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Perturbator – Lustful Sacraments

Synthwave has been taking a few painful hits during the past two years or so. With some artists simply lying dormant, and others drastically shifting sounds, I have no idea in which direction my beloved genre is headed. Take GosT‘s ‘Possessor‘, for example. Despite it still having its roots deeply burrowed in synthwave soil, its more volatile approach was an indication that the artist’s future sound was taking on another direction. A direction that lead us to the utterly bonkers ‘Valediction‘, which I enjoyed at first but ultimately found lacking in the retro department as its main focus lay on a mixture of black metal and new wave. Now it’s just collecting dust on my shelf. I personally found it too serious due to its lack of self-awareness. Then there’s Carpenter Brut who, even though he put out a cool soundtrack for the independent shortfilm ‘Blood Machines‘, released an honestly disappointing and underwhelming single last Winter. Apart from that there’s been no indication of new music on the horizon. Last month also saw the return of one of my biggest synth favourites: Perturbator. And his latest, ‘Lustful Sacraments,’ out on Blood Music since May 28th, does very little to reassure me.

Before y’all start calling me Debbie Downer, I’ll say that it’s not all bleak though. Many artists have kept on delivering solid material. Mega Drive‘s most recent creation, ‘Neuroframe‘, for example, is just gorgeous and is a great continuation of his older works. And don’t even get me started on the Italian Master Boot Record, who’s been producing explosive old school video game tributes faster than we can follow. On a side note, he even produced the soundtrack to an actual video game called ‘VirtuaVerse‘. I’m still spinning Magic Sword‘s hypnotizing ‘Endless‘ and The Midnight‘s ‘Monster‘ on a regular basis as well. So it’s not as if the genre were doomed.

I’m not going to go as far as to say ‘Lustful Sacraments‘ is a bad record. Because it certainly isn’t. But it is an underwhelming experience. Everything I love about anything else Perturbator‘s done in the past is simply absent. It’s got none of the scifi vibes of ‘Terror 404‘, none of the retro playfulness we got on ‘I Am the Night‘, none of the dark sexiness of ‘Dangerous Days‘, and none of the delightful violence of ‘The Uncanny Valley‘. I am however gonna give it some points for originality in the sense that it’s completely different from what he’s put out until now, but otherwise it’s almost devoid of anything truly memorable in the long run.

The record actually starts off nicely with an intro that’s true to form. And I even enjoy the title track that follows. I also dug the main single and third track ‘Excess‘ to some extent, with its guitars strums that reminded me of French new wave rock group Indochine. But after that is where Perturbator loses me. I love it when a synth record goes dark, but get bored quickly when it delves too deep into nihilistic melancholy and remains there. There should always be a redeeming lightheartedness in one form or another for me to enjoy a synth track to full extent. The music video single ‘Death of the Soul‘ just about missed that mark by an inch. The track consists of somber sovietwave which gets a short release during the twice recurring choral of uplifting synths, but those fun parts are rather short-lived. The remaining tracks mostly evoke gloomy new wave, some of which are accompanied by various artists’ toneless vocal performances typical of the genre.

Sure, ‘Lustful Sacraments’ has got style. The artwork is okay and the music video for ‘Death of the Soul‘ is pretty neat. But I can’t quite find my footing amidst the incessant gloom of new wave material. I’m missing my sweet spot of 80s retro and grindhouse culture. Perturbator‘s latest will rather take you into the goth territory of dudes in shabby black suits and white shirts with The Cure hairstyles.

Release date: May 28th, 2021
Label: Blood Music
Track list:

  1. Reaching Xanadu
  2. Lustful Sacraments
  3. Excess
  4. Secret Devotion (ft. True Body)
  5. Death of the Soul
  6. The Other Place
  7. Dethroned Under a Funeral Haze
  8. Messalina, Messalina
  9. God Says (ft. