Posts Tagged ‘gothic rock’

28th December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

These bloody goths, still thinking it’s 1985 and all wanting to be The Sisters of Mercy, in their black garb, wide-brimmed hats, shades, mooning around in churches and graveyards, still churning out tunes with spindly guitar with loads of chorus and flange, with deep, growly vocals crawling over thumping drum machines and four-quare basslines that rip off Craig Adams. They’re all so bloody po-faced, and even when they’re being humorous or ironic they deliver it in such a straight way it’s impossible to tell if they are actually being humorous or ironic or just naff.

And that’s part of the enduring appeal of bands like Cathedral In Flames. You know what you’re going to get, within a fairly narrow margin. It wasn’t really until the 90s wave of goth emerged that this was really a thing, so many of the contemporary goth bands with an ‘old-school’ sound more as if they’re channelling the likes of Suspiria and Children on Stun than The Sister or Siouxsie, and since most can’t register the same low-end as Andrew Eldritch, end up sounding more Cark McCoy for the most part.

Genre history and pedantry aside, ‘Not Another Vampire Song’ (somewhat ironic and humorous) follows the release of their cover of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds’ ‘The Weeping Song’ (not ironic or humorous), and ‘The lyrics poke fun at typical gothic rock themes as well as stories of closed rock clubs and churches’:

“The song is based on a memory of the nineties, when we used to travel (not only to play) around Bohemia, and after a night of drinking we would go the next morning to the only place that was open (on Saturday or Sunday) at that time, so to church.”

They’ve got John Fryer (Fields of The Nephilim, Peter Murphy, Nine Inch Nails) on board to produce this new material, and credit where it’s due, it suits it well. It’s a solid tune, too, and with its grainy, vintage-looking promo video, it does look and sound for all the world like one of those tracks from obscure 80s also- rans that crop up on compilations of The Sisters and The Mission like that started doing the rounds in about 87 or 88. It’s about as far as you can get from revolutionary, but in terms of delivering what they set out to achieve, it’s Mission accomplished.



Season Of Mist – 6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, in this line of work, an album will land – or however else you prefer to phrase it – and you know it will likely mean almost infinitely more to you than pretty much anyone you’ll see or speak to or who’s likely to read the review. As a reviewer, you pretty much live for opportunities like this, to cover bands you’re not only a huge fan of, but have been since you properly started discovering music, and also reading the music press (something that sadly no longer exists, at least here in the UK, which once had a rich range of reportage and critique, thanks to Melody Maker, Sounds, and last one standing, NME. Sure, they had their failings, but like The Word, Snub TV, and The White Room on TV, and John Peel, Janice Long, and even Zane Lowe on Radio 1, they were key for providing exposure to ‘alternative’ music and breaking new acts.

It was via Melody Maker and Mick Mercer’s Gothic Rock Black Book that I first encountered Christian Death, and purchased Sex and Drugs and Jesus Christ on its release in 1988. This in turn not only led me to excavate their back catalogue and purchase each new release, but to catch them live a couple of times. They’re a band I’ve not so much returned to, but never really left, despite not always keeping up to date with new releases.

But here we are: it’s the spring of 2022 and after a significant gap since The Root Of All Evilution, Christian Death return with Evil Becomes Rule, which Valor says is, essentially, a sequel, explaining, “Both Evil Becomes Rule and The Root Of All Evilution are pretty much the story of evil. These songs are generally about “The Evil Within Society,” not necessarily stemming from a demon, or a devil, or a God. Instead, it’s about something concerning the evil within mankind… Evil Becomes Rule is a continuation of this theme. We’re going from the present time into the future. When we started writing this album, we anticipated an event like the pandemic; a disastrous event occurring on the earth. So now we’re asking the question, “maybe this is just the beginning of it?”

Evil – and its opposite – is a familiar theme for Christian Death: The simultaneously released All The Love / All the Hate albums explored these diametric standpoints, and essentially aligned hate with evil, taking this idea of the evil within man to its logical end with songs like ‘Nazi Killer’ and ‘The Final Solution’. As such, perhaps the lineage of exploration can be traced a fair bit further back in the band’s career than the last album.

Evil Becomes Rule is quintessential Christian Death, but as is always the case, it’s different from anything before. It’s heavy in places, a shade less metal than things were around the turn of the millennium (Sexy Death God, for example, felt a bit too metal and a shade underproduced), and they seem to have hit something of a sweet spot in terms of balance this time around.

