Clan Of Xymox - "Hidden Faces"
By Marcus Pan
Clan Of Xymox were formed
about a decade and a half ago in Amsterdam, land of weed-by-the-menu. Their
self-named debut release on 4AD in 1985 saw CoX rising quickly. In 1986 they
released Medusa which showcased their darker side with a deeper sound
and atmospheric backgrounds. Then in 1988 they passed from label 4AD to that of
Wing, a subsidiary of giant corporation Polygram. At this time they did
something unusual - they changed their name, shortened it to simply XYMOX, and
changed their sound as well. Their new, more commercial and popular sound
brought much chagrin from the underground dance floors. The original namesake,
Clan Of Xymox, as well as the original sound wouldn't be rekindled until late
1996, when the band reinstated their original name and later in 1997 released
Hidden Faces on Tess Records.
Indeed, Rat Bastard mentioned this in his recent Legends
review of the CoX's latest release,
Creatures, by stating: "Clan of Xymox's 1997 album, Hidden Faces,
marked the abandonment of the pop-strocities committed during the band's stint
" Rat goes on to say that while Hidden Faces was a step
toward the original sound from the self-titled debut and Medusa era, it
was still highly rock influenced. And you know, Rat's right. Hidden
Faces is highly rock influenced with scraping guitar work, riff-slams and
the like. As a matter of fact, the guitar work here is quite good providing a
very stomping and spinning sound to the music. While it may not be the same
sound of the original CoX, it is still a sound I quite enjoy.
Hidden Faces is a decent coagulation of rock-centric
(Sister-like) guitars, well planned backing rhythm tracks and just enough
electronica and programming to keep it from sounding like a pure SoM clone.
They show obvious influences from this rock-pop style, maybe not fully
shrugging off their Xymox days by this time, but the electronic programming and
drum tracks breathe a life into the recordings that give them a unique feel.
There are a couple of tripwires here - but for the most part Hidden
Faces is a rather good album and does show the Clan coming back together to
reclaim some of their old sound, attitudes and glory.
The album opens with the bright guitars and swift moving
Out Of The Rain. This track, along with track 7, Sing A Song, are
probably their most well known works off of this release. Sing A Song
has a lot of guitar work. There's a box-style strumming in the background, a
consistent fluorescent colored riff that brays in on occasion and the song
itself is rather simple. These two tracks are probably the closest to the
SoM/Cure style that CoX play. This is the rock influenced style that Rat spoke
of. The second track, This World, opens with a soothing electronic strum
that I rather enjoyed. It sets an excellent mood for the bass/guitar lines that
come in about a minute and a half later. The guitars are used well in support
of the hissing vocals.
Problem tracks include track 5, Wailing Wall. It
includes an annoying tolling bell bonging through your head and a slow moving
bass blundering the song ahead. The vocals are opera like. The Child In
Me precedes this track - a moody piece with a simple yet powerful bass
line. The guitars have been backgrounded here and the vocals are well done.
From this you go into the annoying toll of Wailing Wall. It was like
walking off a cliff and falling haphazardly (and painfully) into a different
Leaving behind their Polygram moniker of Xymox and bringing
back the full Clan Of Xymox name with this release, you can still here quite a
bit of a Cure/SoM rock-pop style throughout. The guitars are heavy and obvious,
but rather well played. The CoX haven't come back full circle to their true
original sound - but their heading this way. You can hear it, and by the time
they finished with Hidden Faces and released their (current) latest
Creatures two years later they've managed to mix their newer and older musical
styles together. Still blending together in some areas due to similar execution
and common sounds in separate tracks, Hidden Faces still delivers a good
collection of pop-style gothic rock.
Click to Buy!