Review by Raphaël on August 1, 2023.
Welcome to a dark and mysterious musical world, filled with many influences, from the darkest depths of hell, going through the mysterious and magical world of the Roma people, to the pure elegance and beauty of classical music. I am talking here about the wondrous and sometimes weird, but always beautiful musical world of Sanguine Glacialis. First, a bit about the band: Sanguine Glacialis is a Québecois band that mixes a million different musical styles with a signature melodic death metal sound that will be instantly appealing to fan of more aggressive music. In that sense, you can say they are really avant garde and forward-thinking music lovers. And by “they” I mean Alexandre Lépine, guitars and backvocals, Marc Gervais, bass and backvocals, Jonathan Fontaine, guitars and backvocals, Jérémy Racine, drums and backvocals and finally, frontwoman and multi-instrumentalist, Maude Théberge, vocals, keyboard & violin (she also plays violin in the folk metal band, Valfreya).
All this long intro to tell you that these five human beings will be releasing their new album, Maladaptive Daydreaming, on August 18th. Sanguine have been around since 2012 when they released their first album, the raw and avant garde, Dancing With A Hanged Man. With their second album, 2018’s Hadopelagic, the band really refined their sound. The huge improvement in production was also a really big help. Now, in 2023, they are back with Maladaptive Daydreaming, easily their best album so far. If you liked 2018’s Hadopelagic, you will definitely like the new album. They took all of their crazy ideas and influences and distilled them into a cohesive 53 minutes of aggressive, catchy, emotive, beautiful and dark music.
This album opens with the appropriately named song, 'Welcome', which begins with a small guitar picking, accompanied by ominous piano notes and a slow violin melody. Quickly followed by Maude singing multiple times: “Welcome to our world The place to wreck what’s left of you Don’t go too far We planned a thing just for you”. Imagine being at the gates of a mysterious circus/fun fair, being welcomed by a woman with a beautiful voice and a grandiose symphony, but as soon as you set foot inside, the sky immediately darkens and you are hit by the full force of death metal, complete with blastbeats and savage harsh vocals. Here, we need to take a pause and talk about Maude’s voice for a minute. The sheer talent of this woman is nothing short of impressive. She is able to go from brutal deathgrowls, that makes the hair on your arm stand up, to lovely and powerful soprano operatic vocals. All interspersed with traditional melodic singing and super aggressive, “kvlt”, black metal shrieks. Truly inspiring how she is able to transition between all of those singing styles. Okay back to the song. About halfway in, everything stops and we get a jazz interlude with a nice saxophone solo, courtesy of Mia-Lin Gromko. It doesn’t take long for the metal to start back with a short, shredding guitar solo and absolutely devastating deathgrowls. The music ends abruptly and the last word we hear is a growled “drown”.
'Immuration' begins right away with a funky bass line and groovy drums that then immediately goes into full symphonic/gothic metal with the whole band singing in a choir. The entire song features Maude’s traditional mixing of harsh and clean, operatic singing, infectious melodic death metal riffing and great lyrics, both in French and English: “Confiné dans son propre esprit Enfermé dans la haine des autres Séquestré par une infection L’immuration fatale”. As so many other bands and artists, they were clearly influenced by the pandemic. Roughly translated the line in French is “Confined in your own mind, enclosed in the hatred of others, sequestered by an infection, fatal immuration”. To top all of this, towards the end, there is some absolutely ruthless breakdowns that will break your neck, guaranteed! It then abruptly ends, leaving you saying, oh my god, what just happened. That was brutal!
The rest of the album is filled with memorable songs and moments. From the traditional, folkloric, Roma (anciently called Gypsy) inspired, sections to a beautiful classical cello, to a clarinet on the song 'Resilience', the album is filled to the brim with various sounds, showing that these guys (and I’m using guys as a gender-neutral term here) are not just metal lovers, but music with a capital M, lovers. There are so many highlights on this record, every song is memorable: the symphonic, blackened, and Roma infused, folky 'Ars Moriendi', the emotional, catchy and heavy 'Cauchemort' or the grandiose and progressive 'Paracusia'. The amount of talent displayed on this album is just simply impressive. What truly ties the whole thing together is the production. Every instrument and every sound are crystal clear. What is truly impressive is that it is an independent release. The last album was released on WormHoleDeath and due to a really bad experience, they decided end the contract! I have a lot of respect for musician who are true to their values and their music. All songs are produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Christian Donaldson, guitarist of legendary brutal technical death metal band Cryptopsy. He is also famous for having worked with Beyond Creation and The Agonist, so you can imagine how good it sounds!
If you are a fan of melodic death metal, gothic metal or just music in general, this album is a must listen! In a genre that seldom has truly unique bands, Sanguine Glacialis sits on top of their unique musical corner and I truly hope this album will be discovered by as many people possible.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10526