Monday 6 December 2021

ADX - Étranges visions (2021)

Country: France
Style: Heavy/Speed Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 19 Nov 2021
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It seems like about ten minutes since I reviewed the last ADX album, Bestial, but COVID is messing with my internal clock because that was actually last January, almost two years ago now. This one was made by the same line-up, with the pair of founder members who have always stayed with the band throughout its history still there: vocalist Phil Grélaud and drummer Didier Bouchard. This is similar but arguably a little better.

I liked the opening song proper, Le sang de l'ennemi, which kicks off in lively heavy metal style and then ratchets up the gears to something closer to speed metal. There are some tight changes and the twin guitars of Nicklaus Bergen and a gentleman who only goes by Neo are woven together in stylish fashion. I find that I like my ADX when they're playing at speed and this one delivers in just the way I like it: clean, speedy and technical. Génération perdue lowers the speed a little but adds more changes. The buzzsaw guitarwork that kicks off Sacrificé pour la cause took me right back.

They slow down a little after that and I have to admit that I got distracted and didn't get hijacked back in again until the closer, another fast song called Invasion. Listening through a second time, I realised that there's good stuff here in between but we have to pay a little more attention. After another time, I found that Guerre mystique, a lively instrumental in the vein of Iron Maiden that oddly turns out to be the longest piece of music on offer here at almost six minutes, may actually be my favourite track.

Now, that shouldn't surprise me much, as I'm not the world's biggest fan of Grélaud's vocals, but I don't have anything against them. He does what he does well. I just think that his particular style of punk-infused metal vocals, which, to be fair, he's been delivering to ADX since 1982, has become a little generic in the decades since. He accompanies really well, but he doesn't stand out notably above his peers, in a genre where many iconic vocalists do exactly that. Now, is that a good thing or a bad thing? That depends on your tastes. To mine, he could be a little higher in the mix too.

I should also add that one of the reasons that I realised that I prefer ADX in instrumental mode to the ADX with vocals is because they go instrumental rather often. These songs aren't particularly long, the longest at the five minute and change level and many a minute shorter, but most have a solid instrumental midsection and some of those are a lot more than solid. I'd call out Le reflet du Mal and especially the characterful Terre de colère here, along with those faster earlier songs.

It's probably fair to mention that these French titles are more traditional metal fare than Bestial and its horror themed material. The best songs translate to Blood of the Enemy, Mystical War, The Reflection of Evil and Land of Wrath. The English titled Trouble is excellent too, if an instrumental intro to Invasion, which, of course, is the same in French and English. The album title (and name of the neat intro) means Strange Visions, so maybe there's a little more fantasy going on here.

I only gave Bestial a 6/10, which is still a recommended rating, as I rarely review any albums that I don't recommend, but this one's a safe 7/10. It's good to see ADX getting busier in their third stint as a band and still turning out solid and reliable albums. And, that said, now I need to check out their 1990 album, Weird Visions, because it looks rather similar to this. Is this really new material or a re-recorded version in their native French? I'm leaning towards the latter.

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