cruxshadows as the dark

:Music Review: The Cruxshadows – As the Dark Against My Halo

The Crüxshadows – As the Dark Against My Halo
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Label: Wishfire Records

Review by: Zander Buel

  Darkwave? New wave? Synthpop? Industrial? Goth? These days, it’s difficult to categorize Florida-based pioneers The Crüxshadows, who started dominating the dance floors over 20 years ago. Five years have passed since the last Crüxshadows album, Dreamcypher, which was replete in rich synth layers atop danceable beats and lyrics that reached for the stars. The EPs released since then hinted at a logical progression of this style, and now, in 2012, the new album As the Dark Against My Halo rages against the wake of adversity with soaring triumph.

Gone are the dark, guitar-driven moods that bled through early albums by The Crüxshadows. The lament of “Marilyn My Bitterness” and the gothic angst of “Leave Me Alone” have all but evaporated at the mercy of Synthpop anthems like “Halo” and the previously released “Quicksilver.” Since 2003’s Ethernaut, Rogue and his revolving-door lineup have broken down barriers in Gothic and Industrial, lacing each song with nods to the past and fresh coats of EBM-style synth play. Rogue has dropped his mournful croon in favor of elevated yells of victory. The theatrics and ethereal sensibilities are still present, but they are conveyed in pep talks of no surrender and living in unifying love with the world. The ambiance of subdued Darkwave found on previous albums is drowned out by New Wave retrospectives that avoid pointless nostalgia or becoming blatant rip-offs. “Burning” and “Indivisible” rise and fall like momentous waves of celebratory Electro-Pop that acknowledges the dark (against the halo) but demands conquest. “Sleepless” is about the feverish enthusiasm of inspiration keeping someone awake at night. “Matchstick Girl,” the album’s ballad of choice, opens with a duet of piano and violin that sets the stage of a sentiment both happy and sad, restrained and over the top. It’s a dramatic tale that would succeed in any genre.

Whether mournful or encouraging in lyric choices, the most engaging aspect of The Crüxshadows has always been their sincerity. Rogue’s choices of inflection for his unmistakable voice against the walls of enveloping electronica display self-examinations that never tread the waters of sounding cliché or forced. Each album represents a new stage in life coupled with a new understanding (be that positive or negative), and As the Dark Against My Halo is no different. “Angelus Everlasting,” arguably the most uplifting and bombastic love letter to all fans and human beings that Rogue has ever composed, is kissed with angelic symphonies that open the gates to Heaven itself. It is an amalgamation of “Birthday” and “Sophia,” with the dial turned all the way up to 11.

Unyielding honesty, character, and inspiration drive the core of every song on As the Dark Against My Halo, and in general the entire legacy of The Crüxshadows. Longtime fans might cry foul with how their sound has progressed from album to album, and it’s hard to not become polarizing when a band that wishes to progress has such a rabid fanbase. But open hearts and open minds are always open to new ideas. In 2012, The Crüxshadows certainly seem to be.

Track Listing:

  1. And I Believe …
  2. Valkyrie
  3. Halo
  4. Burning
  5. Sleepless
  6. Quicksilver
  7. The Infinite Tear
  8. Indivisible
  9. Porcelain
  10. Angelus Everlasting
  11. Sentinel
  12. Matchstick Girl
  13. Dark Matter
  14. Africanus

Download As the Dark Against My Halo from Amazon MP3

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