Satan Jokers - Addictions (2011) - The French sons of metal are back in strength - 87% (30/06/13)
First of all, let me explain you who Satan Jokers are. This is one of the very first French heavy metal bands. The band was founded in Paris back in 1981 and in the first five years of their career, they released two albums and one EP with classic heavy metal tracks sung in French, including “Les Fils Du Métal”, “Trop Fou Pour Toi”, “Pas Fréquentables” and “Sorcier”. The band features no Satanic image, despite its name, but rather sings about heavy metal lifestyle, lust for life, psychological and social issues, rebellion, sex, and vices. The band split up in 1985 to eventually reunite in 2009. In the last four years, the band has released four new albums that got a little bit lost amongst many great modern releases. This is a shame, because these releases are equally great.
Addictions is the third of four new records, and a conceptual one about addiction and its dramatic consequences. The lyrics of the release do some preventative work explaining the horrors one can live through when taking drugs such as heroin and other ugly stuff. From that point of view, this educational and moral goal comes as quite a surprise, since many bands rather tend to glorify the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll lifestyle.
This album is divided into two parts. The first five tracks, as well as the album closer, take no prisoners. The band still plays as if it were 1985 and it had never split up. To my surprise however, this doesn’t sound too old fashioned. These tracks are short, hard, mostly fast, and no second is wasted for all-too-commercial approaches, modern sound experiments, progressive breaks, or other stuff. These six tracks could come straight from one of their releases out of the eighties. I find them quite representative of everything heavy metal is about.
The vocals remind me of a rougher version of Helloween’s Andi Deris, along with Udo Dirkschneider of U.D.O. fame, and fit very well with the dirty and energizing sound that knocks you straight in your face from the amazing opener “Reine Cocaïne” onwards. The band doesn’t forget about catchy hooks in the form of sing- or shout-along passages, seen in the simplistic but very efficient chorus of “Dealer (Docteur Vice)”.
From an instrumental point of view, the band is as convincing as ever. The riffs are straight and easy to digest, the guitar solos are emotional and well executed, the bass guitar is audible without taking too much space, and the drums are energizing and boast shining moments. One can really hear that these guys have played together for quite a while, because they clearly don’t want to steal each other’s show, and everything sounds coherent and refreshingly tight for this style of metal.
The other seven songs in the middle of the album are a bit softer and more rock-oriented. “Une Semaine En Enfer” and the acoustic guitar-driven “Lune De Miel” remind me a little bit of Guns ‘N Roses ballads in a very positive sense. “Effet Parano”, “Detox” and especially “Puzzle Cérébral” (which even includes a few Asian folk sounds), have a few modern sounds here and there. They are maybe a little bit hard to follow in the beginning, but turn out to be more than solid growers with some catchy hooks. These three tracks include more thought-out and almost progressive sections that create an intriguing atmosphere. The musicians, including the singer, show off their diversity and talent through these songs. Even though I preferred the six heavier tracks at first, these three have happened to become my favorites after a few listens.
In the end, this album offers six excellent straight-hearted heavy metal tunes, as well as seven very well-executed and more experimental rock songs. In addition to this, the French vocals add a slightly exotic touch, but fit very well despite the accent. This release includes no stinkers at all, and even grows with each try. Out of many more or less useful reunions of the past few years, the return of Satan Jokers is surely one of the most effective ones. This band still has a lot to say, and they manage to sound old school and the best sort of juvenile at the same time – and are clearly a better alternative to many retro rock bands that have emerged during recent years. If you didn’t know this band before, be smart and take advantage of this second chance. This release is worth a few spins and more, and the band should definitely get more attention than they’ve managed up to this point.
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