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Danse de Noir is Lord Vigo’s fourth album, and one that has set a new song-writing standard for the band. There was something hauntingly captivating about the sound and melodies from this German trio that was epically modern and relevant. Consequently, I had to investigate. Lord Vigo’s previous albums have a similar sound and feel, but Danse de Noir has a stronger presence and melodies, to my ears, that keeps a listener drawn and wanting to hear more.
Part of Lord Vigo’s sound is how big it is, mixing in a healthy degree of reverb and delay, particularly on the voices, an overall feel that is very much reminiscent of Devin Townsend. Integrated into a stoner doom metal package that, at several junctures transmutes into bouts of fiery musicianship, kept me on edge. With time and space being the main theme of the album, the cover graphics depicts clearly man’s desire and inevitable privation in traveling to the stars, that also is enshrined with possible doom and a loneliness spawned by Earth’s abandonment. Vinz Clorthro’s vocals (also drums and organ) portrays the album’s concept exceptionally well, with singing that soars with desperation and fear, yet with an underpinning of hope within the lyric’s inflections.
The bass and guitar (played by both Toni Scoleri and Volguus Zildrohar) remain extremely tight throughout, as those instruments support the songs and what the band delivers as a whole, as opposed to unwarranted exhibitionism. There are good lead solos, but they flow within the songs and are not overtly consuming or unnecessary, serving to enhance the epic story telling. The rhythm guitar offers up several solid riffs and with a dry chewy tone that is both classic and modern. The bass accompanies the drums with a fat and subdued quality (for the most part), which sits very well in the mix. Conversely, the drums are punchy and act very much like a leading or prominent instrument, thereby blending with the bass suitably, and to support both vocals and guitar. Any keyboard/organ is well placed within the mix so that it adds to the atmosphere and heaviness without competing with the main instruments, a definite contributor to that wall of sound and production excellence. A captivating factor in some of the songs (e.g., Danse de Noir and As Silence Grows Old) integrates a tolling bell that is both haunting and a signal of impending doom that further solidifies the album’s concept, and definitely brings those songs to the forefront.
Epic lyrics sometimes do not sound ‘grown up.’ Space travel and exploration may be easier, in that regard, than writing about warlocks and dragons, but choosing words effectively to appeal to rebellious teens and adults alike is no small feat. The lyrics behind Danse de Noir do not make efforts to be pretentious, yet they retain a certain degree of philosophical and prevalent conformity among most people who have grown up in a culture where movies, television shows and even music have been infiltrated profoundly with space exploration, both heroic and terrifyingly lonesome. Lyrics from the title track, Danse de Noir include: Meaning less than a void, The story I will tell, A voice for the night, Danse de noir. The time will burn us like fire, It's the price we have to pay, Is there a voice in the night? Danse de noir. Such wording is clear enough, yet it leaves subtle ambiguity so that the listener can fill in the blanks with some personal interpretation and visualization. Likewise, these words from Shoulder of Orion holds modest uncertainty so that the listener further can create pictures in his or her mind: Oh, saviour of the solar sky, I am waiting for a sign, I'm thirsting for the lifeblood, From a living heart. And all that man can fear opens The Tannhäuser Gate, At the shoulder of Orion. With a few references on the album to the Bladerunner movie, e.g., “Tannhäuser Gate” and “Is Deckard turning away?”, adds a hint of pop culture for an album that seems so remote and extraterrestrial.
As a whole, Danse de Noir sounds fantastic and for several reasons. The mixing and engineering are well done, as each instrument stands alone in clarity, yet blends in unison with the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. The lyrics support the album’s concept without being trite or inane, and the vocalist’s passion is enveloping and hypnotizing to say the least. You can tell the band worked as a unit in what and how the instruments played, and how the songs were presented from one to the next, all of which remained so uniform that they shared a similar vibe and atmosphere that serve to be one colossal masterpiece. And yet, I never felt weary or tired of listening to the album. In fact, some songs stretched to 7-minutes and felt half that length. A final thought, I find that interspersing brief moments of narration within the story lines increases the songs’ breadth and impact, and definitely added to the epic tale that was told. This concept was elaborated upon even further with three brief (<30-sec) non-musical tracks, numbers 1, 3 and 5, which added to the ambiance spectacularly. Move over Major Tom.