The Birthday Massacre – Fascination (Album Review)

The Birthday Massacre – Fascination (Album Review)

With one foot tattooed in ‘80s New Wave and the other disappearing into the black velvet of modern Synthpop, The Birthday Massacre has carved a niche for themselves by pairing angelic vocals with entrancing synths and power-hungry guitars. This is no different on their latest, Fascination, which arrived February 18, 2022, thanks to Metropolis Records.

Nowadays, it seems like many listeners frown upon anything deemed ‘Goth’. (Their loss!) Like so many other talented bands that love the dark, Canada’s The Birthday Massacre has been toying with the label since 1999. Through passion and dedication, they’ve managed to defy expectations throughout their lengthy career by combining a multitude of influences, including an obvious love of Electronica, to draft eerily atmospheric compositions. Albums such as 2004’s Violet, 2007’s Walking With Strangers, 2014’s Superstition, and 2017’s Under Your Spell stand as testaments to the group’s enduring spirit.

Their latest, Fascination, follows in the footsteps of 2020’s Diamonds in its presentation of nine new tracks that are apt to feel immediately familiar to fans. In a tender homage to the past, the album twirls a parasol born of the same fabrics that birthed fan-favorites Walking With Strangers, 2010’s Pins and Needles, and more. The result is a collection that is apt to warm the black hearts of longtime listeners as they fall under the bunnies’—Vocalist Chibi, Guitarists Falcore and Rainbow, Bassist Brett Carruthers, Drummer Philip Elliott, and Keyboardist Owen Mackinder—spells once again.

Fascination opens to its namesake track with twinkling stars emanating from Mackinder’s keys. Commanding our attention as she takes the figurative stage, our starlet, Chibi, welcomes us into the majestic opener, fraught with the haunting electronics, spelling vocals, and mystical feels that are seemingly required of a Birthday Massacre release. And so, delivering on these lofty promises, the sextet guides us through the captivating eternity of “Dreams of You,” the elegant simplicity of “One More Time,” and the search for truth in “Precious Hearts.”

Inside the belly of the beast, we tango with universal themes, such as the languid confessions pulsating beneath the surface of “Cold Lights.” Similarly, amid the supernatural longing of “Once Again,” Chibi makes a ghost of herself in the name of love. These candid moments are balanced against the dark, dirgy guitars of “Stars And Satellites,” with its stellar percussion, and fellow rocker “Like Fear, Like Love.” To close, they cull together everything that has come before on the soporific “The End of All Stories,” which fails to echo the massive power of the album’s opener; instead, serving as an elaborate fade-out to The Birthday Massacre’s ninth full-length.

Herein lies the crux of The Birthday Massacre. A phenomenal band that makes music that has stood the test of two decades and counting, you always know what you’re getting when you spend time with Chibi and her cohorts, and there’s a comfort in that reliability—particularly in such fickle times. Of course, this fact forces dedicatees to accept that, at times, there won’t be enough diversity across a singular release, forcing the not-quite-stellar moment or two. This lack of major diversions from their signature sound is, in this sense, a blessing to those that have already converted, but somewhat of a curse against finding new markets for their musical doctrine.

Certainly, there’s no accusing these Canadians of falsely advertising their supernatural ability to write earworms for your inner Goth kid. So, if cinematic synthmospheres juxtaposed against a siren’s call captivate your interest, The Birthday Massacre is here to deliver your latest obsession. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Fascination 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Jeannie Blue
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Jeannie likes to joke that she is little, yellow, blue, and different. She seemingly popped out of her mother's womb with a pen in her hand and has been writing ever since. Many moons ago - in what feels like a separate lifetime - Jean was co-editor of an online music magazine that afforded her great opportunities to interview and photograph some of her favorite bands/musicians: Tommy Lee, Good Charlotte, Warrant, Bring Me The Horizon, My Chemical Romance, Sevendust, New Found Glory, Deftones, Poison, VH-1 "Band On the Run" Flickerstick, an endless list of unsigned locals, and so many others. These days, she can usually be found hiking aimlessly through the woods in her favorite Technicolor sneakers with a Nikon in hand and her rescue dog, Molly, who is a bit hare-brained.

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