Sorry if this seems superfluous to anyone but for the few who haven't heard this album or have written it off due to a few negative reviews, I've written a review on The Last Days of Jesus' album Alien Road which, in short, I was very impressed with. I mean, look at them...you want to like them...can you make that face? Okay, he's no Nik Fiend, but just read the damn review.
Perhaps my vision is distorted by the fact that I live in an uninhabitable swamp, always threatening to return to the ocean’s aqueous embrace, but it seems that deathrock (or gothic rock, or whatever you wish to call it) may not be thriving, but it’s not on life support either. New bands emerge and the moment a label stamps their insignia on the freshly pressed discs, approvals are nodded and music is consumed. I’ve observed Strobelight Records promoting The Last Days of Jesus as if they are a new religion, but I’ve witnessed very few conversions. Once again, perhaps I’m blinded by distance but I’ve watched them slagged off as the eternal support act and dubbed "nothing special." Yet, LDOJ have been around for quite some time and this reaction is particularly distressing considering they’ve recently released their best album to date, the schizophrenic Alien Road...and none of its split personalities are boring. Rather LDOJ have crafted their most genre-bending material yet meanwhile nodding back at Batcave veterans much more than ever before. They confront us, armed with the semblance of a concept album that’s much too maniacal to know for sure. They may twitch too much for fans of traditional goth, but every song on the album rocks enough to send your prejudices rolling.
After the oddball, heavy-breathing intro "Welcome to Earth"a whiplash of anarchic guitars and kitschy keyboards launches from the prehistoric stomping of "Everyday is Halloween." An amalgam of candy-coated keyboard lines feeds the drum beat, leaving it jumpy, hyperactive and loaded with nightmares. Saxophones howl like mutant tone-deaf primordial parasites leading into a strange pop guitar undertone that clashes magnificently to create a subtle lunacy.
The album version of the psychotic stomper "Guns ‘n’ Drums ‘n’ March ‘n’ Fun" features horror show organs and accordion noises usually reserved to accompany the handlebar moustache men of children’s nightmares. The chorus retains its apocalyptic feel with the uncharacteristic rippling maudlin guitar line alluding to a sensitivity rarely captured by LDOJ. A pinch of vocal sampling adds a late-80s house music vibe to the mix, but this house is definitely haunted. Meanwhile, vocalist Mary0 flip flops between stoic goth melodrama and burbling babble.
LDOJ pull out the heavy artillery for one of their most creative endeavors, "Fear, Gunshot...Then the Bliss", a monstrous hulking Jurassic skeleton with a xylophone rib cage, seedy jazz piano spinal column studded with razor sharp guitar spines, and a funeral organ windpipe. Mary0, the heroic Peter Pangaea, becomes a hybrid of Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and Willy Wonka maintaining a sense of collected cool bridling the slinking skeleton’s psychotic glee and you’ll never hear a more swinging lunatic.
After fossilizing such ferocity, straightforward vibrating bass and militant guitar ushers in "Life in Line" before giving in to a disco beat. Like a deathrock Fad Gadget after watching Bladerunner for 24 hours straight, the post-chorus sweeps back for a subtle attack of eerie synth chimes and bass with a pulse, yet it’s all strangely accessible.
"Looter Do-Gooder" will satiate Batcavers with tribal drumming that organizes into a military beat accompanied by Halloween synth with a tinge of swing. The absurd chorus comes off like a morbid Pee Wee’s Playhouse dirge and the protagonist’s superhero grin can be heard through the recording, though it’s more revolting than reassuring as evidenced by the cold gray militant piano line.
Things calm down yet remain very odd with the short "Merry-Go-Round" that automatically conjures up images of an Edward Gorey-inspired ballet. "Death Song" brings home the award for Most Likely To Crowd the Dance Floor with its confidently maniacal vocals mixed with guitar crunchiness. Hot rain-streaked stoplight red organs leak over static telephone interruptions that recall Jarvis Cocker’s performance on "Ansaphone" though with a Slovakian accent. Creepy café-style accordion locks arms with a glammy stomping beat before dancing the night away to ice cream man organ.
One of the albums weaker moments arrives with "Connected or Infected" though it’s a great song for drunken dancing and appealing in that it sounds like a more rock-oriented version of the theme from the Nintendo game Zombies Ate My Neighbors. A rainy day piano breakdown offers one of the albums best dreary moments without even breaking the machine-gun drumbeat. Yet, when stacked up against the erratic collage of the other songs, "Connected or Infected" seems to fall slightly short.
But another blast from the cannon reveals another amazing song, "Paranoid Humanoid", that grounds you with a sewer-deep bass line before a beam of neon green guitars emerges amidst one of the most thoughtful melodies on the album; a piano-laced pre-chorus like slow motion snowfall superimposed over a descending violet staircase. The falling melodies parallel the muted horror of being eternally frozen in a snow globe, though very aware.
"Communication (Between the Red Walls)" sputters forward with heavy cowbell before lapsing into a ticking reminiscent of joker cards in bicycle spokes. Dramatic though whimsically regal guitars preface vocals like an undead Mad Hatter and suddenly Mary0 is a supernatural jester creeping along the gallows, entertained by the swaying corpses. The song drunkenly stumbles to climax like a stop motion version of some Ingmar Bergmann minstrel with Punch’s ferocity and an irrational vendetta.
Of course, LDOJ end things on a severely bizarre note with "Alien Domestic Humanoid Sick" that sounds like a jolly video game adaptation of Amelie narrated by Kraftwerk. LDOJ have gone into the studio and emerged with an album that challenges any music critic and thesaurus to find enough ways to say "psychotic" without being redundant and, what’s more surprising, have succeeded without becoming redundant themselves. Alien Road may divert from the straight and narrow path traditionalists have desired, but in an erratic genre, diversion is vital. Thus LDOJ have belly-flopped into the stagnant oozing pools we’ve been marinating in, and though it may not have been a swan dive, it’s shaken things up nonetheless.
Bye! Thanks for stopping by!
x-posted a wee bit