The 69 Eyes

Universal Monsters

Nuclear Blast Records

Release date:  April 22, 2016

There are bands that come out with a unique sound on their debut and bands that grow into their signature approach over the course of a career.  Without disparaging their first album, Finland’s The 69 Eyes are definitely in the latter category.  While the band’s debut had definite glam leanings, subsequent releases have shifted more into goth territory, evoking the memory of classic bands like Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and The Cult.  Rather than eschew their glam roots, The 69 Eyes have incorporated them into the band’s evolving sound, creating a sound that one might expect to hear from Tiamat, should they ever find themselves joyously happy, or Bang Tango, had they ever found their inner darkness.   The goth n’ roll circus continues on Universal Monsters, the band’s twelfth album. 

From the outset, The 69 Eyes aim to impress on this release.  “Dolce Vita” brings goth with a catchy melody, bringing to mind the lighter side of bands like HIM while still keeping things heavy and dark.  Vocalist Jyrki 69’s deep, clear voice hearkens to goth masters like Type O Negative’s Peter Steele,  Tiamat’s Johan Edlund, and even Glenn Danzig.  Gritty guitars and solid drumming propel the song forward with a bit of punk attitude added to the dark tone.  Overall, this works well, and the next few songs establish this approach as a winning formula.  “Jet Fighter Plane” mixes Sisters Of Mercy style goth with a bit of glam sparkle, and “Blackbird Pie” marries muscular guitar riffs with delicate acoustic picking and ethereal keyboards, easily drawing comparisons to The Bronx Casket Company.  By three songs in I was hooked on this album. 

The 69 Eyes find their comfort zone in mid-tempo goth rock.  There is a heavy dose of rock, which makes these songs infectious, where many of their contemporaries are simply dark.  “Jerusalem” is both brooding and catchy.  “Rock ‘n’ Roll Junkie” comes off as a punk rock take on the Rolling Stones, and integrates the two styles superbly.  “Miss Pastis” has a dark current running under punk rock rhythms and glam riffs.  This is where Universal Monsters shines.  This is a collection of well-crafted songs, and an example of a band that has created a unique sound that makes them stand out from even those who share their genre.  The 69 Eyes get better with each release, and this release is another stellar outing from a band which continues to evolve into one of rock’s most outstanding outfits, and certainly the kings of modern goth rock. 

Reviewed by Jim 1340



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