Gary Meskil. Big. Bald. Bearded. Icon of hardcore/metal. Founder of Crumbsuckers and Pro-Pain. If you cut this dude he will bleed Noo Yawk subway grease. You know exactly what you get from this bruiser:-
Euro dance pop rock.
Yup. You heard it. Mr Meskil has joined forces with Rupert Keplinger a stalwart of German electro metal to create this fusion of Dark pop a la Depeche Mode. Along for the ride are German drummer Paul Keller, fellow Pro-Painee Marshall Stephens on guitar and Scot Kenny Hanlon on vox.
Once you have got over the fact that this is the guy who wrote Beast on My Back going a little bit “The Rasmus” it is time to actually give the choons a chance.
It is evident what Darkhaus are striving for. There is great thought that has gone into the music and lyrics here. In the press releases and on their website they talk about a commitment to proper songwriting. In this they have succeeded. These guys can write a mean pop hook and add the required layers of guitars and synths. It all sounds too polished though. Like tourists who have visited Camden, gone into Cyberdog with birthday money and bought the first items they have seen and started a band. There is not enough attitude evident here to make this a truly great dark pop album.
Hanlon has a great voice, holding melodies within his pipes like moths in a velvet glove (too much?????) but you can just imagine Graham Norton making an acidic comment over the top. Kenny seems to have picked up a generic European accent for this project and milks it for all it is worth.
This is Eurovision territory. You know the “Kooky” “gothy” troupe from (insert central European republic here) that end up coming second? This is them with some NYHC street cred.
Single” Ghost “ would go down well on Scuzz between Evanescence and “In the Shadows” during a Hits of the Noughties sequence. This is highly polished Hot Topic small g goth pop and will appeal to a certain audience and probably sell quite a few copies on the continent.
“Don’t Close Your Eyes” is a bit more fun and has a cheesy rock edge to its faux Sister’s pomp. The riffs are a little heavier here and distract me from the puny piano breaks. This is the sort of track that gets played in movies which depict an edgy kerazzee club full of vamps and goffs. If they ever get round to a Blade remake (must be on the cards surely) Darkhaus should be on the directors speed dial.
“Son of a Gun” picks up the pace a little and tries to rock it up. Drive starts with an industrial /nu metal riff but lapses into Eurovision pretty quickly. There is a whiff of Disturbed about Darkhaus without the Bonobo shrieks. There are 16 tracks on here, including a couple of pointless remixes. Enough filler to get your partner off your back about that crack in the bathroom.
I gotta be honest I am trying really hard to not like this album but the convoluted cheesy choons have drawn me to them like a rubber necker at a ten car pile-up. I feel dirty tapping my foot and throwing my arms around. I know , though I am loathe to admit , that if I had a couple of snakebites and Don’t Close Your Eyes came on in a club I would be whirling round like Ian Curtis meets PSY. The proverb is wrong. You can polish a turd.
(4/10 Matt Mason)