With hard rock / heavy metal being some 40-odd years old, it’s virtually impossible for any new band to be entirely original. The best hope is for a band to stumble on a way of at least re-shaping the past into something remotely unique. On only their second album, it’s something The Murder Of My Sweet have done to great effect.
It would be easy to applaud the gothic grandiosity and cinematic scope of this album; to praise its far-reaching ambition and commend the effective way in which the band enlivens its commercial metal with electronic and orchestral flourishes, but frankly, everyone does that these days and it’s not particularly exciting anymore.
Certainly, fans of Evanescence will enjoy the shape-shifting moods of ‘Fallen,’ and the accessible eastern mysticism of ‘I Dare You,’ while elsewhere, there are frequent nods towards Anette-era Nightwish and latter-day Within Temptation.
And if that was all The Murder Of My Sweet had to offer, we would be talking about a well-constructed, but bland, album. Fortunately though, the Stockholm quartet are way too savvy in their creativity to settle for such run-of-the-mill predictability and embellish their style with an unapologetic pop sensibility, bringing to mind everything from Gaga to the Eurovision triumph of their fellow Swedes in ABBA.
Yes, grunt and growl fanatics, you may want to leave the room now, because there is little in the way of unadulterated metal mayhem here, only dark, subtle melodies and histrionic hooks that place songs like the bombastic ‘Black September’ and the breathy ballad ‘Meant To Last Forever’ so firmly in pop / rock crossover territory that you can almost smell the dry ice rising as the final key-changing chorus erupts.
It’s an acquired taste and there’s no point in pretending “Bye Bye Lullaby” will hit the spot for everyone. Only time will tell if The Murder Of My Sweet prove to be too heavy for the pop market and too trite for metal world, but if you don’t mind a deliciously soft centre to your hard rock, there’s much here to admire.