Sunday, October 11, 2015

White Lies - Death

White Lies are an indie rock band from London, United Kingdom. They are a three piece band that has to recruit two other guys when they perform live. If I were White Lies I would probably just include the extra two guys as part of the band, but what do I know?

White Lies gets compared to Joy Division, Interpol, The Editors, and The Killers a lot, and most critics assume this was where White Lies draw their inspiration, however those critics are completely incorrect, the members of White Lies drew their inspiration from somewhere else entirely, somewhere I have yet to find out, and they rather dislike being compared to the indie bands mentioned above. Whether White Lies appreciate it or not, being compared to those four mentioned bands is a big compliment, I listen to all four of those bands all the time.

Evidently, I listen to a lot of indie rock.

In 2009 White Lies released their first studio album “To Lose My Life” and the first track on this album is “Death.” The entire album “To Lose My Life” is a great first effort by White Lies and their follow up albums are equally impressive but it is the song “Death” that has struck the deepest cord with me.

“Death” opens with a nice long rift, and then the rhythm section takes over and we are treated to a great beat. After the first few sections the drums erupt with much heavier impact and the lead guitar joins the rhythm guitar. Then we mellow for a bit while the chorus sings. Every instrument introduces itself with sudden impact and then joins the others seamlessly thereafter. By the third verse “Death” almost sounds like a completely different song and every instrument with perhaps the exception of the bass has, and is, increasing in intensity. When the chorus returns it is no longer relaxed but instead full of energy and the tempo is set for the rest of song until the sound of everything explodes into an amazing climatic conclusion and after lead singer Harry McVeigh declares “everything’s gotta be love or death,” and finally the chorus repeats, “Yes, this fear’s got a hold on me.”

The lyrics are an interesting mix of romantic and dark, nothing new to me, I own every HIM album, and I love stuff like this, I mean come on, “everything’s gotta be love or death,” that is about as intense as a love song can get. I know one of the reasons the member of White Lies do not like being compared to Joy Division or the other mentioned indie bands is that they do not like the idea of their content being considered as gloomy as them, but let’s keep it real, the first song, on their first album, is a song about love and death, titled “Death,” White Lies has practically written a goth rock song here.

Speaking of goth rock, let us talk about vampires.

If you have seen Iranian vampire movie “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night,” then you have already heard White Lies “Death.” Yes there is an Iranian vampire movie, this exists; we do indeed live in a beautiful world. “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” is about a young vampire woman who preys on men who abuse women. It is a very artistic movie. It is shot in black and white and has many long shots. The film is very nearly a collection of music videos the way in which is uses it’s score to carry entire scenes and those scenes last the entire background song’s length. This makes for a film that feels very long but if you are into that sort of thing you will really enjoy “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.” Most of the songs in the soundtrack are Iranian rock songs, many of which were recorded throughout the seventies and eighties, and now I am aware an entire new genre of rock and roll to investigate, but the one outstanding exception is Great Britain’s White Lies “Death.”

The scene where “Death” is played is easily the best scene from the entire movie “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.” Our main character Arash is talked into taking drugs at a costume party where he is dressed as Dracula. Whilst attempting to walk home he ends up lost and confused when he meets the vampire. She takes him back to her place and this happens:

I like this scene a lot, and not just because it introduced me to White Lies and the song “Death.” I like the subtle tension that is taking place. The vampire preys upon men who abuse women, so when Arash, a young man who has worked as a criminal drug dealer, slowly approaches the girl it is uncertain what he is going to do. Will he attempt to take her? Then he doesn’t, he stands there dazed and confused. Then the tension reverses entirely, the vampire, who preys on men, will she kill him? She lifts his head up and looks upon his neck and then she does not slay him, instead they embrace gently. Two would be predators do not act hostile towards one another and they instead share an affectionate moment, and all this character growth and symbolism is presented without a single word being spoken.

