What to do, dear reader, when as a reviewer only one influence is immediately apparent? Only one artist springs to mind? One’s references are severely limited. How to paint the canvas with such a limited palette? For let’s not be mistaken, ’tis a pretty picture and it needs doing justice.
Alright, enough of the flannel – this record sounds hell of a lot like Fields of The Nephilim. The person responsible is Christopher Lee Compton, a native of Atlanta, Georgia who has been recording dark, gothic rock for over twenty years. So now what? So now let’s get over it. Let’s maybe dig deeper and let’s enjoy “Valentine And Other Stories Of Hope”.
Okay so, “My Darkest Dream” kicks off like Ministry, it soon settles into an epic goth groove like the rest of the core of the album. As I say, once you get over the startling similarity it’s damn good stuff.
The title track is romantic and doomed as the title suggests and is emotional in way that Fields of The Nephilim‘s shamanic rumblings seldom achieved. “Deceit” is downright evil and calls to mind Mercyful Fate and nine minute centre-piece “Yet Another Stain,” whilst sticking fast to the Fields of The Nephilim template is a total barn stormer even if it nicks a Gil Scott Heron lyric.
“Metro” is maybe where my opening thoughts stumble. At heart, this song has a flick hair-style, silver tuxedo and slip-ons. It is in fact New Romantic rock. And in a similar way to the last Horrors album, where they managed to make classic Simple Minds cool, this track revives The Human League for the delectation of a rock audience.
If it all ended here I’d be delighted but I’m afraid it all goes horribly wrong from here on in. First comes an entirely superfluous cover of Nine Inch Nail‘s “Hurt”. It aims for the country gravitas of the Johnny Cash cover and the electronic chill of the original and falls short of both. It’s not terrible, just some how rather obvious and pedestrian.
The two bonus tracks are a massive and unflattering reveal of where else Frostbite may venture. Theatrical in an Andrew Lloyd-Webber way both the hideously unsexy “Howl” and camp “Veteran of the Psychic War” feel like out-takes from a sequel to We Will Rock You and as such should be avoided by all but devotees of Compton’s work.
Let’s ignore the last fifteen minutes and give this a 7 out of 10.