Before we go any further, we have to address the elephant in the room, and as if elephants weren’t noticeable enough, this fucker’s wearing PVC and fishnets. Back in 2018, William, (WiL Francis, formerly of AIDEN) released the “Revelations” album, following on from his run of highly lauded and well-received EP’s, amalgamating the releases into one cohesive compilation, and musically, you couldn’t fault him. He blended a sense of retro synth-driven Goth-pop if you will, with his dark, BDSM-inspired counter-religious lyricism. Then it all went nipples north.
Many girls and young ladies, fans of William, came forward, with claims and allegations of grooming, sexual abuse, manipulation and rape, from his time on the road. These are not things, that I take lightly, let it be known, and I do not condone this AT ALL. Victims need to speak out, and get justice, I endorse that whole-heartedly. HOWEVER. William, to his own detriment, sat down, and shared very damning, very intimate conversations from social media messenger Apps, from several of the accusers, highlighting not only consensual activities, but almost begging from the parties involved.
The whole thing got William cancelled for the best part, he lost his wife, access to his child at the time, and he was very open and honest about his lifestyle, which to very many, would render him an unfaithful, absolute fuckboy. LEGALLY however, there were never any charges brought to him, so despite how uncomfortable those videos were, where he bared his shame, and affairs to the world, technically, in the eyes of the law, he is innocent. A walking red flag perhaps, and in terms of grey areas morally, he’s greyer than that fucking elephant.
This is the point now which I believe that, will probably get me some heat, as I’m about to do what no alternative UK publication I’m aware of, is willing to do; review William Control’s new album. “Sex Cult” is available on Apple Music and Spotify from April 14th, but here, on GTGC, we have a UK exclusive. Before we press play, remember, wear protection, and the safe word is pineapple...let’s go.
The album kicks off with “Hell” which is a wonderful place to start! How much worse can things get, right? The track immediately bounces into life with some very, NEW ORDER inspired synth notes and this has a wonderfully 80’s vibe to it. It lyrically very self-reflective, quite literally as he looks himself in the mirror, and speaks of solitude, loneliness and repenting. If you’re going through hell, well, you’re going through hell with me. Facing things head on. Is this, the beginning of a redemption ark for William? Is he acknowledging the past and looking to put it right?
The title track; “Sex Cult” continues down the route of rich electronica, instrumentally, but this takes on a somewhat darker tone. It’s slower and more focused, like latter day DEPECHE MODE, and here he very openly tackles the topic of conversation, very directly referencing himself as the villain, the scoundrel that was welcomed into bed, as he recalls the intimacy of his dastardly dabbling's. There’s a quick nod to consent in the second verse, with the line “...only if you’re willing, you recognise the price...” and as a track, it works fine, though, the female sexual moans at the tracks climax are a little bit excessive to be fair, somewhat spoiling the track, sounding corny.
Next, we have the first of two early promotional singles, going back two years I guess to gauge fan reaction and see where he stood among the court of public opinion. “Baptized” brings the tone back up to a more jovial presentation, as the keys sound brighter, livelier, though it has this juxtaposition of warring ideology, blurring the lines between light and dark. “Oh take me down to the riverbanks, and wash away my sins and hate, you can teach me how to celebrate this brand new life in love, oh Lucifer”...it’s suggesting he wants to start afresh, but he’s so accustomed and friendly with the darkness, so comfortable, there’s almost a conflict of interest veiled here, and it’s interesting.
The second single was “Abuse”, and again here things take a darker turn. Referring to himself as the revenant, dressed well and decadent, there’s a smugness to his character and presentation here, and he doesn’t hold back on detailing his affairs. “Hey there baby I have tallied up the names, and the notch marks, on my withered dirty bed frame...”, and “Now you feel the pain of losing all you had, the bed you made is sad; suicidal...well take this comfort, take my only kind advice, don’t fall in love with me; don’t fuck your idol”. That lyric right there is bound to trigger and upset the vast majority and what’s uncomfortable is that he probably sang that with a wink and a wry smile. Complete and utter shithousery from Control here, and he knows it. Turning real life experience, pain and such into powerful art is one thing, but that line is positively cruel.
The whole album in some way, shape or form tackles the entire situation, such as “Allegations”, which in its own way, exudes a sense of false self-pity and crocodile tears, especially if we’re to go by previous highlighted lyrics. Suggesting he’ll pay the price for his bad reputation and villainy, considering he’s back making music after not being charged, I’d say he was doing just fine. Finally, then, we round things up with a cover of “My Way” by FRANK SINATRA, and if this hasn’t been done in the fullest sense of irony, I don’t know what to say. He may as well record himself laughing maniacally into the microphone for 3 minutes. This is beyond tongue-in-cheek, because MARK TREMONTI he is not.
Ultimately then, it comes to this; how the fuck do we score this album? Removing the artist from the art, and looking at this album, purely as an album objectively, it’s absolutely fine. If you are fan of 80’s inspired synth-pop, electronica with darker, Gothic-based imagery, this album delivers aplenty, even if the traditional BDSM tropes William throws in conceptually aren’t necessarily your thing, musically, this is a frankly enjoyable record. It flows well, the instrumentation is vibrant and it’s been produced well, resulting in a crisp, clear listen.
The issues that come with this album, are to do with William himself, and where you personally stand morally, with whatever integrity you have as an individual. As stated, there were very many accusations and allegations made against William, and while he may not have been charged, the young women involved aren’t simply going to forget what they believe they experienced, and what they’ve gone through with all of this being very public. His lack of legal conviction doesn’t automatically lessen THEIR conviction in what they claim. This album WILL stir the pot, and if you’re easily offended, knowing what the situation is, you are probably best avoiding this. Neutral? It’s a solid record, that creatively sticks to a proven formula given the success of the EP’s.