Ten years ago, one of the most emblematic bands in the Gothic scene released a long awaited fourth album, a band that has left an undeniable print in the subculture, a band named after a cult movie we all should see one day. London After Midnight, as they are known to the crowds, fell into silence after they released VIOLENT ACTS OF BEAUTY, in 2007.
The band, originally fronted by songwriter and instrumentalist Sean Brennan, who now becomes the only person involved in the process, produced a nostalgic record that recovers their roots with the two first songs, “The Beginning of the End,” a down-tempo march, and “Feeling Fascist,” a political track that develops an experimental darkwave, although proving this to be a bittersweet opening for the album, as the style changes completely after them.
“Nothing is Sacred” incorporates a more fast, electric rythm with a high dose of industrial elements, dwelling in the land of social issues and comparing them to the nature of religion, a topic Brennan is not in good terms with. Risky, but great, a dark dance track that becomes addictive in no matter of time, combining the gloomy voice of Brennan with rock influenced music.
The same applies to the fourth track, definetely my favorite, “Heaven Now.” A dramatic depressive ballad full of feeling, with a heavy sound that feels like a caress in times of need where despair becomes so real that it is almost palpable, almost physical. A song that sends a million images to your head as it unfolds in all its beauty.
From there on, the disc goes hardcore as never before with social critics, with the songs highly charged with a disagreement with reality and hate towards the masses, dressed in the best of industrial sounds and direct lyrics, until “Fear” is included, cutting the feeling as a razor sharp knife, and no, that’s not something I like to see in music.
Thankfully, that’s the only track that distunes, since “Pure” recovers the magic of the past tracks, using the best side of depression to create a complete atmosphere, a whole experience that fools the listener at the beginning, only to become gorgeous in its second half. One of the best tracks ever!
The final original tracks give a clear example on how London After Midnight has influenced other groups such as HIM, The Birthday Massacre, Evanescence and Dope Stars Inc, just to name a few of them. Boh lyrics and music compose a solid, different idea for ech of them, using the now common themes founds in Gothic music, the topics we all love to hear about, but a unique point of view such as Sean Brennan’s.
As an ending for the original material, the album presents the drug-addictive song “The Pain Looks Good On You,” which, honestly helped me to sleep, rest, and think a while in the process. It gives you way too many interesting images to you mind, even if you’re thinking in nothing during the night; because, why would you listen to this by the first time during daytime?
Depending on which edition you have, you will find different bonus tracks, mostly based on “Nothing’s Sacred,” which proves to be an interesting choice taken by Brennan to explore, and a censored version of “America’s A Fucking Disease,” used for the radio stations. Strange to see how these tracks are the priviledged above the others, and Violent Acts of Beauty has several superior, better songs, but looks like you never fully understand how music works in the industry and what the artists want to say, express, or what they even like and why.
No doubt why this albums has made such an impact in moderns Gothic scene. The way it is written, the sound it shows, and the visual imagery it suggests became more elaborated with each of the tracks that form it, making it a real shame that Sean Brennan has not released anything else since then, focusing solely on activism, criticism and getting on stage now and then to keep the love of his followers.
The important question now is how long will that love last with no new releases? Violent Acts of Beauty proved to be great, an almost perfect work of art, but 10 years of silence could be just way much more than the public could endure. We are no one to judge and tell this man how to go with a career, but I’m sure we will be happier to see him in the studio again. Meanwhile, we can only replay over and over and over the last piece of heaven he gave us and celebrate the legacy he has created, a black print that won’t be lost so soon.
Writer and Journalist.