Gildan's Guide to Good Music: The 69 Eyes - Back In Blood

Gildan's Guide to Good Music

The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.

As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives[1], most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!

If it's thought provoking, epic, eccentric, or exceptional (or possibly all of the above), I take it upon myself to write about it in the hope that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews will find it useful[2] - or if not useful, at least momentarily entertaining; I take what I can get really.

Tonight's album comes to you courtesy of the childish amusement I knew typing up the genre description would give me.



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The 69 Eyes

Back In Blood

Musical Genre: Goth'n'Roll, Glam Rock/Metal
Running Time: 48 minutes
# of Tracks: 12
Particularly noteworthy songs: We Own The Night, Dead N' Gone, Dead Girls Are Easy

First things first: Stop that right now. No, seriously, knock it off - I just know somebody unfamiliar with The 69 Eyes has glanced at that album cover and leaped to conclusions about their sound, so let's just nip this in the bud:

    I realize they have a blood-drenched skull sitting on a bed of roses, but you'll just have to look past it.
Trust me, you'll feel silly once you listen to them. Okay, on with the exposition!

The 69 Eyes, like a great many other wonderful bands I eventually plan to write about in this guide, hail from Finland (I would seriously call it the hard rock capital of the world). First formed back in 1989, the group has remained remarkably consistent - in terms of lineup that is: apart from a change of drummers in '92, the band has remained the same group of friends since the very beginning, which is a rare thing indeed within the tumultuous hard rock genre.

What hasn't remained consistent is the music they play, as The 69 Eyes underwent a profound stylistic shift around the turn of the millennium - in their early days they were the prototypical image of a Glam Metal band, playing sleazy guitar driven rock in the vein of Mötley Crüe and Hanoi Rocks (another Finnish band active in the early 80s and considered to be pioneers of the 'Hair Metal' genre). Sleazy isn't an exaggeration either, the opening and ending tracks of their second studio album were actually called 1-800-SLEAZORAMA.

That changed with 1999's Wasting The Dawn, the band's first major label debut that incorporated musical influences from gothic rock bands like The Mission and Sisters of Mercy, resulting in the blend of gloominess and guitar driven rock that has come to define their sound - which the band and its fans have taken to calling "goth'n'roll"; a description further reinforced by their fondness for imagery from classic vampire films and other gothic literature. Today the contemporary music press will often refer to them as "the Helsinki vampires" when their name comes up - a label the band is obviously quite content with, given their stage persona and the lyrical content of their latest album (which is this one).

That transformation also marks the point where I start liking their music - not due to any great love of gothic themes or dislike of glam metal on my part, but rather because their shift in style brought with it a substantial alteration of the vocal delivery by lead singer Jyrki 69, who stopped trying to sleaze it up in the higher octaves in favor of his much better (and lower) baritone register; listening to their earliest albums today I would swear it's another guy singing, that's how stark the difference is.

Particularly observant readers might have noticed that I've seemingly contradicted myself when I was filling out that "Musical Genre" field, as I just told you they were a 'hair band' back in the day, but now they're a Gothic Rock/Metal outfit - ignoring how that presumes I'm capable of error in the first place, it would look like I've left historical info that is no longer applicable in that description. Except I haven't, as Back In Blood marks a return to their earlier guitar-focused glam rock style: if anything, the "Goth'n'Roll" part of the description is the inaccurate bit, as there is really nothing Gothic about it at all anymore - no gloom, no bombast, just quality rock songs... that are all about blood, vampires or just the undead in general. I did mention that earlier, right?

The result is an album full of your typical Gothic subject matter, but delivered with none of the angst or gloom; this has the effect of transforming songs that by all rights should have been brood-o-thons into songs that are now ridiculously hilarious (and also awesome). And unlike the band's early Glam Metal albums, Back In Blood sticks with the deep baritone vocals, for which my ears thank me.[3]



If listening to/watching those didn't prompt you to crack a smile at least once, I am now convinced you are a robot secretly plotting the downfall of the human race. And thus concludes this latest entry in the guide to good music that has been called infallible by me just now - until next time, may your ears stay free of earworms from songs you hate, plaguing you by popping up whenever it would be most annoying and never truly leaving, until you are slowly driven mad... because then you wouldn't be in any state to enjoy the next awesome band I'm going to show you!