Opening the album, ‘The Alpha and the Omega’ is sparse, but tense, claustrophobic, and initially finds Valor in his best Bowie mode – crooning, stealthy – and this, is the shape of the verses – which contrast with the explosive choruses, there things get dark and, I have to say it, high gothic. ‘New Messiah’ has a quite different vibe, and is almost swingy, smoochy, but does again exploit the quiet verse and big chorus dynamic, and faintly echoing in the dark recesses, there’s the ‘I feel like my heart is being touched by Christ’ sample from Altered States that also appeared on ‘Mors Voluntaria’ from Insanus, Ultio, Prodito, Misericordiaque. It’s still fucking eerie.

Maitri takes the lead vocal on the urgent thrashabout of ‘Elegant Sleeping’, which harks back to their earlier works more than any other on the album, before ‘Blood Moon’ crashes in and already feels like a familiar friend. It’s as strong as any of the singles they put out during their late 80s commercial peak, as represented by ‘Church of No Return’, ‘Zero Sex’ and ‘What’s the Verdict’, and the production is smoother, too, and it very much works in its favour. ‘Abraxas We Are’ is a heavy rock epic which is equally single-worthy, and features some blistering lead guitar work, and they find their rock stride even more solidly with ‘The Warning’ – bursting into a rabid, ragged, industrial stomp about killing sprees in the chorus, and it kicks arse abundantly.

The songwriting – and attention to dynamics – are very much to the fore on Evil Becomes Rule, and the switch to pastoral chamber music in the intro to ‘Beautiful’ brings a nice contrast – the song effortlessly swings into stonking post-punk and is quite uplifting. The album concludes with the suitably dramatic two-part ‘Who Am I’, that combines Spanish guitar and a surging crescendo.

Evil Becomes Rule is by no means their most biting or intense work, and it doesn’t have the raw impact of Sex and Drugs, but instead harks back to the dramatic style of Atrocities, and it works well. It is, perhaps, their most rounded and well-realised release yet, as well as their most consistent. Oh, and yes – we are indeed ruled by evil. These are dark times, where we really need Christian Death and voices of dissent.



Karisma Records – 3rd June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

When an album contains only six tracks, and is housed in over art like this, there’s a certain degree of indication of what one may reasonable expectancy. Memento Collider fulfils some of those expectations, but confounds just as many. For a start, it isn’t a drone / doom / metal album, although it is heavy and it is dark. And the tracks are on the long side.

Sure enough, the album’s ten-minute opener is a tense, dark and expansive affair, built around an interlooping bassline and uncomfortable, – guitars that bounce contra to said bassline to build an uncomfortable dissonance. It’s heavily steeped in the post punk / proto-goth tradition in the vein of acts like The Danse Society circa 1983, the flat yet portentous, nihilistic vocal delivery only accentuating the awkward and uncomfortable atmosphere, a sonic dystopia.

‘Rogue Fossil’ again works a groove centred around looped motifs, a hectic, nagging bas coupled with urgent, stuttering jazz drumming hammers insistently while the guitar clangs and chimes at obtuse angles against its claustrophobic shell. The theatrical enunciation of the lyrics, in particular the hook (i.e. the song title), which accentuates the ‘i’ in ‘fossil’ adds a peculiar, alien slant to the track’s angular discordance.

‘Dripping Into Orbit’ melds together theatrical goth-tinged art rock and hectic, angular math rock to forge a bleak and uncomfortable sonic space. The rolling tempo changes re disorientating, accelerating and decelerating bar by bar in a fashion that evokes the spirit and sound of Shellac.

As the album progresses, it becomes increasingly locked into an inward-facing mesh of difficulty, an aura charting increasing stress and crackling cognitive disorder. The effect is cumulative, but each song brings with it new layers of dis-ease.

Listening to the jarring post-punk of ‘Gravity Seeker’, the track which features the album’s title buried in its lyrics as guitars trip and trail all over a lugubrious and repetitive groove, I find myself being sucked into a vortex of bleakness and begin to wonder just what kind of hell the and members have endured to produce music this unflinchingly bleak. The recording sessions for Memento Collider can hardly have been a laugh a minute. But perhaps it was a lot more fun than the music suggests: it’s a mistake to conflate the art with the artist, and equally, catharsis can often be the means by which mental equilibrium can be maintained. Its’s healthy to channel all of the ark stuff the weird stuff and the negativity into something creative – and this is indeed dark and weird.

The final track, ‘Phantom Oil Slick’ spans a full nine minutes and fills it with jangling guitars which bounce every which way over a bass that surges and swells before it breaks in a tidal frenzy. It’s dark, intense, and borderline psychotic in every aspect. A collision indeed. Strap in and go for it.



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