The hammer of metal swings down and strikes hard in the heart of France. Hommes Ou Diables, the latest from Spirit shows that this particular hammer strikes home hard and true!
French metal outfit Spirit has been around in some form or another for years, yet their last public offering was back in 2008 (Effacer Qui Je Suis). Five years later and with a rejuvenated lineup including a new vocalist and the band is back to offer up some of the best metal this side of the Champs-Élysées. Hommes Ou Diables (Men or Devils) finds the band in excellent shape, bringing on 11 tracks of melodic, classic-influenced heavy metal.
Spirit was founded by the brothers Tripenne, Christophe and Thierry who handle the bass and lead guitar respectively. On their older work though the production was limited and the bass was a rather featured instrument, that trend continues here thought not in the conventional approach we are used to. Instead of over-bearing bass noodling heard from some progressive bands, or the simplistic one note tones used by others. Christophe uses a more chord oriented style to keep the sound fresh. Add in the dual guitar attack from his brother Thierry and Christophe Dhedin and Spirit has a solid guitar attack to work with. Jean François Chapelet does a great job behind the drum kit to keep the rhythm in check, and his work coupled with Christophe’s bass remind one of Steve and Niko from Maiden in the 80s (to a lesser degree). The thing that really sets this album apart from their older work is the addition of vocalist Arnaud Ducrocq. With a style that floats along the metal and rock genre lines, his voice is extremely suited for the band’s music.
The release sits firmly along the Metal/Rock genre lines. Blending the sounds of their forefathers with some decent AOR (album oriented rock) sensibilities prove for listening that is ces’t magnifique. The production on the bass and guitars is excellent without being too meticulously groomed. The drum work, while fitting throughout could have used more low-end volume, and I often found that the bass drum came across as muddy. When it comes to metal (especially with the production tools now) a band has to be careful less it comes across the wrong way; either too mechanic or under stated. The latter is the case here, though it is a point to mention, it does not detract too much from the overall quality of the record. The closing track on the album was my hands down favorite. Chasseur D’Images takes all of the positive notes I wrote about earlier and amplifies them. This track is also the most progressive of the entire release, with an excellent clean lead intro, fantastic bass work throughout and a killer solo. Really a great song that sounds like it would have been at home anything from Queensryche or Savatage.
Spirit has been working for years perfecting their sound and songwriting and Hommes Ou Diables shows that hard work (and the addition of an excellent vocalist) pays off. If you like your metal with a melodic twist and French lyrics you will find little to dislike here.
1. Vida Loca
2. Nouvel Ordre
6. Homme Ou Diable
8. La Havane
9. Le Klan
10. Welcome to the USA
11. Chasseur D’Images