Originally written for Valkyrian Music.
Deathstars have always had a dark sound and image, but in the five years that have passed since their last studio album, that darkness seems to have grown thicker. No, I’m not saying you’ll feel like you’re attending a funeral or visiting the depressive ward of a mental institution – by the contrary. But while “Synthetic Generation” and “Termination Bliss” sparkled defiantly, their sharp beats and aggressive licks an invitation to rebel, Deathstars started to soften the edges in “Night Electric Night” and the process eventually lead to a classy glowing seduction with “The Perfect Cult”. It’s more mature, more sober, aiming to enthrall you rather than blasting you. And at the same time, it’s a darkness that’s pretty much alive. I guess this definition could light up a “gothic rock” neon sign in your minds, but that’s not the case either. This is something else. This is… well, it’sDeathstars. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard people saying they’re like a mix of this and that, but I still think they’re quite unique.
On the official trailer of the album you hear Nightmare Industriesclaiming that the guitars “have never sounded so heavy”. Well that’s no salesman talk and there’s really no other way to say it – they’re the heaviest so far. Which doesn’t mean its nature has changed; one still recognizes Nightmare’s watermark, but in a more intense outcome. There’s even a solo in “Temple Of The Insects”! How about that?
Skinny Disco’s bass has also become more solid, making all the difference in songs such as the first single “All The Devil’s Toys” or the title-track.
Whiplasher Bernadotte’s vocal style is probably the one thing that remains unchanged – the deep, strong pitch against the raspy whispers here and there. What did change though was the increased number of overlapped and backing vocals in the choruses, creating an effect of grandeur. Like “Explode”. Or “Ghost Reviver”. Or even “Noise Cuts”. Hell, all of them!
On the aforementioned trailer, Nightmare also said that this was the first album recorded with live drums. I confess I didn’t notice any difference, meaning that Vice is that good. Although there’s something on the drums of “Asphalt Wings” that sounds more… human.
Last but not least, the wider range of synths, from the creepy and cold patterns of “Bodies” to the eighties’ vibe in “Fire Galore”, going through the sneaky keys of “Track, Crush & Prevail”, there’s all kinds of electronic flavors here.
Personally, I would’ve preferred if they had stuck with the spunky nature. But at the same time, I’m the one who’s always encouraging bands to risk a change so they won’t repeat themselves. Plus, by the third time I was listening to “The Perfect Cult”, the new not-so-edgy sound had started to grow on me and I just had to admit its greatness.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Producers: Emil “Nightmare Industries” Nödtveidt and Roberto Laghi
- Fire Galore
- All The Devil’s Toys
- Ghost Reviver
- The Perfect Cult
- Asphalt Wings
- Temple Of The Insects
- Track, Crush & Prevail
- Noise Cuts
- All The Devil’s Toys (8-bit version – bonus track)
- Explode (remix by Dope Stars Inc. – bonus track)
- Temple Of The Insects (remix by Hacking The Wave – bonus track)