Death Of Darkness

Atomic Fire
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Death Of Darkness
02. Drive
03. Gotta Rock
04. This Murder Takes Two
05. California
06. Call Me Snake
07. Dying In The Night
08. Something Real
09. Sundown
10. Outlaws

Has any band ever sounded cooler than THE 69 EYES? Your answer to that will probably depend on whether or not you're a massive goth, but if you're reading this then you almost certainly are. Welcome!

More than 30 years since the release of their "Bump 'n' Grind" debut album, the Finns have long since earned legendary status. Reliable bastions of black-hearted rock 'n' roll and helpless slaves to mascara and a good, bad time, they always bridge the divide between BILLY IDOL and THE SISTERS OF MERCY with sense of style, and "Death Of Darkness" is nothing if not stylish. Like nearly every record THE 69 EYES have made over the years, it is also full to the brim with torchlit, leather-bound anthems.

Not a vast amount has changed in this band's musical world since 2019's "West End", but while that album had plenty of blurry shadows and moments of unadorned heaviness, "Death Of Darkness" immediately feels leaner and more refined.

One key factor is that this is easily the best sounding album in the band's history. The opening title track begins with a classic, goth rock flurry of guitars, but everything sounds arena-worthy and crystal clear. The ageless Jyrki 69 is clearly in his absolute element and has seldom sounded more like Hell's own rock star. The magnificent "Drive" — another unashamed salute to BILLY IDOL — is even better, but THE 69 EYES have always been more than just a straight-ahead goth metal band, and the rest of "Death Of Darkness" strikes a grand balance between delivering the goods and torching the safety net.

With its rippling, "Billie Jean" bassline, "Gotta Rock" is an unholy and theatrical singalong in honor of rock 'n' roll itself. Again, a lush and nuanced production makes it sound like a potential global smash, albeit in a parallel universe where leather trousers and backcombing are compulsory. Next, "This Murder Takes Two" is a wistful but gritty country rock dream, executed with a blissful lightness of touch and only a faint hint of malice. Still rooted in the American nightmare, "California" is a sinewy and tense glam metal gem, but with all the atmosphere of FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM. Similarly, "Call Me Snake" is another heads-down rocker, but with a malevolent streak a mile wide. "Dying In The Night" showcases THE 69 EYES' pitch-black pop sensibilities, with some glorious, Carlos Alomar-like soloing from guitarist Bazie. Both "Something Real" and "Sundown" offer wicked variations on the same themes before the closing "Outlaws" attempts to steal the entire show with an epic display of furrowed-brow melodrama. Jyrki's apocalyptic croak is simply one of the goth voices of our time, and he thrives here inspired by another colossal chorus as ghostly piano figures are skillfully threaded through a wall of big, arena-sized riffs. It sounds huge and authoritative because it is. THE 69 EYES are still perfecting their winning formula, and "Death Of Darkness" feels like a victory lap.

Author: Dom Lawson
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