MICK MERCER

ALL GONE DEAD
FALLEN & FORGOTTEN

Strobelight

Another day, another great album, or so it seems, this time from a band who straddle the modern Goth and Deathrock divide, with a touch too much sensitivity for the conventional D-world, and yet excessive gusto for plain G-ville, All Gone Dead take their duties seriously, setting a scrupulously clean environment in which to get tetchy, making this an album you can adapt to quickly, and you’ll barely register a flicker of annoyance that opener ‘G(eneration)’ is mere sample stew.

‘The Holy City Of Karbala’ bounces with lyrical war babies, a thorny melody rising through the patient guitar and piping synth spirals, and the modern parlance of paranoia in ‘Newspeak (Room 101)’ highlight juicy pop innards that pulsate whenever the vocals and synth are wrapped in a melodic embrace. With a sharp eye hovering over the modern world, and a resume that adheres to the law of brevity they scamper along. ‘Just 80 Miles West’ has a pained, needling feel where the bass stops scuttling to stretch out maturely, providing a solid bed of mood enhancement that gives them space, and I like the way they change instrumental emphasis during this album. ‘Skritch N Skrill’ also revels in this spikier aspect, tingling with fervid energy and a superb drum pattern beneath the lofty, dominant singing over some true goth guitar bindweed. A great munching tension grows as the urgency increases and the punk feel is unavoidable as the beat and guitar grip brilliantly. ‘Vivid Still Beating’ then lightens the velocoity, having a more orthodox commercial sense with well constructed vocal shapes, the synth and guitar fluttering in sync, and ‘O(perating)’ is a simple and cute spoken picture.

‘Orchids In Ruin’ gets moodier with another example of the greater clarity of sound we have here, and the obvious development from their ‘Conceiving The Subversion’ demos, bearing the astringent pressure already witnessed in Tragic Black ~ of course there’s a natural link here ~ but then ‘Cedric Krane’ is seriously cool, inventive fun. With the ghost of Sandy Nelson on drums you can’t go wrong and the last time I heard euphoric hardcore surges over kitsch 50’s waves played this good it was Naked Raygun, and things just don’t get any better! Everyone should adore that song.

‘Within But Not Before’ is also simple but with wonderfully modest guitar, strict vocal delineation and subtle bass confidence making for a fine sound., although it seems uneventful but then they speed the same approach up during ‘Sunday Went Mute’ and it cracks along very neatly with hectic, spindly guitar for excitable stamping. The stern piano introduced for ‘The Aftertaste’ brings in a deeper fog, stirred by a secretive whisk and boasting a fabulous, thickening ending, after which you must wait for ‘D(escending)’ to expand fully, where you can enjoy some defiant romanticism.

This is a very impressive debut, where only the lack of explosive power holds them back, as certain songs could have really bloomed and boomed, but that’s down to them essentially being a duo now. While it’s actually lively throughout, their understandable concentration on how it works overall, undermines individual detonations, but the songs themselves are varied, many are memorable and it’s fascinating to see how they’re not content with doing anything too obvious.