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Ravenheart Music: Album Reviews



(Self Release) Reviewed 4th May 2012

01. In Mens Sana
02. Collapsed
03. Victor’s Run
04. Last Dilemma
05. The Lonely Grave of Anne Parreti
06. The Tools of my Redemption
07. The Samâ’
08. The Fall (featuring Chaos Heidi from Asylum Pyre)
09. Aligning the Cylinder
10. Anesidora
11. The Ritual
12. Scent of Darkness
13. Puppets for Revenge
14. Until the Dusk
15. Close Your Eyes, Anjia
16. Alone With my Fear
17. A Lost Friend
18. The 6th Part (featuring Seb from Galderia)
19. Epilogue

French formation Whispering Tales were originally formed in 2006 by drummer Denis S. and bassist/composer Steph Castelli in 2006, but hit the buffers in 2010 while recording their début album when Denis left taking the original band name with him. However they quickly regrouped with new drummer Bruno and keyboardist Stephy Fenu coming on board as they resumed work on this album. Steph (the bassist, not to be confused with Stephy) has also written an accompanying book called 'Echoes of Perversion', together with an explanatory booklet 'Codex Umbrae', to go with this concept album that you can read on their website, however although the lyrics are in English the book is in French, so I have written a separate shortened version in English to help you enjoy and understand the album. Their style is like a more gothic version of light up-tempo French symphonic metal (Wildpath, Kerion, Auspex, Bel O Kan etc.), but with a distinctive swirling sound with loads going on, Jérémie and Rémi's multifarious lead and rhythm guitars, Stephy's keyboard and orchestral ornamentations, Lucie's semi and light operatic vocals, Bruno's flamboyant drumming and Steph's melodic bass. Like the story it's at first a bit bewildering, but this is certainly an album that really rewards repeat plays as it all becomes clear. In between the songs there are musical interludes with spoken voices and sound effects, with the story it reminds me of one of the many point and click adventures I've done like Broken Sword, Chronicles of Mystery and Gabriel Knight where you get cut scenes between each passage of play, I've deciphered countless relics and defeated many evil ancient forces in my time. The album is a seamless and most enjoyable listening experience as it carries you through the story. Asylum Pyre's Chaos Heidi does some suitably devilish whispers as she plays the part of the Shadows on 'The Fall', on 'Scent of Darkness' guest Michel Bacci uses his wonderful Christopher Lee esque baritone to do the voice of the Off Civilisation, during 'Alone With My Fear' Lucie cleverly duets with herself to represent the merging of Ka, Seb from Galderia sings the role of Emin in the final rousing song 'The 6th Part', and my favourite track is the catchy 'Until the Dawn' where the Shadows enjoy a good punch-up. It is all mixed with suitable subtlety by Nicholas Eschalier at the most appropriately named Magic Studios. Without knowing the story this is a very enjoyable album, but you miss out so many of the finer facets, and some of it will not make much sense, especially the interludes. I found that once I knew the story it was transformed into a very adsorbing and engrossing listening experience, suddenly everything made sense. A highly adventurous adventure for fans of symphonic metal, their portal lies at here, a legendary 9/10 (Phil)

