All of this has naturally disrupted the lives of millions over the last three months, especially the pandemic, and as I mentioned in my recent ALKALINE TRIO review the music industry has taken a hit…but what about us every day folk? Everything is either on hold or has been scrapped, with employment being frozen and the government suggesting we all isolate, a lot of plans have gone nipples north. Just this weekend me and some friends were meant to be getting biblically drunk in Bristol for my good friend Izzy’s birthday celebrations, but Corona sadly put a stop to that. I don’t know what’d be worse to be honest…catching Corona or the state of my liver when we finally get to catch up!
There are millions in the same boat however, and frankly we have A LOT of overdue birthday bashes to catch up on. Luckily, thanks to Metropolis Records, today’s ironically named band helped us celebrate while stuck in lock down; THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE. The Canadian synth-goth veterans were forced to release their latest album “Diamonds” early as businesses closed up for the Coronavirus lock down…resulting in them in their own way, giving us an early birthday present. At only 9 tracks long it’s one of their shorter offerings, but remember; it’s not the size of the present, it’s the thought behind it that counts…so let’s check it out.
The album opens up with “Enter” and we’re immediately met with some light keys that give off an innocent, 80’s pop vibe as we transition into the main beat and rhythm of the track. The simplicity of the instrumentation allowing Chibi’s sweet vocals to take center stage and it really is a blissful little number. The chorus brings with it more guitar and they blend more of their grittier style into the retro-synth sound and this is classic Birthday Massacre; simple, catchy and repeatable…a superb start. We follow this with promotional single “The Sky Will Turn” and we slow the tempo right down to more of a brooding, colder synth style, allowing for the darker aspects of the band’s sound to shine through like the full moon in a murky night sky…beautiful but chilling and quite awe-inspiring.
This continues through the title track “Diamonds” as well as cuts like “Crush” which use the down-tempo delivery to great effect, building up atmosphere and mood, channelling their gothic influences wonderfully, balancing subtle vocal and synth hooks with a darker, dispirited tone. Tracks like these prove The Birthday Massacre really are like diamonds themselves… oh so precious, but to many sadly they remain hidden gems. What this album IS lacking is some of their past, anthemic-style darkwave floor-fillers such as “One Promise” and “Walking With Strangers”, and the nearest we get to that here really is “Run”. Utilizing an almost DEPECHE MODE sense of deep melody, it flows delicately through each verse before kicking in with a grittier, guitar driven chorus.
Depeche Mode aren’t the only sounds you can pick up on either…during “Flashback” some of the guitar tones resemble the likes of ORGY in their futuristic, synthetic delivery, while “The Last Goodbye” harbours more of an accessible electronic-pop sound you may get from the likes of PET SHOP BOYS, before we round things off with closing track “Parallel World”; the calming synth ballad creating a dreamscape so apropos to its title, your mind wandering as Chibi serenades on.
The Birthday Massacre never try to reinvent the wheel and this is what makes them so consistently good; they have their distinct style and they own it. They’ve proven time and time again that you don’t fix what isn’t broken, and “Diamonds”, arguably one of the strongest albums of their career to date, proves that. These are uncertain, often worrying times, but Chibi and co are themselves the diamonds in the rough here, but if we’re stuck at home in quarantine and isolation, you couldn’t ask for better company. Our own birthday’s may have been massacred, but the sky WILL turn, we just have to ride this out together.