STROBELIGHTS Volume 1 (Strobelight)
~review by Mick Mercer

Compilations can be very good, but many, if not most, of us have grown cynical these past few years and shied away from them because the same bands, and sometimes even the same tracks, turn up far too often. In the correct hands they should be enlightening, uncovering past gems and introducing new bands and with this first compilation Paul Cuska makes his reasoning pretty clear. These are tracks he demands to hear in clubs, while adding, “you’re just lucky that we’ve got such fabulous taste in music.” 

I’d like to know more about Mighty Sphincter may seem like the opening line of a masterfully perverted novel, but I refer here to an epic track where grand vocals of a Spartacus-style genre spread out over silken bass, subtle guitar and scampering drums. I already know the Death Cult and Rosetta tracks, and it’s amazing how both still sound so cool, despite a big gap in eras. Cancer Barrack are offering sneaky sleaze with orcish vocals, after an opening reminiscent of ‘Rebel Yell’, and Voodoo Church are fabulously raw.

The inviting drums and wise old bass of The Wake, set over a light religious fervour, with tugging guitar and dark, scholarly vocals is superb. This Burning Effigy and Altered States are slightly ordinary in this company overall, but show how some 90’s Goth fought against conformity with flashes of lightness within, having a simple abrasive approach with passionate vocals, rather than big drama. Nicely stirring, but not stunning. Nor are Shadow Project, as they seem hell-bent on becoming Blue Oyster Cult.

Of many surprises, Australia’s Subterfuge are purring with menace, Screams For Tina have a terse little monster, Norma Loy are almost bizarrely poppy with insanely scary vocals bubbling away, Dronning Maud Land are a dank tussle, Secret Discovery bounce with very pretty guitar and vinegary guttural vocals, and Ausgang’s track is a total classic and still far more inventive than many of today’s G-bands.

It finishes as the series hopefully means to go on, with two totally different, but compulsively lively tracks. Lucie Cries come on all Ye Olde Goth but it fizzes like fuck with dexterous bass, and Screaming Dead are curiously catchy with the messy sax, clompy drums and shapely chorus.

This really is an excellent release at a time when many people are questioning just what Goth is. Goth isn’t soppy club fare with singers wearing face mikes and slinking about looking like Pet Shop Boys groupies. It also works as a good introduction to certain aspects of the past for people getting into Goth today who do want variety.

Goth is live fire, of human endeavour and thought, given a bracing outward projection, and you will find all of that here.

DEATH CULT – God’s Zoo + ROSETTA STONE – Darkness & Light + CANCER BARRACK – Cancer Barrack + MIGHTY SPHINCTER – In The Kingdom Of Heaven + VOODOO CHURCH – Live With The Dead + SHADOW PROJECT – Static Jesus + THE WAKE – Watchtower + THIS BURNING EFFIGY – Emeritus + SUBTERFUGE – Curses + SCREAMS FOR TINA - In Her House + AUSGANG – (You Got The) Hots For Christ + NORMA LOY - 1964 Shadows + ALTERED STATES – Everything + DRONNING MAUD LAND - Cry For Happy + SECRET DISCOVERY – Evil Feeling + LUCIE CRIES - Le Talisman De La Muse + SCREAMING DEAD – A Dream Of Yesterday