Review Summary: Poupée de cire, poupée the album.
To call Les Fleurs Du Mal
”Therion’s latest effort” would already be giving it far too much credit. Even with their constantly revolving door of personnel, a group with so much vocal, instrumental, and songwriting talent should have no problem taking their distinctive sound and crafting a listenable album.
Despite this, mastermind and founder Christofer Johnsson has managed to create two consecutive albums full of pomp and devoid of substance. Where Sitra Ahra
attempted to razzle dazzle with extended track lengths and cheese, Les Fleurs Du Mal
opts for focused tracks that are brief but numerous. As a result, when Sitra Ahra
ultimately annoyed and grated on one’s ears, Les Fleurs Du Mal
instead slips harmlessly by as it is drowned out by the sound of snoring.
Each track is roughly equal in its lack of ideas and its ability to flow into the next harmless snoozer, making no individual song particularly infuriating nor any song particularly enjoyable. I will throw a single bone and nominate Dis Moi Poupée
, with its simple yet gratifying progression and the album’s most memorable melody, for as much of a standout track as an album of background noise can produce. However, with one potentially enjoyable track comes an equally obnoxious one in the form of Je N'al Besoin Que De Tendresse
with its fast-paced sloppy riffing and high-pitched catawallering.
Even with its 16 tracks, Les Fleurs Du Mal
boasts a welcome 48-minute run time, having all but one track land between two and four minutes in length. The brevity of these rather tame and uneventful songs are their greatest strength, giving the listener a feasible chance to make it through the entire album before walking away or falling asleep. The album is noticeably softer than either Gothic Kabbalah
or Sitra Ahra
, showcasing a subdued but still-present metal backbone. These aspects makes Les Fleurs Du Mal
perhaps more listenable than Therion’s previous blunder, which practically drove the listener away with its obnoxious and unfocused romping. It falls short the most, even more so than Sitra Ahra
, by not containing any interesting musical ideas. Where Sitra Ahra
haphazardly, and rather schizophrenically, tossed in countless stolen and uninspired scraps from music of all eras and worldly locales, Les Fleurs Du Mal
instead sticks mostly to a single uninspired concept of French Romanticism (and thus is sung almost entirely in French). This makes for a slightly more focused album, albeit one that introduces nothing remotely surprising or captivating.
After the nearly unlistenable mess that was Sitra Ahra
, the future of Therion was uncertain. Should Christofer Johnsson have put the beast to rest after the respectable, if not a tad laborious, Gothic Kabbalah
? Would the new members rebound from their recent stumble to rally a strong follow-up and put fans’ fears to rest? With Les Fleurs Du Mal
, the questions have been answered. It seems that Johnsson will continue to lazily lob records to whatever fans remain, collaborating with whoever will work with him and with little regard to the integrity of Therion.
Les Fleurs Du Mal
is a forgettable experience that further cements Therion’s trajectory into irrelevance. Don’t expect any of its plain melodies to become endearingly stuck in your head, don’t even expect to have the impulse to gently bob your head to any of its insipid riffs, and certainly don’t expect any galvanizing release from Therion moving forward. When discounting the bonus track, one who manages to make it through this album while remaining conscious will notice that it is curiously bookended by the same song, Poupée De Cire, Poupée The Son
. It seems appropriate, then, as Therion’s latest offering is tastelessly bland and, in every way, a poupée sandwich.