Whoa ok, I have been listening to this a lot over the last week or so and felt like I had channeled the inner essence of some of the songs on it as far as the dark subject matter was concerned. However just before writing I look at the accompanying digital booklet notes and see that I had only just scratched the surface. Every song here deals with death and suicide but these are all fascinating stories. For example The Ptilonist is the apocryphal tale of Franz Reichelt whose chute failed when he was testing it from the Eiffel Tower. ‘H’ is about Peg Entwistle who, in 1932 took her last bow jumping from the H of Hollywood and closer to today ‘The Perfect Army’ is a eulogy to 3-year old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi whose picture dominated the papers when the refugee died tragically, drowned and washed up to shore.
Let’s backtrack slightly as you may not know if these masters of misery who have just one EP release prior to this. Well essentially it is the dark rock project of Phil sG Jonas of Secrets Of The Moon and Markus Renzenbrink of Embedded; it really is quite a beautiful work of art too! ‘Lucifer Valentine’ instrumentally plays dark master of ceremonies and beguiling leads us into this dance of death. The aforementioned ‘Ptilonist’ has classic guitar lines and a sense of pathos about it reminiscent of an artist like Gary Moore and is gorgeously evocative as are the melodies throughout the album. As for the vocals well sG sings cleanly throughout and as I have mentioned with the last SOTM album he is definitely channelling an inner Bowie here. The effect of both this and the sinuous flowing fretwork is incredibly powerful and the songs will be embedded by the second listen and absolutely demand repeated plays. As far as this song is concerned the well placed sample, I am assuming a radio reporter relaying the tragic events now make perfect sense.
Everything about this is powerfully dark and deliciously devilish, each ‘death scene’ given full respect in both tone and reverence without an ounce of sensationalism. I have to say this is a wonderful idea. The doleful vocals on a song like ‘Mother Crone’ really come from the heart. Sure you could look at it from the outside and see it as a lighter waving ballad but you would be completely missing the point. It’s a song about 5 year old Marilyn DeMont who along with her father jumped from The Golden Gate Bridge and the lyrics are enough to bring you to your knees. The sound of tears and pain eerily sound like a ghost as ‘The Secret Army,’ the refugee’s tale chugs in with heavier ballast about it and the masterful guitar work spirals away in sorrow but with a somewhat angry edge to it almost as though it is asking how this could possibly be allowed to happen. ‘Leviathan’s Artwork,’ I guess has a bit more in common with the last couple of SOTM albums as vocals get much more forceful. It’s about Ben Sachs who blew himself up whilst making a roadside bomb and definitely has “fire” about it as well as another fascinating story as told in Paul Auster’s novel Leviathan. ‘H’ does not feel like a song of sorrow of such but the tale of a downed starlet is one to be celebrated as she will be remembered forever a star in Hollywood in more ways than one. Some gorgeous horn parts blow in tribute and it’s another incredibly strong and evocative number, beseeching you to look further into its subject matter. The mass suicide in ‘Demmin’ 1945 is a song that is really hard to listen to, the band certainly do dour well and the subject matter is deservingly grim but although beautiful it’s a hard one take in musically too as it conveys such strong emotion.
The title track is a 12 minute epic and the most bizarre tale of them all (and one I am not going to share with you here). It’s a fantastic song though and again the guitar work is amazing. It reminds of driving through dusky deserts and the central riff could come straight out the 70’s but put in a modern context wonderfully (in a way not to dissimilar to the likes of The Devil’s Blood). Vocals really hit their stride here too and sound wonderful, the cheeky ‘Don’t fear the reaper’ lyric line is certainly noted here too. In a word sublime!! This really is an excellent album and one that leaves you plenty to think about. Hell I’m wondering what stories could be told on the follow up already; although having got this out their system it might not necessarily be the way to continue. Although I absolutely already love Secrets Of The Moon and their forward thinking take on things I wasn’t really expecting this and Godspeed has the feeling of a timeless album that will really last with everyone it touches. This is an album that deserves to be heard!
(9/10 Pete Woods)