I often read through the names that a band lists as their inspirations and think, really? It usually happens when presented with young indie bands claiming bands such as Arctic Monkeys to be their main musical touch-stone but who come off sounding like an bad version of The Libertines. It happens when rock bands alluding to sharing the same DNA as AC/DC miss the whole point that the diminutive antipodeans were a groovesome rock ’n’roll band rather than the lumpy metal outfit which they seem to have spawned. And so when I read Death Vogue‘s list of the good and the great who have inspired them, Joy Division, Bowie, Editors…even Eurythmics and I had to wonder if his isn’t just wishful thinking.
So, I have to report at being pleasantly surprised when opening salvo I Don’t Want To Be Happy comes firing out of the speakers sounding like it is the bastard child of all of those influences, pushed onwards by a bass driven punk urge and sounding as post-punk as you can get without wearing a black raincoat and leaning against a wall in Salford. There is even a whole “dance” refrain which has to be, at least in part, a nod of the hat to Manchesters frowniest.
Under the Blue Moon Sky is a swirling mesh of tribal beats, primal bass pulses and ice cold guitar infusions and Fire and Lust merges The Jesus and Mary Chain’s grinding relentlessness with The Sisters musical melodrama. Drive Me To The Moon sounds like Bowie doing his best Jim Morrison impression whilst the accompanying Doorsian acid-laced sonic bacchanal is replaced by shards of guitar that seem to be describing an ice cold, speed come down instead of the usual psychedelic highs. The fact that there is more than a hint of The Bunnymen about it is to be expected as the Doors/Bowie sonic crossroads was always a place that they were Mac and the lads most comfortable hanging out.
It was always said that the original post-punk sound was a reflection of the cold, northern English towns where it first formed, in its depths you heard the cold rains pounding the drab brick buildings and could envisage the flurries of snow piling up on rubbish strewn, inner city wasteland. It is perhaps understandable that a band from Helsinki such as Death Vogue can channel similar ice water coolness and bleak northern European demeanours.
Prologue is a fine album, one which isn’t afraid to show it’s working out, as it were, to supply a roughly pencilled road map of where its sound comes from. But it is more than just a tribute to a time and a place, it is also an album about continuity and a look to the future. Post-punk might have a long and illustrious past but albums such as this show that it has a bright and healthy future too.