The somewhat tired concept of macabre eccentricity surfaces through New Years Day’s third effort.
Visually, New Years Day are a stunning amalgamation of gothic extravagance and quirky glamour. Blindfolded and received aurally alone, however, their musical output leaves something to be desired. Female-fronted bands in this scene tread a treacherous and well-trodden path, particularly as the band’s appeal revolves around their shock horror novelty. Sometimes you need to change the record before every track sounds exactly identical to the last.
There’s a persistent feeling that this album is shouting down at you, instrumentally brooding but vocally scolding you for something you didn’t even know you’d done. The contagion of opener ‘Kill or Be Killed’ showcases frontlady Ash Costello’s unrivalled ability to scream her lungs out even when the lyrical content doesn’t prescribe it. “I’m a hostage inside my mind, no negotiations, no one gets out alive,” calls out the imprisoned ‘Save Myself from Me’, showcasing Ash’s vocal range a little further this time around. Misleading in its opening notes, however, ‘Suffer’ appears subdued and seductive for a measly 45 seconds before screeching all over again.
A fundamental flaw lies also in the confusion of New Years Day’s mission statement. A rousing anthem to defiance in individuality, ‘Anthem of the Unwanted’ is exactly suited to the band’s youthful demographic, the complete antithesis of its successor ‘Scream’, a cringe-worthy ode to bondage and BDSM. Don’t try this at home, kids.
The unsung heroes of their ‘new grave’ appeal are the band’s instrumentalists, whose underappreciated gritty backing provides an atmospheric depth that can often fade into the background beyond overbearing vocals. Drummer Nick Rossi‘s understated scene-setting emerges framed by Nikki Misery’s valiant electric support throughout ‘Your Ghost’, while ‘Defame Me’ defines its obnoxious presence through an infectiously melodic groove. Further pulling out all the stops for the title track and album closer, ’Malevolence’ further showcases crushingly heavy fretwork to suggest the band have come a long way since their humble days of MySpace promos.
All things considered, New Years Day have a formula and it works – most of the time. The psychotic murderous tendencies of stage acts in the genre have been tried and tested since Alice Cooper and his ilk, but it’s time to break the cycle and chase a different controversy.
’Malevolence’ by New Years Day is out now on Another Century.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)