Herr Nox – Where Shadows Fade
Released Date 26/02/2021
Running Time: 32:41
Review by Dark Juan
Mr Editor Rick here – Usually, I wouldn’t intervene in one of my writer’s reviews because, as Dark Juan mentions below, “music and all art is subjective” and a review is only one person’s opinion. But I actually really like this album and I feel somewhat guilty because I sent it to him thinking he would too. DJ has a considerably broader knowledge than I, in the ways of Goth, Synth, and Industrial music, but I think that 3 is an incredibly low score for this release! Anyway, I shall now hand you over to the man himself and he can tell me off later!!
Good afternoon, ladies, gentlemen and all other genders! It is I, your favourite Satanic satyr and enfant terrible and all round shiny headed exuder of bonhomie, occasional good cheer and more often than not emitter of nonsense that I find hilarious, Dark Juan, and I am here to regale you with tales of derring-do and extreme courage perpetrated by my good self. Yes, I am drinking my own home brewed stout and jolly fine it is too. The only problem with it is that I left it fermenting for rather longer than I should have and the fucker could be successfully employed to fuel ICBMs. It is not a beverage for the faint hearted. It is, however, fucking lethal and I have broken my own rules and have waited until after 5pm to start drinking it otherwise I’d be fucked by half six. Just for your information, it’s now twenty past, so expect this review (that we will eventually get on to, I promise) to precipitously drop in quality, grammar and syllabification as more of my brain cells are destroyed by the rocket fuel I am imbibing rather freely. Already the power of physical speech is failing me. I’d best crack on before muscle memory is also defeated…
Herr Nox, then. A gentleman with EXTRAORDINARY cheekbones and some equally extraordinary musical friends, in the persons of Jørgen Munkeby of Norway’s Shining, and the estimable Canadian multifaceted musician that is Lindsay Schoolcraft (ex-Cradle Of Filth, Antiqva), both of whom offer their talents as guests upon this most eclectic record. “Where Shadows Fade” has confused me. Herr Nox makes a lot of noise about Lindsay Schoolcraft regarding him as “The Bowie of our times” in his blurb and I don’t just see it apart from the odd bit of phrasing that sounds a little bit like the Thin White Duke. In fact, I’d say his vocal owes more to Brian Molko than David Bowie with occasional added screaming. But that’s just me, and music and all art is subjective, is it not, dear friends?
The actual music is equally confusing as it appears to be some sort of chimerical creation formed by the fusing of “Devils” era Xmal Deutschland, The Cure, Paradise Lost and Placebo with added metal guitar, and Herr Nox swaggering all over the front of it. I’m left somewhat cold by it all as well, to be honest. It feels artificial and contrived, as if Herr Nox has thought to himself, “What can I do to make my stuff a little different? I know, I’ll phrase the odd word like Bowie and set it to a soundtrack of mournful strings and saxophones and lift the 80s goth sound, lock, stock and fucking barrel. And then I’ll throw some heavy metal guitar in there to keep the long haired herberts interested. Yeah, and I’ll make myself look like the guy from Blutengel but with a different haircut. That means there will be teenaged goth girls in Hello Kitty knickers hanging off every word I utter and emo boys swapping their dreamy, droopy emo-Hitler haircuts to look more like mine. Fucking brilliant.”
By rights, knowing my somewhat gothic bent and general adoration of anything gothic and miserable (I’m looking at you, Andrew Eldritch, and your steadfast refusal to accept that you are The Gothfather), you’d think I love this so much I’d want to fuck it and have its babies, wouldn’t you?
You’d be wrong. Quite, QUITE wrong.
The whole album feels contrived and forced and not well thought out. There is promise, however. The intro to the album and first song (‘Doomsday’) has an absolutely kick-ass 80s synth part at the start that is evocative of nights at The Batcave or The Banshee and has an epic, swooping, cinematic quality. And then it’s ruined by a choppy, shittily produced guitar riff that just sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to murder motherfuckers with a big ass flamethrower. The title track, and second song on the record has a much superior guitar riff that segues into the kind of droning, shoegazing introspection that Type O Negative did so well before adding a chorus over music that could have been lifted from the quiet bit of a Cradle Of Filth middle eight and then crashes into some bombastic fucking about before returning to the chorus and by that point I don’t care anymore.
