Goth rock grew out of punk, as a darker form with a general hatred or mistrust of human nature and a tendency towards the macabre. It was originally thought of as death rock and is usually combined with theatricals. It does also encompass sub-genres such as Darkwave (introspective, moody and emotional) and Industrial (Rammstein). And nestling in this area is Dark Valentine.
This band was formed in 2005 by the Swedish singer, songwriter & musician, Valentine Grimm (born on a cold Valentines Day morning in 1981). He recorded a three song demo in his house way out in the forest. With this in hand he set out to find people to play with and stumbled upon Sinawee (vocals) from Florida, who joined the band in late May of 2006. The two collaborated on lyrics and arrangements that they showcased at the late, great Cornerstone festival of 2006. After that, they went back to Sweden and released a full-length demo, ‘Treasures of Darkness, Isaiah 45:3’ (2007).
In April of 2007 the two members of the band joined in holy matrimony and after returning from their honeymoon, they moved their home to the USA. Soon after the location change Dark Valentine was joined by Erzsébet Öröm on bass. In the summer of 2010 they recorded their second demo named ‘Dark Valentine’, which they released at the Ichthus Festival in Kentucky.
In 2011 they released their ‘So You Won’t Get Your Curls In An Uproar…A Prelude To Future Epicness’ EP. As a prelude to their new album, they recorded a music video featuring their song ‘A World Beguiled’ with Iron Forge Productions in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dark Valentine continues to perform shows throughout the USA and have just released a full length album ‘T’will Be Epic’ (2013) and have played a tour throughout Scandinavia and Europe. I had the good fortune to meet them in Nottingham.
It starts with the disturbingly repeated refrain “The witches are coming / the witches are coming out of the woodwork” that conjures up images of the Wicked Witch of the East at the start of The Wizard of Oz. Then with electronic bleeps and the slowly rising bedlam of Grimm’s keyboard, the epic behemoth ‘Measure Of Tolerance’ unfurls its dark wings. The guitar and bass grinds, but its overcome by heavy keys and industrial beats “It is easy to see how someone like me / can make someone like you / say the things that you do / for the needed measure of tolerance / is just too great for a small mind to perceive”.
‘Drain’ has a more straight-forward approach that reminds of The Birthday Party’s ‘Release The Bats’. It has those dank and dirty guitars that accompany the frighteningly intense vocals. “You’re a spiritual vampire / sucking the life out of me and my time / distracting me from myself and my god”. So it’s with a sense of relief that there is the off-kilter, but soothing ‘Lullaby’ that drives away those disturbing dreams. It features clean vocals throughout.
The use of guest musicians helps add different flavourings to the bubbling cauldron of creativeness as Skot Shaw (Leper) contributes keyboard on many tracks. The self-loathing ‘Faces’ has a restless, unhinged energy. One of my favourites is the atmospheric ‘Moon In November’ with its vocal melodies (incl. backing vocals by Ravn) and dream-like quality.
But its soon back to the macabre as the opening lines of ‘Phantom Lover’ plunge the temperatures down. “With fingers like razor blades, you caress me deep / in the dark of the night, I can feel your teeth”. With its industrial beats and gravely vocals, ‘Laughing At You’, taps into those deep-seated feelings of inadequacy.
There is the melodic ‘Everybody Needs A Lovesong’ before they unfurl the ‘Deviant Rankle’. Its stuttering start makes you want to check your player to see if its got stuck. It’s highly repetitive and sounds like a man-machine drawing breath and gently groaning.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
Measure Of Tolerance
Come To Me
Moon In November
They’re All Laughing
Everyone Needs A Lovesong … Right ?
Ringmaster Valentine Grimm- Front Man, Lead Vocals, Guitar, Programming.
Sinawee – Lead Vocals
Erzsébet Öröm – Bass
Ravn – Guitar
Skot Shaw – Keyboard
Record Label: House Of His Own Madness and Zabulon Publishing, July 2013