Death Magic Album Review
Released August 7, 2015
Genre: Electro-industrial, Synth Punk, Experimental Rock, Noise Rock, Industrial, Dance Pop
There’s a scene in Dario Argento’s 1977 Italian horror cult classic Suspiria where the main character, Suzy, is taking a seemingly innocent stroll down the candy-colored halls of the German dance academy. Suddenly, the twinkling innocent theme becomes dark, claustrophobic, and incredibly noisy as it punctuates the impending chills that are to come. Try to picture that scene, and imagine its 70s lo-fi nature is taken away and replaced with the ever-evolving technological advances of 2015. That’s what HEALTH sounds like, and Death Magic is a terrifying, dark, and seemingly inescapable abyss of gritty dynamics, harsh synths, and soothing vocals that pour darkness rather than provide light to make up one of the year’s darkest records.
Now this is my first time listening to HEALTH, and they are one of the more accessible albeit enjoyable noise bands that I can recall in recent memory. When thinking about recent noise/power electronic albums I found one thing that kept DEATH MAGIC apart from the others: pop sensibility. These guys can conjure some dark and twisted arrangements, but they provide catchy and insane “choruses” that are accentuated by the falsetto vocals. Much like Purity Rings’ brilliantly dark debut, the band manages to create dark music, with some hopeful sentiments. However, the chaotic and distorted atmosphere quickly closes up any light that may pierce this albums’ persona.
While some of these pop hooks make this album teeter the line between dance pop and noise/power electronic, it can feel a bit corny at times. Towards the back end of the album, the songs begin to feel like dark-wave songs that can be played at a goth rave. Rarely does this become an issue though. The main problem, for me personally, was the lack of dynamic hooks and arrangements to keep this album interesting. With DEATH MAGIC, we’re given a brisk 39 minute drive through a nightmarish soundscape that sounds like one long song. Many of these tracks follow the same formula, and never really go anywhere. There are some stellar tracks like “COURTSHIP II” and “NEW COKE”, but DEATH MAGIC struggles with redundancy with a formula with much room to grow in.
FAV TRACKS: STONEFIST, MEN TODAY, NEW COKE, COURTSHIP II,
LEAST FAV TRACK: L.A. LOOKS