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A spectacular, grooving vaudeville metal show - 90%

why, April 11th, 2014

Conjuring up a wicked sound of vaudeville horror mixed with a unique blend of riffs from various genres considered heavy metal, the people behind this record managed to create a truly theatrical atmosphere seldom achieved in metal without overdoing everything in the process. Which is not to say this album is not full of eccentricity to the point of actually being fun and fucking heavy at the very same time, a balance that I oftentimes seek in music.

Which elements constitute this specific sound? First and foremost, since this supposed to be a metal album, the guitar riffs have to qualify it as such, and they very much do. They are the kind of riffs that do not lose themselves in over complication, you can really hear that they are much rather crafted for heavyness and simple yet pounding rhythmic value. Production-wise, the guitar sound is fittingly thick, akin to the best examples of the grooving guitar sound of the early 90s, and has exactly the right amount of punch to accommodate the often palm-muted head banging fast-paced riffs, as well as the slow and punishing bits, reminiscent of the very earliest metal songs played in this despair-laden riffing style.

In summary, the very focused and precisely executed riffs just lay the groundwork for this album to FEEL totally metal, solidified by the very classic sounding lead guitar work, which never noodles away for the sake of it, but instead provides an efficient, melodic and fitting counterpart to the rhythm guitar section. When the guitars do play lead melodies, they tend to be more on the melodic side, making the listener hear every note and how it fits into the songwriting instead of shredding away for chaotic effect. All in all, the times the rhythm guitars lay down the riffs on their own, dominate.

The other traditional metal instruments also do what they are supposed to do: The drums perfectly accentuate and pound along the riffs and, connected by the mostly-play-along-bass to the guitar section, they form a unifying, focused rhythm compartment. None of these instruments are too loud or inaudible at any time. Thus, to summarize, a great metal sound.

So far, so good... so what? All so far described elements may sound promising and solid, but do not explain the special atmosphere I attributed to the album at the beginning of the review. So where does it come from? The primary factor that contributes to its particular excellence is vocal diversity and style. All the participating vocal performers can be described as horny, perverted villains that deliver the vaudeville style mixture of bizarre darkness and black comedy with seemingly a thousand different, distinct voices. There are the main vocals, which are of a deep, snarling, sonorous, but rather clean variety and appear in the context of the music as the host of this freakshow. And then there's an infinite variety of whisperings, distorted screams, horny female stripper vocals, straight-up sexual moaning, genuine death growls and powerful clean metal vocals that are mixed with such ease and yet theatrical intensity that they steal the whole show and paint this grotesque picture of a truly freaky metal circus.

The lyrics are insanely metal and move between sado-masochistic sexual references and general dark imagery that does not shy away from tongue-in-cheek horror but never overdoes it, always moving along the lines of what one might be confronted with in bizarre performance art.

There are other, in comparison to vocal intensity, relatively minor elements to this atmosphere, for example weird acoustic interludes and clownish organ tunes as well as other well-chosen keyboard sounds that add to the special thing this band is pulling off.
The songwriting itself is top-notch most of the time and here again the band applies the smart trick to use mostly tried and true metal song structures, sometimes even simplifying those further in some songs, but they always spice things up with all the interesting and diverse vocal and weirdo stuff they have going for them, without ever sounding gimmicky. Still, the repetition of some kind of base-riff seems to happen too often in a few instances.

The album closes with two live tracks, one of them being a cover song, that fit the studio tracks quite well and re-enforce the theatrical atmosphere even more. The unusual performance of the band just unfolds before the mental eye, when all elements come together and you can even hear the crowd cheering as if participating in some kind of strip show.
That probably summarizes the best description for this awesome album: Dark weirdo strip show METAL.

The final rating is a 9 out of 10. One point is subtracted because some parts of songs overdo the riff repetition thing. Recommendations go out to everyone who likes his music dark, weird, but with a basis of solid heavy metal.