Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! Review (James Gash)

[Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! Cover]

by James Gash November 19 1996

Album Artwork/Packaging

Well... it's all in that "mechanical man" motif. Very industrial & evil looking although the album contrasts this greatly. The booklet is made with translucent plastic and gives some cool effects when you flip through the pages. However, there are no lyrics... just some quotes from the songs. Lyrics would be extremely helpful, since I really can't understand Cretu. Also... no merchandise order card like The Cross Of Changes although they do list a web site for merchandise information. Behind the CD is the track listing printed again on translucent material... so when you look at the back of the CD case you really can't make out the track listing since it's backwards... but there is another listing printed in small letters on it... anyway it's real tough to read, you have to open up the CD to read the tracks. The CD itself has that mechanical man on it and is beige/yellow in color. Anyway... a very different type of packaging for a different type of sound... that leads me onto the next section.

Overall Feeling

Here's some words that I jotted down to help describe the album: Atmosphere, Space, Water, Aquatic, Layered, Mellow, Peaceful. It's a very different concept for Enigma. It is the child! It really is. It's like the two previous albums have been mixed then the result was remixed for an interesting final sound. The artwork suggests an industrial mood but it's much different then that... it's much more etheral, warmer.

The Tracks

I jotted down notes as I heard the songs so I'll try to organize them as best I can. All songs flow into one another.

Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! 1.57

The best intro to an Enigma album so far. This really sets the mood with a floating synth noise, various "space" samples (like astronauts talking... similar to the noises in Eyes of Truth) I can make out the words "biosphere" and "life support system". Some morse code sounding noises come in... like in the remix of Age of Loneliness. The same music that accompanies the intros to 1 & 2 floats in and out. Louisa Stanley talks about the "Roi" similar to the way she talks in the previous intros...

Morphing Thru Time 5.47

The Gregorian chant comes in (it's really prominent on this album) along with a slower, laid back Return To Innocence drum beat. Cretu starts singing in a voice that has been altered with special effects... it's real tough to understand him but I get the idea. He sings about floating and morphing & that's what the song actually feels like. I feel like I'm drifting around in the winter air (after biting into a york peppermint patty of course). Some neat opera singing floats around. A tribal chant similar to the one in Carly's Song also floats around. Around 3.40 a fabulous church choir comes in, similar to Eyes Of Truth but less dramatic. The vocals are pushed behind the layers of sound. That familiar flute floats around. Sandra starts talking around 4.30 and the song ends with a windy noise similar to Carly's Song...

Third of It's Kind 0.19

Just a short intro into Beyond The Invisible. Not much to work with here... Sandra talks for a little bit about the father, mother, and child. Similar to The Dream of the Dolphin...

Beyond the Invisible 5.00

Nothing much left to say about this one. It hasn't changed any...

Why!... 4.59

It starts in with a beat similar to Loser by Beck/Pepper by Butthole Surfers. I think it's the same beat in the "Laboratory" on the web site. Cretu comes in with a nice, non-straining voice. It's a smooth mellow song. However, at 1.15 Cretu strains his way through the chorus "I'm asking WHY!". Why did he have to do that? It sounded real nice up to then. The chorus is similar to Out from the Deep and Silent Warrior. Around 1.40 there is a neat echo/hallway effect added to Cretu's voice. Gregorian chants float around 2.45. I miss Sandra's voice in this one. Not a bad track but it could have been better without that straining scream "Why!"...

Shadows In Silence 4.21

There's a neat bubbly beat and aquatic instruments in this instrumental. Similar to Almost Full Moon. More synth drums are added around 1.10, with them growing in intensity again at 1.25 (they sound a little like the drums in an 80's song though). Tribal & Gregorian chants float in and out. The piece ends with a cool flute instrument.

The Child In Us 5.06

Starts off with a new & cool beat... some neat flute accompanies it. I really like this one! It sounds a little like Return to Innocence with the bass turned down a little. A tribal female (Deep Forest-ish) voice comes in... she sounds like she's singing in half English... very nice. Around 1.20 Gregorian chants float in. Around 3.00 Cretu comes in and he sounds pretty cool although he's hardly understandable. I really like this one, if only the drums were turned up a little. Nevertheless, this is the "child". A neat oriental "twangy" instrument floats in around 3.30 to the ending. Very nice piece here, could be the next single... I'd love to see remixes done on this one (not that it's horrible on it's own though)...

TNT for the Brain 4.26

Cool title... I was expecting some very hard hitting, dance song here but that's not what I got. It starts with some jungle sounds (like in Silent Warrior). Some nice string chords come in. Around .35 Sandra enters and she sounds ultra-sexy. This almost sounds like Madonna's Justify My Love, or the Fading Shades mix of Mea Culpa. The music explodes around 1.06 and Sandra comes in again around 1.15. Around 1.40, the music explodes once again and Cretu's voice is added. Sandra & Michael take turns singing and in 2.20 there is a "breakdown" similar to I Love You, I'll Kill You. At 2.50 there is a final music explosion and at 4.00 it breaks again & fades to the end...

Almost Full Moon 3.26

I don't need to go through this one... nothing's changed... he should have kept it as an extra bonus track. I'd rather hear Light of Your Smile...

The Roundabout 3.38

Starts off with a "heavy" sounding beat that picks up around .11. I like this one so far! At .30 Cretu starts singing and at 1.10 he starts chanting something (I think it's him). A female voice starts talking around 2.12 and Cretu's "chant" comes in again around 2.30... there is a neat Mea Culpa marching drum line that comes in... I wish it was focused more upon. At 3.30 the song ends (it's too short). I would have liked to see more done with the drums but this is a new album and no one wants to see the same stuff done over & over again...

Prism of Life 4.55

Starts off very aquatic sounding and at .20 Louisa starts talking... sounds like a Calvin Klein commercial. At .50 some neat African chanting (Uum-Eye-Ah) & drums come in... I really like this! It sounds like something from The Lion King soundtrack... hmmm.... _Circle_ of Life, _Prism_ of Life... coincidence? There are some other chants that float around in the music but the African one is prominent. At 2.30 Cretu finally comes in with some more unintelligible lyrics. Overall, it's a nice mellow piece... possibly another single. At 3.40 a similar Roundabout chant comes in (sounds like Cretu himself again). A very nice piece... mellow & relaxing.

Odyssey of the Mind 1.40

The "outro" song to the whole 3rd Enigma project. It ends with some more "space" sounds however now they are backwards, Louisa also comes in talking backwards... neat effect. At .42 Louisa talks normally then at 1.00 the into/outro music floats back in ending the album. Finally some morse code sounding noises fade out into silence.

Final Thoughts

Definitely different. Cretu was right about the drum loops... they are in the background, I don't know if I like them there though. I feel this album is just as good as the previous ones... they all have a different feel to them and they really can't be compared. This one sounds very similar to Michael Oldfield's Songs of Distant Earth. While I'm dissapointed that there are no "showstoppers" such as Sadeness & Return to Innocence on this one, all the songs are equally satisfying. I think some remixes would help brings these songs up the charts though. I'm also happy that these are all pretty short in length. Eyes of Truth & I Love You, I'll Kill You were very long songs that lost something when they were cut to radio edits. All the songs here are decent size... maybe some "long & alive" mixes will appear on singles. Overall this is an excellent album... it may not live up to some's expectations but do you really want to here the same thing over & over again? Don't expect something like the previous albums... expect something new. I'm eagerly expecting the next singles and I can't wait for the 4th installment which should be coming in the next 3 years. Until then... enjoy this masterpiece.

Note: Some corrections were made to James' text, with thanks to Farhad Guliyev.

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