Now... you know this always happens in this genre.. A band releases an EP or album and it gets that oh so typical review? Yeah, that one. It never ceases to grind on my nerves... the schpeel about over fx on guitars, the skippy bass lines, jingle jangle and tinkly bonk keyboards... and, oh yes, the voice that sounds 2 octaves out of kilter.... Why oh why do the nay sayers persist in this coarse unbalanced description of the genre of Goth? Can we just get passed all that nonsense please?
Okay, so rant over... Sorry my friends but I needed to just pop a peremptory statement on record herein because here comes an EP that both warms me with recognition and tickles my interest with something that I will admit is pretty damn close to originality. Rare is that entity in music today. I've been spinning the new tracks from October Burns Black. A 4 track EP entitled Reflections. They appear to have scooped up a shed load of tasty ingredients and baked me a sweet and multi-layered gateaux of edible and very listenable gothic delights.
That previous statement requires an explanation of course... Well, here I'm given 4 songs that are completely different on every level.. A happy and truly acceptable melange of all that you'd expect from a set of compositions trading under the banner of this genre. OBB have presented something here that begs the question.. and teases the answer from you... slowly but surely. So, here I'm given a chance to relax and enjoy a trip through the wires... A coach ride over a mist enshrouded frosty moorland... dawn breaking. Darkwave? Yes, Goth? Absolutely... but kind of always dipping into something that belies those influences that any musician simply cannot discard... they survive all attempts at camouflage.
The first track here is The Predator... lively and instantly recalls to me threads of The Mission and perhaps Type O Negative. Deep and full of story... it rattles along at a canter and drops a wicked deflection here and there... such that in ending one is convinced of the influence of contemporaries such as Sweet Ermengarde.. A good opener for the EP.
In complete contrast I'm thrown out of my comfort zone with track 2. Dark Times Ahead is carrying me headlong towards the end of days... A musical warning. You might be tempted to pigeon hole this composition as simply classic goth but it delivers its message clear and sharply...in more precise tones. It weaves together threads of fine artistry giving up a musical fabrication of a truer quality. This track proposes... "What will they do when there's no one to blame?" Therein lies the eternal question... No need for conflict or academic answers.... the song itself provides succur to the victims.
Sat here, somewhat disturbed by the preceding track... I feel I'm rescued from the turmoil by yet another twist of contrast.. Pushing through the mist comes Cast Aside.. A composition of beauty and speaks for itself in all the languages of the heart. This track offers all that I could desire and fills the soul with a joyous air. It skips merrily along the well trodden paths of the Goth tradition and I'll cheekily say... Goth by numbers... but in a kind and loving way. It sums up all that I love to hear from this genre. It's signed, sealed and delivered with a professional perfection. One moments delight on record... and a lifetime in a live set.
The EP closes with the title track Reflections. It boils beneath the surface with brooding melancholy... erupts out of its shell with thoughtful and anthemic sunbursts.. and just as suddenly, retreats backwards down into the dimmer recesses.. to a place of cold comfort. A chance to shine but alternatively, a path to darkness. Reflections endures and brings my short and eventful journey to an end. Not ever feeling that I'd loved and lost or had something stolen. No, more a sense that I had been given a small gift, a chance to enjoy some time in this place... And that I can always return here.
File under Goth with a capital G x
by Stuart Turnbull