by James Conway
Despite a long-lasting passion for rock music among its native population, France has never really produced any bands worthy of standing alongside the giants of the genre. Until the emergence of metal heavyweights Gojira a few years ago, the French have seemed destined to never deliver a scene to rival neighbouring nations, with native bands holding their own at French festivals, but rarely invited onto the bill anywhere else. However there are signs that things may be on the up, as demonstrated by “Out of Reach” the debut album by three-piece Lizzard.
Produced by the esteemed Rhys Fulber, who has helped craft records by Paradise Lost and Fear Factory amongst others, “Out of Reach” boasts the kind of clear, strong production those in the know would except from anything Fulber has had his hands on. The music is strident alternative rock that doesn’t even attempt to break new ground and seems wholly unconcerned with doing so. Lizzard are simply here to rock in the only way they know how; they want to see your head banging, your fist pumping and for you to forget your troubles and lose yourself in the power of the riff.
Opening track ‘Disintegrity’ sounds instantly familiar with its strong Tool influence, primarily due to vocalist Mathieu Ricou’s approximation of Maynard James Keenan’s slightly nasal croon. A powerful riff drives the track forward as the simplistic yet emphatic chorus instantly becomes lodged in your head, exactly where it should be. The smart, clipped riffing of ‘The Orbiter’ could almost be described as post nu-metal but demonstrates more than enough ideas to avoid association with that most unloved of genres while the muscular post-grunge of the title track flows along in its own assured manner.
The snaking riff of instrumental ‘Backslide’ provides a competent yet unspectacular diversion before the rather sterile ‘Fakeworld’ arrives pitched somewhere between A Perfect Circle and Seether; both solid yet ultimately unspectacular bands that always seem to play over the credits of painfully average summer action movies. Lizzard however, seem aware of the pitfalls of that particular trap and do their best to avoid its clutches, as the intricate riffs and measured drumming of ‘Twisted Machine’ prove, while the ever-building refrains of ‘Across the Line’ tease the listener’s expectations before letting rip with some powerful textured rhythms, climbing melodies and further examples of Ricou’s capacity to hold more than just a tune.
Despite offering little in the way of innovation, as previously mentioned, Lizzard have nevertheless delivered a robust debut album that ticks all the alt rock boxes it needs to, and the band seem more than sure-footed enough to hold their own on the touring circuit. A bit more time working on the song-writing wouldn’t go amiss however.