1. Beau Suicide
3. Dare Me
4. Trembling Androgyneous
5. Thousand Clouds
6. American Chronicle
Artist: Soror Dolorosa
CAT#: TTR 024
Released: 01 August 2009
Running time: 37:53
Death rock. Cold-wave. Dark, unsettling new-wave, post-punk, batcave music from France. Severance is their debut release.
Frontman Andy Julia will be familiar to most as the original, and current, drummer of Nuit Noire. He has also played in Peste Noire, Mutiilation, Celestia and is one half of Darvulia.
Soror Dolorosa however is a complete departure from metal. Cold-wave blue sounds influenced by 80s post-punk and the variety of -wave splinters that formed in that decade. Bands like Sisters of Mercy, Virgin Prunes, Slowdive, Specimen (and other Batcave club regulars – The Cure, Siouxsie etc.) serve as pointers while building their own approach within a French revival.
Sombre, passionate music with careful, often sparse, song writing;shimmering guitar notes, strong important bass lines, drums that pound the bass and crack the snare;and a palpable sense of detachment, emphasising the cold in cold-wave.
Soror Dolorosa is a band that will confound many of those trolling the internet for any number of ’80s deathrock / darkwave obscurities. You could easily slip Soror Dolorosa – with its Goth name, its monochromatic artwork, the theatrical vocals, the rhythmic savagery – next to the likes of Christian Death, Specimen, The March Violets, and The Virgin Prunes, and none would be the wiser. Of all the ’80s references to make, Clair Obscure (while very well, obscure) is probably the closest, if that French band had been much better in grafting songs to match the ritualistic deathrock throb.
The biggest surprise here might not in fact be that this is new and not some archival eighties lost gem, but that it is in fact the project of Nuit Noire drummer Andy Julia, who has also played in Peste Noire, Mutiilation and other grim black combos. None of which would at all prepare you for the glorious cold wave miserablism found here, Julia has such a distinctive croon, and the band conjure up such an amazing batcave new wave gloom, it sounds like it has to be from the eighties.
The guitars shimmer and chime, the bass is thick and throbbing, the drums are simple and propulsive, the sounds is spacious, lots of reverb and delay, but it’s all about the vocals, a mournful dramatic croon, somewhere between Ian Curtis and Andrew Eldritch. In fact, this totally channels the spirit of the Sisters Of Mercy, as well as the Virgin Prunes, the Fields Of The Nephilim, the Cure all that awesomely epic gothic darkness we grew up on.
But as we know, it’s easy to just emulate a sound, any band can sound like their favorite band of old, that phenomenon is responsible for at least several scenes and sounds. But that music, that classic sound, is as much about songs as it is about sounds. We often lament, that songwriting seems to have been supplanted by the mere act of being in a band, of making the right noises.
And it’s in that way that Soror Dolorosa stand out from all the other cold wave wannabes, they write amazing songs, filled with incredible melodies, hooks galore, the basslines as memorable as the vocal lines, dramatic, intense, personal, emotional, the vocals oozing with pathos, the songs themselves rife with parts and pieces that are incredibly catchy, when the vocals drop out, you’re still hearing them in your head, you find yourself humming along to the bass, or slipping away from the vocals and getting lost in the shimmering reverbed riffage.
The whole record is fantastic, but opener “Beau Suicide” is maybe one of our favorite cold wave jams ever, past or present, so dark and driving, with a main riff to die for (the sort of riff Interpol has spent their whole career trying to come up with), a cool jagged angular guitar freakout midway through, an incredible and impossibly melodic bassline, and one of the coolest, most intense, and unforgettable vocal lines, so good. Just this track gets played so much in the store it’s beginning to feel like the aQ theme song. Then there’s the nearly 12 minute closing track “American Chronicle”, a lilting, super dramatic gloom pop epic, with long stretches of dour drift, the guitar unfurling gorgeous echoey melodies, the vocals more emotional and anguished than anywhere on the record, which is strange, since the music is perhaps the prettiest and most melodic.
Needless to say, absolutely required listening for folks who like their pop gloomy, their eighties revivalists depressive and dark, and who count any of the above mentioned bands in their personal pantheon. And while we love the current revival of lo-fi new wave goth garage pop, Cold Cave, Blank Dogs, Gary War, Zola Jesus, etc… Soror Dolorosa has supplanted them all and now seems to be the record we can NOT stop listening to. – Aquarius