by Peter Pomelov-Zhilinsky
What happened to gothic rock? That's the question I've been asking myself lately. I do not mean different spin-off styles like darkwave, gothic metal, synth gothic and etc etc etc. I mean *gothic rock*. Seems like the genre is now being swarmed by pseudo-goth pop projects (you know, they're just L.A.M.e), guitar goth SoM- or FotN-wannabees and primitive spooky boys who think that they are especially cool howling about black roses and graves... I know a handful of stunning darkwave, goth metal, folk goth bands. But where are good gothic rock bands? So, is the ultimate answer to this question is that this music is dying?
No, I answer myself. The ultimate answer is NO. As long as Mors Syphilitica is on stage, the genre lives and prospers. Even if they are the last to remain standing in the battle of primitive clichés and beautiful darkness, the genre still survives. Eric and Lisa Hammer have proven it when they were in R.I.W., they have proven it under name of Mors Syphilitica with their first, self-titled, album and they are proving it again with Primrose.
The style has changed a bit, being less intense, less hard, even more melodic and musically rich. But as before, all the components of the sound texture are in equal balance, they all seem to be of same importance to the integrity of each song and evenly contribute to the musical richness I have mentioned above. Of course, Lisa's voice is the leading element, I think her singing skills have even improved since the past releases of R.I.W. and M.S. - rising to the strongest of emotions and falling back to the melancholic tranquillity. It's a perfect match - skill and deep emotion going together...
The voice part is perfectly complimented by instrumentation, both composed and performed by Eric Hammer. The instruments altogether simply absorb the listener, they create extremely atmospheric and ambient feeling. As to my personal opinions, this is the quality I value among the most important of all. In spite of the fact that the sound is still definitely guitar/bass/drums-driven, what is different from previous M.S. release, is that a lot of interesting and unusual (for this type of music) instruments were used in studio, like harmonica or banjo. However, they do not sound alien to the overall atmosphere, but organically take their place in this 15-song example of a very, very fine album.
Frankly, I liked all of those 15 songs. I would not like to value them separately one from each other, as they sound equally well, but create an absolutely beautiful piece of real art all together on one album (as of today, my favorite is Remedy, a second track). And each second of Primrose is 100%-recognizable, sounding like you would have no doubts that this is Mors Syphilitica, however it is clearly seen that Eric and Lisa evolve their music further, as compared to their previous works. And I am absolutely sure that they have found the right direction to evolve to.
So what was that question? Is gothic rock dead? No, I tell you.