Review: Executioner’s Mask ‘Winterlong’

Heavily influenced by the ’80s UK post-punk and goth scene, Executioner’s Mask are clearly drawing on their influences with Winterlong. From Bauhaus to The Sisters Of Mercy, it’s all clear and apparent where their hearts lie and this by no means a criticism. Consisting of Jay Gambit (vocals), Ryan Mickle (drums), Craig Wilson (guitar) and new recruit Christian Molenaar (synths) walk a road many have done before them, with varying degrees of success.

Executioner's Mask 'Winterlong'

I am glad to say that having personally lived through the inception of this particular genre and loved it, they have pulled it off admirably, but also been able to stamp their own identity on the whole project which is very important to me. The low baritone vocals, plus the post-punk guitar textures of the legendary John McGeoch are all in the soup here. Think Andrew Eldritch with Shirley Manson on backing vocals. Fine by me, I love all that, it just depends on how it’s presented and how good the songs are. If it’s obviously derivative and style over substance I run a mile, however like The Third Sound and their recent album, this is done well with much thought as the songs and presentation are spot on.

With production via Jeff Ziegler (War on Drugs) and Ryan Schwabe (Oneohtrix Point Never) Winterlong is a sublime and impressive album. There has obviously been a lot of thought put into the songs and the musicianship on show here starting with Things Fall Apart, featuring backing vocals by Kennedy Ashlyn (SRSQ), is a powerful and driving first track. Two Vultures Fucking is a title that makes you sit up and take note, which is ideal because this really does deserve your attention. Hart Island same thing.

If you’re a fan of the alternative ’80s UK goth or post-punk scene, prick up your ears because this deserves your attention…

Sick In Heaven is another impressive tune, however Contempt, where Kennedy Ashlyn makes her second appearance, is next up and is the song, for me, an obvious single if there ever was one. A great track, I love it, and deserving of many 12-inch remixes. The Euro goth clubs would love it, they’d play it to death and finally give them a substitute track instead of playing This Corrosion for the millionth time. Kennedy‘s vocals on this are superb and if it was up to me I would (controversially) give her the lead vocals job. The rest of the album treads a similar path, but I like it.

I’ve no idea how they present their gigs, but I’d be interested to find out. If you’re a fan of the alternative ’80s UK goth or post-punk scene, prick up your ears because this deserves your attention. A worthy addition to the many bands who have attempted to present us with something angular and interesting but this time without drowning it all in synths and a fucking drum machine.

Label: Profound Lore Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Tim Keppie