Tuesday 11 October 2016

Review: Fährenheit 451 – 'House Of Morals'

'House Of Morals'

Formed in 1984 in shadow of New York City, proto-gothic rock band Fährenheit 451 would have a brief existence that would yield this sole EP release. This would have previously consigned them to a nostalgic local footnote in the international development of the wider gothic scene. But now after thirty years the band's sole release has been unearthed and presented as the inaugural release on Gothique records – a label set up by former Fährenheit 451 vocalist Athan Maroulis – who you may be more familiar with from acts such as Maroulis went on to front Executive Slacks, Spahn Ranch, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, and currently NOIR.

Fährenheit 451 are a quintessential example of the post-punk sound morphing into gothic rock. Elements of Bauhaus, Specimen, Gene Loves Jezebel, and The Bolshoi shine through funky bass lines, sumptuous keyboard swells and Maroulis' dramatic vocals. 'Strangers On A Train', 'Cathedral In Ice', 'Passions', and 'Flowers Melt Away' each hold their own against any classic cut of the era, and it's a shame it has taken them this long and the advent of bandcamp to see a re-release.

The songs have been lovingly remastered with a skillful attention to detail to present them at their best, and the end result is excellent. The demo version of 'Strangers On A Train' gives an indication as to how the songs could have been left to their original quality. But instead they sound fresh and modern and a pleasure to listen to.

'House Of Morals' is a great proto-goth EP. Not just from a “what could have been sense” or a nostalgic sense, but it was a release that, while a snapshot in time, showed a hell of a lot of talent and promise form those who made it. And while history proved that moving beyond the band was the right thing to do, it is nevertheless an intriguing and pleasurable artefact in its own right that fans of gothic rock will surely enjoy.  

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