After reviewing this band's last release, it was evident that their brilliance is with creating a cacophonous nightmare that seemed to be the musical accompaniment to someone else's insanity. This time, Fear of Dolls seems to have pushed the envelope further. The cover depicts an embryonic image with the title Bless This Broken Body just slightly below it. One cannot help but think of an aborted fetus upon looking at this. Their press release included a band photo that is supposedly of the members as children. This visual cueing simply gave rise that this recording may indeed be more unnerving than their last.
The hidden first track is a hodgepodge of maniacal laughter heard over the scratches from a vinyl recording. Screaming Inside Her segues from the last track with applause and instruments that are intentionally played out of tune. It has a Euro ballad and twisted polka resonance that simply seems to be right out of an avant-garde film. Bless This Broken Body utilized a more macabre intonation which became more pensive and dark as the guitars and bass worked off of each other. The closest one could compare this track to would be punk rock, though it didn't incorporate the guitars to the same degree. Other instruments kept time with the steady drumming and vocals that simply seemed to be from another place and time. The vocalist letting out with screams toward the end of this track are simply unnerving and believable, that one is inclined to actually feel the rush of adrenaline and fear. This is further enhanced with the variety of sound effects employed immediately afterward that are simply spine chilling to the max. This was not a comfortable song to listen to, nor was it meant to be. If the intention was to make a hair raising track, Fear of Dolls succeeded with doing so rather deftly with this track.
She Was Laughing sounds as though it is from scratchy vinyl, as though from a 78 rpm recording from the 20's. Oddly, the music that is wound through the tinny speakers seems to be some type of throw-back amalgamation from the 20's right through the 60's era. Lyrically it is difficult to discern what is being sung. It seems more apropos to deliver a sonic nightmare that seems to be reflective of a period of time from a very distant past. The emotional intensity is simply compounded so heavily that the one who is suffering from mental delusions seems stuck in the groove so to speak. We hear a child's voice talking about "she was laughing" bringing a full circle and added dimension. Track 5 is another hidden track simply of a baby cooing. Oddly enough, the voice seems to be backward masked as well as a child's voice sped up to sound as though one is trying to say something. Towards the end, we are once again treated to more screams, as though one is ripped from their corporeal flesh.
One can never credit Fear of Dolls with generating music for the masses. Their work remains highly unique and nonconforming, yet still quite capable of falling within the paradigms of dark music. This is achieved simply because the subject matter is usually relating to childhood demons that seem to plague insane adults. It is not exactly the type of content that most are comfortable dealing with. On some level, it is reminiscent of the Tara VanFlower solo release This Womb Like Liquid Honey(1), where she too incorporated the imagery of childhood demons.
Work such as this is meant to create a dialogue between listeners who tend to enjoy dissecting art on many levels. Whether it is meant to jar the lost demons of our own childhood memories or meant to create a debate about what insanity should musically sound like, there is simply enough material to work with to keep folks talking into the very late hours of the night. As with their last release, this is well done, but most certainly for a decidedly more cerebral audience than the average goth/dark music fan.
In spite of their less than commercial appeal, Fear of Dolls helps to remind us of why we need to view art from all levels. Sadly, we have become a "throw away" society that responds more to the marketing ploys of 5th Avenue than we do to the inner bell within ourselves. Still, it is essential to applaud the unsung hero's who eschew crass commercialism and simply wish to create something from their own psyche in order to have us think and cogitate in more abstract ways.
Post: Fear of Dolls, P.O. Box 20151, Seattle, WA, 98102
(1) Reviewed by Mike in Legends No. 98.