The album starts off with 'Ex Lover's Lover' a brutally bitter and twisted tale (complete with Man Bites Dog references) which would make one think that Mr. Voltaire has been somewhat slighted by the fair sex. Cutting up the body, he points out is the best method to avoid detection, a rousing jig which will have you happily spitting on the face of anyone who has fucked you over.
'Anniversary' is a nice mid-tempo arrangement with some incredible violin playing, some of the best I've ever heard outside of the neo-classic realm. This little tale is poignant in its innocence as Voltaire expresses his devotion and commitment to his beau. Normally such dreck makes my stomach turn but it avoids sappy parallels and remains strictly personal. The last 1/4 of the song also contains some lovely bridgework reminiscent of the Beatles 'Yellow Submarine' or the Glove's 'A Blues In Drag'.
Next is 'Parade' a track of pleading for reason, a cry to be left alone. When everything is perfect, why must it be torn apart would be an accurate appraisal of this song. 'You know its true, we're both same' he says, but do you quite know me, he asks. Similarities do not always make for perfect matches. Why must one explain themself to a person who claims to understand them so well.
'The Man Upstairs' follows, showcasing the best damn lyrics I've heard in some time. I can totally identify with these words as I've often dreamt of killing my neighbors due to excessive noise and other irritants. 'If you want to be my friend, you will have to prove it', he blackly states. 'Please kill that man upstairs'. This is the kind of track which Nick Cave ought to be putting out instead of the insipid works of his last album. A rolling rollicking monster of a song is track four with some very colorful descriptions of this bastard who is slated to die. 'If you love me, you'll do this for me won't you sweetheart?' Oh the splendor of this song goes beyond mere words.
'They Know Me' is a searing endictment of the good old boy, good neighbor we've-known-each-other-forever syndrome. This hilarious tale of pharmecutical abuse at the hands of a bastard security guard is one which the people I work with ought to take a listen to. One taking advantage of somebody's trust simply because of seniority, quite sickens me and I'm pleased Voltaire brings to light the pathetic world of these infuriating people. He even makes a jab at Christianity, 'And god won't be angry for the money he stole, he put some in the offering bowl'. A fine song to drink to.
'Oweee' is a short thirty second piece in which Voltaire simply tells his ex that she has entered the realm of the unforgivable. 'Snakes' revisits the land of the pissed off suitor who's been done wrong. This one takes the disgust in a different direction blasting apart those who compose sonnets and poetry for their lovers. This is some very angry verbage here 'This isn't a love song, I'm through writing those for you.' Utter repugnance at the object of lost affections. Dark string work underpins this song and some fine military snare rolls take it over the top. He lashes out at everything about this character he despises, mocking her feigned feeling. He lists of all the psychotic traits of a paranoid possessive. I know people who have gone to this extreme and they do exactly this sort of thing. Oh the humor of this one is uproarious.
Following this bleak piece is 'Raven's Land' a sad little stroll down his losses. It's nice to see that the waltz structure in music still exists. 'If you ask me how I know what she looks like' he states, 'I will tell you, she left yesterday'. He's reeling on this one, This is as close to sentiment as you're going to get on this album. This one is oddly uplifting given the fact that he's never going to see this person again.
After this comes 'The Chosen'. Here Voltaire receives revelation about a woman he's involved with, yet never met. 'It's nothing personal' he states 'I hope you understand why I'm forced to take your life. If I'm schizophrenic, then I am too.' This reviewer's weary ears welcome such double-edged commentary. Voltaire seeks escape from this horrid person who has sickened him and shaken his faith. A stalker's anthemic tale, he's talking to lampshades here, and his mind snaps each time he thinks of his obsession's failure (in his eyes). You almost feel sorry for him here and yet you hope he succeeds. 'It's not easy being the chosen'. No, I would think that it isn't.
'All The Way Down' brings us to nighttime and the words are heartwrenching. I wish I could elaborate on this track but it is so painful I cannot. Suffice it to say, Voltaire says he'd willingly follow his departed all the way down if only he could be with her again. I don't like sentiment but this track reduces me to nothing, absolutely. I haven't felt this pointless since hearing 'Failure' by Swans, and that was a long long time ago. 'I can't believe in Hell, but I've got to believe in Heaven. I wouldn't sleep at night not knowing that you were somewhere better.' There is such wry humor throuGHOUt this album I can't help but wonder if he's inflicting pain while everyone thinks he's exfoliating his own. I'd say the latter.
All 'Gothic' people who like to think they're the underbelly of society, the fly in the proverbial ointment should hear 'When You're Evil'. This track is for all of you, you Eye of Horus ninnies and your incessant whining about the disparity in the world. Voltaire bluntly states 'And it's so easy when you're Evil, this is the life you see, the Devil tips his hat to me.' Sarcasm is in fine form here. This probably won't make the pasty faces very happy but then who cares. 'It gets so lonely when your Evil. What I'd do to see a smile even for a little while. And no one loves you when you're Evil. I'm lying through my teeth, your tears are all the company I need.' I love the searing indictment going on here. His mock sadness as he pronounces these words, you know he doesn't believe a word of it.
Closing out this release is a cover of 'Shalom' a Jewish festival song. It picks up the pace and never lets go, ending the album on a frantic frenetic note. I recommend this album to all those who crave acidic wit, who tire of simplistic nonsense and to those who are bored with World Serpent. This one continues to see a lot of play around here and I'm hoping to catch him when he goes on tour. (Peter Marks)
Voltaire - vocals, acoustic guitar
Greor Kitzis - violin
Matthew Goeke - cello
Grisha Alexiev - drums
P.O. Box 166155
Chicago, IL 60616