Monday, January 12, 2009

Deathstars - Night Electric Night (2009)

Ah, here we go again - the ex-Swordmaster veterans are back for the third time to take on the Marylin Manson dynasty. Accessible, yet tantalizingly dark industrial goth tunes are the game here, and the Deathstars have held up remarkably well so far. While they may have given up their promising black metal for a far safer and more lucrative pursuit, a vestige of their talent remained, making their first two releases far more entertaining than they should be. So what has changed?



Nothing. Literally, there is nothing musically different on this album. The light, radio-friendly riffs chug along like trace memories of past songs, always walking a line in between old hits "Cyanide" and "New Dead Nation." The Deathstars would never have won any awards for song complexity, but even this is taking it easy by their standards. Night Electric Night is definitely (overly) polished, with every element carefully positioned exactly where it needs to be, and the feel can only be described as comfortable. It is not ambitious, nor is it exciting. This is, actually, what I expected them to be before I got into their earlier works. Unlike those, Night Electric Night lacks the energy and passion (real or not) that made them stand out in the first place. The blackened backing voices that once channeled their early metal influences are now carefully restrained to Danny Filthlike squeals, while the main vocals have a certain tame professional modulation to them. Adding to this, the lyrics have moved away from the quasi-black metal material of yesterday, with uninspired, "dark" goth imagery rendering the content inane and often rather silly. Seriously, I did a double take on "The Mark of the Gun" when I heard the opening lines. The way they're delivered makes me bust up every time.

Now, one could argue that the album is meant to be more somber and serious. It is true - the tone here isn't near as playful, and not all of that is due to the cautious songwriting. "Via the End" has been mentioned often in the press surrounding this release, as it was written the night the guitarist found out that his brother, Jon Nödtveidt (of Dissection), committed suicide. Whether this event affected their approach for the whole album or not, it definitely suits the mood. And, for all my whinging, it doesn't change the fact that they stuck to their formulas for a reason - they're still pretty goddam catchy. Even while taking in the carefully calculated sound, I couldn't help but bob my head along with many of the songs. The title track features has a rocking Metallica-lite riff, while tracks like "Blood Stains Blondes" would be at home on the local hard rock station, but...I still like it.

For the target audience that the Deathstars are aimed at, I can hardly blame them for making Night Electric Night. And, really, it's still an enjoyable album if you like their style. However, that doesn't make laziness acceptable - this is a definite dip in quality. Hopefully they make buttery assloads of money off of it and take some time to ramp it up on the next one, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Also, they should have stuck with the album name Deathglam.

Verdict: Indifference [3/5]

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