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johnny main
Words: Johnny Main

goth albums

If you're inclined to listen to music from the darker, Gothic side of rock and Metal then the return of two bands previously thought to be "missing in action" have returned to the fray with new releases in an attempt to put their careers back on track.

Gene Loves Jezebel and The Eden House have had differing levels of success in the past, but now these two bands return to the limelight (or should that be ethereal world) with brand new albums. Another band, Victorient are a new act on the scene and they're cut from a similar cloth. Here, Johnny Main casts his eye over the recent releases from each of the bands.

goth albums

Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel: 'Dance Underwater'
Out Now (Westworld Recordings/Plastichead)

Originally Gene Loves Jezebel were formed in 1980 by the brothers Michael and Jay Aston. Originally hailing from Wales, the brothers moved to London in 1981 and with a new home and a new band, they soon hooked up with bass player Julianne Regan before the fledgling GLJ were signed by Situation Two, an offshoot of the Beggars Banquet label. In May 1982, the label released Gene Loves Jezebel's demo and single, 'Shaving My Neck', but Regan left the band shortly after to form All About Eve. The band struggled along with numerous line-up changes, performing hundreds of gigs and recording their first album, 'Promise', along with their first John Peel radio session, as well as recording with John Cale from The Velvet Underground in 1984.

The band released their second album, 'Immigrant', in mid-1985, however, at the start of a long yet inspiring American tour there were yet more line-up changes in store. During 1986, the group found itself on heavy rotation on college and countercultural radio stations across America. A fourth album, 'The House Of Dolls', was released in 1988 and yielded the singles '20 Killer Hurts' and 'The Motion Of Love' which only just slipped into the US pop charts but ended up as their biggest UK hit single, reaching number 56. A third single, 'Suspicion', followed and was their first appearance on the US Billboard Hot 100.

While Michael Aston went solo, the rest of the band continued as Gene Loves Jezebel and recorded two albums, 'Kiss Of Life' from 1990 and 1993s 'Heavenly Bodies' but unfortunately, due to poor US sales and the collapse of the group's American label and poorly attended live shows, the band split up. In 1993 the brothers briefly reformed GLJ and wrote some new songs together. They initially used Michael's band and The Pre-Raphaelite Brothers tour was organized with the idea being to perform Gene Loves Jezebel material and material from each of the brothers' solo careers in a single show.

Although Jay subsequently left the band, Michael continued recording and performing, releasing three more albums. In October 1997 things got nasty as Jay sued Michael over rights to the name Gene Loves Jezebel and, after a protracted court battle, he eventually dropped the lawsuit, and so two versions of the band came into existence - Michael Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel and Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel, for avoidance of doubt.

In December 2016, Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel announced they are recording a new album via a Pledge Music campaign. The outcome is 'Dance Underwater', which was produced by Peter Walsh (Peter Gabriel, China Crisis and Simple Minds) and seems to be a true return to form. The album is varied, dynamic and has all the hallmarks of a truly great Gene Loves Jezebel album that will please the fans and appeal well beyond their existing fan base.

Gene Loves Jezebel are musicians that come together not only out of an appreciation for the memorable music they create, but also because they truly like and respect each other. Frontman Jay Aston, along with James Stevenson (guitars), Pete Rizzo (bass) and Chris Bell (drums) and producer Peter Walsh have created extraordinary songs for thirty years now, and this new album will only help expand their legacy.

'Charmed Life' kicks things off in a slow and moody fashion, but that doesn't last long as the jaunty and upbeat 'Summertime', the first single lifted from the album, is sure to be an anthem for summers to come with its catchy and breezy outlook, plus it's got an easy to remember chorus and the short, punchy lyrics will have you humming the chorus long after it's finished. Gene Loves Jezebel at their poppy best.

And 'Izitme', further down the line, continues the upbeat tempo. The metronomic drum beat from Bell drives the song on, whilst the guitar solo from Stevenson fills out the mid-section well in an interesting and accomplished display.

'How Do You Say Goodbye' became an early favourite from first listen with the simple drums and guitar, giving Aston's vocals room to breathe. The lyrics are almost spoken, as opposed to being sung, and it gives the song a completely different feel to the others – outstanding from start to finish. Fast forward on to 'Flying' which is another fantastic track with something of a dreamy quality to it from Stevenson's guitar passages and the very lightest touch of drums from Bell along with a really good vocal making this an unexpected track but ultimately a genuine highlight.

Another great song is the title track, 'Don't Wanna Dance Underwater', which is the ubiquitous acoustic number with the simple guitar allowing Aston to give what could very well be his best performance of the record. Both heartfelt and melancholic, it has a touch of backing vocals added occasionally to give it an extra bit of emphasis but lyrically this is a gem – and very quickly this supplanted itself as the crowning glory of the album. I guess that's why it was chosen as the title track.

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'Dance Underwater' tracklist:
Charmed Life (Never Give In)
How Do You Say Goodbye (To Someone You Love)
Ain't It Enough
Cry 4 U
World Gone Crazy
Chase the Sun
I Don't Wanna Dance Underwater

Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel are:
Jay Aston – Vocals
James Stevenson – Guitar
Pete Rizzo – Bass Guitar
Chris Bell – Drums

goth albums

The Eden House: 'Songs For The Broken Ones'
Out Now (Jungle Records)

Matching the Goth Rock output of Gene Loves Jezebel comes 'Songs For The Broken Ones', a brand new album from The Eden House. Describing themselves as a "post-Goth musical collective", it's really a collaborative musical project, which was initiated by Stephen Carey and Tony Pettitt (Fields Of The Nephilim) and involves a collection of guest musicians and vocalists.

