Twenty two years ago (I was in denial about how long ago) Cleopatra Records released a classic Gothic rock masterpiece called Masked, the first full length album from the Ohio based band The Wake. This album is aggressive, a controlled fire, manic and dark in it’s delivery from Richard Witherspoon’s sonic guitar distortion to Troy Payne’s Sisters inspired vocals.
For those who were Goth in the 90’s, there was no shortage of bands sounding similar to Eldritch in the vocal department. The Wake were no exception, but at least set a standard for how great a Gothic Rock band could be (for those waiting hopelessly for the next Sisters album which may or may never come). Though it’s familiar sounds drew in the fans, its bellicose delivery fit perfectly with the (then) current musical climate of aggression and cynicism. Harlot, a strong introduction, whose subject matter would no doubt attract attention and raise a few drawn on eyebrows. Following this consideration is the track Locomotive age, a pounding drum assault that never lets up, decimating the listener with its aggressive outpour of guitars; a masterful club hit.
Masked, the title track is a sexy rock track filled with images of bondage and hollowed hearts. The reverberating guitars and bass roll out the black carpet for Silent Siren, a song oozing with Goth Club aesthetics. There is seriously not a bad track on this album. Masked is often in my CD player if ever I needed some good old 90’s Goth nostalgia. I would also attribute the legible song lyrics that could be sung along during any given song as an important factor to this albums success, a value not enough bands take into account when recording an album.
The introduction to Submerge bellows a hymn from the distance, followed by tribal beats and transfixing multi-layered guitars, courtesy of Richard Witherspoon. Deep into the rear of this black bus is one last hard hitting punch: Sheet Metal Eyes, a song that almost forces patrons to the dance floor with its hyperactive pace and signature sonic Gothic rock ethos. Finally, Watchtower outros the album with bongos, spoken word, industrial soundscapes and dark mystics; a dreamy soundtrack for staring out into the ocean at night.
This album has become a classic within many circles of our global populace. There is a reason that this particular sound and style is such a scene staple. It’s anatomically appealing. It’s traditional. It WORKS. ► by Dj Detra