'Sapiens Demens'


MARK: 94/100

Do yourselves a favour and download some music off Toumai, because in the end you might order a copy and thank me for the piee of advice. With the abundance of new bands available today it'd be easy to miss them. I myself am guilty of writing down this review with high delay, and I feel my duty to stress out this is not a typical act at all. This is evinced by their songs, drawing influences from myriads of bands and references with acts that the French combo doesn't even know (SikTh for instance) sometimes; but it is also findable in their lyrics, ranging a lot like the former and being open to different interpretations and connections. Since they're written in English by a band with not perfect mastery in this language makes some lyrics even harder to decipher; not a tragedy but a small detrimental fact. That said, I find particularly sensitive to the one about a guy who blows his bank up.
The crazy and 80s/early 90s artwork reminds me of some comics drawers or graffiti artists of that era, while I do appreciate the fact that the inlaid booklet is stuck to the white bright digipack; this is comfortable and allows reading without the risk of dropping it on the floor while checking something in a dictionary for instance; I own thousands of CDs and this is the first with the booklet placed like that, therefore this means the 5-piece took care of several aspects to make its debuting product stand out.
Their music, which they like to call 'Psyché Fonk Metal', is intentionally extremely heterogeneous, still cleverly amalgamated, and the performance, along with the songwriting, enables us to perceive the 5 members get on well together. All of this renders the almost 48 minutes smooth and light to listen to.

"Sapiens Demens" starts with "Little Psycho", where the musical ingredients are immediately clear: Jazz lines and a piano, Metal blastbeats, powerful Metal riffs, Mathcore, influences from System Of A Down, Incubus, crazy Metal parts alà Macabre or Scatterbrain, and the conclusion between RHCP, Bang Tango and Mordred.
"Madness in Mind" has a beginning in the vein of Diablo Swing Orchestra, while later Metal structures appear, followed by other Funky ones with a slapped bass protagonist. Afterwards comes an atmospheric and dreaming break accompanied by the best vocals of the album (whispered, or angelic), and there's also space for a brief trumpet insertion. A hammering and sticky 70s-styled keys dear to Frank Zappa's fans pop out later on a Ska texture, whereas a few seconds we meet Mr. Bunglesque/S.O.A.D.-like crazy vocals and an earthquake of a Metal finalé.
Fast and furious vocals and a hot and majestic - notwithstanding marvellous - mid-tempo in the sign of Metal characterize "Petit Punk Em Ut #m", in which bas and piano catch every occasion to get included in the composition recipe; the rest of the song is even more particular; first Toumai recall R.A.T.M., then Atari Tennage Riot, and then they make a freaking U-turn towards Death Metal before rabid shouts close the song.
"Anachron" opens with a slow climax trailing Deftones, or Tool if you think of how the riff was conceived, along with riot vocals; soon after a Prog riff, and then a part seeming to come from Jamiroquai's songbook. The track goes on using Hammondian keyboards on a core typical of Limp Bizkit, then declamatory vocals change the scene while a Metal riff hovers about the background, and then the pattern turns Hardcore/Metal; the song changes again with unforeseen vocal insertions and Mudvayne-pillaged parts, anticipating some Funky Metal to close anew.
The longest composition, "Bankster", kicks off with bass lines and vocals not too distant from Queen, but as we're accustomed to, the song varies radically, this time sounding like Korn with piano lines, and later Reggae vocals come out; the composition then recurs to distinct guitar strokes and parts not referable to any bands, in a word never heard before, which means the French guys top their originality and blaze the trail. For those who're not lost with the description yet, expect now brutal HC/M moments, then it's time for Jazz again, high vocals, whispered vocals with a piano alternated with a wicked part and a weird one where the vocals are Funk, then Punk, then Screamo, then Emo and then reminiscent of Jello Biafra's. This all does deserve the phrase 'caleidoscope of emotions'! As if it weren't enough the piano is thumped intensely, followed by a tight structure and a violent one sounding like under the influence of Gojira and the likes, until the histerical conclusion respecting the lesson of Dillinger Escape Plan.
Funky Metal the way Primus used to do is utilized again, this time in "Wiki Puppies", a piece where absurd vocals can be listened to all along that, together with insane parts, funny parts bringing back to memory Naked City and Painkiller. The bass is key here, between guitars distorted not unlike Otep, crushing drums and delicate piano notes, so as the song to be remembered well.
"Sapiens Demens pt. I" is a short lazy intermezzo containing an arpeggio and anticipating "Sapiens Demens pt. II", vicious but not fast, a bit Rap metal, a bit Madball-oriented, a bit Groovy Metal close to slowed down Mudvayne; later we also meet Prog Metal, Mathcore, Deftones-inspired strokes but heavier and more original, Prog Metal with a headbanging riff and finishing pinch harmonics.
A Slayerian riff repeated a great deal constitutes the base of "Prey of Birds", the second longest composition, rife with instrumental portions; at a certain moment a traditional riff makes you think we're before a more normal song; indeed it's a mistake, as after a while Pop vocals and elements make us think comparisons with Blur or the lightest Muse interrupting the main riff that had been present till that time. Screamo vocals and a rocky structure with church keys serving as counterattraction change the direction one more time. Rage, madness, control, power, a growl, later on blastbeats and palm-muted riffs with church keys again are like sea waves coming and going back; they lead us to the end fading away very gradually.

The recording is self-made, but it isn't weak at all; on the contrary, it's so loud that the kick drums demolish my eardrums and there's no need to turn the subwoofer on at all. Unfortunately an excellent recording won't be of great help to Metal beginners, who will still find the French quintet's songs hard to assimilate; too original to listen and understand, intricate and subtle, they will also be to many traditional Metal aficionados.
Yet to me they're magnetic to the point it is only with a big effort that I can interrupt a song from playing before it's reached its end.

MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - November 20th, 2014

Line-up on this record:
Antoine Hude-Flaven - v.
Clément Mahoudeau - d.
Julien Mahoudeau - g.
Célia Poulet - piano/keyboards, trumpet

Christophe Applanat - bass guitar

Aix-en-Provence - France

Official sites:

- (demo - 2007)
- (demo - 2009)
-Sapiens Demens (CD - 2013)