Album Review – Masquerade – Ritual (2016)

Availability: Bandcamp, Spotify and Discog

Drawn and Quartered, the opening track to Masquerade’s debut takes the listener back in time to the early developments of goth rock, importantly in the years of Siouxsie and the Banshees, the band’s main influence and inspiration. The song revels with the distorted instrumental paranoia found in post-punk and proto-goth rock bands, both of which drew inspiration from art rock. Throughout the song’s composition, the Masquerade have successfully emulated Kaleidoscope (1980), Juju (1981), and a Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982), three of Siouxsie and the Banshee’s defining moments in their career, into one track. Deathmarch twists the instrumentation to come across as jutted and uneasy to suit the lyrical content, speaking of the disastrous outcomes of war and the unnecessary loss of life. Borrowing what I discussed in the Feature of the Day of Deathmarch earlier this month, the song is a musical illustration of Suzi Sabotage’s political afflictions, and anti-war message.  

Salt the Earth is a dark blues rock track, lyrically mystical for its inclusion of spirituality and witchcraft, salting the Earth of wrong doing. Panic Paranoia, going back to traditional post-punk roots, is a track that first premiered a year ago as one of the band’s first singles. Through the complex guitars, the song discusses society’s attitudes and media’s toxic fear mongering, as well as battling the stigma around mental health.

Lunacy is a funky goth-rock/ska fusion, once more venturing into the subject of mental health, Suzi Sabotage (real name Suzi Nyberg)’s vocals have cleverly been slurred and out of place with the rest of the instruments to act like she has been affected by medication to dull the erratic activity of her characters’ mind. Siberia reconnoiters modern goth rock, which as noted with The Mission’s Another Fall From Grace, disregards the eeriness and tinned sound effects, but embraces a more clean finish which evolved with alternative rock. Siberia is the only song on the album that is sung in Russian, and on the official lyric site on Bandcamp is written in Russian as well.

Sinners like Us leads on from Lunacy with the goth-rock/ska merging, and is oozes once more the older/vintage stylization of post-punk and proto-goth. Sinners like Us is the second track that holds the strongest muses from Siouxsie and the Banshees, but unlike the previous tracks that were political in formation, this is about atheist identity and the questioning of religion, displayed in faux drunken fashion. ANGST, just over two minutes is an ethereal wave/dream pop interlude, with ambient guitars echoing in and out, and in between Nyberg’s acapella.

Madhouse endeavors back to alternative rock, with dark rock/grunge mixture, the third song to lecture on mental health, and the losing of one’s sanity. With Razorblades is an intriguing mix of post-punk, psychedelic rock and blues rock, the slowed; eeriness of the arrangement emphasizes the detailing on the troubling subject of drug addiction and potential suicide.

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