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Reviews CD Reviews Gothic Attrition- At the 50th Gate


ARTIST: Attrition

ALBUM: At the 50th Gate

LABEL: Two Gods Records

REVIEWER: Matthew J.

DATE: 9-22-08 

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Originally released 20 years ago and now available again from band founder Martin Bowes' Two Gods Records, this album is as close as Attrition ever came to straightforward gothic rock, complete with driving guitars and baritone vocals. "Death Truck" and "Two Miles Up" in particular wouldn't sound out of place on the dance floor in a goth club, thanks to their thumping drum machines and catchy but gravelly vocal hooks, while "Milano (Auto-Italian)" and "Take Five" are more melodic, with moody but catchy choruses that make it difficult not to sing along. "Haydn (Or Mine)" was one of Attrition's signature songs in its day, a brooding piece of simmering aggression and grim vocals growled through gritted teeth, and it holds up today, though the bonus remix sounds dated with its funky orchestral hits, and "My Friend Is Golden" is contemplative but rocking, with clean guitar strums bouncing between sampled drum hits and a staccato pacing that propels the song forward without rushing through Bowes' deadpan vocal delivery. What's most impressive about this album isn't that it's gothic rock, but how absolutely good it is. It doesn't really resemble anything Attrition has done before or since, and the fact that Bowes didn't include any of these songs on his recent 25th anniversary "best of" collection seems to indicate that it isn't a particular favorite album of his, but these songs are just as good as anything The Sisters of Mercy were doing at the time, and a a damn sight better than anything else from the same period. Not only that, but apart from some of the actual keyboard sounds, it doesn't even sound dated. It marks a unique point in Attrition's history, but you don't even have to be a diehard Martin Bowes fanatic to enjoy this album. All it takes is an appreciation for old-school gothic rock.

Visit Martin Bowes and friends at www.attrition.co.uk for more information about this release.


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