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To see a genre so woefully unpopular truly invokes a sense of appreciation. This isn’t to suggest that an unpopular genre is objectively or even subjectively lacking positive qualities, but rather, it’s that not that many people play or pay attention to it. So, when a band is put together and/or releases and electronic/industrial metal album, I feel privileged to have access to it, evermore so when it’s an album like Le Festin du Lion. And for the sake of being pedantic, I feel even more overjoyed having listened to this album this year, because if I’m being honest, 2019 has shaped up to be a lame year for music. Thankfully the French band Herrschaft has provided an album that’s sure to be at the top of my top 10 this year.
Right off the bat, this album has a distinct personality, something I believe to be common in the electronic metal scene funnily enough. The opener track Technosatan perfectly exemplifies the type and style of electronics used throughout this album: mid-paced, creeping techno/EBM beats with an almost pop like edge to them, complete with creeping synthesizers that envelop you with a cold, hypnotic atmosphere. The synths use of a haunting hum and the cold, childlike, repetitive, almost angelic guest vocals create a vacuum that sucks in your attention and soothes you with the reverberating message of Satan. Tracks like The White Russians also exemplify the EBM slant of the album. The rhythmic patterns of the electronics coupled with the guitars get your head nodding and your feet tapping. I’m sure if played at a rave, not one track would be out of place. This album’s mission is to get you to move to it, and it certainly does a good job at doing so. This is also accomplished by the album’s ability to get you pumped in certain songs. Songs like the eponymous track use their repetition to its advantage, crescendoing into an almost authoritarian pattern, commanding the listeners movements.
It’s almost difficult to describe the album’s sound, simply because no two tracks are alike. Each track utilizes the electronics in a distinct way, building off the guitars and the beat provided. New World Order, Stray Dog and The Great Fire sound like they come from the dark depths of a futuristic galaxy, with the latter flirting with a rock like style à la Pain, and the rest like they came from a video game soundtrack. Technosatan and Behind This Smokescreen are techno based headbangers that pull you in with all their electronic ambience. How Real Men Do teeters almost dangerously into pop/dubstep territory and the final track, Hate Me is straight up non-metal darkwave/electropop reminiscent of 90s European pop. It might sound jarring, but believe it or not, it’s one of the best tracks of the album. It’s almost disappointing in a way, as the first and last track of the album are so amazing and distinct, the rest of the album seems bland by comparison. That isn’t to say that the rest of the tracks are bad by any means, but they lack the true emotional and sassy attitude the first and last tracks have. Even the guest vocalists on the last track steal the show in some regards, as I’m a sucker for this almost cheesy, yet genuine style of pop.
As for the other instruments, they accentuate the album and electronics well enough. The vocals are the typical industrial style sneer, that have an inherent, but not too remarkable uniqueness to them. It does help however, that Zoe’s voice is amplified by chants and patterns that impose himself upon the listener with a commanding and enthusiastic performance. The bass and guitars do a great job contrasting the lighter-sounding electronics and end up bouncing off them in an enjoyable fashion. And much like other industrial bands, there is no actual drum kit used, supplementing it with synthetic crashes and beats that mix in with the other Synthes. As for the lyrics, it’s entertaining enough to hear the bizarre enunciations of English words from a French singer, and even a full song in French. They aren’t at all captivating in their messages save for a few, but when they are, it’s powerful enough to get you singing along, as well as thinking. Once again, these positive qualities are seen in the first and last tracks of the album, concerning the battle between God and Satan as a game of gambling, and the yearning to feel any emotion directed at oneself, even if its hatred. It’s like a desperate and sarcastic form of philosophy that had me thinking about its message, something that not many other albums have ever done for me.
Le Festin du Lion is by all measures a great album. Its shortcomings aren’t too glaring and its expansive/unique take on the electronic metal genre coupled with a few, dare I say, perfect songs make up for any negative qualities. While this isn’t my favorite electronic metal album of all time, its timing in a period where the genre seems eerily ghostly and forgotten, coupled with the actual talent and skill that went into creating an atmospheric, catchy album makes it worth noting. I implore anyone interested in industrial/electronic metal to listen to this album, as well as anyone looking for something different that the usual metal album.