Thursday, 22 August 2013

Shelder - God of Vikings (1988) | 68%

The cover art is very nice, vikings, drakars, tits! It has everything except Satan.

The Baguette Doom Series pt. VII: Thorgal

This album is kind of an alien in the French metal scene. During the 1980s, it was mostly about heavy or power metal for the Frenchmen with bands like Vulcain or Sortilège. While Shelder definitely has a classic metal vibe, it also has clear doom metal influences. Only 1000 copies were pressed of the album, it's definitely one of the reasons it has attained this semi-cult status but yeah, don't be fooled it's not a classic that deserves your full attention if you're not a true aficionado of their genre.

Even if it's 1988, the production is simply freaking awful. Self produced by the band, it demonstrates the limits of the ''do it yourself'' approach. Before recently, you had to pay an awful lot of money to get the album, I never did since paying absurd prices for music is not really something I can or want to do! All I have is this vinyl rip but I believe it's a quality one as I read these same criticisms on some other websites. It sounds like it was recorded 20 years earlier, basically. I really don't understand why the tone of the guitars is so bad, the drums are pretty pathetic too, Def Leppard's drummer would be better even if he loses an arm, he'll have to drum with his mouth. I mean, Shelder's drums is basically three boxes of wine and a baguette. Cult! Sadly, it's not your usual dad's cellar black metal bands.

The album would had been way more enjoyable with a better sound and while Daniel Hacquebey is not a bad guitarist (he's even a pretty good soloist), it's kind of weird that the album is dedicated to Randy Rhoads, he's not in the same league or even the same genre as the late guitarist. The lyrics of the song ''Star Mythique'' are about him and they're utterly terrible, it's in French so I guess if you can't understand it, you can call yourself lucky. Trust me there's better reasons to learn the language (High Power and ADX are good examples)

The riffs are mostly decent, albeit as previously mentioned not heavy enough. The album is only thirty minutes which is probably a good thing since it would had probably been more boring that it already is. Their music kind of sounds like an untrained proto Pagan Altar worship band. There's still plenty of good moments like the catchy chorus of “Shelder”, the 6 minutes ballad near the end of the album or the title track with its rockish vibe and its cool solo. But it's like eating yogurt covered sausages since the production is so abysmal.

While I can't trash the production of “God of Vikings” enough, there's a certain charm to be found here. Especially in the vocals of Corinne Hacquebey. Although the production isn't good on them either, it's still better than the soft and weak guitars. Her vocals are pretty enjoyable in my opinion, albeit a bit amateurish just like the rest of the album. They're high, nasally, poppy and I think they inadvertently created this airy atmosphere and I found it pretty interesting. The lyrics are a mix between French and English, they're pretty mediocre most of the time especially in mundane songs like “Rock'n'Roll star”. But I'll admit that it's always appealing to hear some metal in French, perhaps I'm biased! The vocals of Shelder saved the album for me, maybe because of their novelty but it was still fun to listen to.

As a debut (and last) album, their influences can be a bit obvious at times. Mostly Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and perhaps Manilla Road (I suspect the last track is named after them) but that's forgivable. I always imagine the possible future of a short lived band, it's somewhat amusing to guess what they could had done. In Shelder's case, a good producer (well, even a lame one who knew how to mix a guitar) would had been a blessing. Unfortunately, this album is not a jewel although it's worth a look. Don't pay 200 bucks for it, dudes. They probably paid less than that to produce it. Remaster that stuff and perhaps we'll talk.

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