White Lies may like to fancy themselves less dark and gloomy then their indie rock compatriots, and it is certainly true that even their more forwardly dark songs, like the direly titled “Death,” do have a strong silver lining, and a turnaround of joy and hope, they are clearly embracing and dancing the razor’s edge of sorrow. In the song “Death” there is a lot more positive affirmation made when describing the inferred relationship than anything negative, but nonetheless “this fear’s got a hold on me.” The most powerful emotion, is multiple emotions at once, and I believe a song like “Death” strikes with fear, love and sadness all at once, it is a potent potion to sooth our hearts.

Until next month keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Demon - Into The Nightmare

If you were a hard rock band singing about demons in the early eighties and your band was not named Judas Priest or Iron Maiden odds are nearly no one paid you any attention. If you were lucky you might have been able to create a small cult following that might have grown in time. There were a lot of bands in the that time frame experimenting with heavy guitar and hard rhythm sections that would eventually lead to the existence of bands like Metallica and Megadeth and in turn popular metal, and unfortunately most of those bands are only remembered on the fringes of the history books. Demon is such a band.

The simply named band Demon was created by vocalist Dave Hill and guitarist Mal Spooner, and in 1981 they released their first album “Night of The Demon” which is a superb hard rock album that tragically is largely forgotten. Demon did manage to gain some momentum after “Night of The Demon” and their second album “The Unexpected Guest,” also really good, actually managed to make in onto the UK charts... it rose to forty-seven, but still. Demon quickly began being forgotten soon then after and it probably did not help that Mal died in 1984. Demon marched on to 1992 before the band broke up.

Dave Hill, seems like a cool guy.
However in 2001 Dave Hill decided to reform the band Demon with a whole new line up, and why not? Demon has had twenty-seven different band members as of the current date; they might as well call themselves Dave Hill and the Demons, or Dave Hill’s Demon, which are also goods band names if you ask me.

Full disclosure, I have only recently discovered Demon and as of this date as I write I am only familiar with Demon’s first two albums. I have been warned they changed their style after “The Unexpected Guest” a little, and I do not know if that change is a good or bad thing, or if it contributed to Demon’s gradually fizzling out of existence. I also do not know how successful or good Demon’s 2001 recreation has been; perhaps more on all that later, right now we will start at the beginning, the album “The Night of the Demon” and song “Into The Nightmare.”

As stated a moment ago Demon’s first album was titled “The Night of the Demon,” and the first three tracks are, in order, “Full Moon,” “The Night of The Demon,” and “Into The Nightmare.” “Full Moon” is a short minute and a half instrumental that introduces/segues into the title track, “The Night of Demon.” The song “The Night of The Demon” is really good, it rocks out, and it serves as a perfect flagship song for the band and it would probably be the best song off of the album if not for “Into The Nightmare.”

Full Moon - Night of The Demon

“Into The Nightmare” is one of those wonderful songs that is about dark themes but is presented with incredible positivity. The energetic bass line and drumbeat help carry the song and the lead guitar is sharp the way it dances in and out, but also Hill’s voice conveys no fear or rage when he sings:

“You're into the nightmare.
This nightmare may take your life tonight.”

It is a really fun song.

I am particularly fond of songs with negative messages but positive sounds. You may recall my ramblings about Almah’s “Meaningless World” and Prism’s “Armageddon,” and how those are among the most enjoyable songs ever and both are about ruined worlds yet the singer sings happily and the tempo and sound is enthralling upbeat. In this regard Demon’s “Into The Nightmare” is very similar. The song “Into The Nightmare” describes a creeping horror inching towards an unnamed third party as they fall asleep and they are warned not to close their eyes or the spirits/demons will take them. It sounds exactly like the sort of scene you would expect to see in a horror movie, a rather interesting one by the sounds of things, yet, everything about the sound and expression is joyful. It’s great, I always get a kick out of it, and it strikes with a strange combination of things, it is fearful and joyful at the same time.

It really is a shame that Demon has struggled to get proper recognition, but that is unfortunately the tale of most decent rock bands. Do yourself a favor and listen to the album “The Night of The Demon,” and specifically “Into The Nightmare,” they are classics that should not be forgotten.

- King of Braves