‘Steam-powered Victorian Psychedelic Black Metal’ appears to be such a niche and cliché market these days, but this 7-member group from Yorkshire are very much concise and determined in their presentation.
Claiming to have formed in 1891 (2007 in actual fact, but surely we can forgive 116 years?), they truly intertwine themselves to their characters.
Take into consideration the members monikers: Mister Curse; Kathereyne, Queen of the Ghosts; The Gentleman; Sir Gastrix Grimshaw; Henry Hyde Bronsdon; Mr John “The Resurrectionist” Bishop and finally Titus Lungbutter (this being is my favourite).
The music itself is difficult to make a definitive commentary on, but the most obvious influences here are to be found in the early works of bands such as Opeth, Agalloch and the like.
Straightforward riffs and song structures are present, but quite often have the spotlight taken off them for the sake of dark ambience and chaotic tangibility. This is very much an act that relies on feeling. Violins, flutes and synths weave their way through the fabric of sound to help complete the task.
‘Pray Tell of The Church Fate’ has more than a little Opeth-influence throughout; it outrightly pervertedly genuflects to the Swedish Prog Metallers. It’s no bad thing and indeed the track itself is a very enjoyable listen, but it’s so very obvious and lacks its own identity as a result.
‘Man’s Laughter’ is dinstinct, instrumental Hawkwind worship – and is just one of many influences that can be heard throughout the album. ‘The Underside of Eden’ has a real Doom quality to it halway through until closing.
‘Left Behind As Static’ is arguably the best track on the album overall, and a real pleasure to sit through as its assortment is breathtaking. ‘Gatherer of The Pure’ is a close contender for that award and is likely the track I’d recommend anyone to check out if they wanted a lucid example of what the band were capable of producing (and thus provided below).
Mister Curses’ performance overall on this release is impressively varied and possesses conviction with each bellow. He shares voice duty with Katheryne, who is also both proficient and accomplished when it comes time to exert her influence.
I am truly torn on how to rate this.
On one hand, I relish the jovial nature of both the gimmick and music, but on the other, I can’t help but feel that those things may be masking the cracks of what is a generally mediocre music.
This may certainly be a band that will divide many. Some may believe it to be esoteric for its own sake and be put off by the pretension, whereas others may just enjoy the music and image regardless.
Despite there being some moments that seem to me to be nothing more than cut-and-paste jobs of their various influences, there is a lot of genuinely good stuff in here that deserves to be heard.
When compared to other abstract BM acts, and especially of labelmates such as Negura Bunget, this really doesn’t make the cut for essential listening.
However, it’s certainly intriguing and you may find yourself becoming a cult listener, so give it a chance and see what you think.
3 / 5 – Ricardo Angelone ::: 10/08/12