THE YOUNG GODS – L’Eau Rouge (1989)

Review by: Mark Maria Ahsmann
Album assigned by: A.A

The Young Gods are an industrial rock band from Switzerland that was formed in 1987. In 1989 they released “L’Eau Rouge”. Which is a delicious album. A rock album. ‘Rock’ as in ‘Adrenaline Music for the Young, Courageous and Romantic’. And it kicks ass, as the saying goes.
Though not revolutionary in any sense it offers it’s very own and well balanced mixture of elements already known in industrial music.
The album is stitched together from samples. Sampled metal guitars (Motörhead meets Killing Joke meets Anthrax), Front 242 style pulsating beats, samples of various styles of classical music and, most uniquely, samples of fairground organs and accordeons as used in musette, middle European cabaret music and french chansons.
The album is extremely tastefully produced by fellow switzer Roli Mosimann, collaborator with Foetus in his cockrock-parody Wiseblood project and former drummer of the Swans. Both influences are quite obvious in their music. From Foetus they borrowed the samples of classical music, – in the vein of Stravinsky and Wagner & horror movie soundtracks strings. From the Swans the extremely heavy drum sound and sonic clarity. Traces of vintage NDW acts like Grauzone (also from Switzerland) and Palais Schaumburg can be heard too. And Laibach, by the way, a band that has the use of classical samples in common with Foetus. Also a band that never eschewed a martial drum beat when one was called for.
But The Young Gods didn’t inherit the brutality and atonality that made the industrial predecessors mentioned at times so harsh and to some ears unlistenable. L’Eau Rouge is a very accessible album in which the various elements come together in a logical and organic manner. It is true that none of the elements mentioned are unique. The Beatles sampled fairground organs on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and Foetus did the same on “Finely Honed Machine”. Pig also used that sound on Hildelinde. Ah, and not to mention Tom Waits. Samples from classical music and horror movie soundtracks were, by the 1980’s, all over the place of course. What sets the Young Gods apart though is the effectivity with which the band uses these elements in a heavy rock context. Without sounding overwrought or willfully experimental. And pretty much sounding like a missing link between Laibach and Rammstein, come to think of it.
Without sounding morbid too. Though I can’t comment on the lyrics. My french is not good enough for that. I read somewhere that the title “L’Eau Rouge” refers to menstruation and I think that the track “Charlotte” is about female masturbation. But that’s as far is my interpretation of the lyrics goes. However, “L’Eau Rouge” does not sound like it was created by a bunch of sickos. It just sounds too light, too accessible for that (but not quite Right Said Fred yet).
The album is consistent all the way. But there are some favorite tracks: the first track; the title song “L’Eau Rouge” opens in waltz time signature with the fairground organs and chansonesque vocals in place. Then it gets sprinkled with drops of classical sounding strings and just when you think it’ll explode in a relentless 4/4 beat something completely different happens. That’s a perfect opener. The second song, “Rue des Tempêtes” is a breakneck speed metal song, the best Ministry song the Ministry never did. “Charlotte” too uses the fairground organs in 2/4 time signature and with bits of accordeon actually develops into a very pretty song. And on “Les Enfants” the band uses the classical samples in an oragstic manner and to such a great effect that it has Laibach flat on it’s back.
I have one complaint. The singer, Franz Treichler, is trying very hard to bellow and growl in the customary Foetus/Michael Gira/Nick Cave-in-his-Birthday-Suit manner and his voice is just not forceful and expressive enough to pull it off. So he relies on layers of echo but still doesn’t really convince me that he’s not a nice college-educated boy. Roli Mosimann should have advised him to develop his own style.
But all in all it was a pleasure to meet “L’Eau Rouge”.

Author: tomymostalas


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