Saturday, November 1, 2014

Horror Vacui: "Return of the Empire"

Here's the new one from some favorites of the death rock revival. it's a step forward from their first album.The guitar sounds is an improvement as is the over all sound quality. The one reason this band from Italy band never stuck with me was the vocals . I have been listening to more punk in recent years so perhaps it won't be as much of a turn off, but by the opening song/ title track I can tell he has improved to the point of being acceptable. Little more death rock in approach, it all is coated in early 80's with a solid dash of rock to it. "5000" finds the guitars hitting the perfect balance between the Cure and a harder rock sound... I suppose like the Cult.

 The harder drive to this album and the depth of song writing that still has teeth to it, is a welcome relief as this whole post punk resurgence has been heavy handed on the whole Joy Division thing, and though I love Ian and the boys, it's nice to get good and gothy up in here with some vampiric horror punk that's overly Misfits either. The singers voice still holds some of it's bite when he barks out some of the choruses. The bass is right where it should be on an album of this ilk. It's not unlike "Time" that they step back into the sound I normally associate with them. The maturity to use restraint in order to form lush melodies is where the band has grown "Til the Last Drop" is evidence of that. The Cure like single note guitar lines and the heavily effect tone of the guitar help set this in motion. Sometimes this is made creepier than other moments, a nice fiendish tone is set for "Light of Darkness" and then they race off with it at a punk pace.This almost comes across sounding like the Dead Kennedys.

By 'Screen of Infamy" the band has begun to descend back into the more punk sound of their earlier work.They regain a little of the more subtle touch on "Opus Tenebris"."Desperate Adelia" carries a similar pace, though the guitar hook haunts you a little longer.the punk momentum does barrel the album ahead of it's self missing opportunities to show the finely tuned ears for song writing they previously showed us. Most of these are compressed into the standard just over three minute range. They touch on the more Bauhaus flavor of jerky punk on "Underworld" that also had the darker Idiot era Iggy feel to it.

"The Fall of the Empire" is the first taste of the ian curtis influence. This also feels more like a clash of death-rock with hardcore, but the more monotone tension to the vocals gives it the more Curtis like feel, though spat with hardcore aggression.

I'll round this  album up to an 8 which is the highest recognition this band has gotten from me, they are now poised to hold their own with the likes of Bellicose Minds and have really come into their own as a band, but still carry some rough punk sloppiness that allows the momentum of what they do to send them running faster down hill than their legs can keep up with.

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