In this day and age, rock music holds more novelty acts than sometimes it can hardly handle, with the trend of dressing up and creating macabre theatre being prominent in the genre since the emergence of the larger than life Kiss in the 70’s. Many of these bands will go one of two ways, either by fizzling out and becoming almost more novelty than when they began, or they go down in the books to make history. The English group has been on the scene for a significant amount of time, bringing together a pungent mixture of rip roaring riffs and the kind of lyrics you would mostly likely hear on a Dethklok album, however taken with a bit more tender care and crafted to paint an image of bloody beauty.
The albums main single “Red Riding Hood” adds an atmosphere only required for the infamous story, allowing beauty and pure fucked – up gothic to paint the track, almost reminiscent of early Rammstein, the industrial legends influence being clear on the cut. The guitars are as melodic as they are frenzied and deep, truly an early sign of greatness for the band.
“Way To Die” offers the bands typical blend of twisted humour and heavy metal, with later Mercyful Fate techniques being used to great effect, obvious, but clever and only very slightly cheesy. However it’s the bands other main offer which steals the show, “Polterghost” brings together all the bands main strengths for which they are prominent, vocals growled like a wolf and sung like an angel riddle the track with a story about being the monster we all wish to be, a ghost able to haunt those who have wronged us. The track brings forward beautiful harmonies making a wall of sound that combines death metal, alternative rock and choir music into a tour de force.
If that sound is your cup of tea, filler tracks “The Magician” and “Hurricanado” will satisfy that urge, bringing the same Grotesque dance that the leads do, albeit to less Goosebumps inducing effect. The later still offering the same mixture of deep, dark yet somehow melodic atmospheric metal the Birmingham act have always maintained.
If “Polterghost” steals the show, it’s the marathon story of “Gus, Zag and the Turnip King” that should close it, although sitting somewhere between the middle end of the long play, it provides the band a platform to step on to make arguably their best song ever. The storytelling is, as always, on top form for a tale of three of the oddest characters outside a Rhoad Dhal novel, but is set to the backdrop of an epic rock opera set in three parts; think “Bohemian Rhapsody” made by a Black Metal band and it still wouldn’t do the song justice.
“Cosmic Goth Moth” is typical fun, but unfortunately pales in comparison to the rest of the track listing, it’s only the albums closer “Antartartica” that the pace is brought to its untimely end. Sitting in at just over ten minutes, the epic hard rock marathon reminds us all what made this flavour of music so popular in the first place: Imagination.
Bringing every weapon in the bands arsenal, the painting of a desolate world where we all struggle to coexist is a theme perhaps all too easy to relate too, but at least everything you would want from a metal band is on show to guide us, down tuned to ear- bleeding level guitars and melodic synths to put Nightwish to shame, a masterpiece to end a masterpiece.