The phenomena of a specific regional music sound filling international airways has existed for decades. Whether it be the British invasion with The Beatles or the magnitude of Korean Pop influence in recent years, both have created iconic images. That in mind, the Rock and Metal scene birthed from the loins of Finland is truly remarkable with bands such as Apocalyptica and HIM who offer an ambiance that allows them to stand out from the rest. Which leads us to Friday the 13th of September 2019 where the Helsinki Vampires known and The 69 Eyes greet the world with their twelfth release, West End, via Nuclear Blast Records.
Celebrating thirty years as a band, West End come with a new sense of purpose for The 69 Eyes. A follow-up to 2016’s Universal Monsters, it begins with “Two Horns Up” which plays wickedly dark banter of the devil in his favorite pastimes while featuring the blacker than Black No. 1 vocals of Cradle of Filth’s own Dani Filth. Adding to the mood, an organ drones in the opening, an instrument surely befitting the gothically blasphemous tongues of Filth and 69 Eyes lead man Jyrki 69. The track is shameless and dynamic with a catchy, shredding riff and the imposing vocal performance by both vocalists that brings the song full pentacle into an unforgettable anthem.
Then there is an off-kilter whirring and an uplifting piano opening for secondary song “27 & Done.” A song that truly takes hold as the melodic guitars take the lead and Jyrki 69’s baritone voices eases through lyrics, it is a sparkling ballad in the image of those in the “27 Club” like Amy Winehouse and Jimi Hendrix. Thereafter “Black Orchid” could be seen as a stunning reincarnation of “Wasting the Dawn” or “Dance D’Amour” in a darker, more evocative suit. Some may expect something stronger from the chorus but its easily the most moderate of the composition.
With drums that flow in effortlessly thanks to Jussi 69, “Change” unwinds over nearly six minutes with a perfectly synchronized orchestra of weightless violins and quaffing bass that glide like a gondola down the Euphrates. This is while “Cheyenna” shows itself well and paints a masterful portrait of romance most appreciated by the darkly inclined. It is Rock-n-Roll with a silver tongue and an undeniable allure in its instrumental.
Keeping things interesting, “The Last House On The Left” is composed with an impenetrable rhythm while including the twisted vocals of the spookiest of them all, Wednesday 13. Additionally there is also the diabolical singing of Beastö Blancö’s Calico Cooper making for a heavy cut with an air of foreboding and ghostly intrigue brought sincerely to life by the trio of vocalists. Then on the other side of emotion “Death & Desire” will beckon tears for even the blackest of hearts bathes the listener in despair of lost love. Complete with vocals that are emotionally genuine, they are backed by a melancholy choir and slow riffs that circle in the background. This is while “Hell Has No Mercy” comes in with garbled synth and minimalist guitar work before the slow burning fade “Hell Has No Mercy” that concludes the bewitching album.
Overall, West End is built out of every aspect of what makes The 69 Eyes such a breathtaking band with a distinctive sound. There is a song for every taste, proving that no matter the style, The 69 Eyes rise to the occasion. Arguably their best album in years, Cryptic Rock gives West End 5 out of 5 stars.