Wednesday, 25th April 2018. 6:32:08am ET
Reviews CD Reviews Gothic Specimen- Electric Ballroom


ARTIST: Specimen
ALBUM: Electric Ballroom
LABEL: Metropolis Records
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
DATE: 10-28-07

Specimen- Electric Ballroom

Specimen is back! The legendary gothic glam band has returned, albeit with a new singer and a sound that builds upon classic hits like "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" without sounding all that much like the Specimen of old. With Jon Klein at the helm, though, the basic idea still stands: this is upbeat glam rock with a dark edge and a groove for the dance floors. "Cinema of Attractions" has a suitably dramatic intro with pianos adding a hint of decadence and new singer T.Bias doing an affected scream that would do original vocalist Olli Wisdom proud, and both "Play Prey" and "Fatal Error" are catchy sing-along anthems with plenty of energized power chords and slick, contemporary production values. There's a touch more electronics in evidence this time around, too; "Death Drive" sets its squeaking staccato guitar to a pumping drum machine groove, and the slow bass-heavy rhythm and gravelly drawls of title track "Electric Ballroom" are reminiscent of nothing so much as Marilyn Manson when he was in his David Bowie phase. Other songs mostly ditch the darker elements; "Lilacs" and "Aftershock" are straight-up glam songs in the vein of The Sweet, complete with strummed guitars and hand-claps, while Brit-pop ballad "White Space" slows things down with strings and psychedelic guitars. Specimen save the best surprises for last, though, and the final two tracks feature some unexpected guest appearances. First up is a remix of the band's biggest hit, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," reworked here as an electro club track by none other than Atomizer, the current synthpop project of Jonny Slut, Specimen's old keyboardist and the band's most recognizable face (he adorned the cover of Mick Mercer's gothic rock book and CD retrospective, released over a decade ago on Cleopatra Records). Then there's "Ticket to Oblivion," a collaboration between the current line-up and Space Tribe, the psychedelic trance outfit of original vocalist Olli Wisdom. With its hard acid synth lines and high-BPM kicks, it hardly seems like it would work out at all with Klein's tinkling guitar work, but somehow it all comes together, sounding less like either Specimen incarnation than Love and Rockets' experiments combining rock and rave. No doubt some old fans will cry "Sacrilege," but this album is full of great songs that keep the spirit, if not the same exact methods, of Specimen's glory alive.

For more information on Specimen past and present, go to www.specimenbatcave.net.


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