Universal Theory

I don’t really remember to what sort of length I’ve discussed goth on this blog before. I know the extent of which I have discussed subculture, but not actually empathising or focusing on one particular culture. Anyway, I’m already heading for a tangent here, but if you have any cultural knowledge of the 1980’s, you’ll understand the significance of the goth movement from the latter half of the decade, seeping into the early 1990’s. It still exists in society very much today, but in more of a translucent, subdued kinda way I feel. Their echoes do resonate through some modern artists nowadays, but so few and far between occurrences, that to me the scene appears to lurk in a tomb of its own gloominess, so far underground you’d need to ask Shell to borrow a drill to start digging with. In my eyes though, goth rock encountered an identity crisis because media mouthpieces started flinging labels at bands like Type O Negative, whose noticeable gloomy aesthetic and occasional playing at the pace of barely breathing gained far more publicity, than their recognition of having more musically in common with Black Sabbath or The Beatles. Those seeds were very much sown and a new translation of the phrase was born. So we stand here with Universal Theory, a Spanish duo whose music flows with a similar lifeblood that once filled Type O Negative, but are very much their own artefact of intrigue. Between just two of them, to construct a record with an eruption and outpouring of atmosphere and sombre yet infatuating tones is outright astonishing. Guitars billow with distortion, heavy enough to cause bleeding from the ears, with a vintage monotone but strangely appealing male set of vocals and a luscious siren’s sigh of female vocals to accompany it. Together they are backed by an army of trance-inducing synthesisers, drums purpose built to direct chaos or compassion and a stunning hand-stitched orchestral tapestry that enhances their gothic overtones far beyond just an icy chill in the air. While tracks like Before Sunrise showcase their vicious streak, the second part of Romance demonstrates a deeper emotional personality in their music. Almost waltzing with a saddened violinist through a downpour to begin with, guitars carve their mark into the mix quickly but settle in as an additional atmospheric marker wonderfully, that extra texture serving the melancholy very well. There is an instance of a riff interjecting every so often that threatens to topple the beautiful score in progress, instead serving as an impactful footnote in the otherwise well-realised atmosphere. The last minute or so of the song culminates in the escalation of this emotion, into an intense but moving whirlwind of strings moistening your eyes while drums cause calamity at the final stretch, and vocals calmly bring the proceedings to a halt. This is just one highlight of a terrifically formulated project. The Most Attractive Force couldn’t be more correct of an album name if they’d had it tattooed on their retinas. It sounds like a prog rock burial if one came across, but is without a doubt, one of the most beautifully involving, emotively stirring albums to emerge from the nether this year. Goth called, they say they’re doing pretty well. That should be the universal theory.

Both The Most Attractive Force and their earlier Mystery Timeline can be bought from Metal Hell Records’ Bandcamp page, whereas Mystery Timeline can be bought in a physical or digital capacity from most respectable music retailers. They also have a website you should be looking at. Just saying.

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Mind Driller

Horror films have had some peculiar titles over the years. Some get straight to the point, others leave a little more mystery behind the namesake. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for instance, leaves little to the imagination. The Ring on the opposite side of the spectrum, may feature a ring, but no other clues at face value. If you were to take Spanish five piece Mind Driller as a horror film, you may be mistaken that it would be exceedingly bloody and abhorrent, but right that it describes the characteristics of their sound perfectly. Scooping up the afterbirth of nu metal’s remains and harnessing its blackened, crunchy guitar tones into a stew of bright shining keyboards and striking female vocals, the scents arise of a formidable industrial band, fluent in both their native tongue and in English. Imagine a hybrid of Rammstein and Lacuna Coil, and you’re very close. The same aggressive, punchy guitar rains down anvils of crushing weight, with prominent synths cutting through harsh growls, and a gorgeous serenade that tames the stronger male presence. Dark Thoughts is the best balance of both worlds, the programming of the electronics acting as a lighter dynamic to the overbearingly heavy guitar, and the pre-chorus of that angelic voice piercing through the darkness descending, serves as the best entrance into the obscenely catchy melodies and dueling vocals of both sexes of the chorus. 2012’s Red Industrial is nowhere near horror film, but closer to a beautiful metallic drama in a pitch-black factory at night. Mind Driller don’t want to inflict too much damage, but they insist you never forget their name. Once exposed, always in your mind.

Red Industrial and this year’s release Zirkus are both available from their record label Mutant-e’s Bandcamp page for a manageable fee, or from most respectable music retailers.

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