The story goes that this album arose from a desire to avoid the torpor of summer. I don’t know how true that is but it’s now summer and here is Bad Tripes’s second album. Reminding me of fellow French group Akphaezya in the absurdity of it all, and according to the band following in the puppeteering Grand-Guignol tradition, this piece of metal mayhem is anything but torpid. There is no category but there are many styles as the band call upon the likes of Banane Métalik, Les Garçons Bouchers, Nina Hagen and Rob Zombie for inspiration.
Energetic, punkish and off-the-wall is how I would describe ”Splendeurs et Viscères”. It’s very French, hardly surprising considering their origin, but that is partly to do with the vocal style. In this regard Bad Tripes remind me of Trust, a band who some of my French friends worship for their earthy socio-political lyrics. This isn’t much help if you don’t speak French and it’s a pity too because Bad Tripes’s lyrics are cutting and dark, and not frightened to cover a cynical world of graphic sexual reality in their songs. But it’s easy to get the vibe. The female vocalist sounds as if she spends her time gouging people’s eyes out. It’s all energy, drumming, balls and urgency. The style is crusty and that of hard electro-rock/metal. I read somewhere that Bad Tripes have been compared stylistically with Diablo Swing Orchestra. I certainly felt that in “La Mauvaise Education” (Bad Education), which has a movement-inducing swing-type feel to accompany the pulsating energy and aggression. That’s fun, but Bad Tripes are capable of changing the mood. “Dans le Désert” has a spooky rhythm as the lady churns out her story of solitude. A symphonic element appears and gives off a further air of melancholy. I could picture ghosts coming out of the cupboard and dancing.
A heavy electric guitar leads off. Twisty electronic touches add to some very hard-hitting songs. It’s bizarre, quirky and playful or so it seems. “Je me confesse à toi, mon voluptueux animal” (I confess to you, my voluptuous animal). This is from “Les noces de sang” (Blood Weddings). They’re solid songs in which poetry meets bacchanalian festivities. Even the tuba finds itself way into the riotous metal mayhem which increasingly smacks of Diablo Swing. Pumping rhythms are enhanced by dark electro sounds, a sinister drum beat and urgency. Each song presents a different cameo. “Tokyo Decadence” juxtaposes the superficial innocence of the geisha girl with male carnal desires. Musically, delicacy meets darkness and sinister aggression in a theatrical way. Then we hear the distorted sound of the toy shop, the carousel, the fairground. The organ and bass continue to add depth to this unsavoury scene. Bad Tripes are good at creating vivid scenes. This is “Le Radeau Ivre” (The Drunken Raft). The story is drawn out, yet imbued with emotion and passion. From this we go to funeral jollities. Madness is in the air. Fast and driving, grotesque vaudeville, thrusting metal bombast – Bad Tripes have no rules. ”Splendeurs et Viscères” is quite a long album and as I continued to listen to the curious mix of punk hard rock and electronic pulses, I wondered if less might be more here. But there’s always a twist. In this case it’s “Monsieur L’Artiste”, the final track. It builds up slowly and dramatically, and there are elements of hardcore rap gang culture about it, as the artist looks cynically around and questions the values of intellect and appearances.
“Splendeurs et Viscères” is eccentric and wild. Its origins seem to be in the madhouse but it has something to say, it’s impossible to ignore and it’s certainly entertaining to listen to. The most suitable adjective I can think of to describe it would be “creative”.
(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)