I’ll start off by saying – I like this album. I am not sure if I like it for the same reasons that Sal Hellraiser wants me to. This is good fun Goth. He is marketing it as Deathwave but for me this is pure Nightbreed Recordings 90’s goth. It reminds me of Suspiria and Skeletal Family and makes me want to flail my arms about in a dry ice drenched room with a shit eating grin on my face. I am not saying this in an ironic way. This is great fun poppy goff that gets the pointy toes tapping and the light-bulb changing arms a flapping.  It has the guitar sound of the first Sisters album and a drum machine that is from the same weather vein (see what I did there) as Doktor Avalanche.

Cursed Moon is a one man project that is expanded into a band for live shows. It is based in the City of Angels and centres around Sal “Hellraiser” Yanez who projects Vision Thing era Eerie Von in his pics. Just like The Sisters of Mercy who Cursed Moon obviously worship (who doesn’t?)  Sal seems to avoid the G word using the description of “Deathwave”, the blurb that accompanies Rites of Darkness mentions Black Metal sounds. There are a few in the vocal phrasing of Ritual Sacrifice but the overall feeling is in glorious post punk graveyard tomfoolery. The fear of GOTH is something that annoys the fuck out of me. If it looks like a Goth and quacks like a Goth and dances like a Goth it’s a frakking GOTH!

I am climbing down off my high horse now and getting back to the album. The seven original tracks here are to a made up and back combed man (or woman) post midnight snakebite and black with a Pernod top boppers. At first I found Sal’s vocals a little hard to penetrate. It sounded a little try hard Euro coming off as Nocturno Culto meets Lordi. Then I loosened up and got in the groove and by jove got on board. The bass and keyboards of Creatures of the Night swept me up and the vocals dropped me in Vlad Tepes castle and I was sold. The track that launched the album on the web was Rise of the Antichrist is a floorfiller. Well it would be if there were still any clubs like “Full Tilt” were still going. A great chorus and throbbing bass and plenty of melody to help you sidle up to a willing victim.  For an old Goth like me this is a nostalgic trip but I reckon there are a few Spooky Kids of today that would dig what Cursed Moon are up to here.

Six tracks into the funeral party “Demon” arrives with a discordant jangle of Banshees guitars and a Bauhaus bassline . The hackneyed lyrics give things a delightful Hammer Horror air . Every time I think there is too much cheese for this non dairy fella I can’t help grinning and twirling.

As well as the seven originals on offer Cursed Moon have offered three covers. First (and Last etc) up is “A Rock and A Hard Place” by Andrew and the Naughty Nuns (TSOM) . Just like current Sisters live shows this cover just makes me yearn for the original.  It is slightly sped up – just enough to make it annoying and the vocal is all over the show – like the pub singer of Vic Reeves . Simply awful. Pretty good impression of The Sisters live in 2017 then. Oh except the Sisters can get the guitar line right. Ouch!

Next up is “Turn The Cross Upside Down” by Oz. I have never heard the song before or even heard of the Swedish occult band.  This cover does not make me want to search them out I must say. Satanic pantomime. Gimme “Leave No Cross unturned” by Darkthrone any day.

Skinny Puppy are the last to get the treatment as “Assimilate“gets the Cursed Moon treatment. The stark 80’s electronic New Wave Cyberman pop of the original is cast asunder by our protagonists who use a murky make up brush to give the track a charcoal grey wash rendering it dull.

In all Rite of Darkness is seven tracks of fun gothic pop with great choruses and a great sense of pomp and dark ceremony. The band wear their influences on their velvet sleeves rendering the covers pointless. Go check it out and dance your dark hearts out.

(7/10 Matt Mason)