Greg Northrup    3-August-2001 Arachnoid

Amazing French album from 1978 that combined the strengths of other French symphonic groups like Shylock and Ange into a darkly futuristic and aggressive blend. Another frequent comparison made to Arachnoid is King Crimson, and the band is definitely influenced by that group's mid-period albums. Digital synths seem to be abundant, in tandem with traditional "prog" instruments like mellotron and organ, although their presence does not detract at all and are used appropriately to create a distinct nightmarish technological atmosphere. Vocals are carried out in a style that is rather similar to that of Christian DeCamps from Ange, often harsh but ultimately very effective. Layers of keyboard melodies are backed by towering mellotron and distorted, churning guitar rhythms. The band drifts into angular dissonant territories occasionally, but for the most part keeps things darkly haunting and beautiful, yet with an omnipresent aggressive edge.

The first song is without a doubt one of the most incredible dark progressive songs ever, completely epic and chock full of pounding rhythm and soaring synthesizer passages. "Toutes Ces Images" is another highlight, and possibly the best track on the album. Equal parts Pulsar and Shylock, the band begins sedate and symphonic before completely ripping things apart here. Floating mellotron passages gradually build into an explosive, guitar/keyboard led finale that sounds like a hole being torn in the side of the universe. "La GuÍpe" leans more towards the Crimson side of things, with angular polyrhythmic textures that builds into a grooving dark carnival-like vibe reminiscent of Ange. Overall, this could be the finest symphonic album I've heard out of France yet. Visionary and perfectly executed. A classic slice of dark progressive for sure. If you love Pulsar (as I do), prime Ange or the first track on Shylock's Il de Fievre, definitely grab this puppy.

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