Review: Horror Vacui – In Darkness You Will Feel Alright

Warm but dark music straight from the haven of the dead. First song “Intro + Black Rivers” contest itself by leaving me with awe, as I hear the baseline and the screeching riffs thrashing around me in a down-tempo fashion. Even though it sounds gothic, it also includes some of the vibes that you can get from deathrock. There’s also an alternate approach to the vocals, since it sounds more like something you’d hear straight out of a new wave-record. It’s everything I’d ever want to hear from a record that’s new and isn’t just going with the conventional traditional gothic sound. I must say that this is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a while from that genre, the riffs are great and the singing is entrancing at best. There’s something calling me from inside, and it’s the old fused with the new. They manage to keep the sound-scape at a level of enjoyability almost making it up to the top, by the greater The Sisters of Mercy and the likes of it. But there’s too much down-tempo in this song for my liking, I’d rather enjoy the thing they manage to do after the chorus, where they speed it up a bit and make it feel almost punk-ish with the great drums. I notice how they blend the earlier punk-influences they’ve brought with them from their former bands, within the song “I Like It When A Soldier Dies“, which is a perfect example of that kind of attitude but featured in a gothic environment. Here’s where the more deathrock influences come in, as the enthralling space between me and oblivion forces itself closer. The boundaries are no match for them, as they drag themselves through the conventions and smash them with their own sound.

It also becomes clear to me why they’ve chosen the epithet “peace punk“, because the songs pretty much revolve around it. With clear anti-war messages. Their song and sound, however, sounds like something in between Screaming Dead and Stiff Kittens, whereas the vocals are almost on point with the latter. Whilst the next song, “Corvus Corax“, is almost a repetition of the two first ones, I am still intrigued by the sound. I cannot let it go, somehow, but it’s still a chip on my shoulder. There are some good passages, like the chorus, where I find myself singing along with: “Are you singing for me? Are you looking for me?“. Still, I feel like there’s some kind of influence that I cannot pinpoint, that disturbs the whole formula. I know there’s sincerity within their music, but somehow it fades away because it sounds too desperate. But the sense of sincerity is quickly saved by the song “Everytime“, that employ a kind of old-school post-punk melody and rhythm that I recognize from other songs. When it couldn’t get darker, it gets darker.

Here, I’m swayed with a moral dilemma that is the theme of the lyrical content. I must say that their lyrical content is pretty good even though it can get ridiculous at times. The slowly-paced riffs in the background make for the more traditional goth rock sound, and the stomping bass continues in the same direction, as the repetitiveness is matched with the more melodic side of the song. Finally, I can say that they’ve managed to put the dots over the o (ö – like we do in Sweden), with the song “In Darkness”. As the intro is a very good reminder of what Horror Vacui could be and should try to be, at times at least. With a tempo that is unmatched within the other songs, but being contrasted by a catchy melody.

I feel at times that the peace-punk ambition harm the lyrical content at times, because it frankly sounds ridiculous at times. The only thing that saves it is: “In darkness you will feel alright“, which feels like it is the whole theme of the record as it is titled in that way. The next song “Yersinia” is also a tempo-ridden beast that just smashes its way in goth favor, lending its arms out to the death-rock influences. They’ve really managed to get it right within this song too, since they do not sway away from having a little bit of tempo. But surely, it fades away somewhat, but I like the melody of it since its catchy and give my ears a good rubbing. Also one of the more intriguing songs I’ve heard on this album. Once I manage to get all the way to the song “Arabian Spring”, there’s a sense of that they’ve managed to get the forceful momentum of the down-tempo into the up-tempo. In other words, they’ve managed to fuse those two together and create a greater sound. There’s not much you could wish for anymore, since this is the epitome of what they do. I feel like there’s a hint of Bauhaus in the singer’s voice, specifically in this song, and I wonder for myself once again: how come that this record is so overlooked?

I don’t have any good answer to that question, unfortunately. As I continue down the path of ultimate darkness, the last song before the outro, “Leave Me Alone“, is being played. I can’t really get enough of this, and it’s here where I realize how much potential the singer has and how he holds up the sound-scape. In total harmony with the other instruments. At times, in the other songs, his voice could fade away and I wouldn’t care the least for it. Here, I sense another sense of desperateness, where the singer really reveals everything in his arsenal. It makes for a totally great song overall and I’d paint my face in white, while treading around the cemetery, just for the perfect atmosphere to have when listening to the song. Even though the “Outro” of this record makes me want more of them, it’s not really a good closer for the album.

But what the heck, this album delivers much more than that. They uphold their promises, even though the peace-punk formula, at times, can sound a little bit too ridiculous. However, I’m not here for that, I’m here for the deathrock and goth rock influences. Because I think that’s what they manage to pull of like a charm. You should check out this record and buy it, because it’s a really great record. So go over to their bandcamp and order the digital download version or go to AVANT! Records and order the real deal.

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