(the project of Henrik Bjornsson and Jon Saemundur Audarson) marked an impressive return of gothic rock, a genre that peaked in Scandinavia during the 1990s
and eventually originated the vast universe of Scandinavian black metal.
Dead Magick (A, 2011) opens with the ghostly exorcism of
Dead Mantra, repeated in a trance over a dense polyrhythmic beat and droning guitar noise (reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's viola).
That begins a long tormented rosary of tributes to the masters of rocking dejection, from
the demented zombie ballet Dead Magick I, halfway between gypsy music and Suicide's threnody,
acid hymn a` la Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa of Ask Seek Knock that turns into a poppy shoegaze-raga ditty, like
Syd Barrett fronting
My Bloody Valentine.
The instrumental voodoobilly Yama evokes the Cramps dancing around the fire during a tribal pow-wow.
The pounding, distorted hell of Ljosberinn sounds like a remix of the Sisters Of Mercy done by a highly intoxicated Al Jourgensen of Ministry.
These are diligent readings of the classics, that have rarely felt so current
in the hands of less inspired copycats.
On the other hand,
Om Mani Peme Hung is a trivial psychedelic trip of the kind that was
abused ad nauseam in the 1980s in Britain, and
the hypnotic litany Kingdom Of God
indulges too long in its apparent stationary beat without capitalizing on the
majestic keyboard drones hidden in the background.
If Psychodead was their stab at writing a pop hit, it fell flat.
Of course, the limitation of this project (a living encyclopedia
of rock music) is a low degree of originality, that sometimes slips into
The solemn electronic boogie Lifdu /Live
is basically a rewrite of Billy Idol's Dancing with Myself;
and Get On The Train duplicates Suicide's Ghost Rider all the way down to Alan Vega's gulping vocals and Martin Rev's lugubrious staccatos.
The pain, however, feels sincere, as much as Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain felt
And the dark electronic cloud hovering over Dead Magick II before
disappearing in a pastoral landscape of chirping birds (torn apart by a loud
menacing siren) is as creepy and poetic as it gets.
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