Review Summary: Vladimir Cochet steps it up, and releases his best album yet.
Vladimir Cochet has come a long way since 2003. That was the year in which he released Of Wind and Weeping
, his first under the pseudonym of Mirrorthrone. Now to be perfectly honest, the album was awful; the song writing was sloppy and left the album sounding stale and nearly unlistenable. On the other hand, Cochet's follow up, Carriers of Dust
, was a dramatic improvement, particularly the nine minute "A Scream to Express the Hate of a Race", but lacked any real lasting power. As such, I wasn't really expecting anything from Gangrene
. But with his third full length album, Cochet has managed to translate the potential demonstrated on Carriers of Dust
into something worth listening to.
In the past, one of Mirrorthrone's most glaring flaws lied in the symphonic sections which Vladimir indulged in far too frequently. Often, I got feeling that Cochet was trying too hard to create a grandiose type of sound; perhaps epic, depressed, or evil sounding. As result, Of Wind and Weeping
, as well as parts of Carriers of Dust
sounded extremely contrived and corny. The irritating piano melody in the opening ten seconds of "Dismay" seemed to validate my worries that Gangrene
would be more of the same, but my fears were quickly dispelled as the song transitioned into heavier material. Mirrorthrone makes the change between neo-classical pieces to extreme metal seamlessly; a trait which produces some of the album's most engaging moments, particularly early on in the album. The only real drawback to this kind of style is that it becomes the album's crux, and Cochet tends to rely on it a little more than he should. Consequently, though the majority of Gangrene
is composed extremely well, parts of "Une Existence Dont Plus Personne Ne Jouit" and "So Frail" sound somewhat forced.
Perhaps even more significant is the improvement in Mirrorthrone's song writing. Whereas in the past, songs such as the twenty-two minute (!) "Ils Brandiront Leurs Idoles", "De l'Échec Et De Son Essentialité (Point 1. Marginalité Démystifiée)", "Racines Dénudées" were overkill, very rarely does Gangrene
feel too ambitious, boring, or excessive. Every song contributes to the album's overall presentation; be it the thrashy, Iced Earth influenced bridge five minutes into "Dismay", or the epic, uplifting piece that powers through the opening minutes of the unfortunately titled "The Fecal Rebellion", and is frequently featured throughout the song. Even Cochet's sombre sounding piano performance in the intro of "No One By My Side" is noteworthy, as it is one of the most beautiful moments Gangrene
has to offer. That the album is a lot tighter and more cohesive is essential, as three of the album's six tracks make up the longest Mirrorthrone has ever recorded – at fifteen minutes, "The Fecal Rebellion" is second only to the aforementioned "Ils Brandiront Leurs Idoles" – yet the vast majority of these justify their lengthy runtimes with enjoyable material.
Considering the albums which precede it, Gangrene
just might be one of the year's most surprising albums. It isn't perfect, of course, but for the first time it seems as though Vladimir Cochet has finally realized his potential in this sort of metal and will have something of substance to offer up with Mirrorthrone. And really, what more could one ask for?