By Drew Williams
This time out, Dave Gahan (from Depeche Mode) guides Soulsavers‘ and their latest effort, The Light the Dead See. The album resonates from the backroom of an Old-English church (fitted with the latest audio advancements, of course), subduing any satanic impulses and droning the spiritually thirsted into a comfy comatose. It’s gothic rock with gospel-esque vocals backing Gahan, some general ‘bluesy’ references (the harmonica tends to do that) with strings and synthetics adding great sonic depth. But, what we hear is just the clouds – not the thunder. It’s as if Trent Reznor and the spawn of Leonard Cohen met and collaborated before any books were published on them (hypothetically, having both been Christian converts) shared their own spiritual convictions leaving their insatiable demands for painful, unbridled poetry at the door.
The instrumental “La Ribera” opens the album in a ponderous fashion with a lonesome harmonica moan juxtaposed against triumphant and self-assuring orchestrations. From there “In The Morning” introduces us to Gahan’s lovesick vocal persona seeking salvation. “The Longest Day” portrays the desperate state of humanity in an overly contrived, somewhat flat performance that feels a bit too symmetrical and predictable.
The best lyrical hook is offered up in the dirge “Gone Too Far” – but the song never really unfurls as it ambles off into an unconvincing, thrashing refrain. A pleasingly brooding sonic production quality and competent instrumentation is what sustains the listener throughout the album more so than the actual songs themselves. “Bitterman” offers excellent backing ambience and brass horn support – but ultimately falls flat thanks in large part to a stale song structure. “Tonight” closes up shop and pointedly summarizes the overall ‘message’ of the record – the band sounding like a more sophisticated and angry Blues Traveler on a modern-day crusade.
The Light The Dead See is a solid, gloomy yet reassuring construction, in gist – precise, confident and seeping with 21st century Christian-cool for all the lost sheep out there with iPods.