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Subterfuge - Blind To Reason (2017) - Review

Band: Subterfuge
Album title: Blind To Reason
Release date: 20 March 2017 (Australia), 19 May 2017 (worldwide)
Label: Heartland Records / Audioglobe

01. This Long Hour
02. Unhinged
03. You Play The Victim So Well
04. Blind To Reason
05. Jealousy
06. Vow
07. Bitter End
08. Hang Your Head In Shame
09. Guilty By Association

When thinking of Australian goth/post-punk and darkwave scene it's obvious that names like The Birthday Party, Big Electric Cat or Ikon come first to mind, but there's another name, which was back in the 90s considered as the finest act coming from that country, the name which is of course known to the most proficient goths is Subterfuge. The band was active in mid 90s, released their debut mini album Darkland Awakening in 1994 and in the years following other songs appeared on compilation albums but the much anticipated Subterfuge full-lenght album never until now came to realization. Ok, Subterfuge, released in 2013 a comprehensive collection of material from the heady days of the 90s named Reflect << Rewind. The main man in Subterfuge is a well known musician inside the gothic rock/darkwave scene, Clifford Ennis, best known as a guitarist/vocalist in Ikon (between 2004-2005 and again between 2010-2017), but as well a member of Jerusalem Syndrome (a side project of Chris McCarter from Ikon in 1996/97).

Subterfuge reemerged in 2016 and we got a new album pretty soon. Blind To Reason was mainly written by Clifford Ennis, but in the line-up surprisingly we see also the other member from the original line-up, Rick Mullen, who as well added his touch to compositions. Blind To Reason is mainly inspired by 80s/90s traditional darkwave, gothic rock and alternative rock, it's obvious that some things are pretty close to Ikon, but on the other hand Subterfuge is much more "dark" or "goth", so to say. If compared to their debut mini album this album is certainly one step above it. Compositions are much more elaborate, mature, the overall sound is way more vibrant and songs are as well more dynamic, with of course way better production than in the past. Clifford's voice is as well more deep, more emotional, more dynamic and stronger than it was 20 and more years ago, and it's nicely giving to those soundscapes additional depth.

We can easily divide the songs into two groups, those with more traditional upbeat darkwave/goth/post-punk sound like is the groovy but mellow opener "This Long Hour", "Unhinged" and "Blind To Reason" to name a few, and the more atmospheric, slow paced, moody, yet darker ones like it's the impressive "You Play The Victim So Well" and "Jealousy". Musically and lyrically Subterfuge offer quite a sophisticated sound saturated in utter melancholy, especially when they go into really obscure territories with "You Play The Victim So Well" (pay attentiton to lyrics here!) or in the atmospherically strong ones like it's "Hang Your Head In Shame" or "Vow", which reminded me very much to the most peculiar moody songs done by The Mission if they were toying around with Fields Of The Nephilim. On the other hand I was not impressed with before mentioned a bit more rhythmic songs like is "Unhinged" or "Bitter End", it's way too generic, vintage stuff, even though you'll find some nice captivating elements and melodies in there, but guitars are sounding way too traditional goth/darkwave, also synths and those reverberate bass lines don't really satisfy and it feels like that some songs were written decades ago.

All in all this is a good album, majority of the songs have kind of a hauntingly captivating sound that will for sure attract fans of The Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission, Ikon, early Fields Of The Nephilim, Rosetta Stone, Bauhaus, yet on certain parts the vibe is getting pretty close in dark romanticism to Depeche Mode. Subterfuge nicely insert some interesting gloomy electronic elements, melancholic piano touches and some neoclassical elements here and there that do enrich and deepen the ambiance of the songs pretty much. I'm sure that every fan of more traditional gothic rock will play and replay this album many times, as it has its value and it can nicely grow on you after some listens if you skip some songs, at least I'll do it.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 7/10