Björn Alexander Brem’s Gothminister have remarkably been around for over ten years now. They first gained real attention with the stellar singles from their debut album (the grandiosely titled Gothic Electronic Anthems), and indeed such was the quality of the album that it was stacked full of potential singles right to the end. Sadly over the years, it has to be said that the quality has dipped somewhat – it was always perhaps questionable just how much shelf-life an over-the-top project like this had, and I have to say that by the time of the cover of Thriller that closed their third album, it was looking like that shelf-life had expired.
So how does their fourth album stack up in the face of this? Well, absolutely nothing has changed, from the very first second of opener Stonehenge (not a Spinal Tap cover, sadly). It is melodic, mildly catchy goth-metal riffage, but ultimately almost indistinguishable from everything that has come before. And I could swear that I’ve heard The Beauty of Fanatism and the (dreadful) balladry of the title track before, too.
Elsewhere, for all the good ideas, other songs simply barely grab the attention – something that a band with this much bombast and big ideas should never being managing. But they do – Juggernaut is overwrought, too long and just plain boring, while Solitude disappears at points under the weight of poorly mixed samples. There was a tune in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.
There are some brilliant moments though, the ones where everything just clicks and the elements that are so great about Gothminister all come to the fore. Liar is the shining star of this album, a crunching, Rammstein-esque rhythm with a gothic, dark core and a hulking chorus that should be hit on goth dancefloors that loves the old stuff – it is no accident that this was the first single on the album. 616, with its surging, jagged riffage and orchestral samples is pretty ace too.
But sadly, this is another release where the returns are diminishing yet more. And for me, this is really sad. This was a band that were trying so hard to be a little different to their peers, and are a fantastic live band – and in the live environment it becomes clear just how tongue-in-cheek the band are. Sending up the various over-the-top, and serious, goth bands in Europe, by going even further than they do with outrageous outfits and silly stagesets. Unfortunately in continuing to do so with an album as poor as this, they’ve become a parody themselves.