Blinding Sparks – Brutal Awakening

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label: Season Of Mist
Distributor/label URL: http://www.season-of-mist.com/
Released: 2017
Buy Album [URL]: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brutal-Awakening-Blinding-Sparks/dp/B0783Z4LCZ
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/blindingsparks/

Band Line-Up:

Jérémy Conrad (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards)
Nicolas Kieffer (Drums)
Claude Hilpert (Bass)

+ Johanna Flauder guest female vocals

Track Listing:
  1. Don’t Need A Name Featuring Laurent Bàn
  2. Arch
  3. My Dog Will Piss On You
  4. Deathbeds
  5. A Trois
  6. In Front Of My Mirrors
  7. This Useless Fate
  8. For An Eternal Rest
  9. I Fuck It
  10. A Tough Road For The Heart
  11. Make You Happy Featuring Laurent Bàn
  12. The Straight Line Featuring Océane Thomas
  13. The Last Song
Review:

‘Blinding Sparks’ began life as a band in Sarreguemines, a small town near the border with Germany on the far east of France, in 2009, their aim was to express themselves and an out-pouring of songs and revisions soon developed into recordings, which quickly got them signed. Releasing several albums, their most notable and recent being ‘Renaissance Insipide’ has shown that they are a band that spans the genres and refuse to be labeled. At times Punk, Rock, Metal & Synth Pop, they have an anarchic approach to musical style, and consider themselves to be pop-metal.

The vocals of Jérémy Conrad, who also plays guitar and keyboards, are somewhat avant-garde, ranging from deep growls to high notes, a mix of clean & scream, sometimes soulful, sometimes gritty, he is a man of many voices, some work better than others but all are interesting to say the least. Claude Hilpert on Bass is something special, with an essence of Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, he can really drive a groove, working the frets. Nicolas Kieffer on drums also reveals a variety in his playing techniques, from double pedal thrash metal to swing jazz, he mixes it up with ease. While not an official member of the band, Johanna Flouder features on every song, a sweet voice that makes every track better.

Crashing the opening of the album, ‘Don’t Need A Name’ Featuring Laurent Bàn introduces the listener to the strangeness, anger and discordant style that is ‘Blistering Sparks’. The vocal mix of Flouder and Conrad is not quite Beauty & the Beast but its heading that way, his sound is wild and anguished while she is sweet and innocent sounding. Bàn is more known for musicals, and his vocals are rich in tone. Following on with ‘Arch’ which varies from growls to clean to the angelic, the deepness of the gravelly growl contrasts with the female backing, the guitars are disturbing in a horror sci-fi sense, while the lyrics are sexual and brutal. It’s tempo is very intimidating and it is very doom-laden. With the most bizarre title on the album, ‘My Dog Will Piss On You’ is full of bile, wretchedness and rage, thrashy with double pedal drums, it is an onslaught of a track from start to finish.

Performed with a sensuousness that suggests a love song, but with lyrics that suggest serial killer, ‘Deathbeds’ has a meaty bass that grooves, it echoes ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’ in sound & feel, with beautiful string orchestration running through it. The first line in the lyrics is genius, so poetic and unexpected. Sung in French, ‘A Trois’ is catchy, a pop-metal, Eurotrash song that would fit well into Eurovision Song Contest, 80’s Synths and rhythmic guitars set of the twin vocals, despite it being in another language you won’t be able to get it out of your head. Back to English but with an unmistakable French accent, ‘In Front Of My Mirrors’ is self-critical, angry and introspective, growls give it an edge but the whirling guitar solo combined with gentle acoustic moods grabs the attention. The female vocal represents the reflection in the mirror, it mocks and reveals what is true in equal measure.

More of a classic rock song, ‘This Useless Fate’ is also the name of their 2014 album, it has equal measures of hopelessness and despair, etched into the punchy drumming and sympathetic guitars, there is a desperation in the vocals that haunts. The harmonies in the chorus are enticing, the verses are more spoken word style, speed talking making it hard to follow the lyrics, while musically ‘For An Eternal Rest’ has a funky, Chili Peppers Bass again, it cuts through at times and makes you want to dance like no one is watching. Venturing into the punk genre next. ‘I Fuck It’ is pure violence musically, manic screamed vocals challenge the female backing, sections are sung in French, and the whole thing has a horror vibe but at the same time is addictive and catchy. ‘A Tough Road For The Heart’ straddles the line between metal core and symphonic metal, if such a line exists, the female vocals lift this up, while the male vocals from Conrad writhe and suggest madness, almost as Emo as MCR it has a poignant musical box ending and a sadness that oozes through the notes.

Lifting the mood now, ‘Make You Happy’ also featuring Laurent Bàn is atmospheric and moody, soothing and melodic with funky bass-lines and soulful vocals. It has a romance about it. By contrast, the gritty riffs and synth ’80’s pop that characterises ‘The Straight Line’ are made more striking by the differences in textures. Featuring Océane Thomas who brings female growls and added venom, a young French unknown vocalist with a huge future. Finally, ‘The Last Song’ is just that, it remarks on what a songwriter hopes will arise from their work, immortality, this album might not give the band that, but it certainly leaves an imprint on the mind and will be listened to over & over again.

The whole album has a youthful verve, whimsical amusing titles, bizarre lyrics and a disregard for the rules, it shows tremendous energy and vitality. The language barrier may make it harder for people to access the band, all the information on them was in French, thankfully I can read French better than I can speak it, but that shouldn’t put you off, there is a real quality here. You need to listen a couple of times to realise it, as on first play you might just think it is a bit weird, given chance it gets into your psyche and then you get it.

Review By

Lisa Nash

 

 

 

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