Forgotten Silence

La Grande Bouffe

01. Bouffe à Table!
02. TRANSLUCIDE (Brighton II.)
03. Bouffe Restaurant de Luxe
04. AALBORG
05. Bouffe Piano
06. Les Collines de Senyaan Pt. III
07. Bouffe Vingt et Une Heure Cinquante Sept
08. Fermeture de la Bouche
09. Bouffe Acoustiquement
10. DICHROISME (Two–Rooms World)
11. Bouffe Hyène
12. The Black Rider 4K8 (Chanson Pour la Station de Service)
13. Bouffe Montmartre

[05/17/12]
[Shindy Productions]

Contrary to the album title and tracklist, Forgotten Silence are a Czech avant-garde/prog metal band. La Grande Bouffe is their sixth studio album, and there’s quite a lot of diversity present in the tracklist (half of the songs are 30-80 second long interludes though). The overall theme would be jazzy progressive death metal with electronic elements employed in a manner that is closest to The Monolith Deathcult. Weird death metal that varies in tempo and tone, with industrial elements added to give the music more color. But does La Grande Bouffe provide a grand buffet of enjoyment, or will it be forgotten in silence?

Delving straight into the album (ignoring the random interlude tracks), the band might sound off-putting to some. The first actual song sounds a lot like earlier Dream Theater. 80’s style clean vocals, uplifting guitar riffs and a cheesy keyboard tone. Don’t let this false start fool you, because right after this song, you’ll encounter the first of many stylistic changes to come. The second track is full of blast beats and growls. Overall, the band’s sound is a mixture of death metal and oldschool progressive metal. Not progressive death metal, mind you, but more of a jamming together of two styles. There are also heavy industrial elements, jazz, and other assortments of weird sounds that would classify the band as avant-garde. The genre-bending isn’t as gracefully done as, say, Sigh, and this sometimes results in the songs being a bit disjointed. It’s not that the band is inept at songwriting, they’re clearly not, but the slow sections last too long and the fast sections don’t hit as hard as they could. This results in the tracks sounding more like composition experiments than songs to be enjoyed. There are the expected avant-garde deviations of latin, piano, funk and jazz, but they’re never given enough screen time to develop and form an interesting part of the sound. They’re more like 5 second cameos of old action hero actors in modern movies, it’s cool that they’re there, but they’re not satisfactory.

In what seems to be an unspoken tradition among avant-garde bands, the production is tame. This allows for each instrument to shine individually as pieces of the music, but Forgotten Silence’s production is a bit lacking compared to other bands with similar sounds. The 80’s sounding keyboards don’t mesh well with the rest of the sounds, which gives the music a slightly annoying quality. The guitars aren’t too distorted, but they’re still not clear, which is normally the purpose of using low gain. In addition, they just sound thin and buzzy. The bass is also at an odd spot in the mix, it’s audible but doesn’t have too much low end to it. The drums are fine, nothing stellar but also nothing very wrong. Maybe all of this is harsh nit-picking, but when a band aims high, their minor failings sometimes become more apparent. It’s definitely not an awful mix, but it’s also not where it needs to be. However, it’s good enough that many people will not care about the production and be able to enjoy the album anyway.

Overall, La Grande Bouffe is an ambitious album that doesn’t go the whole distance and thus falls a bit flat. It’s still much more interesting than most of the things you’ll hear this year, but compared to giants like The Monolith Deathcult or even some imaginary version of Atheist with keyboards, they just don’t match up in terms of quality. Still, fans of industrial/progressive death metal with avant-garde elements will enjoy this.

Forgotten Silence – La Grande Bouffe gets…

3.5/5

– NT