Collaboration is a rather rewarding prospect in music, especially when it is born from mutual respect and a desire from each artist to elevate each other’s strengths. Such could be said of Pete Burns as virtually every release from his band Kill Shelter has exemplified this spirit, working with many fellow artists and bands in the dark alternative scene. Asylum is thus aptly titled, as if Burns has provided his contemporaries with a sanctuary in which they can unreservedly spread their creative wings… as if they really needed it.
As with virtually all acts in the genre, traces of Bauhaus and The Mission will resound throughout Kill Shelter’s music, as insistent and relentless guitar patterns overlap with thrusts of electronic beats mixed to strike as hard as the most powerful drummer on the opening “Time Will Come.” “The Cage,” which closes the album out on this U.S. edition, along with the “Crossing Borders” interlude also serve to showcase Burns’ more abstract sensibilities, the two wrought with cavernous reverberations and shrilly distorted tones befitting a nocturnal sojourn. But it is with the guest performances that the frigid ambience of Asylum starts to burn brilliantly.
Among them, William Faith truly stands out as his emotive croon on “Cover Me” seems to bear the weight of his decades of experience as one of the pioneering figures in goth and death rock. The same can be said of “All of This” with its percolating synths and guitars provide the perfect backdrop for Ronny Moorings, the song sounding as good if not better than anything ever done by Clan of Xymox. Having already collaborated with Antipole, it’s no wonder that “Buried Deep” works as well as it does, Karl Morten-Dahl’s guitars and Burns’ gritty and disaffected baritone adding to the brooding, almost menacing atmosphere of the instrumental, while Beborn Beton’s Stefan Netschio harmonizes atop a dissonant and somewhat bluesy theme amid grimy bass and slapping beats on “In This Place.” “The Necklace” and “Feed the Fire” feature Agent Side Grinder and Ash Code, respectively, both filled with tension and urgency to give the relatively younger crop of artists room to shine, while VV & the Void’s Valentina Veil brings an almost childlike whimsy to “Queen of Hearts.”
Some might argue that working with so many artists with such well defined styles runs the risk of obscuring one’s own voice; thankfully, Burns manages to avoid this as Kill Shelter’s sound bears its own definitively cold character, his compatriots merely adding a dash of flavor that enhances rather than obfuscates. In a sense, Asylum is a virtual snapshot of the last three or four decades of post-punk and goth/rock – a noble concept that lovingly celebrates the scene.