Band: Crying Vessel
Album: A Beautiful Curse/Illusions
Members: All songs written, produced and engineered by Slade Templeton of Crying Vessel.
All Lyrics by Slade Templeton.
All songs vocal recordings were assisted by Chris Geissler.
All songs written, recorded, produced at Influx Studios (Bern Switzerland/Berlin Germany).
This is an exciting review to write, I have been wanting to talk about “A Beautiful Curse” for a while now but I have been holding off in anticipation of Illusions coming out. I’m glad I waited because now I get to write my first two album combo review and I don’t think I could have chosen a better band than Crying Vessel. Crying Vessel began as a project between Slade Templeton and Basil Oberli as an art concept that found legs and has grown into some of the finest post punk/Synthwave/dark dance fusion coming out and spreading it’s dark wings across the world. It takes a lot of what is familiar and beautiful about classic dark music and infuses it with a jolt of electricity and sizzle.
Lets start with “A Beautiful Curse” the full length album that first introduced me to Slade’s magnificent crooning style. This album is rich in touch point synth pads and whip crack drum beats. It’s medium tempo music but unlike it’s roots it plays on the front edge of that beat giving it life and drive. Delay heavy flicker guitars give the songs a post punk feel while Slade uses the clarity and beauty of his voice to soften the edges of songs full of tension and desperation. I love when a vocalist has the swagger to put himself front and center over already great music and Crying Vessel knows how to make use of it’s greatest strengths. The songs on this album have a personal voice. They use a lot of dynamic motion pulling instruments forward and back to make you sway with them in this moment.
A Beautiful Curse is just that. These songs are aesthetically pleasing to the ear. At the same time so full of dark themes. The album is strong track to track and doesn’t throw anything away. You really hear a lot of isolation in these songs. Where some post punk has a definite “city” feel this album conjures such a feeling of separation from the world moving around it. That serene feeling of beauty and sorrow kept drawing me back to the title.
So many absolute can’t miss tracks on this record but I will choose a few:
Dig Deep – I hate to be on the nose and choose a single, but this song is such a jam it can’t be ignored. It’s razor movement and star point keyboard sounds. The drums on this track are so crisp and resonant of Depeche Mode (Black Celebration). Each beautiful line delivered in a cascade. Try not to dance to this.
Killing Time – This turns the speed up to make a more 80’s new wave feel. Slade takes his vocals into the higher range. “Poison mind, killing time” Again those simple keyboard lines that fill so much space. Martin Gore would be proud.
Trust me – Taking it down a notch this gentle builder lets Templeton use a whisper to draw his listener in like a snake charmers whistle. Again that great dynamic keyboard pan and heartbeat drum sound. This song is a tempter song. A dare to fall prey.
This album is a truly visionary compilation of styles and feelings that fit together with The rich passionate vocals and wonderful sense of timing. That timing from song to song really sets it apart. However I also want to discuss the wonderful contrast it has with the new EP “Illusions”
So something I feel has been sorely lacking in darkwave/post punk music lately is pizzazz, taking all that works well in driving bass lines and accent keyboards and then hits it with the old razzmatazz. The showmanship, the slightly over the top emotion in the vocals that doesn’t cross over into cheese. David Bowie had it, Roxy Music had it, and now Crying Vessel has tapped into that glam show that makes these songs feel like an epic production of visual stage show using only music. It’s a little extra breath in the voice, an extra millisecond holding the note, a dueling guitar with different levels of echo right out of Reeve Gabrels playbook. This EP made me swoon, and it did it in 3 songs. I was left longing for more and hope that Slade pursues this style further. For a lot of bands taking a little edge off and turning up the croon could take away from the dark sound he established. This album does quite the opposite. It found another step on the ladder and I couldn’t get enough.
All that is Real (Featuring She Pleasures Herself) – Here those Cure style guitars take us back to the forest and ask the question if love is real. It’s gorgeous, it’s accessible, and it brings that swagger. It ends on a note that leaves me begging for more songs.
What an eye opening wow follow up to an outstanding album. This is a must have for any fan of the dark music genre. I am extremely excited to see what Slade and company have on the docket for us next.