So, you’ve laid waste to countless ears with Iron Monkey, had an in-one-door-out-the-next tenure in Electric Wizard and then basically learned all the instruments to become the seed-capital of Cripple Black Phoenix…where next? Well, if you’re Justin Greaves then you invoke the subtle ghosts of Faith-era Cure reflected in the mirror shades of a menacing, plains-drifting preacher.
There’s a lot of early/mid-80s influences going on here – the swirling guitars of Bob Smith’s aforementioned skeleton crew and the haughty sneer of Andrew Eldritch are all caught up in a sea of strobe and smoke machine – but rather than simply tread the Batcave’s boards once more, post-punk revival being something of a thing these days, Se Delan blend the ice with the hefty alcohol kick of rock swagger and then temper it with Belinda Kordic’s soaring, distant vocals. Taking cues from Siouxsie, Toni Halliday and even the forest-howls of Katie-Jane Garside and the back-alley snarl of Shirley Manson, Kordic’s voice haunts its way through the reverb and shrieks above the cascades of noise that form crescendos and sheer cliffs on many of the tracks on this molasses-dark record.
The strange thing, one of the successes of the record, is that the progression of influences is so very obvious, so redolent of a particular time in my youth – the bass-led sparseness of early 80s goth, the shimmer of shoegaze and the darker edges of indie, even the angular riffs of US college radio – but the music it makes is very much its own voice. Stand-out track All I Am, for example, is effectively an up-tempo reworking of The Cure’s A Forest but Belinda makes it all her own with a prowling vocal that leads into a near-perfect chorus whilst Shadowbox(ers), weirdly, is the best guest-vocalist Alice In Chains demo track that never happened.
This all comes to a head in Gently Bow Out, where the influences synthesise wonderfully into something that balances the staccato chorus, soaring verses of the quiet/loud/quiet school with the curled-lip arrogance of early Sisters Of Mercy singles, something that is entirely fine by me.
Whether anybody reading this blog will find this even vaguely palatable is beyond me but if the list of influences isn’t to your liking then, as the final chimes of Fear No Ghosts fade out into a wonderful recreation of New Order’s much-ignored debut album, I find it hard to care what you think.
Scribed by: Daniel Pietersen