Artist: MGT (Mark Gemini Thwaite)
Genre: Alternative Rock
Release Date: 17th June 2016
Label: Oblivion / SPV
Volumes… of hard rock for our fluffy hearts! It is not unusual for a great musician that has made history through different bands, to tell the stories through sounds and silences. And this year, for British musician MARK GEMINI TWAITHE was his chance to collaborate his skills and memories together with friends to release the incredibly indulgent ear-candy album ‘Volumes.’ Accompanied by old mates from the trade, ‘Volumes’ is a parade of big names from what used to be the dark-underground, and I use the term awkwardly since many of the names do not necessarily fit in but have flirted with the “dark side” more than just a couple of songs. Making use of nostalgia and a thirst for revivalism, the album proves a surprising and well-calibrated choice of influences, styles, and collaborators that results in a journey through remembrance, melancholia and good tunes.
When creative projects such as this one come to life, they can either become a continuation of the same genre or they can be complete challenges to the listener. Volumes is however, a continuation that works out in equilibrium all the influences coming from each musician. That is, by giving them carte blanche, they decided to grow their already extensive repertoire and, beyond voice tessituras and styles, the listener can easily recognise another song from THE MISSION, THE WONDER STUFF, THE AWAKENING, SEX GANG CHILDREN, and of course HIM among others. And these are exactly the tracks that stand out. The perfect example? The hit-single that opens the album, ‘Knowing me, Knowing you’, a cover of the ABBA classic. The track, completely smeared with the Love Metal style, immortalised by the guest singer Ville Valo, stays in our ears courtesy of the major chords resolution at every motif and the hard-rock appliqués which, substituting the back-choruses by crisp well-situated guitar riffs, and an embracing robust bass turn a pop tune into a first of many guilty pleasures within the album, that metal heads can adopt and sing along to.
After the sweetness, a more melancholic yet stronger track ensues: ‘You can't go back.’ With its daring lyrics, Miles Hunt’s particular voice and the mesmerising effect of Erica Nockalls violin intervention, the song embraces the listener to scorch the pain, implode the anger and set the spirit free. Just to turn us into maniac paranoids following Ashton Nyte’s powerful delivery in ‘The Reaping.’ THE AWAKENING’s strength lies in their capacity to mimic and combine the second generation Goth sound that flirted already with the more danceable beats inherited from SISTERS OF MERCY. Yet this track goes even further by actually devolving the hard-rock foundation of old-school Goth, fattening the sound, providing a robust background against which Ashton Nyte sings with his sassiness and flair. ‘Snake in the Grass,’ is just another extension to THE MISSION’s repertoire, maybe it is because of Mark’s history with the band, the composition is so seamless that it becomes almost impossible to note a difference between a special song for the album in question, or just another track to the bulk of work from the band. Nonetheless delightful for those who enjoy THE MISSION.
Not as strong as ‘You can’t go back’, Miles Hunt delivers ‘It won't take you long’ passionately, accompanied by a delicious arrangement of guitars that turns the song into a good middle point to recharge energies and ask for more. Suddenly we have reached the point in every album, like a concert, where the songs tend to dissolve into a wall of sound that confuses the listeners unless they have something that stands out exceptionally. ‘Star struck eyes’ is an amusing ballad that lures us somewhere dark in our unconscious courtesy of Julianne Reagan’s voice, yet the track's sweetness can be pegged as boring until an overwhelming saxophone takes the solo and leads it till the bridge full of pain, passion and dramatist that contrast with the temperate voice to give us another point to release the emotions. The next two tracks, ‘Sweet Valentine’ and ‘Jessamine’, are points of reflection. Like a journey that still has left a few miles to walk, stops are needed to rest and ponder what is about to come, or if the pilgrimage was worth it. These tracks prove that it has, and encourage the listener to keep on going, it has been this good so far, it can only end up better.
Another classic follows, THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Seconds’ is given a double treatment that turns it into an exhilarating track to listen over and over. Not only is it a post-punk song that is given the robustness of a full-fledged band, but also Saffron’s voice flirts heavily with SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES nostalgia, making it memorable. The use of real drums makes a total difference, which for many would strip the original feeling of the post-punk synth revolution, yet it makes it more akin to the whole concept of ‘Volumes’. It seems that the collaboration among THE WONDER STUFF and MGT was quite prolific, ‘Another day back’ is a good ballad that smartly uses once more Erica Nockalls gift of hypnotism through her violin. And then we are struck once more by ‘Coming clean,’ a direct punch of industrial and hard-rock to our ears. An injection of strength to an old-school goth structure that gets better bar by bar courtesy of Raymond Watts’s double track voice treatment and several back-vocals in octaves which triggers obscure desires and metaphors in our unconscious.
Then we start descending. With a strong influence from POISON's power ballad of all times ‘Every rose has its thorn’, ‘Drive and Forget’ fills in the gap of nostalgia with a bit of glam and hair metal that turn it yet into another guilty pleasure to enjoy even more by the bridge which pays its own tribute to PINK FLOYD’s clear influence. And when we thought we've got it all sorted out, music proves us how little we know about and how much we are left to learn. In every record, there is always a tune that sounds dislocated from the rest, whether because of its experimentalism or direct opposition to the tracks sequence, it is the song that makes us wonder “why and what.” This is the case of ‘Black Heart’ which explores different textures through Erica Nockall’s voice and arrangements with a rhythm that breaks the pattern and invites us to question not just the song but the whole album itself. And to end the journey, Andi Sex Gang narrates us horror stories before we go to bed through his unmistakable voice turning ‘Dark Storm’ into a classic SEX GANG CHILDREN song that provides its respective chills at every corner until we close our eyes...
All in all, ‘Volumes’ is a little jewel of Gothic flirting pleasures that will make us smile, thrive in nostalgia, and above all, enjoy ourselves in good old-school tunes when great musicians get together to share, compose and execute that proves once and again that you can never go wrong with a classic.
01. Knowing Me Knowing you (w. Ville Valo of HIM)
02. You can't go back (w. Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff)
03. The Reaping (w. Ashton Nyte of The Awakening)
04. Another Snake in the Grass (w. Wayne Hussey of The Mission)
05. It won't take you long (w. Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff)
06. Sweet Valentine (w. Carlo Van Putten of Dead Guitars)
07. Star Struck Eyes (w. Julianne Regan of All About Eve)
08. Jesamine (Poetry & Ice) (w. Ashton Nyte of The Awakening)
09. Seconds (Human League cover - w. Saffron of Republica)
10. Another Day back (w. Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls)
11. Coming Clean (w. Raymond Watts of PIG)
12. Drive and Forget (w. Ricky Warwick of Black Star Riders)
13. Black Heart (w. Erica Nockalls)
14. Dark Storm (w. Andi of Sex Gang Children)
Mark Gemini Thwaite - Guitar & Arrangements
Invited Musicians / Collaborators
Ville Valo of HIM
Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff
Ashton Nyte of The Awakening
Wayne Hussey of The Mission
Carlo Van Putten of Dead Guitars
Julianne Regan of All About Eve
Saffron of Republica
Raymond Watts of PIG
Ricky Warwick of Black Star Riders
Andi of Sex Gang Children
http://www.markthwaite.com / https://www.facebook.com/mark.gemini.thwaite
Total: 9 / 10