Review by Sophie Maughan
Utopia is the fifth studio album from Norwegian goth tech-industrial four-piece Gothminister, and it’s a bit of a lavish affair this time around. Dropping on May 16 via AFM Records, the band has delivered a mix of studio and live tracks for your listening pleasure.
From the opening refrain of a child’s cry to the final outro, the listener effectively becomes part of one man’s waking nightmare. The concept of the album is based on vocalist Bjorn Alexander Brem’s dual existence. It’s the Bruce Wayne/Batman scenario. But in this case, it’s like if Batman went schizo, developed a taste for blood and rasped like a tortured beast; respectable lawyer by day, Gothminister by night. The two entities have become so intertwined that it is virtually impossible to distinguish imagination from reality. It is deliciously dark and drenched in drama.
Okay, so song titles like ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Helldemon’ do shriek goth cliché at times, but the trick here is not to take it too seriously and to just enjoy the ride. Those repetitive couplets and at the start of the Rob Zombie ‘Dragula’-esque ‘Someone Is After Me’ are catchier than flu in December and the driving industrial stomp and blast beats of ‘Horrorshow’ will tear your soul apart. Title track ‘Utopia’ borders on anthemic with its huge chorus lines, synths and the use of hair raising operatic female background vocals. You will be humming this one for hours afterwards. The use of shorter, musical interludes (or “scenes” if you will) could be straight out of a horror film. Those uncomfortable moments right before the lead hero/heroine comes face to face with the killer – you know that the monster is coming but in a twisted way you almost relish its arrival. Admittedly, there are moments when the albums focus lapses and the vocals are somewhat lost within the bombastic production. And the Jekyll vs. Hyde theme is tried and tested rather than a revolutionary new concept. That said, I’ll hazard a guess that this will not discourage the die-hard fans.
What Gothminister have delivered with Utopia is thirteen tracks of unashamed and very listenable gothic-tinged, electro-industrial fun. It’s unlikely that the album will achieve the critical acclaim of 2003 debut Gothic Electronica, but it is still a riotous romp of cinematic proportion. The limited edition version of the CD also comes with a live DVD (plus bonus material) to enhance the aural experience. Well worth a go.
7 out of 10
- The New Beginning
- Someone Is After Me
- All Alone
- Raise The Dead