Released today 24th July 2022: “Two Worlds Collide” from Global Goth super-group October Burns Black. I’ve been lucky enough to have been listening to this for a few weeks now & the initial excitement of that 1st virgin listen is still there; but that excitement has also turned to love & deep appreciation of the message in the songwriting & pure musicianship on show here.
It’ s one of those records that gets better with every listen; the more you listen the more you hear the interplay between the layers of instrumentation & lyrical content. It gets better & better with every play & I’m just as excited about getting my hands on a physical copy now that the official release day is finally here. It’s been a long time in the making too. Usually the old adage “Good things come to those who wait” is simply at best wishful thinking or an outright bare faced lie; I’m sure many of us are waiting for that Lottery win after all but In this case however, it really is on the money.
Two Worlds Collide is musically everything you’d expect from a classic Gothic Rock record from experienced musicians of this caliber & more so, so much more – Dark & broody in tone with a deep melancholy & a slow burning anger. Lars Kappeler (Sweet Ermengarde) & Tommy Olsson’s (Long Night) powerful & ethereal guitars along with additional guitars provided by Gordon Young (Children On Stun) weave in literal perfect harmony atop a rhythm section that provides the very much upfront in the mix musical heart & soul of the journey from US veteran low-ender & OBB founder James Tramel (The Wake US) & Simon Rippin (Eden House, GiG) who showcases a lifetime of experience & skill in the pace & driving, driving urgency of drums that could change on a sixpence. Melodically, fans of the deep baritone croon of vocalist Rod Hanna (Return To Khaf’ji) will not be disappointed. Hanna’s vocal delivery is to OBB as James Earl Jones’s voicing is to Star Wars. Deeply resonating & nuanced with both meaning & menace; gives it both gravitas & listen-ability. The Darkside is strong with this one. Lyrically it’s a work of poetry & righteous intelligent anger; Socially & politically astute with something honest to say. There’s a message here if you’ve the ears to hear it. Two Worlds Collide is a dark record for the dark times we find ourselves living in.
The production mixing & mastering of this 10 track debut is also worth pointing out as it’s as integral to the finished sound of this record as the writing of the music itself. OBB (& too many other bands to mention) Drummer, Simon Rippin & some time OBB guitarist (also too many other bands to mention) mastering guru Gordon Young have created a sonic wonder with their artistry & engineering. The clarity of the mix alone stands out especially on headphones making every, word, note & pounding drum stand bright & individually in the mix but yet still part of the harmonious whole. It’s like “Oh my God I can hear it all!” thus opening your musical 3rd eye & allowing total transformation into beings of pure light & sound.
Seriously though everything about the release is & has been on the upper end of the creative musical & artistic scale, from the writing, & the music itself to the production & the finished sound; to the stunning artwork created by Billy Phobia to go with the slow release, tease campaign that’s been happening online over the last few weeks to all the not so glamorous behind the scenes efforts & dedication of Manager Ed Shorrock.
I can see every single track on this debut record becoming someones favourite as there’s not one composition or arrangement that fails to deliver the deeply delicious & dark goods. The album has mostly been on repeat in full over the last few days, as it’s a journey you don’t necessarily want to take in 3 and a half minute trips; it kinda lures you in making you want the full sonically epic experience every-time. Having said that the ones that maybe edge in by the tip of a pointy winklepickered toe are opening track “Divide & Conquer” which opens the record at a frenetic pace & hooks you within seconds thus ensuring you do indeed listen to the whole thing. It also sets the tone lyrically as Rod belts out “Oh watch us, oh watch us divide & conquer us.” We do it to ourselves you know?
For me “Tightrope” has to be in there not just for that ridiculously groovy bass line but because as I was listening to it I realised I wasn’t just sat on the sofa anymore but stood on metaphorical shoulders but literally with my arms outstretched, head back, eyes closed & singing along at the top of my lungs to the live gig in my head. “Come walk, then dance the tight rope with me?” I’ll just go grab my leather!
The longest track on the record & thankfully so, “The Grand Leveller” is an epic & multi layered sonic assault of musical alchemy that you just don’t want to end. Musically it builds atmosphere like a smoke machine at a Neph gig. The anticipation is palpable. Every sensory detail is in place. The layers of arpeggiated sound teasing the release & then at roughly 2 & half minutes in, ignites them all in one go & slaps you square in the face with it’s stunning arrangement & sheer epic musicality. There’s no escape.
“Regress” is without doubt a song that speaks to me on every level. Musically & lyrically but also emotionally, socially & politically. If someone asked me to pick a song from my entire collection to sum up the almost comically dark times we live in, this would be it. “Regress” is a musical incendiary device crafted of intelligent lyrics that have something to say & powerful relentless riffage that resonates to the very bone with the listener. Beautifully vague in the subject of it’s vehement ire, thus making it truly subjective & open to any individuals interpretation, circumstance & focus of anger. However, open to listener interpretation or not It’s no less scathing in it’s brutally honest lyrics & delivery. It’s what were all thinking after all. It may be Goth Rock but this is Punk as fuck & should be being played outside number 10 on repeat.
“Two Worlds Collide” then really is something altogether different. Simple in the fact that it is what it is…a Gothic Rock record. No surprises. No biggy. Right? Except you’d be wrong! This is both a simple Goth Rock record with all the trimmings you’d expect from the genre that we know & love AND an original, modern gargantuan Goth Rock epic. Created by musicians that truly know & love their art & from whence it came. This is a record that doesn’t just stand on the black clad shoulders of others from the way back when hey day of the genre, but stands shoulder to crushed velvet shoulder, front & fucking center. If this had been released back then I & every one of us would still be listening to it now, no question. Tight as Fuck just doesn’t cover it. “Two World Collide” hits the Goth spot like you’re mainlining from the very font of Goth itself. It may not make sense to anyone outside of our scene or that doesn’t do music but this is one of those mythical musical beasts that makes your day, week…life seem a little better for the creation & the joy of it.
I can’t really talk about OBB & especially this debut long player without mentioning superfan, dad, husband & friend to many of us including the band – Robert Fairbairn. It was Rob who first introduced me to OBB in his usual enthusiastic way for any new music & I can’t not think about him when I listen to them & so it’s beautifully if sadly fitting that this record is dedicated to him, the Scottish Wolf. James (Tramel) & Robert talked about music a lot & it’s testament to Roberts character & open friendship that the idea to dedicate this record to Robert came about. A true music fan, Roberts enthusiasm for music was limitless & genre-less & rubbed off an anyone that had the pleasure of knowing him. A keen supporter & friend to many of the bands & artists in the modern scene always sharing & promoting new music just for the joy of sharing it.
Sadly, Robert passed back in 2020. I know his family still miss him dearly but hope they take comfort in the fact his memory will live on not just with them but with his extended music family – with all of us. Every time we listen to this record. Whilst I’m not sure if I believe in any kind of afterlife myself, I hope there is & if there is then then Rob will have stopped singing with the Choir for this Corrosion & be singing his heart out to Tightrope with the rest of us. I guarantee it .
October Burns Black: Two Worlds Collide. Released 23/06/2022
October Burns Black are:
Rod Hanna (Vox)
James Tramel (Bass)
Lars Kappeler (Guitar)
Tommy Olsson (Guitar)
Simon Rippin (Drums)
Additional Guitars on tracks 1,4,6 & 8. Girdon Young
Management Ed Shorrock
Mixing and production Simon Rippin
Mastered by Gordon Young
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