canceltheapocalypseAn improbable union is the way that this combination of hardcore and classical musicians from France is presented to us.

The classical guitar plays its part in a quiet dark folk song. This is “Athens”. The cello cuts in, as do a combination of hardcore and clean vocals, as the song raises its tempo before falling back into quiet mode. What’s important is the balance, and they’ve got it right. What Cancel the Apocalypse have also got right is the fact the classical and metal sides do not clash or compete with each other. In fact it’s all strange. The classical guitar and cello have a dark and capricious air, but the rougher edges of the hardcore are not too loud nor overplayed. So what you finish up with is an intriguing concoction, which comes out as avant-garde experimentalism. “Candlelight” has an old-fashioned feel. It’s melancholically played and sung, and very French in the sense that classic French songs can have that lugubrious air. I was half expecting an accordion to strike in but instead there’s a scream from the vocalist, who finishes it off with some raucous vocals. And yet with the delightful instrumentals from the guitarist in particular, it’s a very nice song. “Candlelight” plays with the senses in a very good way. “Planes and Bombs” builds on this with another strange but nice song. It drops off the normality scale quite quickly. As “Children” started, it occurred to me that the vocalist and ambience in general sound like Lou Reed or maybe David Bowie, but this impression blows over quickly as sympathetic hardcore experimental insanity returns. The guitar plays a lovely tune. The unconventional chorus and atmosphere in general reminded me of the strange avant-garde world of Asgaard. It’s not mentally challenging as by rights it should be. All this fusion of sounds and shapes and styles is just highly intriguing and entertaining. The cello sounds on its last legs as “A Bunch of Roses with Thorns” gets going. The piano is the perfect accompaniment for this spooky and melancholic tune. Each tune has character. Songs don’t flow but always tickle the imagination with the combination of instruments and vocals. Trying to define the style is impossible – I detect indie in an highly experimental way, there are songs, but songs, which incorporate many sounds and much movement. The result is something provocative and thoughtful, especially in the lyrics and presentation, but musically something both beautiful and gloomy. The beauty comes from the guitar work. The gloom mainly comes from the cello and the vocals, then in the middle of ”Bad Boxer Part 2” all hell breaks loose. Even the guitarist joins in the surge. The downbeat but infectious “We Were Young” closes the album.

I really like the off centre nature of “Our Own Democracy”. It’s refreshingly original and imaginative. There are no rules. Cancel the Apocalypse just make up their own. Sometimes moody, often melancholic, the only shame is that it’s not longer than 29 minutes. But it’s 29 minutes of positive mental exercise.

(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)