Nov 2011 15

AlterRed - Mind-Forged ManaclesAlterRed
Category: Synthpop / Darkwave
Album: Mind-Forged Manacles
Stars: 3
Blurb: Despite a gothic image that belies the accessibility of the music, AlterRed offers up an excellent synthpop debut.


To look at the cover art and photography for AlterRed’s Mind-Forged Manacles, featuring the band in black and red depressive chic, one could imagine a vampiric form of electrified rock or electro suitable for late ‘90s goth clubs. Either that or Heath Ledger recorded an album in the guise of his role as the Joker prior to his untimely death. But puns at the expense of the band’s visual portrayal aside, the music on this debut bears a greater resemblance to the darkened synthpop of the late ‘80s, full of lush arrangements of emotive vocals, simple but melodic synths, and danceable but tasteful beat structures.

Beginning with “Like April Fools,” the listener is plunged into a hip-shaking rhythm of throbbing bass synths topped off by Mikey AlterRed’s somber and airy vocals, which eschew the quintessential gothic baritone in favor of a pleasant and effective tenor more akin to mainstream pop; if not for the voice, it would sound like a forgotten gem by Depeche Mode. The rest of the album remains consistent, with “Losing Your Shine” pumping by with a twinkling synth arpeggio and descending vocal passages that give rise to resonant, windy pads, and “Amphetamine Chic” marching along with soaring melodies atop a stuttering distorted synth in lieu of a guitar, chiming piano, and the some thunderous percussion. Other songs like “The Patient” with its pulses of piano and bass, “The Drug Named God” with its thrums of acoustic guitar and glassy synths, and the ominous atmosphere and assaulting rhythms of “Nothing Less than Violence” all continue the path of accessibly dark pop, all driven by AlterRed’s soulful, soaring voice.

As synthpop goes, Mind-Forged Manacles is certainly top-notch with a tasteful mix of layered synthesizers and sparse organic components. Where AlterRed stands apart is in the visual presentation, courtesy of synth player Vix Vain, which is just a tad kitschy and misleading given that the music is not nearly as gothic as one might assume. As well, the vocals elevate the music to a greater pop sensibility that could gain the band an audience outside of the electronic underground it seems geared toward. These contrasting elements bring Mind-Forged Manacles down just a notch, but from a musical standpoint, this is an excellent debut for a band that has much potential.

Track list:

  1. Like April Fools
  2. Losing Your Shine
  3. Sex, Death, or Money
  4. Amphetamine Chic
  5. Emily
  6. The Patient
  7. Fleshbind
  8. The Drug Named God
  9. Broken Glass
  10. One of My Mornings
  11. Nothing Less than Violence

AlterRed Website
AlterRed Facebook
AlterRed Twitter!/alterred
Red Electric Records

Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3


Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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