And I don’t like Herr Nox’s voice. This music needs baritone crooning, not high pitched “emotional” histrionics. His voice has no soul in the same way that Ville Valo’s didn’t. Hang on…I’ve just deduced the underlying influence to all of this. HIM is pervasive throughout this record – pop goth fluffiness meeting rock hooks with pseudo-cathartic lyrics. I bloody hate HIM. They were turgid and pointless. Their influence is most evident on ‘Black Butterfly’, which is a song written SPECIFICALLY to relieve goth girls of their Powerpuff Girls panties, if I ever heard one, being danceable and almost cheerful in its misery. It can’t even be saved by Lindsay Schoolcraft.
‘The Art Of Noise – Silence’ is a right shocker though, being a horrible sucky power ballad with added 80s synth twinkles saved only by the fact that part of the lyric is a quote from O’Brien to Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Lindsay Schoolcraft can’t save this pile of foetid rat wank either. On we sojourn to ‘Gotta Light’ and here the Herr dips into his capacious and black (lace trimmed and gorgeous) silk bag of goth tropes and pulls out the saxophone that The Damned employed on “Phantasmagoria” before taking a hard left turn into ‘Kiss The Butcher’s Hand’ and basically becoming a Coheed And Cambria cover band with added dramatic eye makeup and much worse hair than Claudio Sanchez before dragging out the obligatory choir to do the ‘Ride of The Valkyries’ sound. It is disjointed and displeasing. ‘The Burning’ is the only song where I can hear a Bowie influence, and even then, just on a few words, although I did enjoy the guitar work in the quieter parts, which manage to reference yet another band in The Cure before ruining it with an attempt to be Paradise Lost AND Nightwish simultaneously. Gothic music should be a predatory, beautiful and sinuous thing emerging gorgeously and elegantly from the shadows to rip out your throat with perfectly white teeth surrounded by carmine lips and wearing a sumptuous gown. You’re supposed to fall in love with the glamour of it even as your straining heart pumps out the last of your lifeblood down its avid throat. Instead, we have this arabesque with ill-suited limbs, this Frankenstein’s Monster of poorly sutured parts shambling around and clumsily breaking shit in its prison, its own personal chamber of horrors.
In summary then – very poor, but with promise. The production is horrible and woolly and barely listenable and there are TOO MANY influences at work here and the result is not something fabulously original or magnificent, it’s a jarring, jumbled mess. It’s a musical cut-and-shut of the worst kind. Someone please take away this man’s record collection and don’t let him have it back until he realises it is not possible to mix, goth, metal, emo, prog and shoegaze together into one big lump.
I’m so disappointed. I wanted to love this record so bad and all that has happened is that I have drunk a shitload of wicked strength beer and now I want port and cigars and to whip a voluptuous young nubile to within an inch of their lives because I cannot sustain this level of disappointment and someone has to pay…
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System’s nihilism has reached new heights of horror and violence and awards Herr Nox 3/10 for a cluttered, messy record. My disapprobation is strong and this album neatly encapsulates the dangers of trying to incorporate too many different genres into your sound. Jack of all trades and master of none, and all that.
‘Black Butterfly’ (feat, Lindsay Schoolcraft) (Official Video)
02. Where Shadows Fade
03. Black Butterfly
04. The Art Of Noise – Silence
05. Gotta Light
06. Kiss The Butcher’s Hand
07. Heads Will Roll
08. The Burning
Herr Nox – Vocals, Synth, Keys, Programming, Additional Guitars, Songwriting, Lyrics
Jonathan Guillemette – Guitars & Bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft Vocals on Tracks 2/3/4/7
Jørgen Munkeby – Saxophone on Tracks 1/2/5
Fred Bédard – Guitar solo on Track 3
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.