Clan of Xymox – Spider on the Wall (Album Review)

One of the longest-running purveyors of what may be described as Gothic New Wave/Synthpop music, Clan of Xymox are back with Spider on the Wall, their 16th album.

Released on Friday, July 24, 2020, via Metropolis Records, Spider on the Wall picks up where its predecessor has left off. However, while 2017’s Days of Black was more diverse and experimental, the new record is definitely a welcome return to old form.

It opens with the trademark icy, synth pulses of “She”; it will fit well onto a playlist that includes Camouflage’s “The Great Commandment,” New Order’s “60 miles an hour,” and Men Without Hats’ “Head Above Water.” Still in the same Post-Punk veins, “Lovers” is, however, darker and more ominous. “Into the Unknown” and “All I Ever Know” then take the listener farther back to the heyday glassy and steely sound of Clan of Xymox, exuding echoes of “Obsession” and “Imagination.”

The more melodic “I Don’t Like Myself” and the title-track are further dives into darker and gloomier realms, in league with the classic phase of contemporaries such as The Danse Society (Heaven Is Waiting), Depeche Mode (Black Celebration), and Celebrate the Nun (Meanwhile).

With “When Were Young” and “Black Mirror,” Clan of Xymox then spices up the set with bits of Industrial groove; think of a mix of The Sisters of Mercy (“Marian”), late-’90s Depeche Mode (“It’s No Good”), and latest Gary Numan (“My Name Is Ruin”).

The second-to-the-last track, “My New Lows” is a homage to the pioneers of Synthpop, as it glows sonic glitters of The Normal (“Warm Leatherette”), Yellow Magic Orchestra (“La Femme Chinoise”), and even Kraftwerk (“Das Model”). Finally, Clan of Xymox finishes Spider on the Wall with the upbeat, funereal swim of “See You on the Other Side.”

Music enthusiasts should thank the Internet for enabling the dissemination of information so much faster. Only a few clicks and one could already find updates about one’s favorite bands–something that was remotely thinkable thirty years ago. This has also re-energized many artists, making them more inspired to write new music and connect with their fans more directly.

Formed in 1981, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Clan of Xymox – currently consisting of Ronny Moorings (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Mojca Zugna (bass), Mario Usai (guitar), and Sean Göbel (keyboards/synthesizer) – is among those that benefited from this technological development, which translated to a reinvigorated productivity, alongside bands like The Alarm (Hurricane of Change). The Pretenders (Hate for Sale), and The Psychedelic Furs (Made of Rain). Spider on the Wall proves that the enduring Clan of Xymox has never lost its edge, dark beauty, and gloomy glamor. That is why Cryptic Rock gives the new album 4 out of 5 stars.

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ALfie vera mellaAuthor posts

Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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