Whispering Tales, Guide to the Echoes of Perversion story.
To help non French speakers to understand and enjoy the Echoes of Perversion concept album I have written with the help of the band this shortened version in English based on the original book in French 'Echoes of Perversion' and the accompanying explanatory booklet 'Codex Umbrae', with the Interlude / Song title appropriate to each passage in brackets to guide you. A long time ago in Egypt a relic called the Icosahedron was buried. It had belonged to the ancient Off Civilisation who had lived in a golden city that had been wiped out in an unknown cataclysm many thousands of years ago. This civilisation had a particular way to treat murderers, they were judged and the guilty went through a ritual where their bodies were burnt and their evil essence, the Echoes of Perversion, was trapped in golden pyramids using the Icosahedron. The rulers of this civilisation didn't realise that the evil spirits, called the People of the Shadows, remained in fact in a world between worlds and the Icosahedron created a portal between them and our reality, and if deciphered it could also identify the location of their realm. The relic is discovered in 1830 and sent to the Louvre, but some years later it is stolen, and the evil Shadows start to manipulate people as they seek physical hosts leading to many murders and terrible events, including the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that triggers World War One and the founding of the Nazi Party. The albums begins at the Central Psychiatric Hospital in Paris a few years ago with a warden looking for an inmate called Victor who had been working on the relic but it had caused him to go insane and kill his colleague. Victor has visions of the end of the world ('In Mens Sana' / 'Collapsed'), decides to change history, and escapes with the help of the Shadows and their mysterious powers in return for killing young student Anne Parrett who is destined to become the mathematician who will decode the relic, but he faces the dilemma of having to kill the young girl ('Victors Run' / 'Last Dilemma'). Victor kidnaps her and forces her to dig her own grave, but at the last moment he cannot do it because he realises that mankind should be left to their own destiny, he becomes remorseful and commits suicide to atone for his sins ('The Lonely Grave of Anne Parrett' / 'The Tools of My Redemption'). Meanwhile, a mysterious man called Emin Qushji has captured the stolen relic and uses an ancient trance called the Sama to find someone who can decode it and free people from these Shadows, he becomes Anne's benefactor, and after many years he finally tells her his secret. Protected by a Sama he uses the Shadows in the relic to reveal to Anne their evil plans to bring about the fall of mankind ('The Sama' / 'The Fall'). They join forces, but a gang of Nazis killers, the Group 14, are determined to get the relic, and so Anne and Emin become fugitives, but Emin is killed by them in a hotel in Aberdeen. Undeterred, Anne sets off on an expedition with family friend and former SAS officer James to find the lost city in Iceland and destroy the Shadows. She finds a cave and a tall column, the Column 7, with cylinders representing the seven components of being, if the seven cylinders are aligned properly it opens the door in the cave. She likens aligning the cylinders to opening the infamous Pandora's / Anesidora's box (the mythical lady is known by both names) as it is where the Shadows and their evil secrets are held captive ('Aligning the Cylinders' / 'Anesidora'), and she now understands why Victor could not go through with her murder. As she aligns the cylinders she sees visions of the ceremonial ritual in which the people of the Off Civilisation were condemned to become Shadows, and they tell her that their evil essence has survived, waiting to arise ('The Ritual' / 'Scent of Darkness'). Many years before in 1627 an Icelandic explorer called Nils had found an ancient coded map which a wise old man called Gilmar deciphers. Nils and his girlfriend Anjia set off to find what they believed was lost treasure, they arrived at the cave and Anjia had started to turn the cylinders but becomes trapped in a trance, while Nils goes through the door and is disappointed find what looks like an empty tomb, but he finds small golden pyramids, in which, unknown to him, the Shadows are held prisoner. He then discovers Anjia unconscious, so he takes her home where he finds that his village is under attack by sea pirates, and Nils is killed. The Shadows take control of his body and soul, using his sorrow, anger and pain they inhabit the bodies of the dead villagers and revel in reeking revenge on the pirates ('Puppets For Revenge' / 'Until the Dusk'). Anne suddenly awakes in Anjia's body in Iceland in 1627 under the care of Gilmar, the manipulation of the cylinders has caused the two women to become one, the merger of Ka, with the two women sharing their thoughts, emotions and memories, so Anjia shares with Anne her distress at Nils's death and the loss of his soul (Open Your Eyes Anjia' / 'Alone With My Fear'). Realising that she needs to change history, she writes a letter than will be passed down the generations to the French Secret Service so that the Icosahedron can never be stolen. Emin's spirit (his essence is the 6th part of being) has survived thanks to the relic and is trapped in a world between two worlds, he makes contact with Anne ('A Lost Friend' / 'The 6th Part). He helps Anne to save the soul of Nils, break the Ka, and to return back to the Column in the present day. To her surprise she is greeted not by James but by a strange military force. General Leyt introduces himself and says he in the service of Emperor George Frederic 1st who rules over a unified European dictatorship, he shows her the letter, it had fallen into the wrong hands! ('Epilogue'). It turns out that Anjia was so upset by Nils's death that she had hidden the letter, coded map and the golden pyramids under the floor of her room, together with her diary describing her experiences when under Ka, including knowledge about the Icosahedron which she had learned from Anne. Over 200 years later it was discovered by Karl and Natalia who were assassins in the employment of evil Frederick William 3rd of Prussia, they were in search of the cave, and had by chance stayed in Anjia's old house which had become an inn. So history has been changed for the worse. To be continued....
Written by Phil Wooldridge, based on the books 'Echoes of Perversion' and 'Codex Umbrae' by Steph Castelli available to read on his website and the Whispering Tales website is here.