Saturday, 27 March 2010
[ALBUM REVIEW] Soror Dolorosa - Severance
1. Beau Suicide
3. Dare Me
4. Trembling Andrygenous
5. Thousand Clouds
6. American Chronicle
The glory days of the brooding, misery enshrouded goth music are long gone, you wont find a goth connoiseur who will try to tell you otherwise. The beginning of the nineties heralded the arrival of the synthesizer to the fore of the alternative goth scene, with the traditional sound of jangly guitars and throbbing bass finally left to languish in the netherworlds, in favour of a more dancable and arguably more commercial style of music. Bands like 'The Cruxshadows' and 'London After Midnight' opted for 'New Order' and 'Clan of Xymox' rather than the post-punk style of goth fathers 'the Sisters of Mercy'. Some bands stayed true to the old guard, but very rarely got as much notice as their knob twiddling peers. Rather than merely acknowledging the development of the new sound, many of the jackboot and leather crowd embraced the deathrock scene which was garnering a significant amount of attention at the time, a style which stayed true to the original values and ideas of the genre. 'Christian Death' paved the way in the deathrock scene and are a significant influence on the French band 'Soror Dolorosa' who debuted their EP 'Severance' late in 2009.
Suprisingly, the band have their origins firmly in the metal scene. Drummer 'Andy Julia' fronts the faerie aficionados 'Nuit Noire' currently, while previously having brief stints in 'Peste Noire' and 'Celestia'. Generally when metal musicians dabble with goth, it ends up as some overweight pseudo-operatic vocalist trying to pass themselves off as seductive, over lacklustre doom riffing, rarely do they actually ever end up producing 'real' goth music. Before hearing 'Soror Dolorosa' I was firmly of the opinion than metal musicians should keep themselves from sullying the goth tag, and keep at what they do best. I would say that opinion now is firmly open to debate.
'Beau Suicide' is the ideal opener, and if you didn't know better, you would swear blind this was lifted directly out of the late eighties. The main guitar riff is swaying and hollow with large delay, and incredibly dark and gives way mid-song to an angular jag. The vocals are exactly what you would expect, Andy clearly idolizes Rozz Williams, the vocals are sombre yet infectious. Andy has managed to capture the theatrics with which Rozz sang so well, while maintaining melody and avoiding the try hard pit into which so many end up falling in to. The basslines are thick, and stand out in the way the Sisters could make them, and as so many bands seem to forget, the bass is an extremely important part of goth. Try dancing 'Temple of Love' with the bass removed, you couldn't.
The music is extremely bleak, none more so than closer 'American Chronicle', an rather long player at over ten minutes, it contains passages of anguished vocals coupled with long passages of empty guitar echoing. 'Thousand Clouds', the most 'uptempo' song on the EP could easily be an absolute dancefloor classic with more exposure, the bassline pounds while the guitar screeches about in the background with Andy's even more distressed vocals over the top, with an added sense of urgency than before. I can imagine nothing better than swaggering about to this on a smoke filled dance floor, black aviators together with cowboy hat and boots with vodka and cranberry in hand.
This is a record which you can end up humming the basslines for hours after you've turned it off it's that catchy. This is extremely passionate music, just as detached as Christian Death and the ilk, 'Soror Dolorosa' have got the eighties goth sound down to a tee, the oscillating basslines, scratchy, jagged guitar drenched in delay, the thumping bass drum and the over the top vocals with what was so synonymous with goth when it first began. They have managed to gain quite a bit of interest so far due to this EP, but unfortunately in the wrong scene. With the band having the background the do, most of their fans seem to be from the Amesoeurs/Alcest crowd, while virtually unheard of on the goth side of the coin. I can't help but think this is hindering them, and it would be a criminal if it did, because there are so many other more famous bands out there doing the 'goth revival', but are mere second rate 'Joy Divisions'.