On their new album, Diamonds, which is available now via Metropolis Records, the Canadian, goth rock band The Birthday Massacre have crafted a strikingly personable, sonic journey off into a wistful expanse. Think of this album as a soundtrack for exploring some mostly abandoned carnival in the middle of the night, and you’ll be pretty well set for the record’s experience. There’s fun via persistent and frequently poppy synths, and there’s emotional gravity via some heavy, accompanying riffing, while an all-encompassing, urgent energy propels the whole mix forward.
The very synth-heavy opening track, which is aptly titled “Enter” as if it’s an invitation to an underworld, grippingly sets the album’s ensnaring mood. By the following track, called “The Sky Will Turn,” the band get into more guitar-heavy arrangements. They grippingly intermingle heavy yet restrained dashes of guitar riffing and waves of drum hits with the tangibly jumpy rhythmic mood established in the electronica, which ultimately figures prominently throughout the record, including on the title track.
The guitar riffing, while heavy and seething, ultimately also feels strangely danceable. The band’s sounds aren’t really oppressive at all; instead, they’re emotionally illuminating, like street lights crackling on along the sides of some previously darkened street. The gently soulful singing from the vocalist, who goes by Chibi, supports this feeling of a gentle revelation, and the strikingly immersive, dramatic atmosphere established by those ever-present synths ensures that the revelatory feeling sticks.
While remaining synth-heavy, the guitars on “Run” get particularly punching, but here and across the album, those moments of true, weighty metallic heaviness in the guitar riffing and elsewhere get punctuated by leaps into significantly less abrasive streaks of synths that wouldn’t feel out-of-place on a haunted dance floor. “Flashback,” for instance, which comes right after “Run,” features immersive synths quite prominently. These electronica elements feel heavier than a solely wistful horror soundtrack-type deal, but they’re not so cold-sounding that they’re not still entirely danceable.
Standout track “The Last Goodbye” poignantly interweaves the band’s wistful, escapist, danceable sensibilities with their emotional rock.
A particular selection of lyrics on the title track honestly seems to sum up the band’s sonic feel quite effectively. Chibi sings: “We all get lost/ In the midnight fog/ We’re the diamonds in the dark/ Hiding from the world,” and that feeling of wistful yet powerfully emotional paradigm-shifting exploration pops out in the music and across the record.