Gildan's Guide to Good Music
The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.
As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives, most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!
If it's thought provoking, epic, eccentric, or exceptional (or possibly all of the above), I take it upon myself to write about it in the hope that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and
rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews will find it useful - or if not useful, at least momentarily entertaining; I take what I can get really.
Tonight's album comes to you courtesy of the childish amusement I knew typing up the genre description would give me.
The 69 Eyes
Back In Blood
Musical Genre: Goth'n'Roll, Glam Rock/Metal
Running Time: 48 minutes
# of Tracks: 12
Particularly noteworthy songs: We Own The Night, Dead N' Gone, Dead Girls Are Easy
First things first: Stop that right now. No, seriously, knock it off - I just know somebody unfamiliar with The 69 Eyes has glanced at that album cover and leaped to conclusions about their sound, so let's just nip this in the bud:
I realize they have a blood-drenched skull sitting on a bed of roses, but you'll just have to look past it. Trust me, you'll feel silly once you listen to them. Okay, on with the exposition!
The 69 Eyes, like a great many other wonderful bands I eventually plan to write about in this guide, hail from Finland (I would seriously call it the hard rock capital of the world). First formed back in 1989, the group has remained remarkably consistent - in terms of lineup that is: apart from a change of drummers in '92, the band has remained the same group of friends since the very beginning, which is a rare thing indeed within the tumultuous hard rock genre.
What hasn't remained consistent is the music they play, as The 69 Eyes underwent a profound stylistic shift around the turn of the millennium - in their early days they were the prototypical image of a Glam Metal band, playing sleazy guitar driven rock in the vein of Mötley Crüe and Hanoi Rocks (another Finnish band active in the early 80s and considered to be pioneers of the 'Hair Metal' genre). Sleazy isn't an exaggeration either, the opening and ending tracks of their second studio album were actually called 1-800-SLEAZORAMA.
That changed with 1999's Wasting The Dawn, the band's first major label debut that incorporated musical influences from gothic rock bands like The Mission and Sisters of Mercy, resulting in the blend of gloominess and guitar driven rock that has come to define their sound - which the band and its fans have taken to calling "goth'n'roll"; a description further reinforced by their fondness for imagery from classic vampire films and other gothic literature. Today the contemporary music press will often refer to them as "the Helsinki vampires" when their name comes up - a label the band is obviously quite content with, given their stage persona and the lyrical content of their latest album (which is this one).
That transformation also marks the point where I start liking their music - not due to any great love of gothic themes or dislike of glam metal on my part, but rather because their shift in style brought with it a substantial alteration of the vocal delivery by lead singer Jyrki 69, who stopped trying to sleaze it up in the higher octaves in favor of his much better (and lower) baritone register; listening to their earliest albums today I would swear it's another guy singing, that's how stark the difference is.
Particularly observant readers might have noticed that I've seemingly contradicted myself when I was filling out that "Musical Genre" field, as I just told you they were a 'hair band' back in the day, but now they're a Gothic Rock/Metal outfit - ignoring how that presumes I'm capable of error in the first place, it would look like I've left historical info that is no longer applicable in that description. Except I haven't, as Back In Blood marks a return to their earlier guitar-focused glam rock style: if anything, the "Goth'n'Roll" part of the description is the inaccurate bit, as there is really nothing Gothic about it at all anymore - no gloom, no bombast, just quality rock songs... that are all about blood, vampires or just the undead in general. I did mention that earlier, right?
The result is an album full of your typical Gothic subject matter, but delivered with none of the angst or gloom; this has the effect of transforming songs that by all rights should have been brood-o-thons into songs that are now ridiculously hilarious (and also awesome). And unlike the band's early Glam Metal albums, Back In Blood sticks with the deep baritone vocals, for which my ears thank me.
If listening to/watching those didn't prompt you to crack a smile at least once, I am now convinced you are a robot secretly plotting the downfall of the human race. And thus concludes this latest entry in the guide to good music that has been called infallible by me just now - until next time, may your ears stay free of earworms from songs you hate, plaguing you by popping up whenever it would be most annoying and never truly leaving, until you are slowly driven mad... because then you wouldn't be in any state to enjoy the next awesome band I'm going to show you!
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