We all know that America has produced some of the most successful Gothic / alternative metal artists of all time, especially industrial titans like NINE INCH NAILS and of course, those iconic dark-humoured darlings TYPE-O-NEGATIVE, but they came a little later…we want to know what post-punk bands helped shape America’s earlier underground music scene.
While you’ve more than likely heard of CHRISTIAN DEATH, other bands may be a little more obscure unless you’re already a Goth-rock fan…bands like THE DANCING CIGARETTES and ROMEO VOID are well worth checking out, but today we’re going to focusing our attention on MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT. Often shorted to just Thrill Kill Kult, the Chicago natives initially started out as an early industrial outfit, and you may actually recognise them from the soundtrack to “The Crow”…but although maintaining a steady, 30-year career, they’ve always been relatively niche. 2019 finds them still releasing records, and their newest one; “In The House Of Strange Affairs”, was chosen by you on my last readers’ poll…so let’s get all of our affairs in order and check it out shall we?
The album opens up with “Gold To Grey” and it’s slow, sullen bass line has a wonderfully nostalgic tone to it, sounding like this track could very well come from those early proto-Goth days…its deep and chilling, as it leads into a spoken-word segment, before kicking into gear with its snide vocal drawl and cold atmospheric synths. The beat is simplistic and the electronic elements rarely inject much life into the track, resulting in an ambient yet algid listen; a slow start this. The following couple of tracks do admittedly get your hopes up to be honest, with “Forbidden Saints” sounding like the first proper track, as opposed to a lengthy introduction. The electronica is more prominent and instrumentally it’s got a decent, but again, simplistic hook, with a lot more rhythm going for it. It’s lyrically dark and fetishized and it’s something you could easily imagine being played to a throng of leather and PVC clad Goths, sipping on absinthe at 3am in some underground club. Although…mate…WHAT is with that ending? Absolutely cringe-worthy, you just shat all over that entire song right there, seriously…forget the saints, I forbid whoever gave that the green light to ever work in production ever again!
Up next we’ve got “Treat Street” and although while still relying on the synths and new-wave style it’s got an old-school disco-funk groove layered throughout the track, with the additional inclusion of…harmonica…resulting in a wonderfully curious listening experience. There are more sexual references, and at this point it’s like, OK, fine, it’s a gimmick…reinforced with the husky vocals, but to be honest they detract from what is essentially a decent little piece of music. We follow this up with album highlight “The Chains Of Fame” and really that’s saying something…it utilises a catchy low-fi hook with chill-wave aesthetics, but the guitars give the track some much needed bite. He asks ‘How much cash can you make with that ass?’ and to be honest…I…I don’t know. Nor do I want to. Rough guess, twenty bucks on a good day? Fuck knows. I digress, the track ends rather abruptly and truth be told, this is about as good as the album gets.
There are moments like on “Studio 21” which peak your interest, which houses more of that original disco funk combined with subtle trance elements, and “Royal Skull” which returns to a more guitar based approach, sounding much grittier, but overall the album fails to excite. Too often we’re faced with a lack of energy and drive from the remaining tracks and the bulk of the record seems to drag itself along like a reluctant cadaver. Appropriately we eventually end on “Am I Dead?” and to be frank, by this point…yes. Fucking feels like it anyway. To summarise, there’s nothing really thrilling whatsoever about this kill kult, and the house of strange affairs needs to be boarded up and demolished to make way for a Greggs or something…having said that they’re equally as bland as each other; disappointing this.