STRIKE ONE: Today’s catch is an album with the portentously grand name of Penance Soirée by a band with the equally portentously grand name of the Icarus Line. The tendril-trailing cover, in keeping with the best goth-gore tradition, is in the usual harsh and disturbing flash-flood crime-scene style that’s favored by so many of today’s art directors: Gustav Klimt meets Arthur Fellig.
STRIKE TWO: The equally trendy typography used for the inside credits and song titles is your stereotypical font that’s completely unreadable and supposed to evoke eerie echoes of David Fincher’s psychological motif — which is fine if you want to remain completely anonymous to everyone but your family and friends. But if you want the public to be able to actually read your name, then next time tell the visually bankrupt stylist who’s designing your record to emulate Alfred Hitchcock and steal from Saul Bass instead.
GRAND SLAM: As for the music, it’s astonishingly better than the lame packaging would lead you to believe. Imagine the lank, dangerous Rolling Stones circa Let It Bleed, stoked with the nervy Aerosmith attitude of Toys In The Attic, fully armed with the monster GN’R studio sound of Appetite For Destruction — all crushed together with a sloppy Stoogestaffel side order of Raw Power chucked in for bad measure — and you just might have some idea of what kinda molten five-alarmer this is.
I’m not kidding: Penance Soirée is one helluva loud, snarling record that has the kind of cheap, slovenly enthusiasm that reprobates the world over will find especially exhilarating at four in the morning when they’re either coming down or crying.
E-mail Jeffrey Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.