Universal Monsters, The 69 Eyes, Nuclear Blast America, 2016.
The 69 Eyes are back it again. With their last two albums, Back In Blood and X, the band seems to have found a balance in both sound and style that works quite while for them. On Universal Monsters however, the Helsinki Vampires take a step back and take a slightly more vintage approach that harkens back to a sound reminiscent of the Paris Kills days.
If anything, the album title cover are very indicative of Universal Monsters’ musical direction: good old horror inspired goth-rock— with a a misunderstood romantic flavour, it’s what the 69 Eyes does best.
“Dolce Vita” is vintage 69 Eyes complete with the slow, dark, ominous goth-rock ambiance and feel of old. This should have been the first choice of single.
I wasn’t overjoyed by the first single “Jet Fighter Plane”. It sounded like something from X which isn’t bad in itself but felt a little political. It’s a good song but perhaps not single-worthy.
“Blackbird Pie” is with some choice acoustic guitars in certain places (intro, breakdown) that complement the song surprisingly well. One of the finest songs on Universal Monsters. Jyrki’s voice just like this song is memorable and haunting. A monster of a song.
“Lady Darkness” is a moody piece that would be fit for a classic Universal monster movie. The song even sounds black and white. It’s as melodic as it is delightful.
“Miss Pastis” is the weakest song in my opinion. It has a punk edge to it but a very weak “Salut, sa va, miss Pastis” chorus sang in French. I like the accompanying French-sounding elements, but l didn’t too care much for the fake accents.
“Shallow Graves” is a ghostly number featuring a menacing riff, rather upbeat with strong gang vocals.
“Jerusalem” features beautiful musical arrangements and a passionate vocal delivery. Melancholic with an interesting progression.
“Stiv & Johnny” has a decidedly punk flavour to it. From the riffs to the drum beat this one screams punk yet it also features elements that are completely different and it works to great effect when everything is put together.
“Never” is perhaps the catchiest song on Universal Monster with it’s doomy chorus and a lifted-from-a-movie instrumentation. This is one made for the repeat button.
“Blue” is a soft, slow gothic prose. Very poetic.
“Rock And Roll Junkie” is a satisfying song but l was surprised to see it close the album. To me, it’s a very fun and upbeat song that l would put for track number 2 or 3. Doesn’t take away that it’s a good song, very rock’n’roll like it’s title implies.
Universal Monsters sees The 69 Eye displays different musical flavours and styles in the context of Goth-Rock/Metal—with stunning results. This feels like a natural direction for the band. The Helsinki Vampires are expanding their sound while going a bit retro and keeping their edge and personality.
Jerky 69’s voice is as deep and pleasant as ever, guitars sound wonderful, the rhythm section is tight and the array of instruments and accompanying background music used enhance Universal Monsters. I’m not disappointed and neither will you be 4.5/5 stars.