Artist: DeSade
CD Title: Suicide Lounge
Label: Orphanage Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 12/14/03

Visually, DeSade is an archetype of the modern deathrock band from its fishnet adorned female members to its requisite scary big bearded bald guy to the mohawked punk to the essential normal-looking average Joe who appears to have been kidnapped and held hostage by his far-less-average-looking bandmates. The album booklet also screams deathrock, with faked band member suicide photos and the amusing inclusion of tiny Clue murder weapons. Even musically, Suicide Lounge is easily comparable to 45 Grave and Christian Death's debut album with a touch of Siouxsie & the Banshees thrown in for good measure. However, the band's affinity for simple, hook-laden postpunk material and Sarah Deathriage's off-key, angst-ridden vocals are often just as (if not more) akin to early 90s dark grunge along the lines of Hole's first album and earlier EPs/singles.

Consisting of new tracks as well as new recordings of songs from their previous EPs, Suicide Lounge is a 13-track tour de force of rough, loud rock with punk attitude and catchy hooks. The band's performance, while not always particularly tight, is emotive, powerful, and edgy. Vocalist Sarah Deathriage's lyrics are perhaps slightly lacking the depth and wit of some of her peers and influences, but her wobbly punk/grunge delivery (something of a cross between Siouxsie Sioux, Dinah Cancer, and Courtney Love) and the attitude she brings to the mix certainly make up for it. The songwriting is consistently excellent, with infectious guitar riffs and vocal melodies that already had me singing along by the second time I listened to the disc. In fact, the disc is so strong from start to finish that trying to single out specific standout tracks to mention in this review proved to be an exercise in futility. The production is well done but subtle enough to avoid intruding on the band's sound. Overall, it's a solid package that's loud and rebellious yet, at the same time, almost radio friendly.

Whether you call it punk, postpunk, deathrock, goth, or grunge, Suicide Lounge is a great slice of gritty, angst-filled dark rock. In an increasingly electronic and overproduced goth scene, DeSade is certainly a breath of fresh air, and their full-length debut is one of the best albums I've heard this year.