Album Review – Clan of Xymox – Days of Black (2017)

Availability: YouTube (full album stream), Metropolis Record, Discog, Amazon UK & Germany, and Spotify

Days of Black starts as if it has been stripped from a music video, with the main protagonist entering an unoccupied building at the dead of night, for the only sounds are footsteps and an opening, a unoiled door without the background noise of the day. It is an extended interlude, manifesting up as a mixture of industrial (for its usage of sampling), darkwave, minimal and electronica. The sampled voice (‘Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in’) is on repeat, illustrating the thought processes of the protagonist, speaking about how the building somehow lures them back inside. The voice heard, is the character of Michael Corleone from The Godfather Part III  (1990), talking about the dangerous lifestyle that comes with the mafia, warning that once you’re in, there is no way out. The building implied has the same effect on the protagonist. Loneliness, the only track of the album, thus far, to have an official music video – which premiered on the day of the album’s release – morphs into traditional post-punk, dark pop and coldwave, manifesting the sounds of British peers IAMX, to deliver the distorted, tragic realities of depression and the sufferers’ desperateness to try and connect with the world around them.

Vixen in Disguise goes down a darker instrumental root, introducing the first generation gothic rock, post-punk, new wave and dark pop to create a mysterious dark dance track. In many ways, VID embodies the trad Goth sound exhibited in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, replicating the Middle Eastern tones of The Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus. Leave Me Be travels through the intricacies of gothic rock, darkwave, country rock and industrial rock; embracing the configured notes of The Mission, Fields of Nephilim, The Danse Society and Whispers in the Shadows. The track is energetic, sensual, yet mournful and lyrically dusky.

The Rain Will Wash Away formulates in darkwave, psytrance, and industrial dance and not just musically, but for the lyrical direction of Ronny Moorings; combining the distorted brogue of the industrial genre but with the brooding darkness of Goth rock. Set You Free converts into a dark synth wave/electro rock fusion, with neoclassical, post-punk and third generation gothic rock.  There are symbolizations of Bauhaus, Depeche Code, Gary Numan, The Cure and David Bowie.

I Couldn’t Save You
follows on with the gothic rock inflections and carries heavily the influence of later Gary Numan and, Robert Smith, and David Bowie, for its usage of post-punk, Southern gothic and there are moments where funeral-doom metal and neofolk are used. Bowie and Robert Smith are routed through Moorings’ voice; melancholic, gentle and forlorn. What Goes Around molds synthwave, neoclassical darkwave, gothic rock, dark pop and folk rock.  This is the second track to manifest sounds notable from IAMX, distinctively the manipulated guitar strings and keyboard synths to give an eerie, Middle Eastern/Arabic feel.

I Need to Be Alone returns to the traditional gothic rock blueprint, border lining on post-punk, mixed fluidly with country rock and darkwave, having significant inspiration from early Dead Can Dance, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Sisters of Mercy. Loud and Clear turns into a creation of gothic and death rock with the reintroduction of gothic metal and this time hard rock in the composition of the electric guitars. After the 2:00 minute mark, industrial dance and dark pop emerge in addition, like they have formed up as an extra layer on top of the original foundations of the initial direction of the track.

Your Kiss abandons the rock genres to refocus on the electronic side of the band; heavily diving into psytrance, retro wave, minimal, industrial dance and electronica, treading lightly on the founding days of Gary Numan once more, not just in music but in vocals. I, in accumulation, also hear Olli Wisdom – vocalist of death/goth rock The Specimen – during his psytrance era as Space Tribe (1994 – 2011), and Ghosting, a German gothic rock/goa trance band as well in the mix. La La Land the last track of the album furthers the exploration of psytrance, progressive trance, and ethereal wave in a complete lack of vocals other than for another use of sampling, this time of a young child. It signifies the end of the album as if it was a storybook. The child wishing everyone goodbye and goodnight, and returning back to La-la land. The sampling is from a British children’s television show.

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