03 octubre 2019

Recovered: Travel through the sonic darkwave of The Birthday Massacre

Originally published in Rue Morgue Magazine on June 28, 2017
Spanish / Español


Amidst the many mainstream, homogenous bands in the world, few have such a strong identity as The Birthday Massacre, the Gothic darkwave group from Ontario, Canada. Originally calling themselves Imagica (inspired by Clive Barker’s IMAJICA novel), these guys are among the very few who can be named as true examples of passion and originality, as they’ve done it right since the very beginning.
The emblematic song “Happy Birthday” opens their 2002 debut album NOTHING AND NOWHERE, which focuses on the duality of light and darkness with an impressive, balanced mix of electronica, rock, Gothic and darkwave, despite the low volume given the vocals over almost the entire album. Tracks like “Horror Show,” “Under the Stairs” and “Video Kid” remain fan favorites.Evidently seeing the potential in these songs, the band decided to rerecord them for their next album, 2005’s VIOLET, focusing more on electronic elements for the fresh tracks. Following the same production line—prioritizing music over vocals, but with darker lyrics—“Lovers End,” “Violet,” “Play Dead” and “Nevermind” represent a real improvement on the band’s style.
Focusing more on rock sounds, The Birthday Massacre’s next release WALKING WITH STRANGERS (2007) combined the wildness of “Red Star” and “Looking Glass” with dreamlike tracks such as “Goodnight,” “Weekend” and “Science.” It was with this record that the band started to become better known on the dark scene, thanks to amazing songs like “Kill the Lights,” this writer’s personal favorite.Their follow-up, PINS AND NEEDLES (2010), offered a more solid, elaborate style and better production on each of its songs, with a highly violent sound, metaphorical lyrics and more electronic melodies, creating a completely alternative atmosphere. “Shallow Grave,” “Control,” “Midnight” and “Two Hearts” can be considered the heart and core of the album due to their balance of all those elements.Adopting a more pop/dance/electronic style instead of heavy rock ’n’ roll, the subsequent HIDE AND SEEK (2012) is also a darker album than its predecessors, focusing on unsolved murder mysteries. The track list is also shorter than what might have been expected, which is a shame given that it contains such interesting songs as “Calling,” “Need” and “Leaving Tonight.”
Then we arrive at SUPERSTITION (2014), a masterpiece that combines the best of all their previous albums with themes like mythology, water, religion and the afterlife. It’s hard to define whether this is a rock or an electronica record, as both genres are present with a dark, Gothic aesthetic in unforgettable songs like “Diaries,” “Divide” and “Beyond.”
Finally, The Birthday Massacre issued their seventh studio album, UNDER YOUR SPELL, this month, combining dreamy ballads and powerful tracks in perfect harmony, successfully compensating for the three-year wait for a new record from this band. Keep an eye on RUE MORGUE magazine to discover more about it!

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