In 1996, goth metal wildcards Type O Negative released a single called "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend," and it totally ruled because, like its album October Rust, the song's sound and premise let the listener in on Negative's joke. Deadsy has done the same thing since 2002's Commencement, when Elijah Blue Allman, scion of Greg Allman and Cher, first established his band's bombastic shtick Zeppelin, Rush and Gary Numan worship run through Korn-derived loud rock and the world's largest synthesizer. With Elijah's glowering vocals out front and the attendant bullshit of aliases, undead schoolboy uniforms and a self-created mythology, taking Deadsy seriously was never an issue, and that made Commencement a really enjoyable record. As the band's new album Phantasmagore begins, nothing has changed. The levels on "Razor Love" are through the roof, the synthesizer scraping the heavens while processed bass and guitars slam out chords huge enough to get Andrew WK hard. But wait. An acoustic guitar leads off "Carrying Over," and it sounds so alien in the context of Deadsy's goofy decadence that Elijah's karaoke Bowie delivery is initially overlooked. Things get back on track with the strutting "Babes in Abyss," but then there's a cover of the Stones' "Paint it Black," and it does little with the source material other than to pile on Deadsy's usual monolithic bass tone. What made Commencement great was its singular approach to cheese it splayed the naughty fantasies and valid emotional detachment of an insulated rich kid over processed, self-aware sorta-metal, and invited us to put on mascara and join the pity party. Phantasmagore has its moments, like the bursting stardust and droll lyrics of "Better Than You Know," the title track's earnest attempt to be a teenage death ballad for the year 2525, and "Health & Theory," where the synthesizer comes through again. Always Deadsy's saving grace, it glides around the leaden rhythms like a ghostly ampersand surrounding an asteroid. But overall, as what seems like the band's attempt at a legitimate album, Phantasmagore just can't hold it together. It has some great, otherworldly sounds and an OK premise. But you can feel Deadsy struggling against the mythology it created, and that's a deal-breaker, because Elijah and his band should really be trying out new and otherworldly means of schlock.
Johnny Loftus is the music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.