Clan of Xymox has been a musical entity under one name or another since 1981, with Ronny Moorings continuing to stay the course and steer over new dark waves. With Spider On the Wall marking the band’s sixteenth record, it might seem like a fresh take on Clan of Xymox’s distinctive sound would be a tenebrous task; however, the album proves to be an echo chamber for the noir romance that emerges from Xymox’s signature style. Ethereal vocals wrapped in reverb haunt over the gothic bass lines and synth loops in a cascade of musical craftsmanship that’s as weathered as cemetery marble. The opening track, “She” might be one of the best songs of the last decade, an Autumn-hearted track that feels immediately familiar and comfortable. It’s destined to become a post-punk anthem and embodies the spirit of the record, although the remainder of the album doesn’t bother to remain in this singular modality. Songs like “Spider On the Wall” sound like they could have been recorded 30 years ago, “When We Were Young” dives into a slower industrial sound, while a song like “All I Ever Know” is a technically proficient heavy electronic song that would be perfectly accommodated alongside many popular synthpop artists. The diversity of the record is what makes it great, but also problematic. Taken as a whole, the shifts are still bound by a singular string, that being the signature Clan of Xymox sound most easily embodied by Moorings’ vocals, but the shifts in musical style around that central pillar might be too disruptive for listeners not familiar with the Xymox sound. At times, the record can feel like an assembly of a la carte singles, but anyone familiar with the Xymox discography will likely feel taken on a journey as the record weaves and curves through soundscapes past and present. This journey can almost end up feeling like a Clan of Xymox love letter to itself, which isn’t a bad thing by any means. The record is a must buy for Clan of Xymox fans, but casual listeners or new listeners might be better off sampling the record and finding their favorite tracks. Ultimately, all the songs are crafted with the utmost skill and deftness, but they don’t exactly chart new territory… and that’s okay because Spider On the Wall is prime Clan of Xymox.
Clan of Xymox
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Trisol Music Group GmbH
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Brian H. McLelland (BMcLelland)