CARNIVAL IN COAL – Collection Prestige

CARNIVAL IN COAL - Collection Prestige


Release date: June 27, 2005

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The French duo Carnival In Coal is back with their third album, Collection Prestige. Judging by the cover, this looks like a tribute album to Richard Clayderman, as it’s loaded with soft focus images in a very kitsch style. But as always with these guys, the abstract, the bizarre, and the avantgarde are lurking in the details and background in all of these images. So, how does it sound?

The Music

It doesn’t take you long to realize this is no tribute album to some sticky piano player. This is a melting pot full of various Metals and a solid dose of fierceful energy and less-than-traditional soundscapes.

Carnival In Coal have often been compared to Mr. Bungle, but there is more to them. Basically, there are 3 elements to their music: the various shapes of Metal, the influences of Frank Zappa’s (or his like) sounds and humor, and occasional contemporary phrasing and harmonizing … and then there are moments sounding very much like the later Cloroform releases (at least for those familiar with the Mike Patton/Jon Erik Kaada collaboration). Comparisons aside, this is a ride off center and way out of the mainstream; going bananas in the corners of the opulent toy chest of music.

Apart from the pure Disco song, “Cartilage Holocaust,” and the acoustic, contemporary piece, “Promenade,” the music is dominantly Metal in one way or another. Often at insane speed and with grunting vocals, Carnival In Coal paints colorful images with a tone of brutal red and a backdrop of intense black. They also manage to blend in crystal-clear messages, like in “Right Click… Save As…,” which is their spot-on statement on illegal internet music downloading.

There are plenty of brilliant tracks here, with perhaps “Right Click… Save As…,” “Delivery Day” and “D. O. A. (Drunk Once Again)” among the very best. There are also weaknesses present, but they are hard to address, due to the extreme diversity this album offers. Actually, Carnival In Coal are at their best when the brutal and insane speed is broken up by near silence, like in “The Lady And The Dormant Sponge.” Their music gains a lot of driving force from this kind of “fidgeting” with tempos, dynamics, and harmony.

The Band

Carnival In Coal is still mainly Axel Wursthorn on various instruments and Arno Strobe on vocals. In addition, a number of odd-named friends contribute with voices, violin, and guitars. Their technical performance is flawless, yet subordinate to the arrangements and rather creative use of sound effects and samples. Further to previous comparisons, it often sounds as if they’ve cooked up an expression reminiscent of Frank Zappa (hypothetically) going Industrial & Black Metal.

The Verdict

If you can dig occult-sounding voices, guitars, racing drums, or pictures of dressed up poodles carrying long-lost body remains in their mouth, then this might be the right thing for you. Just keep in mind that this is not for the feeble-minded and faint-hearted, as the bizarre and brutal elements will jump up and hit you in the face throughout. Interesting? Yes! …and very, very entertaining.


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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