Sunday, February 25, 2024

Lovelorn Dolls – Darker Ages | Album Review

The Lovelorn Dolls are a Belgian Gothic rock group with a feminine facade, founded by the guitarist Bernard Daubresse aka Corpus Christi and the singer & composer from “Skeptical Minds” ie Kristell Lowagie aka Ladyhell.

Their sound consists of thick guitar riffs, deafening melodies, perfectly executed synthesizer sequences and the characteristic voice of Kristell.

If you can imagine Marilyn Manson enjoying a sinful party in a mud bath, surrounded by hellish acolytes, at the Lacuna Coil mansion, while The Birthday Massacre watches and throws slithering monsters into the soup … you would get somewhere near to the sound that the “Dolls” create.

Although they say that 3rd album Darker Ages is different. They say it is a purgative release. A purification … designed to rid the soul of the flashing emotions and the anguished thoughts… the bad times that have plagued the musicians over the last few months. So it’s venturesome and filled with haunting expressionism.

Single ‘Dead Sea’ for example, has seductive moonshine starkness. A shadowing, head-pounding beat cradles the exquisite voice. It’s breathy, it’s choppy and it’s ethereal. In fact it’s very distressing. However, it is amazingly beautiful too.

The almost-title track, ‘Darker Days’ is even more delicious. It has the most plaintive riff you have heard in a long time. Then the gravel-throated poetry begins, each vowel falls like a jewel onto blackened satin. The guitars fume and blister and the bleak piano adds drama. This could be painful if it wasn’t so darn soothing… it is musical sorcery and will undoubtedly cage your heart the first time you hear it.

‘Lament’ is less jeremiad than you might imagine. Actually it’s a euro house number with experimental club sounds and extravagant techno pulses. And it’s the first indication that this album might not be the symphonic ‘n’ industrial power-metal outing we’d hoped for. Then ‘Psalms’ also has that constant euro-punch, synthesizers in pastel tones and very cleverly enunciated lyrics that suggest a throwback to the late-1980’s.

Ooh er, missus… I wonder what they meant by ‘Love Missile’ then? This song, another regressive step — this time from the mid-1980s — sounds as if Jan Hammer met Godley & Creme in the Starship school-yard and they all decided to re-release an unknown song from Madonna’s first album. So prepare your ears for rhythm boxes, Moog basses and garlanding synthesizers, along with more of those feminine, pastel-coloured vocals and an overall style that tends to play upbeat instead of cushioning the despair in coffin-silks and laying it down for eternal rest in a dark shroud of blackened misery.

If every track was as bittersweet and symphonic as the first two tracks, this would be an exemplary album. Instead, we get a jamboree-bag of synthetic euro-pop that kinda poses as dark imagery and gloomy sadness. There’s nothing wrong with introducing greater pop sensibility into the genre… after all that’s what the aforementioned MM did, didn’t he? And the nostalgia of the 80s seems furious at this moment. So, maybe, all this will capture the listener’s imagination… Maybe not.

All that I could forgive. But Kristell… pastels?

Neil Mach
Neil Mach
RAMzine Senior Writer - With a career spanning 30 years author / journalist Neil Mach is an expert on the music business and is a reliable guide. He especially loves heavy metal, prog & blues.

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