The Shadowline (Libation Records)
~reviewed by Steph Quinlan
Goth has splintered in so many directions of late that old fogeys like myself sometimes have a hard time remembering just what “goth music” sounded like back in the day. Guitars, I remember those, and drums too. Vocals even! The recent deathrock resurgence has brought some of those sorely missed elements back to the musical landscape, and for those of us who like our goth rock with a touch of drama and balls, Libitina fits the bill quite nicely.
All the bases are covered here; the soaring vocal harmonies on “Mea Culpa”, the plangent into to “A Higher Unity”. So many of these tracks are ready-made for the dance floor; “Colours Revealed”, “Mutual Faith” and “Diomedean Exchange” are particular standouts. The vocals veer from growled imprecations to new-waveish dark pop, and the latter style definitely works best. The darker, harsher vocals are too generic, and threaten to sink the band into the realm of cliche, which would be a shame for a group as talented as this.
Shadowline is Libitina’s third full-length release, and despite the fact that the trad-goth sound of this album is at distinct odds with the EBM/cyber/electroclash/whatever-the-hell-the-rage-is-these=days, Shadowline sounds fresh and vital.
As with so many goth bands, the lyrics do tend to be rather melodramatic and overdone, but when it’s 2 AM, and you’re swirling on the dancefloor after having drunk too much cider, does it really matter?