Other entries in Gildan's Guide to Good Music

Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day
Ride The Sky - New Protection
Karmakanic - Who's The Boss In The Factory?
The Romanovs - ...And The Moon Was Hungry...
Penumbra - Seclusion
Within Temptation - The Heart Of Everything
Octavia Sperati - Grace Submerged
Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Allen/Lande - The Battle
Devin Townsend Project - Addicted
Todesbonden - Sleep Now, Quiet Forest
Beyond Twilight - Section X
Katatonia - Night Is The New Day
After Forever - After Forever
Red Circuit - Homeland
Hurt - Vol. 1
Myrath - Desert Call
Ayreon - The Human Equation
Nocturnal Rites - The 8th Sin
Witchbreed - Heretic Rapture
Arjen A. Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age
Agua de Annique - Pure Air
Joe Bonamassa - The Ballad of John Henry
Taal - Skymind

Want to be notified whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article? Well now you can join the Guide to Good Music notification service group, and receive a notification whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article! Huzzah.

[1] In which case it is certainly good music, but you don't really need me to tell you about it, now do you?
[2] Whether that's always the case is debatable, as these articles of mine generally don't receive a great deal of comments or views - but that's okay, since I write mainly to amuse myself. Feedback, while nice, is merely an optional extra.
[3] I would have loved their early albums if it weren't for the poor vocals; so very very glad he changed his style eventually.

Bless you sir~

Great review. I can tell you care about your hobby/compulsion very much. This music is tolerable and occasionally enjoyable, mostly since the lyrics seem to have been taken straight from a goth high school kids journal.

Good on you, good sir.

Aha, a fellow 69 Eyes lover! A friend introduced me to them last year, and since then I've listened to them a helluva lot. My favourite song by them is Dance d'amour, personally. Back in Blood is a great album.

HSIAMetalKing:
Bless you sir~

And bless you sir for rescuing my review from unremarked obscurity before more than 20 odd people had actually seen it! Seriously, can't thank you enough for that.

King of the Sandbox:
Great review. I can tell you care about your hobby/compulsion very much. This music is tolerable and occasionally enjoyable, mostly since the lyrics seem to have been taken straight from a goth high school kids journal.

Good on you, good sir.

Why thank you, and that's the beauty of the delivery - much like say... the awesome lounge lizard style rendition of "Down With The Sickness" by Richard Cheese (and his backing band Lounge Against the Machine), all the songs on this album are completely earnest, yet performed in a style that nobody listening to it could possibly take seriously given what they know about the original song/subject matter. We all know it's silly, but the performers don't let on that they know that, which makes it even funnier.

ZeroDotZero:
Aha, a fellow 69 Eyes lover! A friend introduced me to them last year, and since then I've listened to them a helluva lot. My favourite song by them is Dance d'amour, personally. Back in Blood is a great album.

It is indeed. I haven't actually gotten around to actively listening to my copy of Paris Kills just yet - I have at least played through it once, unlike a bunch of other albums currently in my collection that I've sort of been ignoring (I should really get around to listening to those...), but I wasn't really paying attention (bad Gildan, bad!). I'm far more familiar with the songs from Devils, the follow-up Angels, and this album.

So for the moment I'd probably rate "Feel Berlin" from Devils as my current favorite 69 Eyes song - there's just something about the chorus that resonates with me.

Definitely a band I will be checking out more of. I'm sad I missed this review when it was first posted, as I've liked everything you've reviewed thus far. Well written review as always.

On another note: I fully expect you to review this album when it comes out in October.

They sound pretty damn good...

Thank you good sir for opening up new music to me.

Scizophrenic Llama:
Definitely a band I will be checking out more of. I'm sad I missed this review when it was first posted, as I've liked everything you've reviewed thus far. Well written review as always.

On another note: I fully expect you to review this album when it comes out in October.

Thanks, and I don't know how I could possibly not do that, as the very prospect of a new Star One album has me giddy. Whee!

GamesB2:
They sound pretty damn good...

Thank you good sir for opening up new music to me.

Happy to be of service - introducing people to new music is the main, only and most important purpose behind my ramblings, so it's always nice to hear that I've actually done so.

 

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