The Sisters Of Mercy - Floodland
Label: WEA Music Of Canada
Catalog#: 24 22321
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Vinyl: VG++, only a very light scuff
Cover shows light wear to spine and edges, otherwise fine
Includes original inner lyric sleeve
Style: Goth Rock
Notes: Distributed by WEA Music of Canada Ltd
A1 Dominion / Mother Russia (6:49)
A2 Flood I (6:02)
A3 Lucretia My Reflection (4:43)
A4 1959 (4:00)
B1 This Corrosion (8:56)
B2 Flood II (6:01)
B3 Driven Like The Snow (4:26)
B4 Never Land (A Fragment) (2:37)
Goths can't rock, so the misconception goes - their musical abilities extend only as far as writing fey songs about damaged girls named Isabelle and Lucretia, with spidery, moaning guitars, cackling laughter and lots of cheeky echo effects. Well, Floodland has songs dedicated to both Isabelle and Lucretia (one even named after the latter), plenty of echo, and Andrew Eldritch even indulges in a cackle halfway through track four. And whenever the Sisters tour (which is increasingly rare these days), a gaggle of dodgy darklings always creep from their hiding places and graveyards to swoon to their concerts. You'd think, based on this, that this was yet another awful album from a subgenre best left to fade away in the distant mists of time.
Well, you'd be wrong. That awful album you're thinking of is probably something by Bauhaus. Floodland, on the other hand, is a very good album. By this point, Eldritch was left as the only member of The Sisters of Mercy, and in fact that helped him far more than not. Now it was down to him and a drum machine named Doktor Avalanche, by far the most awesome drum machine that ever laid down a funky beat, to carry on the Sisters name. Floodland is the first and best album that resulted from this earth-shaking collaboration.
The popular misconception goes on to posit that so-called "goth rock" is tortuously slow, dour, humourless stuff. And very few songs on Floodland run for less than five minutes. Calling them slow, however, is buffoonery incarnate, for practically the entire album booms with Doktor Avalanche's thunderous grooves, which invite even the most sedentary posteriors to get up and dance. Furthermore, Eldritch proves himself to be no slouch at guitar playing. The guitars are immensely helped by the excellent production - far from sounding fey and spidery, they sound vibrant, exotic, sensuous, oddly spiritual (a quality only enhanced by the use of the New York Choral Society on "Dominion/Mother Russia" and "This Corrosion"). And then, there's Eldritch's voice, itself one of the great visceral thrills of rock music. Even when a song isn't great, even when the lyrics are impenetrable ("and the fifty-two daughters of the revolution turn the gold to chrome"? what?), it's exciting just to hear that rumbling, sepulchral (but oddly cultured) singing.
This Corrosion has a chorus so infectious, and Eldritch roars so wonderfully in the last verse, that the length stops being an issue and one can even forgive some of the lyrics ("kill the king when love is the law"? what are you talking about?). Similarly, "Dominion/Mother Russia" and "Lucretia My Reflection" ride their choruses (chori?) and Eldritch's singing to the status of classics of sorts. And indeed, there's something weirdly exultant about the outro to the former, which goes "Mother Russia/Mother Russia/Mother Russia rain down down down...", and the gradual buildup of the latter, however silly the title might be. Among this, "1959" is a song which would have been sunk under its own weight had anyone else tried to sing it, but which comes off as a dignified, stately bit of chamber music thanks to, again, Eldritch's soulful vocal. It's "Flood II" that steals the show, though - using the sweeping guitar line, it builds up to great crescendos and becomes, well, as good a rock anthem as the best of them. If those dodgy darklings ever air guitar, they do it to this song. And who can blame them? I certainly can't imagine anyone who wouldn't pump their fist in the air to it. "Driven Like the Snow" comes next; it's a lot more subdued than most of what preceded it, but it's actually one of the album's best offerings. The chilly bass line and Eldritch's low rumble make it one of the most evocative and wintry songs I've ever heard - one need only hear "And the cars lost in the drift are there" to see them quite clearly. Following this is the foreboding, dreamlike and almost as good "Never Land (fragment)."
This album has been largely ignored, and rather unfairly at that, due to that "goth" label. If the label means screaming, posturing, cheap melodrama, dime-store angst, and loutish aggression, as it has come to mean thanks to the tireless efforts of second-rate hacks from all over the world, then it does not apply to the Sisters at all. Floodland is good music, plain and simple. There's some unintentional humour to be had from its more self-conscious moments, certainly (as Eldritch with his love of godawful seventies shirts well knew), but overall it's rather an impressive achievement. What else needs be said?
This Corrosion - video
Dominion - music video
1959 - music video