The Black Queen
The hardest part about getting into The Black Queen is the cognitive dissonance of having Greg Puciato (of The Dillinger Escape Plan) crooning over unabashedly 80s-style synthpop. However, it all starts to make sense very quickly. Another member of the project, Joshua Eustis, has worked with Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer, and Telefon Tel Aviv. Fever Daydream feels sonically indebted to latter-career NIN in its dense, melodic electronic beats (and Greg sometimes sounds eerily like Mr. Reznor). Second, it all makes more sense because how many people actually listen to only one style of music? Hell, metal and electronic music have a pretty significant overlap, as both genres heavily rely on dense, occasionally overwhelming music overlaying emotionally powerful vocals.
What’s most impressive about Fever Daydream is how wonderfully the whole album plays out. Unlike even some top-tier electronic music, this isn’t just a collection of like-minded songs; The Black Queen clearly wanted to craft an album, and that shows masterfully throughout. Fever Daydream is an incredibly diverse listen, where melodies and moods may carry over throughout the album, but each song is its own distinct animal. “Secret Scream” and “Taman Shud” have propulsive beats driving Greg’s soaring vocals, while “The End Where We Start” is a tad more soulful, recalling Depeche Mode.
That may be what is so great about The Black Queen’s morphing style of synthpop: it touches on many different sonic touchtones while having its own soul. Listeners will hear bits of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and Tears for Fears, yet The Black Queen also borrow bits from the more modern synthwave scene (which takes influence from the synth-based 80s horror soundtracks). Clearly, this is much more than your standard-issue side project. Fever Daydream takes its time to fully unwrap its synth-y goodness upon the listener, but if he or she is willing to give the album a couple spins, the greatness within will shine. For those who are sick of the 80s revival, maybe stay clear of this (and rethink your life), but for anyone looking for some of the best, most thoughtful electronic music you’ll hear all year, get on The Black Queen now. (Nicholas Senior)