Wednesday 30 October 2013

Review: Spiritual Front – 'Black Hearts In Black Suits'

'Black Hearts In Black Suits' 

Italy's Spiritual Front have been around in the neofolk scene for over a decade now, and have honed their suicidal folk-pop formula with great effort. With several full-length albums under their belt, including the acclaimed 'Armageddon Gigolo' (2006), they have proven again to be one of the more interesting modern neofolk acts. Long-time fans will no doubt be rejoicing that the band's latest effort sees former member Stefano Puri back on song writing duty for the first time since 2006.

The new album, based on the poems of Rainer Werner Fassbinder focusses on the dichotomy of the light and dark sides of the bands musical sound. The album augments the band's established sound of blending neofolk, neoclassical and post-punk with a bleak decadence evoking old Europe. The tracks constantly shift from light airy pieces to darker, more complex pieces, with occasional dabbling with ecclesiastical majesty. The result is almost akin to the drunken death rattle of imperial Europe presented as a theatrical revue.

Musically and vocally the band take their cues from the likes of Franz Schubert, Nick Cave, David Tibet, and Marc Almond. With songs such as , 'Life's Too Long', 'The Only Sin', 'I Just Can't Have Nothing', 'I Believe I Was Yours' and 'Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves' balance a melancholic pop edge with a deeply intimate and confessional approach.

The use of ecclesiastical interludes on 'Requiem Æternam', 'Dies Iræ' and 'Lacrimosa' breaks up what is quite a long track listing into more bitesize chapters and adds a little more gravitas to the sombre and minimalistic piano-led arrangements.

'Black Hearts In Black Suits' is a pretty heavy going album. It's long and melancholic, designed to wrench at the listeners heart via their ears. The fifteen tracks and penchant towards simple piano pieces won't be to everyone's liking. However, the song writing though, is exquisite, and the production is simple, but effective. Vocally Simone Salvatori has never sounded better. Ultimately this will prove to be another standout album in the Spiritual Front catalogue.  

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