A review of Michael Gagnon's Spacemak3r discography from 2010 to 2019
Groundbreaking futuristic circus metal from Quebec
The province of Quebec has always been known for its experimental and progressive metal bands around Voivod, UneXpect, Quo Vadis, Obliveon, Martyr and Augury among others. I’ve always been impressed by the high amount of technically impressive bands coming from that small province and now I even have to add Spacemak3r to that list. I guess it’s needless to say that they have once again a very unique artistic approach that makes it hard to compare them to other bands.
The band is in fact some sort of project elaborated by band leader and compositor Michael Gagnon. He created his project with close friends and family members over the years before the release of this first record back in 2010 that definitely didn’t get enough media attention despite the creation of many intriguing video clips that can be found on the band’s website. The project is built around six musicians and four actors that appear in the colourful video clips and also during the few visually stunning concerts this band has given over the years. That’s why one can talk about a theatrical creation where the visual and lyrical factors are almost as important as the music itself.
The conceptual story around this project is also quite interesting. It tells tales about the schizophrenic mind of a child called Alex. The isolated boy is followed by weird imaginary creatures everywhere he goes: in his sleeping room at night, at a lost playground or even at school. The twelve tracks tell about the unique everyday life of this outsider and the tracks vary from hysteric metalcore parts up to calm and eerie gothic rock soundtrack moments.
Musically, we don’t only get the traditional instruments and some very emotional vocals that perfectly fit to the story. We also get keyboard and string sounds. One musician is even some sort of disc jockey who adds a few weird scratches to the sound which give the record a more modern touch that I would describe as an intriguing mixture of metalcore, nu metal and industrial metal moments that are combined with a strong gothic rock or metal feeling plus many atmospheric and progressive parts. The mixture between all these elements is just well-balanced and this record will still impress you artistically, touch you emotionally and surprise you musically after many spins.
This record will definitely leave a deep impression on you. If you’re open-minded for all these influences, the impression will be great but some people might find this kind of music too hard to digest. Personally, this release is a true little treasure for me that I happen to enjoy every now and then when I feel like it. Anybody who calls her- or himself open-minded and interested in musical innovation far from established genres should immediately try this release out.
Final rating: 100%
Spacemak3r II (2014)
Poor Alex - Lucky Listener
Spacemak3r is an interesting project from Quebec City that convinces artistically, lyrically and musically. The band's splendid artworks on the album covers and booklets, their visually stunning video clips and even the different actors and settings on stage recall Tim Burton movies in a colourful yet somber way. The different songs talk about a schizophrenic boy called Alexander who is making up imaginary characters who are haunting him day by day. The band's music is a vivid mixture of bass-dominated nu metal in the key of KoRn, straight industrial metal à la Marilyn Manson, contemporary metalcore acts like Trivium, symphonic gothic metal recalling the underrated Le Grand Guignol and dystopian dubstep elements that remind me of Skrillex among others.
As if this incredible mixture of genres wasn't enough, the band also invited creative photographer Paul Di Giacomo who is also a member of the hardcore band Never More Than Less and violonist Sébastien Savard to perform on two of the eleven new tracks. Paul Di Giacomo appears on the vivid "Rock Bottom" that sounds like a mixture of early Rammstein and early Linkin Park with a mean twist. Sébastien Savard appears on the epic album closer "Violince" that also offers a short hidden passage. The track sounds like a majestic Apocalyptica song with dubstep elements that add a more dystopian and maddening feeling to it.
While all songs are great in their own way, I need to point out a few personal highlights. "Through the Mirror" is one of the calmer tracks and slowly builds up a nightmarish atmosphere with distorted guitar sounds, dominantly slapping bass licks, epic symphonic sound samples, electronic sound samples and hypnotizing vocal effects. Each stylistic element works perfectly in this tune and the different sounds don't collide in a chaotic way but fusion to build something truly atmospheric and unique. This track presents everything Spacemak3r stands for. It's highly recommended to listen to this song at night to increase its scary atmosphere. "Trick 'r Treat" is a crazy up-tempo track with heavy dubstep influences and a lot of uneasy scratching parts that make you want to jump around and go insane. This is probably the weirdest song on an amazingly disturbing album.
In the end, this record is probably the scariest album since the gothic metal masterpiece "Carpathia: A Dramatic Poem" by The Vision Bleak which came out ten years earlier and happens to be one of my favourite records of all times. This record is just as great as the first Spacemak3r release and I hope this project will finally get the credit it deserves since this is easily the best contemporary rock or metal band from the beautiful province of Quebec. I hope these guys play some more concerts in the future and don't hesitate to book shows in Ottawa or all over Canada in general.
Final rating: 100%
Spacemak3r III (2019)
The Madness Ends
Spacemak3r's third output concludes the trilogy about a schizophrenic child named Alex who makes up imaginary creatures that haunt him in his eventful everyday life. The band describes its genre as circus metal and this is surprisingly accurate. Contemporary metalcore and nu metal meet chanson, circus music, dubstep, gothic rock and industrial rock. Imagine if members of Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and KoRn were asked to record the soundtrack to a Tim Burton movie and you might have an idea of what this record sounds like.
This third release is as atmospheric, creative and diversified as its two predecessors. Creepy sound samples collide with menacing narrative sections to fusion with experimental soundscapes interrupted by angry metal outbursts. Despite the highly entertaining final result conceived by the project's mastermind Michael Gagnon, there are two minor problems that should be mentioned here. First of all, this album doesn't push things further than the two predecessors and even seems to rehash some ideas. Secondly, this album is missing a truly catchy, impressive and memorable tune like ''Circus'' or ''Trick 'r Treat'' on the predecessors.
In the end, this album is nevertheless highly recommended to fans of experimental modern metal music who have a weakness for twisted horror stories. However, it's highly recommended to discover the project's three records in chronological order to understand all the references and especially the ambitious concept. While this third record is the weakest of the three, it still sounds unlike anything you might have heard from other bands. However, the sum is clearly greater than its parts since this trilogy is perhaps the best series of conceptual records of the past decade. Discover this unfairly overlooked underground project from Montreal where the worlds of circus shows, mental issues and modern metal collide in a unique way.
Final rating: 75%« The madness ends - A review of Spacemak3r's Spacemak3r IIIJigsaw (2017) - Weakest entry in the franchise so far - 5/10 (05/07/20) »