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Diamanda Galas | ‘All The Way’


Love is very easy to eulogise.

From the beginning of time, love has been held up as the be all and end all of art, literature and music. It makes people creative in many ways.

Especially when documenting the more negative side of love.

Since coming to attention with 1982’s utterly terrifying ‘The Litanies of Satan’ (used by Cathedral as intro music in their early days), Diamanda Galas has been mesmerising and petrifying audiences whose terrain stretches from classical, metal and the avant garde.

Whether singing about the AIDS epidemic, Armenian genocides and the torture of alleged traitors, she taps into the concepts behind all of these: suffering, humiliation and powerlessness. Like Michael Gira and Justin Broadrick, Diamanda Galas gives voice to themes where no words suffice.

And with fans in the metal world (from the likes of Ihsahn, Mike Patton and Rotting Christ), metal fans are drawn to the darkness that she conjures up in records like ‘The Divine Punishment’ and ‘Plague Mass.’

Obsessive

It’s easy to interpret this (her first album since 2008’s ‘Guilty, Guilty, Guilty’) as a concept album.

One about a person who is obsessed with the joys and tribulations of love. And the places that it takes them.

Made famous by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holliday, ‘All The Way’ is well known as an orchestrated, smooth pop song about being in love. In the hands of Diamanda Galas, it becomes a seven minute meditation on obsessive, unhealthy love that consumes the person and the object of their affection.

Her delivery of lines like “Happy to be near you/When you need someone to cheer you all the way” are utterly twisted. Listen to the way she holds the note on the word “all.” This is a narrator who will not be letting go of anyone soon.

With minimal echo on the vocals, the piano is the sole instrument.

But her playing, like her other covers, do not follow or even acknowledge the original melody. This is a tactic to make listeners pay attention to the lyrics and the delivery of said lyrics.

Plus the barrage of major chords and staccato like melody lines give the song more of a psychological thriller feel.

Shrieks and Howls

Her voice has always been more of a weapon, rather than just a normal voice.

Listen to her rendition of ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’, and note the vocal gymnastics. Marvel at the sustained notes, and the occasional lapse into a more bluesy twist. This is utter obsession on the part of the narrator.

‘The Thrill is Gone’ is often played as a midtempo blues song, with the singer (be it B.B King or Aretha Franklin) often delivering it in a resigned tone. Here, Galas reinterprets it as a dreamlike, classical number, lulling the listener into a relaxed frame of mind.

Gradually, the song turns into a dirge and Galas’s stretched, tortured shrieks and howls dominate the proceedings. Do not play this in an empty house.

‘Round Midnight’, although recorded by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Amy Winehouse, is offered up as an instrumental. The hammering chords and tapped notes (as a replacement for saxophone) with elements of the original’s piano jazz lines, makes for an unsettled listen as it moves from smooth to angsty in a manner of seconds.

Thanks to ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’, the traditional American folk song ‘O Death’ has been given a second lease of life. Here, it becomes a piece about losing your mind, with the music invoking the feel of an ancient rite of exorcism and Galas genuinely sounding like a demon is leaving her body.

Second To None

When she delivers the lyrics, the bluesy twist in her voice becomes more pronounced. Although more known for her chaotic, piercing (but highly technical) singing ability, it’s here where you remember that her ability to sing blues and jazz numbers are second to none.

Closing with a version of the old country song ‘Pardon Me I’ve Got Someone to Kill’, it implicates the listener with the narrator’s plan to murder the object of their affection: “Thank you for listening to my troubles / Pardon me, I’ve got someone to kill / I warned him not to try and take her from me / He laughed and said ‘if I can you know I will’ / So tonight when they get home I’ll be waiting… I know I’ll surely die for what I’m about to do / But it don’t matter I’m a dead man anyhow.”

Here, you can feel the desperation in her voice. She is resigned to her fate, but will go out with her head held high. The (almost) jaunty music makes it somewhat life affirming. Twisted, but brilliant.

Running under 45 minutes, ‘All The Way’ is a terse, nonstop and candid album that delves into the darkest edges of love.

The approach is almost Sturm und Drang in that not only is the violent actions of the narrator is driven purely by emotion, but that the expressions of love and affection come across as someone who views their lover as an object, and acts irrationally when said lover expresses emotions contrary to the narrator’s twisted worldview.

Because of this simplicity, it’s an addicting listen. At first, you’re blown away by the fact that Galas can still hit those notes after all these years.

Further listens reveal the threads that underline the whole album, and it begins to fit together in such a manner that you wonder how you missed them first time around.

Album of the year. And it’s about love.

Who’d have thought it?

5 / 5 –Christopher Owens ::: 13/05/17



21 Comments
  1. I’ve never listened to her before but that is total and utter shite.

  2. Very Interesting, didn’t know her.
    Great stuff, thanks for introducing us to new stuff.

  3. Jason Hendry Says:

    Didnt know she had a new album out, ill defo give it a listen. I used to torture my girl (and my cats) with La Serpenta Canta when it came out., they hated it! But ive found it her most accessible from the stuff that I own. The Litanies of Satan and The Divine Punishment are great for blowing the cobwebs away sometimes but I can only take her stuff in small doses.

    Insane voice… suppose some will say its a loada pretentious nonsense but I still bought her lyric book The Shit of God, read through it and never picked it up again haha. Id still like to see her live…just once, to see if I could handle it.

  4. Franksidebottom Says:

    Thank you Christopher for such a great laugh.
    1) The idea that this wailing Bag slapping a piano is deemed music. It’s called “Experimental” and “Avant-Garde” on band camp. That’s the categories for a load of bollocks is it?

    And 2) You calling it “Album Of The Year”, hahaha hilarious. Did she pay you for that review?

    Certainly an album to annoy the neighbours. Her squeals are fucking mental.

  5. Ivan Drago Says:

    That is absolute bollocks

  6. I’d rather listen to Debridement.

  7. jjjjjjjjjaysus.

  8. Unlistenable pretentious wank. Album of the year!? Madness – get off the crack pipe! 🙂

  9. Jason Redneck Says:

    If Anal Cunt played on piano instead of guitars…………..

  10. To be fair, this is chronically shit. Album of the year 5/5 is some laugh. It is also only May.

  11. opensores Says:

    I find it quite interesting!

  12. Free Nixer! Says:

    Nothing surprising here, typical pretentious hipster nonsense from Mr “Head So Firmly Up His Own Arse It’s No Wonder All He Spews Out Is Shite” Owens.

    But what do you expect from someone who thinks this talentless tuneless banshee is somehow better than Overkill.

  13. Chris From Gambit Says:

    This is embarrassing guys.

  14. Sedgebeast Says:

    Seconded. I don’t fully buy into her stuff myself but some of the comments here… ye Godz.

  15. qw3rergtde Says:

    She has to have the most singularily annoying voice ever committed to a recording….no wonder she never got anywhere.

  16. qw3rergtde Says:

    Oh and by jayzus she is not easy on the eye either!!!!

  17. Had to see (hear) what all the fuss was about. And am non the wiser in any respect for having listened.

  18. In the name of all absolute holy fuck..

    To attempt to discuss the merits or demerits of whatever this is would be to give it far too much credit.

    Bad.

  19. Are you actually taking the piss

  20. To hear what all the fuss was about I decided to play the first song that came up on the player. It had no vocals FFS!

  21. Rude sambo Says:

    Metal Ireland hahahahahaha remember when you used to be a reliable source of material for our community. Now this Owens cunt has tried to call this yoko copycat bitch as album of the year. 5/5 seriously are you retarded mate?

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