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AWAX - 2009 - "Les Larmes du Monde"

(59:48, 'AWAX')

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Les Liquidateurs 8:40
2.  Les Larmes du Monde 6:56
3.  Meadow Cottage 6:20
4.  Faux Martyrs 7:32
5.  Noir de Sang 5:10
6.  Phare Quest 8:06
7.  Karmasutra 8:12
8.  Wax Attaque 8:52


Olivier Legoff – guitars 
ToskiduS – bass; synths
Christophe Sarrazin – drums 
JF Peyroux – vocals 
Cathy Castets – violin; mandolin (6)

Prolusion. The French band AWAX was formed back in 2001, sporting the moniker Wax for the first few years of its existence. After the release of their second demo “Nevrocosme” in 2004 they felt a name change was in order, though, and chose AWAX - short for Aquitaine Wizards After Experience. “Les Larmes du Monde” is their first production under this new moniker and was issued early in 2099. As I understand it this is the first venture regarded as a full fledged album by this act, as both their previous excursions are described as demos.

Analysis. France is a country with a rich history for producing bands exploring varying aspects of the loosely defined musical genre progressive rock. And in this case it is the metal-based variety of the genre we're dealing with. As with quite a few other French artists, these men prefer to sing in their native tongue. Mostly because they feel a need to write song lyrics in a language they are truly familiar with, but also, perhaps, to avoid becoming yet another band with accented vocals. It's a brave choice too – most music fans expect to have English lyrics in their songs these days, and it is an undeniable fact that such a choice will limit an artist's audience, at least in countries outside of the one they live in. The positive aspect of this approach is of course that the band separates from the crowd in sound – non-English vocals are a feature that set any band somewhat apart and when combined with innovative features not too often utilized by others as well, the combined result does sound pretty unique. AWAX is rather successful at just that, at least partially. In the opening number Les Liquidateurs, pace-filled segments close to thrash metal are neatly blended in with their take on progressive metal, while Phare Quest reveals mandolin and violin in folk-tinged passages featured throughout the composition. Karmasutra and Wax Attaque both have intriguing synth-dominated passages, while the ballad Noir de Sang tries blending a piano-based theme with riff patterns in a pretty unusual manner. To name some such features to be found on this creation. In short, there are quite a few interesting takes and musical blends in the stylistic expressions of this act. Unfortunately there are just about as many sequences that aren't like that. Pretty typical prog metal excursions consisting of riff cascades with either synth overlays or shredding are pretty common, and the slower of these can be described as pretty generic heavy metal as far as genres go. Vocalist Peyroux strengthens the latter, as he often will venture into archetypical metal territories when his voice gets strained rather than restraining his performance. High pitched screams that made me think of former TNT vocalist Tony Harnell do pop up now and then too - which I'm not too fond of personally. With a production slightly subpar, in particular in the parts of the songs dominated by riff patterns, the overall result here is a frustrating one. There's no denying the talent of this act, but its tendency to visit cliched musical landscapes does limit their appeal as I see it.

Conclusion. Combining innovative features with more straightforward progressive metal bordering on generic heavy metal might be a good idea for a band like this - in theory it should provide them potential for general appeal to a relatively broad audience. Fans of purebred progressive metal might want to be somewhat cautious prior to purchasing this disc though, as the more generic parts of this album could spoil their listening pleasure somewhat.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 7, 2009
The Rating Room

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