Manigance – Volte-Face
Reviewed by Arno Callens
You would think that a French band singing in French wouldn’t need any more excuses to fly under the radar. Yet the promotional campaign for the fifth Manigance album Volte-Face was almost non-existent. I say ‘almost’, not ‘virtually’, because I did see an ad at some point on its own Facebook-page. All this serves to underline what an utter shame it is that Manigance doesn’t have the publicity machine of a big label behind it, because it deserves more than most to be heard.
For those of you into power metal who still haven’t checked out this band due either to unprocessed feelings towards the Battle of Hastings or a linguistic defect called ‘being a native English speaker’, pardon the bloody French already and damn well check these guys out. Volte-Face (which, in combination with the verb faire, means ‘turning things around’) should make you faire volte-face, because it is another excellent entry in an increasingly spectacular discography.
After 2011’s Récidive, which had a face-melting opener in “Larme De L’Univers”, expectations were high for this one’s first assault. “Pur Sang” isn’t quite the space missile that “Larme” was, but it is an adequate introduction to the modern-sounding energetic brand of power these veterans play. I saw them live once, and for guys who look like they should play in a Grave Digger-age kind of band, they have a remarkably fresh style anchored by blistering leads, tasteful keys, and the unmatchable raspy vocals of Didier Delsaux. He has the raw approach of Joe Amore (of countrymen Nightmare-fame), with double the charm.
Manigance is nothing if not consistent, so rest assured: this album kicks ass from start to finish. Let me just single out some highlights in the anthemic “Leader” (which is English and cheating), the glorious “Apparence”, the French-dictionary-au-lieu-de-fist-pumping title track, and the light-speed “Ultime Atome”. Stylistically, little has changed, but if anything, Volte-Face features shorter, punchier songs than some of its predecessors. Perhaps it doesn’t stack up to career milestones Ange Où Démon or L’Ombre Et La Lumière, but it can play ball like Karim Benzema.
In any case, it’s always a delight to have a new Manigance in our musical lives (even if we almost missed it, hmph). So change management, change strategy, and for all of us Heavenly fans – witnesses to Ben Sotto’s accent, please don’t ever change the language you sing in (we heard “Say It Ain’t So”). The power metal public at-large may always keep you at a grammar professor’s arm’s length, but we’d rather you remain an underground treasure than some lazy sellouts. Vive la France, vive Manigance!
3.75 // 5