V/A - Gothic Rock 2 - "Darkend"
By Haydn Black
(Darkened c/o Plastic Head Music)
The legacy of Rosetta Stone and their forefathers (The
Mission, The Sisters) shines strong from the first guitar lines of Dead Souls
Rising to the final strains of Passion Play on this two CD set released by a
previously unknown (to me) UK label known as Darkend.
To be honest Dead Souls Rising, crap name not withstanding,
are a dark version of Faithful Dawn, or a well executed version of Athamay
without the shite vocals, or Switchblade Symphony with meaty guitar and without
the fairy tale lyrics.
The second track is by a band known as Complicity, and if
I'm not mistaken the person belting out the lyrics to 'Intensity' is Dave,
formerly of one of the early 90s B-grade goths greatest hopes, the terminally
unlucky Vendemmian. So, this is Vendemmian Mark 3 (or something). There's still
hope for them to crawl into the A-grade, and if you missed Vendemmian since the
break-up, this will appeal. Then again, if you always hated them, you'll hate
Inkubbus Sukkubus' 'Vampire Erotica' assails our ears next.
I know it isn't just me, but there's something delightfully kitsch and loveable
about Candida's vocals and the IK sound, even though they've basically just got
the two song topics - paganism (and the persecution of said cults) and
vampires, and how these two topics relate to sex.
The late lamented and explosive Children On Stun were lucky
enough to go out with a bang instead of a whimper, and 'Style Police' taken
from the vastly underrated 'Mondo Weird' album sees their tongues firmly in
cheek as they mambo their way into the history books with a delightful swipe at
the fashion gestapo. They should never have been allowed to go so soon.
The Tortured are yet another of the Children of Rosetta,
sounding like two guys (or actually a girl and a guy) and their drum machine.
Thankfully they can carry a tune and they may well prove to have what it takes
if they can only learn to sound like they aren't trying too hard.
Our next stop on the merry-go-round of love is Libitina, a
band I'm an unabashed fan of. 'Fagility Of Self' is one of my favorite tracks
from their debut album, and includes the pastiche 90s keyboards with some good
of fashioned guitar (and a drum machine) to good effect.
Unfortunately they're followed by Fields ^H^H^H 'This
Burning Effigy.' They sound considerably less like McCoy and Co here, than they
have in the past but there's not much in it. Some fairly standard guitars and
some less than enthralling vocals make for a sterile track.
Unusual then that they should be followed by Germany's Still
Patient?, whose track 'Shadows Of The Empire' manages to inject some life into
bleeps and bloops, although for all intents and purposes it is a Sisters track
with some keyboard lines which evoke memories of an updated Halloween theme by
Suspiria, for my money the band on the 90s who so
consistently fell short of greatness, continue to do what they do so well,
melodic yet droll dance floor tunes which both conform and exceed a
goth-by-numbers approach. So close, and yet so far. This is probably one of
their better moments.
America's Stone 588 have the benefit of Terri Kenndey as an
aural footprint - her voice is un-duplicable. 'For Madmen Only' is a new song,
which continues along in the vein of their Door In The Dragons Mouth album. It
may be nothing new, but at least it's well presented.
The same can be said from the heavy rock Marionettes. Their
finest days are well and truly over, but still 'Carousel' exhibits clear signs
that all is not completely lost for this band. It's probably their best work
Thankfully, disc one closes with the sweet but plastic
Mantra, which offers a variation on the style presented by Dead Soul's Rising
at the other bookend. In fact, it could almost be the same band. Imagine
Cocteau Twins, with Terri Kennedy on vocals, in a foul mood.
Disc Two opens with the French band Corpus Delecti, from the
Obsessions album. 'Broken' has appeared on other compilations before, but it is
an enigma as it's a purely unremarkable slice of Corpus Delecti, which is
shamed by what they've recorded in the past - love them or hate them. This
isn't their brightest moment.
So we come to Emma Conquest - a band beloved of many UPG
posters, who in the past sounded like a watered down mix of Rosetta and All
Living Fear. Back then (and I'm basing this on Nightbreed's New Alternatives
III disc) they were trying too hard. Thankfully they've jettisoned that, picked
up a few lessons from the perky Stun/Nekromantic axis, and have ejected a
textured and wry song which goes bang in almost all the right places. It's
still a little sterile for my tastes, but I'm willing to give these guys a
Die Laughing's 'Cascades' follows, lifted from their Heaven
In Decline album. Rachel's voice is in full flight over synth-violins, big
powerful and bombastic, in the great old traditions of the Mission's overblown
production. Still, I like the fact this song stands up and demands attention.
There should be more of this stuff about.
Surprise was in store with Manuskript's 'Knives,' because
based on previous compilation appearances they were the seminal perkygoffpop
band with a smile and not afraid to use it. But they lost it. 'Knives' is
darker and harder than some encounters in the past, but is raised up to the
heavens by the line 'A prisoner of the cheap champaign.' It has convinced me
they are a band capable of sustaining a musical erection across the course of
10 tracks, and thus I shall buy their album.
While about as far from the galactic center of goth's
musical ancestry as you can get, the Spice Goths (aka Faithful Dawn) still
manage to hold up their end of the bargain by producing highly commercial
slices of darkness. This isn't as instantly likable as their Nephilim cover,
and it lacks a soybean organic flavor like most of their stuff, and it commits
the "do doo de doo doo de do dah" lyrical sin, but it is passable - but the
song lacks denouement, completion.
Of course Sweden's Funhouse have more than enough for all of
us - channeling the spirits of Messieurs Hussey and Adams with The Mission (90s
style). This is from their Never Again album, and it is a slice of easily
digestible powerful pop that try as you might, you can't ignore.
Funhouse is followed by Excession - a variant (perhaps) on
Vendemmian. They're hardly the most original band in the world, relying on
electronic instrumentation, but they still do a fine job at presenting 'Years
To Come' as a song which doesn't send me to the floors in epileptic fits.
Still, it pales into comparison behind the epic production
of Judith's 'Sahara Seas.' These guys take a big sound, and make it even
bigger. This is from their Saharan Seas EP, and it drop kicks the (Rozz)
Christian Death comparisons out the window with a bigger and badder sound. If
you like the guitar, you'll love Judith.
Sensorium - My Life. This band was The Nefilim, without
McCoy. I like it not, but that's my taste. So unless someone can tell me the
connection between this band and Perth, WA, I shall leave them alone. Type O
fans will love.
Next comes the recently reformatted All Living Fear, and
what a difference a change of vocalist makes. It's a definite improvement, as
the band's taken a more melodic slant, in the process they've shed a lot of the
hallmarks of cliche-goth. Just listening to the two versions of 'Stranger To
None' (here, and on What Sweet Music... Vol 3) was an incredible
Unfortunately they're followed by Spear Of Destiny, whom I
assumed have reformed - but the question needs to be asked: why bother? Kirk
Brandon & Co did their best work with Theatre Of Hate, and 'Prison Planet'
is just embarrassing to suffer through - vocally and lyrically. Musically the
song's a lot heavier than TOH or what I've been familiar with from SOD in the
Another unimaginative band brings us to the penultimate
movement. Saints Of Eden aren't able to effect any startling changes on any
musical genre - aside from mixing cookie monster vocals with a techno big beat.
The vocalist is possibly familiar - and I'd be indebted if anyone can tell me
Remaining in the realm of pseudo-metal, we have Passion Play
who strike me as unremarkable. There's not much here to recommend them.