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Whispering Tales - Mechanism

Whispering Tales - CD Review




CD Info
9 tracks
Mostly English lyrics
Independent Release
9.5 / 10


It’s always a daunting task to come up with a new music release; the writing, the production, the mixing, the packaging, the promotion, on and on. It’s not something for the faint of heart. But imagine, if you will, the requirement of that work being preceded by the production of a complete novel from which the music is drawn. Well, that’s how Mechanism came into being. The novel is called Pieces Manquantes and can be downloaded, in French, from the band’s website. The lyrics here are mostly English but the story is complex and understanding exactly how they relate to the story might just require reading the novel, an undertaking beyond my current limited French linguistic capabilities. Probably unfortunate for me since I get the feeling the novel is more than a little worth taking the time to read. But, let’s focus on the CD release for now.

The CD comes with a nice booklet with lyrics and interesting graphics, and an introduction to the story. It seems that evil and dastardly deeds are afoot in Marseille in the year 1922. Terrorists, I guess they had them in 1922, who knew, are threatening our beautiful city A questionable character appears calling himself “L ‘Alambiqueur”, a being of undetermined motive. There is limited hope for the population, most of it in the person of one Giuseppe Orsini, known as a veteran of the Great War, that’s WWI, who was formerly a detective with the illustrious Tiger Brigade. Unfortunately, the honorable Giuseppe is currently housed in the Montperrin Sanatorium, for what, I’m unsure. A drinking problem, limited association with reality, too many deep one way conversations with the Almighty, who knows? But, anyway, he’s our best hope and his initial charge is to solve an ancient riddle housed in a robot of sorts, the Automatron, who, himself, disappeared several years ago while fighting with local Mafioso. And so it begins.

The CD is a 9 track release and the music is more than sufficient to stand on it’s own, even if you’re not overly interested in “L ‘Alambiqueur”, Giuseppe Orsini or the Automatron, But that would be most unfortunate. The band calls it a romp through a retrofuturistic Roaring Twenties and there is the occasional Roaring Twenties sound to lend this some credibility beyond the storyline itself. Shattered is one of these tracks and you get a complete Roaring Twenties sound to open the track, but then, the record scratches and we get back to what Whispering Tales is all about which is some fine symphonic metal backing a first rate French vox. That vox is Lucie Vetele and, yea, she’s got the French accent to guarantee her creds. Her delivery ranges from solid metal to complete soprano, whatever the story demands. Vetele is backed by choral work at some points, by solid orchestrations at many points, and by some fine guitar based metal on others. I should point out that the lyrics are interesting, but what would you expect from folks who pumped out a complete novel on the subject before writing them. I’ll include a few to reenforce the point.

The work begins with the track mentioned above, Shattered. You get that LP Roaring Twenties sound as an introduction but the initial lyrics are from L ‘Alambiqueur”:

“I’m the voice of the weak / I am the voice of the oppressed
I’m the voice of all people you have enslaved.

I’m the arm of revenge / I’m the one who’ll strike you down.
My determination won’t waiver

But all of this is just a farce, a masquerade / My true mission, will change my fate and my nation”

Hard to tell which side of the fence this guy is coming down on. And that mystery continues as we move through the various tracks. Broken Expectations begins with background sounds over a piano melody. But, the band evolves to the symphonic metal nicely while the vocals tell us about the devastation resulting from L ‘Alambiqueur’s mysterious plans. Are they a result of his participation in the Great War or are they something else? Some of these tracks are lengthy, this one is 6.5 minutes so you get a lot of music to augment that killer vocal.

There’s some interesting side tracks, both lyrically and musically on various tracks. One of these is To Come Full Circle which starts out with something approaching a Gregorian Chant. That evolves into a male spoken word, entirely in Italian that establishes a connection with something beyond France. The spoken word evolves into a nice Italian tenor for a short while, and then we get back to the symphonic metal.

Some tracks go a bit heavier on the guitar based metal. The Code rocks with the French axes pounding out a solid background for the lovely French vox. And, the lyrics are equally hard:

“Blood on the wall / Afflictions can befall
Education of fear and awe / Family above all

Huffed in dismay / Dominance trailed away
Allegory of fear and awe / Hunter became a pray”

With this one we get multiple vocal deliveries; the lead female vox, choral elements and even some harsh male vocals. And they end with another Roaring Twenties sound, this one sounding like something we heard from the movie The Shinning. Remember that scene in the ball room with the pictures at the end of the movie?

Other tracks provide a bit of a Steampunk sound. Tempus Fugit uses the piano and some symphonic to highlight the sound of mechanistic activity that leads again to the symphonic metal. The Descartes Syndrome drops the Steampunk and just kicks the symphonic metal into high gear. And this band knows it’s way around that approach. Much of this symphonic is clearly keyboard produced but there is mention of “orchestrations” which could suggest software based components. Whatever they’re doing, the sound is more than a little entertaining. With Descartes, we get some spoken word from the main vocalist and there’s nothing sexier than a French woman sounding mysterious.

Incomplete provides a different opening sound. Here we get the sound of battle that takes us to the piano. The vocals that follow are pleading and remorseful:


“Words about the war, witness of my scar / Madness of men who went too far!
Broken destiny, my humanity / Was lost forever”

Maybe a universal comment on that madness we call war.

La Garde closes out the work. This one covers nearly 8 minutes and branches out into multiple musical styles and lyrical themes. You get the guitars, you get some of the finest vocals, solid symphonic components, all finishing up the tale from multiple perspectives. It don’t paint a pretty picture but this ain’t Hollywood. I think the statement is meant to be a bit darker, a bit more hopeless. But then, I didn’t actually read the novel so I’m not really sure what happened to Giuseppe.

Oh well, it’s a solid presentation, the music alone makes it a worthwhile purchase even if you don’t closely follow the story. But, personally, I found myself following the lyrics closely after the first couple listens. There’s enough there to make them interesting even if you don’t tie them directly to the story. And maybe that’s the intent; this is a multilevel experience, not something you get every day; music, a story and some interesting thoughts on life and reality. Course, it helps if you read French, but I’m working on that.