“Pre-empting the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown, Guillotine Dream sequestered themselves in a gloomy cavern in order to create their second full-length opus Damaged and Damned. When this didn’t work, they decided to use a recording studio instead.”
So reads the opening of Guillotine Dream’s one sheet; and thus the tone for this review is set!
From the second Damaged and Damned starts to the frankly regretful moment it finishes Guillotine Dream’s assertion to be a Gothic band of the original 80s idiom is nothing short of vampryically vindicated with inverted crucifixes on.
It might not be going too far to say the utter tragedy Guillotine Dream produce with their instruments and voices is so vastly understated in comparison to anything the Bard had to offer (‘for what doth know of life he whom dweleth aloft with nibs and papyr?’) that Damaged and Damned is an album possibly/maybe worthy of going down in the annuls of most lethargic orchestral manoeuvring in the dark known to Goth; and this despite the cavern idea not working (I assume they turned the lights out in the studio).
To be fair, there are a couple of moments—just mere snippets really—where, vocally things get a bit ‘Cradle’, but as Guillotine Dream did also add ‘and 90s’ after ‘original 80s’ in the description this really isn’t a point of criticism, instead more testament that they do indeed do that stated on the tin.
At points Damaged and Damned is so Gothically understated it thoroughly forlorned me away. It wouldn’t have mattered what actual colour the sky out (or in); it was grey – everything was grey. Morbid and grey with just the slightest aroma of clove cigarettes.
I was almost overcome with a desire to take to the nearest cemetery in a long cape; whereupon to lay forlorn across the top of cold slab lamenting it wasn’t I forsooth asleep beneath the concrete for eternity. Bitter tears were wept for the injustice that kept me at keyboard hemming this review instead.
Don’t be fooled by appearances
What I first thought a grimly unfortunate paradox is in fact a most morbid masterstroke. Every track on Damaged and Damned is an absolute guaranteed 80’s style Goth dance floor filler.
Yet it was created as a precursor to Covid in full knowledge its being released during would mean nothing but more melancholy heaped upon listeners as they’d be left bewailing their inability to take to said dance floor to sway slightly while staring at the floor, hair hanging over face, in the ritual Gothic homage so gravely deserving the music.
In fact, where Guillotine Dream are concerned it’s paradox aplenty:
Trying to replicate an era’s sound and capturing it is one thing; but doing so and being Gother than it was originally is something else; as to transcend is to no longer be what was transcended from.
This potentially runs risk of Guillotine Dream being left as a bit of a soggy biscuit: fantastic news, no one’s getting pregnant; but no one’s rushing to eat the biscuit either.
Of course, this is a mass debate for the wider Goth community. For my Gothic florins, I cannot but listen in ashen awe to what has been brought to one of the most crucial aspects of authentic 80s Goth: the vocals. Something I’ve always thought of as ‘the Otranto Shuffle’.
The style is best described as that of someone shuffling around an abode while slightly disgruntled about something; not simply a slow returning from the letter box having discovered the day’s mail is in fact but an electricity bill, not the most recent compilation of Poe ordered—for after all, that generally results in some outright expletives—but instead more representative of the moment one decides to pay said bill but then can’t locate it on the mantelpiece or for that matter anywhere it might have been put, hence the sense of mumbling displeasure while rooting and fussing anywhere the errant letter could possibly be.
To say vocalist Arc (with a little help from Mapk) nails this like a Goth Messiah to a Celtic Cross would thoroughly undervalue how he in fact takes the style to a whole new level of once finally locating the wayward paperwork, then not being able to find the necessary reading glasses to see how much needs to be paid; while, once glasses are retrieved, there’s also the matter of a pen!
It’s elevation of the highest level!
The listener cannot help but shake their head and tut along in time and shared frustration, hence the afore mentioned dance floor filler aspect that every track on Damaged and Damned would be if Guillotine Dream hadn’t purposely ensured it wasn’t by pre-empting Covid-19.
While much about Guillotine Dream, as also this review, is somewhat tongue in cheek, there’s no denying the sound is spot on when taking the listener back to a time when the most technical gadget available to man was the filofax (girls got diaries).
To anyone schooled in the concept of Zen this shouldn’t come as a surprise when realising that the members of Guillotine Dream are all accomplished musicians, albeit under different monikers (their real ones), elsewhere.
Guillotine Dream is:
- Arc: guitar/vocals
- Lake: bass
- Mapk: drums/vocals
Guillotine Dream claim to be from Wales, though I severely doubt that’s true given the inability to organise a piss up in a dark cavern.
Damaged and Damned is the band’s second ‘full length opus’.
- Damaged and Damned bandcamp page
- Guillotine Dream on Facebook
- From Beale Street to Timbuktu
- Brigitte Bardon’t: Pink
- My Silent Wake: Damnum Per Saeculorum
- Brigitte Bardon’t: Radio Songs
Thanks for reading 🙂
N. P. Ryan