rock or fusion. The percussion owes more to the modern classical than jazz as well. The music here is generally dark and ugly. We can say that it has a deep darkness, and a very interesting ugliness. For the most part, 'Les Morts Vont Vite' is made of the band's improvisation and an overall mix of strange and varied sounds. 'Les Morts Vont Vite' is, in my humble opinion, an album representative of classic RIO/Avant, where its roots can be found in the early creations of Henry Cow, Univers Zero, and Magma. As for the latter band though, I've mentioned it especially because the amazing operatic vocals of Ann Stewart that remind me a bit of those of Stella Vander of Magma, while any other parallels between the music of Shub-Niggurath and that of Magma can't be clearly seen here. Another one of the most influential RIO/Avant bands that is often mentioned in the reviews of Shub-Niggurath is Art Zoyd. In my point of view however, any comparisons between these two bands can't be clearly seen too. Art-Zoyd's music has a very strong classical feel to it and it's light rather than dark, harmonious rather than dissonant. Quite the contrary, the creation of Shub-Niggurath is inspired by the Avant-garde Academic Music and has no much in common ground with the Classical Academic Music.

Returning to 'Les Morts Vont Vite', all the six compositions on 'Les Morts Vont Vite' are about the classic RIO/Avant with pronounced elements of Avant-garde Academic Music and Zeuhl, though the structures of 'Cabine 67' contains also quite a large quantity of very heavy musical elements. Of course, all the arrangements on the album are in the state of constant development and, thus, are completely unpredictable. Ann Stewart's vocals are dramatic in character and are very charming. They're present on all of the tracks on the album but the aforementioned 'Cabine 67'. By the way, this is also the only composition on the album, where all the arrangements on which are exclusively fast and intensive.

Conclusion: I'm deeply impressed with the music on 'Les Morts Vont Vite'. The music here is admirably dense with a kind of a method of madness as opposed to something more varied. Still, their persistence and talent for molding a small array of timbres into almost symphonic mass is really very impressive. But, its music isn't that too much like Magma, lacking to it the energy, repetition, and funk that suffuse Magma's work. Instead, this is music of brooding intensity punctuated by glorious frenzy. This is the best Shub Niggurath's albums and it's the most approachable too. But it's not exactly an easy listening album, though. I really hope you have already this album, otherwise, you are maybe simply too frightened to face this awesome nightmare. Still, I think you must have to listen to this album, and then, maybe you will like it too. Then, you will have found the dark heart of Shub-Niggurath, and Lovecraft will be proud.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

5 stars From the depths of darkness, or the highest spires during a thunderstorm, a sound is produced, and the gates to a realm of death is open thanks to our imagination. A dense atmosphere that carries with it a visceral fear, one we cannot run away from, nor fight. A beast that creeps and consumes your s ... (read more)

Report this review (#2653767) | Posted by Floof-AN | Sunday, December 19, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars My first listen of this album was actually in very early days of discovering the style and genre of Zeuhl and the more Avant-Garde corners of the progressive world. I was overwhelmed, and just couldn't get into it. Having explored a bit more and developed a taste (as I did with Magma's MDK) I've com ... (read more)

Report this review (#2483650) | Posted by bartymj | Wednesday, December 9, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars There is beauty in darkness. When I am asked the question "what is the most extreme music in the world", I always point them in this direction and towards this band. The opening minutes of this album, the song called Incipit Tragaedia, is enough to scare the sanity out of most people. At the ... (read more)

Report this review (#294725) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, August 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Not the finest example of "chamber rock". Normally, you'd expect something far more challenging from a band influenced by 20th century classical approaches. This album is neither challenging nor memorable in any way. Instead, it appears to be some sort of minimalist take on modernist ... (read more)

Report this review (#66983) | Posted by Pafnutij | Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Listening to this particular band makes me wonder: why didn't they just started a tribute band?. I mean, this record is nothing but a Magma album in disguise. Off course, they have a great sound, but there's nothing here in terms of "creation". The second track sounds a bit fresh, but the rest ... (read more)

Report this review (#26709) | Posted by cuncuna | Tuesday, March 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A perfect combination inbetween the music from Magma (period 'Udu Wudu') and King Crimson (Period 'Red').Very powerfull bass,intricate female vocals and all ingredients to make this album boss.Better,more convinced result than other Magma influenced groups such as Honeyelk,Eskaton,Superfreego...whic ... (read more)

Report this review (#26707) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 18, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow. One of the best things to come out of france from the eightees. A multi-leveled, shifting, twirling, psychic delirium of distorted bass, dissonant piano, female operatic madness and SEARING guitar. ... (read more)

Report this review (#26706) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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