When I first heard The Last Dance, it was on Staring at the Sky back in 1999. At the time I found a few gems, but overall some well-done if a bit generic goth rock stylings(1). But it held promise. Next came Perfect in 2000, and once again I thought similarly a bit cleaner than Staring at the Sky, but overall somewhat bland, like coffee without the dark roast. Good to sip, but it wont make you jump. But I did say it was their best work yet, and it showed an increase in their studio capabilities and a tightening of the sound as the band matured(2).
Now 2003 brings us the release of Whispers in Rage. Three years just about between releases which for the underground can be a long time. With the tragic death of their drummer Lucky Ivan Dominguez, it was a challenge for the remaining members of The Last Dance to continue on at all. Peter, Rick and Jeff nonetheless finished this album, including the final tracks their late bandmate and friend played with them on. And the result is probably their heaviest album to date and also their shining, best work Ive heard. As a matter of fact, it ranks as one of the top gothic rock albums of the year, hands down.
Im going to jump right in to the fifth track on the album. Here youll find their cover song, as many albums have cover songs. Dead Mans Party by The Last Dance is the best rendition of Oingo Boingos classic hit Ive ever listened to and, quite frankly, could easily shred the other on the dance floor with the right crowd. Applying a heavier atmosphere and lacing it with more modern-techno chord work, The Last Dance take this song out of 1985 and drop it solidly and squarely on 2003.
51051 is darkly sweet, an old gem in the rough found deep in the annals of TLD history. Reanimated, rebuilt and turned into one of the most heartfelt tunes of the year, and for a good reason(3). The track is dedicated to Lucky Ivan, and is a great tribute to their fallen friend. The band refers to the song as a bit sloppy in the jacket, but I disagree. It isnt sloppy at all its truthful. Who says the lucky go on living we dance to remember.
Other great songs off of Whispers in Rage, and theres quite a few of them, include Terribly When, a song that starts off as a sneaky synth pop movement that caresses directly into a heavier, guitar laden dancefloor hit. The lacey guitar work throughout the track is in amazing form and the vocals are constantly skipping across a latticework of baritone and tenor arranged lyrics. The following track, Frozen, is a lot stronger, with driving rhythms and a really great bass line that punches it through.
And this is I think what has happened here with The Last Dance. Staring at the Sky and Perfect were in no way bad, far from it. But they lacked something. What it is I cant describe without sounding cheesy, but I'll try. I referred to SatS as generic, for one and Perfect in a similar fashion, both lacking punch or strength. Whispers in Rage is quite the opposite every song here is memorable, every song original and each has its own breath, life and substance. Its got punch. The dark roast in my coffee. The Last Dance, through maturity, perseverance and definitely tragedy, have discovered that one thing they were missing call it whatever you like and have pressed it here on Whispers in Rage. In short, the album is aptly named but surely not just a whisper. Again, possibly the best gothic rock album of the year.
Post: Dancing Ferret, 526 S. 5th St., Philadelphia, PA, 19147, USA
Post: The Last Dance, P.O. Box 9685, Fountain Valley, CA, 92728-9685
(1) And I said as much back in
(2) My review of this album was in Legends #99.
(3) For more on this, see the feature interview with The Last Dance elsewhere in this issue.