Finnish goth ‘n’ roll band The 69 Eyes give us their latest release West End, 3 years after 2016’s Universal Monsters.
It’s an interesting blend of rich bass-baritone vocals, akin to those of The Sisters of Mercy’s Andrew Eldritch and Type O Negative’s Peter Steele. With catchy anthemic rock hooks, reminiscent of the songwriting of later Alice Cooper, The Cult, Avantasia and HIM.
There is gothic aesthetic for sure, mainly coming from the piano and low vocals, but the songwriting and catchy choruses are heavily embedded in accessible hard rock – a remnant of their glam metal past. There are synths/keyboard effects on this album, but, for the most part, these sound more akin to the more light sounds synth bands like HIM would use; as opposed to the more theatrical organ sounds used by heavier acts such as Type O Negative. Most of the keys on this album are just plain piano however, giving a classic rock ‘n’ roll feel.
Some of the songs make nice use of layered vocals somewhat reminiscent of the chorus of The Sisters of Mercy’s famous “This Corrosion”, giving a nostalgic 1980s vibe. Interestingly the additional vocals provided on “Two Horns Up” and “The Last House on the Left” are provided by Cradle of Filth’s Dani Filth, Wednesday 13 and Beastö Blancö’s Calico Cooper (Alice Cooper’s daughter).
The strongest tracks are probably “Burn Witch Burn”, “Cheyenna” (which sounds a lot like The Cult circa Sonic Temple) and “The Last House on the Left”, which opens with some nice harsh vocals and before rollicking into sleaze rock / rock ‘n’ roll sounding fun. “Be Here Now” is also notable for featuring some Eastern instrumentation including sitar.
The first two of the three slow ballads on the album - “Change” and “Death & Desire” - are pretty unremarkable tracks, providing little more than a change of pace in between more upbeat songs. The third ballad ‘Hell Has No Mercy”, which is also the closing track, is a bit more interesting and memorable, with a brooding and dark tone.
The lyrics and songwriting can sound a little simplistic at times, but overall it’s an easy and quite enjoyable listen. There’s no denying that Jyrki 69’s lush vocals are always a pleasure to hear, especially when there seems to be so few contemporary acts making use of these lower registers in all their crooning glory. The blend of influences is also fairly diverse; blending gothic rock and rock ‘n’ roll is a somewhat ambitious combination, with the genres seemingly at odds with one another; but it has to be said that The 69 Eyes manage to create something appealing and fun from combining the two.
Would recommend to fans of: The Cult, The Sisters of Mercy, HIM, Type O Negative, Alice Cooper, Misfits, Danzig, Wednesday 13, Murderdolls