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byronicsexandexile gothism
Artist: Byronic Sex And Exile
Title: Gothism
Genre: Goth
Release Date: 15th September 2018
Label: Goth City Records

Album Review

Goths love to argue about what is Goth and what isn’t. Did it die in 1985? Were THE CURE Goth, or just miserable? Were THE SISTERS OF MERCY really just a Rock band? Is it okay to wear purple? And here in the UK, which competing version of Whitby Goth Festival is it best to patronise? Most people, of course, ceased to care long ago, if indeed they cared at all - but to those still of a dark persuasion, the questions linger on. Well fear not, for here we have the UK’s BYRONIC SEX AND EXILE. And they are definitely Goth Totally Goth And proudly so. The new album is called ‘Gothism’ to clear any doubts. The label is Goth City Records. No arguing at the back. It’s Goth right? So let’s do this…

Joel Heyes, for it is his solo project, cut his teeth in ACTION DIRECTE, who formed in Leeds in 2000, taking their militant Industrial Punk around the UK. Their 2006 cult single, ‘60 Million Guns’, was listed as one of Mick Mercer’s top 30 Goth singles of all time. He also fronts VIET BONG and QUASIMODO, so definitely not a soul who believes in sitting back. So, how does Goth sound in 2019, and do we really need more of it? Well, in truth, this is really rather excellent, benefitting from being multi-faceted, intelligent, literary, at times knowingly tongue-in cheek, and bold - opening track ‘Under Heaven’ is eight minutes of slowly unfolding drama, like late-era NICK CAVE. There’s a familiar sounding SISTERS OF MERCY drum machine underpinning ‘Crimes Of Passion’ but that’s where the comparisons end, world-weary guitar creeping and crawling all over this like a big black spider.

And on ‘The Romance Of Death’ it’s as if O CHILDREN have lent a verse to a chorus by PIL, parts one and two showing two sides to the same sinister coin. Piano adds an extra dimension of dark glamour to ‘Labyrinth’, ‘Cain’ and ‘Cruel Beauty’, the latter losing itself in a swirl of guitars, and you suspect, a lot of smoke. In fact, it’s the heavy use of piano that sets this firmly aside from the usual clichéd rush of Goth guitars, either chiming needlessly or chugging like they’d rather be in a straight up rawk band. Restrain, poetry and beauty are the key words here. That’s not to see this is all wilting roses and tears - ‘Heresy In Flesh’ is meaty enough, with a bit of MUSE synth noodling away in the background, ‘Otranto’ is a tumble of drums and bitter vocals, and final track ‘Leviathan’ is indeed a monster. Big, bold and epic, rumbling onwards to a satisfying climax, wonderfully dramatic, delicately poised.

This is an album of balance. It’s traditional enough in tone, atmosphere and lyrical content to keep the gothic community happy, yet rich and varied enough to attract the wanderer - as dark and bleak and blackly beautiful as you can get, but when dark and bleak is this much fun, what’s not to love?


01. Under Heaven
02. Crimes Of Passion
03. The Romance Of Death (Part1)
04. Labyrinth
05. Cain
06. Cruel Beauty
07. Fausthaus
08. Heresy In Flesh
09. Goddess
10. The Romance Of Death (Part2)
11. Otranto
12. Leviathan


Joel Heyes


Cover Picture

byronicsexandexile gothism


Music: 8
Sound: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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