Their debut album, 'Smoke & Mirrors', was released in April 2009 and featured vocal performances from artists including Monica Richards (Faith And The Muse) and All About Eve's Julianne Regan. Other contributors to the debut were violinist Bob Loveday, who has previously worked with Van Morrison and Bob Geldof, alongside some former Fields Of The Nephilim members. Another Fields Of The Nephilim connection was made with the inclusion of drummer Simon Rippin, who previously performed with Nefilim as well, a Carl McCoy project formed after the disbanding of Fields Of The Nephilim in 1992.

The band's second offering, 'The Looking Glass', was released in 2010, and featured vocalist Tallulah Rendall in the mix as well as famed Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson on guitar. The two disc 'The Looking Glass' set was comprised of a DVD recording of nine songs performed live and a CD of cover versions including 'Venus In Furs' by The Velvet Underground, 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)' which was originally written and recorded by Radiohead in 1995 and a version of the Rolling Stones' '2000 Light Years From Home' from their classic 1967 psychedelic album 'Their Satanic Majesties Request'.

In 2012, the project released the 'Timeflows' EP featured Simon Hinkler of The Mission alongside Loveday and Rippin and this in turn was followed in 2013 by the self-titled 'Half Life' which featured legendary guest guitarist Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music).

With a new impetus, Carey, Pettitt and Rippin have recently released album number three, the highly anticipated 'Songs For The Broken Ones', which brings the band back into sharp focus and with twelve tracks spanning just over an hour in length, it shows the band at their very best. 'Verdades' is an atmospheric start with female vocalist (because there are three you're never really who is singing) showing their skill early on. A touch of violin from Loveday long with acoustic guitar only adds to the atmosphere.

The violin also plays an important part in 'Misery' with its soft and subtle start, before the percussion joins in, playing along with the haunting vocals. Another slow-paced number with some subtle vocal touches is 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' – no, not a rejected James Bond theme song but actually a definite highlight of the album.

There are some faster numbers here, of course, including 'One Heart' with its elaborate orchestration which has a guitar underlining the entire track but it's all done rather subtly. Again there's a fine vocal performance as the music builds louder and louder, at times even threatening to overpower the vocals but it never quite manages it. For me, this was an early favourite and the enjoyment doesn't diminish – even after repeated listens.

Album closer 'The Ardent Tide' sounds like it belongs on a Pink Floyd album and "epic" doesn't even come close to describing how this number fills out. The minimalist vocals here are used to maximum effect whilst the guitar solo is a real tour-de-force that washers over the listener time and again. It's a fantastic finish to an album that is a true collaborative effort and benefits from each individual contribution.

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'Songs For The Broken Ones' tracklist:
Verdades (I Have Chosen You)
One Heart
12th Night
The Ghost Of You
Ours Again
It's Just A Death
Words And Deeds
Let Me In
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Second Skin
The Ardent Tide

The Eden House (current touring band) are:
Monica Richards – Vocals
Louise Crane – Vocals
Meghan-Noel Pettitt – Vocals
Stephen Carey– Guitar
Rob Leydon – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Tony Pettitt – Bass Guitar
Bob Loveday – Violin
Simon Rippin – Drums

goth albums

Victorient: 'Revolutions Part One'
Out Now (Raphaelite Records)

Victorient are a two-piece UK band, with an old-fashioned name and a strange mixture of musical influences. A slight dash of the dark romantic Goth, a little bit of rock, a nice helping of Doom Metal and a strike of electronic eighties keyboard sounds all make this band a unique find. Their four-track EP, 'Revolutions Part One', shows what the band are capable of and provides the listener with an easy to digest slice of their distinctive sound.

Kicking things off is 'Ghost City', which unfortunately is the poorest of the four tracks featured. There's something about this song just doesn't click and whether it's the music or the shared vocals of husband and wife team Tansy and Sam Dunham-Carter is unclear but it makes for an uncomfortable listen. Fear not, however, as it's all plain sailing after this.

'Money Tree' is a faster paced number that soon settles down with Tansy Dunham-Carter taking the lead vocals. What sounds like a drum machine provides the base for the song and there's some really good guitar work from Sam Dunham-Carter. There's a spoken word section at the start of the track too which re-appears further on giving the song an unusual feel.

'Lost Thoughts' is more of a slow paced, melancholic number which without a doubt is absolutely the best here. The simple drums and guitar give the vocals time to breathe and without a doubt it's Tansy Dunham-Carter's best vocal performance. If you need to listen to one track first, then this would be the one I'd recommend.

Closing things off is 'Heroine In Black' which is another slow number and the most Gothic sounding of the quartet. Once again there are shared vocals with Sam's voice masked with effects making the lyrics slightly unclear but Tansy's vocals are really well performed.

All in all it's a strong EP and shows promise for the future.

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'Revolutions Part One' tracklist:
Ghost City
Money Tree
Lost Thoughts
Heroine In Black

Victorient are:
Tansy Dunham-Carter – Vocals
Sam Dunham-Carter – Guitar/Backing Vocals

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