Violent Acts of Beauty
One gets the sense, listening to "Violent Acts of Beauty," that the moment has passed for gothic godfathers London After Midnight. Lingering feelings of opportunities missed and chances almost run out. A door closing. Even with a record, on its face, as thematically in the moment as "Violent Acts of Beauty" - the booklet is strewn with images of protest, tabloid exploitation and defaced American iconography - the music itself seems more tired and dated than it should.
Aping moves from Nine Inch Nails circa "Broken," Pig, Chemlab's later work, the long-lost Sister Machine Gun and, most cruelly of all, the robo-glam swagger of that great pretender Marilyn Manson (whose act, let's fucking face it, is chapter and verse ripped from Nivek Ogre, Rozz Williams and Sean Brennan), ends up sounding less than each (except for Manson, LAM still run fucking circles around him) and somewhat dated to boot. It's almost fucking unseemly. London After Midnight should be leading the pack, not waiting around for other people's scraps.
There are attempts to scrap the blueprint, or at least dog-ear a corner of the blueprint, with horns, pianos and other diverse instrumentation occasionally brought into play, arena-ready poses aplenty are struck, and the band is tightly synched, poised and ready for that HIM opening slot, but it's just not enough. Some of the lyrics come off as a little too direct and clumsy, like a refrain of "can't you see/you'll never be free" - I want arrogant disdain, not something that would sound just as good coming out of the mouth of Jerry Garcia. Right now, LAM is stuck in an aesthetic cul-de-sac.
There's still time to get it all back. The tribal stomp-electro revolt of "Complex Messiah" paints a much more appealing possible future for them.
Full marks for the politics and package, considerably less so for the music. To see this merger done correctly, check out the new Christian Death record. Yowza!
- Matthew Moyer