After hearing and enjoying two albums by Cold In Berlin it was particularly interesting filling in the gaps and seeing the band live for the first time when they played the Candlefest last year. Cast somewhat adrift amidst bands more on the death and black metal side it seemed like an excuse for a fair few punters to take a break and escape the venue outside for food and beer, some even muttering “hipsters” under their breath. The metal community can sadly at times be rather narrow minded but at the end of the day it was their loss as they missed a cracking show which really displayed the arty performance of the band on the stage that due to the flamboyance of singer Maya too me back to diverse performances from the old punk days taking in the likes of everybody from Hazel O Connor through to Rubella Ballet. Perhaps it was for the more broad minded audience or one that is not quite so restricted in their listening pleasures and I am sure it would no doubt have gone down a lot better somewhere like the Hoxton Underbelly but I certainly appreciated catching them without having to venture to such a place.
It naturally made me keen to hear what they were up to on album number three and the first thing that really strikes on opening track ‘She Walks’ is how the layers of fuzz have been built up around things in such a way that it is instantly a real speaker shaking experience. The vocals are a huge part of things and yes there are similarities to Siouxsie Sioux as well as the likes of Lene Lovich with some of the wild whoops which makes things sound all the more timeless here. Listening to a song such as ‘The Sinner’ the presence of both artistes is certainly felt. Naturally production wise it is very much in the present though and the trembling doom laden riffs, hefty bass and large drum blows all make their crushing mark in the mix even managing to get their message across with the vocals at full crescendo. The mix of gothic sensibilities and heavy doom merge all the better here than in the past and there is no reason this shouldn’t appeal to fans of bands such as Jex Thoth and Subrosa if they gave it a chance but I do wonder if the right audiences are really giving the band a go. Perhaps the strident whoops, wails and elongated screeches from the singer as produced on songs such as ‘The Bell’ may ring out (sorry) all too stridently for all tastes but I really like the power from them and as there’s absolutely no escaping them it’s all the better to just dig in and coast along on their tremulous vivacity. There’s a lot of identity about each of the songs here and they all seem to get you in their teeth and give you a thorough shaking which in its own way is all quite extreme. The fact that they have called one of the tracks here ‘Fucking Loud’ is certainly not lost
The earlier mention of Jex Thoth certainly comes back with the witchy number ‘Mysterious Spells’ which gives the instrumentation a break to just ambiently sit in the background as the vocalist casts out just what the title suggests. It’s an interesting and somewhat bold move as it really does break up the pacing of the album but luckily leaves you rather Spellbound, (speaking of which a track that would be a cracking cover for them to do). This is one that really gets under the skin and would be the sort of thing I would expect from someone like Jarboe. Getting back and literally ‘Coming Back for More’ the vocals sound like a toy throwing tantrum as bass and riffs solidly define themselves back into things and the delirious chorus with backing low male tones of ‘Pray For Us’ packs a powerful and somewhat devotional punch.
If you haven’t heard the band yet this album is definitely worth giving an open minded punt at, as far as I’m concerned it’s their best to date and it could well be the one to propel them to a much bigger audience. If you are in London they are launching it for free at the Black Heart on Bank Holiday Sunday the 3rd of May so come along and find out for yourself but prepare to be deafened!
(8/10 Pete Woods)