Schism –  On The Wane (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

On_The_Wane_-_Schism_(cover)If the music which, often to the chagrin of the artists in question, became known as gothic was born out of the post-punk crucible, part the echoing of early punk urges, part embracing the electronic experiments that futurists and Blitz Kids pioneered, then bands such as On The Wane feel much more the natural successors to those seminal acts than the metallers and rockers who seem to have since grabbed all of the glory in its name. Whilst most bands of that initial scene quickly turned into straighter rock bands mining the commercial buck or began to take their pretentious crusade far too seriously, the music found on Schism feels like its long lost second chapter.

To many the term gothic now seems mainly to exist as just another sub-genre of metal supported by a generation who want to live in the Sunnydale of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and pretend to be pagans and creatures of the night but this album manages to pull referential strands from the older, darker heart of the punk-gothique and industrial genres as well as myriad other references from college rock to progressive EDM to psychedelia and beyond. Human Race and The Real Coward are a wash of brooding sound palettes that Bauhaus would have sold their soul for, if indeed one could have been found, and around this resonant and gloom-laden core the band build their dark-art attacks.

One of the most obvious musical pulses is a darkwave electro vibe which immediately conjures images of Siouxsie and The Banshees, a band who were always the epitome of otherness and singular trailblazing brilliance, but there is also the muscle of more conventional rock sounds, albeit driven along on a by more jagged and caustic guitar lines. Drop Bombs has that intensity and madness of an early Killing Joke number, mixing dub grooves with skittering rock and roll, scatter gun vocal deliveries with eastern guitar refrains and Bad News wraps things up with a strange and cavernous death disco vibe.

Schism is the sound of this Kiev four-piece picking up the tattered black flag and running headlong into a bright new future…okay, not bright but you know what I mean. It is the sound of a band understanding where all the best alternative music was found and then musing on what that music would sound like if it had run its evolutionary course. The result is a mix of then and now, whys and why nots, what was and what ifs. The building blocks may be familiar but the sonic architecture is nothing short of stunning.

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