Sonic Cathedral (USA)
Fright Night "The Play Of Pain"
So you say you wanted some Gothic? Well, we got cha Gothic, right here. Russian variety, dark, delicious, and full of wonder and depravity. Just the way you want it. The band is Fright Night, the CD is The Play of Pain. Only, this ain't your average symphonic, operatic Gothic, Therion style. This is more the dark style, maybe a Tristania approach to things, with darker lyrics, but with a solid musical background to float the lyrics. And clearly, there is some darkness afloat in the Russian wilderness; from the pictures on the website here , dark Gothic is alive and well in the former home of the "Evil Empire" as Reagan called it. And, given the visuals of the two ladies in the band, Mary Winter & Weena Morlock, it's hard to put a negative spin on the concept. If this is evil, let me at it.
You know, it takes me back. . .and I can go a long way back, probably further than you can. I remember the Andy Warhol stuff, I remember the darkness we had in New York back in the day, the even darker days in LA, when experimental music took us to places many were uncomfortable with. Marilyn Manson does some of that, and there are others, even some of the old Alice Cooper material. But this material may even surpass those in some respects. Because they didn’t do Gothic, and Gothic takes us to places many of those others can’t quite comprehend. I had some interaction with Marianna Lukyanova, also known as Winter, who does guitars and vocals. Interesting lady, to say nothing of the obvious visual, but probably even more interesting in an intellectual sense. This music is not just a statement of the macabre, it goes far beyond that. Being from an academic environment, I have an appreciation for people who read, people who have an intellectual curiosity, people who search. And Marianna and Fright Night appear to meet those criteria. The lyrics on The Play of Pain come from many directions. Marianna suggest that they are originally developed in Russian and then translated to English. Most come from Marianna however some are from the Russian poet Vitaliy Arvit. Those coming from Marianna reflect her literary interest in a range of writers including Arthur Machen, Gustav Meinrink, and H.P. Lovecraft. The title "His Death" was written based on a story by the French writer Gabrielle Wittkop, "La mort de C.". In other words, these lyrics reflect ideas, dark ideas, but ideas that have been introduced by some of the world’s finest.
Fright Night doesn’t do operatic; they don’t do beautiful, although the background material can be lush on occasion. The primary vocal is male, and it is bone chilling. We’re in for a dark ride, The Blood demonstrates this direction. Those male vocals are delivered by Alexey Ovsiyenko. Lyrically, the direction is Gothic in the extreme:
This is all I before your feet can present... Breathing the smoke of the funeral pyre Unavailing offer to gods of your descent... Blood is my gift to your altar of fire.
The lyrics are presented by both the male and female vocalists, and the effect is devastating.
Other titles are equally desperate. We find ourselves in the darkest corners of the Russian psyche. The pace is deliberate, the tone reflective, like a Pagan ritual only without the hopefulness. Fright Night takes us to places where only some are comfortable, both in terms of the music and with the lyrical direction. We don’t get a relaxing moment, its pretty much old school horror show from start to finish. The keyboards, provided by another luscious Russian Femme Fatale, the afore mentioned Weena Morlock, are not highly sophisticated, but more theatrical, providing a disturbing cushion upon which the music flows. This is music that will haunt you, music that will disturb your dreams.
Live, the band presents a visual interpretation of their music that reflects the dark nature of the material. A highlight of the CD, The Letter of the End demonstrates this visual experience. Again, we are presented with a lyrical direction that reflects the visual darkness:
What is here but darkness and dread All around me and in my heart... Before me blood of hundreds is shed Will I see you once ere I’m dead?
The band has to get extra points for its cover of the Uriah Heep track "Rainbow Demon". I haven’t heard this one in a long time, but it surely fits in with the overall motif. Heep was known to take a stab at the underside of life in their time, probably in a more American 60s kind of way, but you know they had their heart in the right place. Fright Night seems to take this song to its logical conclusion, and does so in a most interesting way.
Another song of interest is Christopher Lee. You know who he is, right. The English actor, also known as Sir Christopher Lee, he of fame from the Lord of the Rings and about 50 other major film classics where he generally portrays a less than upstanding character. Gothic could do worse than to crown him as royalty of the realm. And Fright Night seems to go along with this direction in an 8-minute dirge to this pantheon of dark royalty. Again, the lyrics seem to take us into a profound understanding of this cinematic phenomenon:
And pain it awaits you here In clutches of dreams insane Forever I'll be with thee Let Evil now be my name. Your blood I will turn to wine In vices we will abide. In cues of all movies mine Forever we'll stand beside.
Well, that about says it all. This is Gothic, an interpretation of that art form that we don’t hear every day. It takes a little time to grow on you, but after a listen or two, you’re pretty much hooked. This is some of the darkest direction of the Gothic art form you will find, it reflects the intellectual curiosity of a beautiful woman, it is presented by a group of fine musicians with the courage to go in a way that is truly unique, even in this day and age when being unique is pretty much out of fashion. And, for that I salute them. . . oh, and I really like the music.