Shadows’ Grey // Bonjour Tristesse
Rating: 1.5/5.0 —If you love the Twilight series, you’ll love this!
Release Dates: EU: 21.01.2011 | US: 01.21.2011 (digitally)
You know, if you read this blog all the time you’d probably be getting the impression that I hate female fronted bands who are doing sort of the gothy thing. But that’s not true. It’s actually something I really enjoy when it’s done right! I have no issues with gothic metal, I don’t find the sort of dramatic, over-the-top stuff to be a turn off really. It just needs to be done well, something that it is serially not. And there are varying levels of ‘not done well,’ but let’s say that Shadows’ Grey, the German band formerly known as Scargod who had one EP in 2007, is one degree of the idea.
Shadows’ Grey is a female fronted gothic metal band which sort of walks in the same territory as bands like Sirenia, Epica, Draconian, Leaves’ Eyes, Tristania and so forth, but with a much more gothic feel to it. Actually, on the first track I was a little skeptical but I was surprised when it came out sounding a bit like Moonspell, once the heavy part started. Unfortunately, gothic is often associated with general silliness and lamety (as in a general sense of lameness, don’t try to look it up my English as a Second Language readers, it’s not a real word). Basically, that association with melodramatic poseurs who cast themselves in desperate arrangements on gravestones is part of the problem here… because well, Shadows’ Grey kinda fits the mold (if by ‘kinda’ you mean ‘totally’ and by ‘fits the mold’ you mean ‘are a bunch of poseurs’).
Bonjour Tristesse is one of those records where you wish they were singing in another language. For two reasons, really. Firstly, goth metal is always better in German. It’s such a gothy language. Secondly, because it’s fucking painful to listen to what these people are saying. The lyrics on here are truly embarrassing. They lack subtlety, are totally ridiculous and fit the image of poseurs in a way that I can’t even begin to describe. I’d actually write their lyrics on here, but they’re so embarrassing that I’m not even going to bother with it. Needless to say, they’re not good and if you are a native speaker of English (especially) you should avoid this record if you have any sense of shame.
The other problem with this band is that the arrangements are sometimes busy and often amateurish. This is a band that hasn’t quite gotten to the next level of the song writing ladder. There are moments of interest on here, hell, the first track “Cold” has some cool riffs and melodies and a great acoustic guitar part (even though it is recorded with a Piezo pickup which was annoying). The introduction to “Love Is Suicide” is good, simplistic gothy doom metal and the female vocalist (who incidentally is very talented) with a cool vocal harmony and a lights out guitar solo at the end. The song writing at the beginning of this song is great, but the lyrics are fucking terrible including the line “I don’t need your shit / I’ll just quit.” That, my pretties, is just embarrassing. This is an adult writing lyrics with the emotional maturity of a 12 year old screaming “Fine then! I’ll just take my ball and go home!” (Though, I guess if he’s taken the nickname “Maze” because he’s so deep that no one could possibly ever figure him out, that explains why his lyrics are also just as thoughtful as he is.)
So while there is some potential here, shout out to vocalist Martina Penzenaur who I am assuming is looking for a new band, for the most part Bonjour Tristesse is just a sub-par record. It’s not good, it’s not even OK. It’s bad. You don’t want to buy this album because you will not enjoy it. Even if you’re a fan of good gothic metal you would be better off exploring other varieties or bands. And a little free advice for Martin “Maze” Moser: write in German. For everyone’s sake. That way, if it’s embarrassing then you’ll only inflict it on your own people, and you’ll have a sense for it.