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With cover artwork and album title as ambiguously crazy as this release from Gnô, my preconceptions invoke the question - what kind of musical delirium do we have here? In fact, who exactly are Gnô? Well, press blurb informs they're a trio of French musicians led by guitar virtuoso Christophe Godin. This is refreshingly great news for myself as I happened to catch the man in action, again as part of a trio, at the Dutch Headway festival back in 2007, a highly entertaining instrumental ensemble who went by the moniker of Mörglbl. Ashamedly, and rather regrettably, I'd not bothered to check out anything Godin has done since my first encounter with his incredible fretboard talents. Not sure why, as I recall being blown away by both his performance and onstage persona as his banter with the crowd was absolutely hilarious. A man with a massive sense of humour. Anyway, I digress. After more than four years, the opportunity has fortunately arisen for me to check out Godin's latest work with 'Cannibal Tango' and, just as I remembered, his highly skilled playing and humorous demeanour are present in equal parts...and a fuck of a lot more besides. I'll cut to the chase and skip to my summarising words right away - this is utterly incredible stuff. Simple as that. Completing the trio are Gaby Vegh on bass and drummer Julien "Peter Puke" Rousset, who both also provide lead and backing vocals as well as Godin himself, and the three men have succeeded in making an album that is a purely exhilarating experience from start to finish, and one that remains so during each and every listen as songs twist and turn through a whole array of genres. And the ease with which they segue between disparate parts within each song is so fluently executed that what could potentially have resulted in a disjointed marriage of ideas on paper actually works to perfection in practice. There's a prominent dose of metal on offer (which in itself is stylistically diverse), passages of reggae ('In My Place'), Skindred-esque ragga ('Hate Incarnate'), barbershop style vocal harmonies ('Fever (The Battle Rages On)'), a song driven by a disco beat (the aptly titled 'Demon Disco'), classic rock ('Russian Girls'), some Pantera inspired groove in sporadically heavy riffing (particularly the outro of 'Be My Pride'), catchier-than-catchy hooklines that'll stay in your head for days, and so much more that actually escapes immediate labelling. The musicianship is entirely flawless throughout as guitar, bass and drums combine to create a seamless fusion of styles but, not only that, the vocals are rather incredible too... and make sure you skip past the ten or so minutes of silence after final track 'Inner Feelings (Silence)' as there are six minutes of the trio recording vocal harmony parts for the chorus of 'Fever...' which descends into laughter on each take as one of them interposes lines with the likes of "zeeboooo". Sounds trivial, I know, but it's actually fucking hilarious! It had me laughing anyway. And while on the subject of 'Fever...', that's one example of a few on the album where Godin opts to play lead parts (including virtuosic shredding) instead of rhythm under certain instances of verse and chorus - something that shouldn't particularly work but it does. The man evidently has full command of his instrument at all times. Not only that but song structures and his general compositional abilities are amazing. Add to that some random movie sound-bites from 'The Silence of the Lambs', 'Mum & Dad' and 'Hard Candy' that appear on various tracks, and some deranged photos in the CD booklet, Gnô might just have released the most entertaining album of the year. But, despite all of the humour and deranged elements, they somehow balance that with a degree of seriousness so the album isn't presented as just one big joke. I'd hugely recommend 'Cannibal Tango' for those dare to try something different from metal genericism. An album that is guaranteed to excite, amuse, and entertain simultaneously.
Review by Mark Holmes
22nd August 2011
1) Here I Stand; 2) In My Place
3) The Keeper
4) Cannibal Tango
5) Fever (The Battle Rages On)
6) Hate Incarnate
7) Get Out of My Way
8) Russian Girls
9) Demon Disco
10) Be My Pride
11) Fathers & Sons
12) Inner Feelings (Silence)
"An album that is guaranteed to excite, amuse, and entertain simultaneously."