A many-layered thing of beauty…
Allan dusted off his old trenchcoat for the 30 September 2016 just for this album
There are a few things that remind me that the 80’s weren’t all that bad, and the goth scene was definitely one of them. Flour-covered duster coats, cowboy hats… the post-apocalyptic western look that seemed de rigeur for the time was (in my mind, at least) out of kilter with the relatively soft musical underpinnings of the genre. Indeed, the Dave Vanian-style vampiric ensemble with the nod to horror movies was perhaps more suited to the NWOBHM movement doing the rounds at the time, or perhaps the burgeoning cock-rock scene. Most people at the time totally missed the sense of humour that was brought across from the punk roots of the goth scene, which ultimately led to people taking the likes of Type O Negative seriously, and the likes of HIM taking themselves seriously.
The music, though… while it was mostly soft, it was always very atmospheric. Growled or whispered vocals layered over (relatively) clean guitar work provided the backdrop for a ponderous, meandering bassline and (famously) electric drumbeats. This would prove something of a template for all of the copycat bands who followed the leaders in this musical movement: Fields of the Nephilim, The Sisters of Mercy, and The Mission.
Wayne Hussey, the only ever-present in The Mission (or The Mission UK, if you’re reading this in America, due to a Philadelphia-based band already taking the name) over the course of their 30-year career, even played guitar in the Sisters for a while, thus cementing his status within the genre. This, then, is The Mission’s 12th studio album to date – and to call it a ‘return to form’ would be an accurate summation, if perhaps a somewhat unfair one at the same time.
See, these guys are three decades older, and the genre’s been stuffed full of copycats – some good, some terrible – since then. To be able to turn out an album that actually sounds like something they basically made back then and forgot about is an incredible achievement. That it’s actually full of incredibly good songs is the icing on the cake. Wayne’s voice is, if anything, even better than it used to be – ‘Can’t See The Oceans For The Rain’, for example, is beautifully voiced, and even guest appearances from Ville Valo, Julianne Regan, Evi Vine, Gary Numan and Martin Gore do little more than add a layered counter-punch to Wayne’s own vocal prowess.
Yes, it’s very trad-goth fare. But it’s so very, very pretty and the guitar work is exquisite and the hypnotic basslines dovetail with the wailing voices and turn the album into a many-layered thing of beauty. If you were ever a fan of the genre back in the day, this is a wonderful album that you’ll love. And if you’re not? Well, give it a go anyway – you never know, you might just learn to love it, too.
8 out of 10
- Another Fall From Grace
- Within The Deepest Darkness (Fearful)
- Blood On The Road
- Can’t See The Ocean For The Rain
- Tyranny of Secrets
- Never’s Longer Than Forever
- Bullets And Bayonets
- Only You And You Alone
- Phantom Pain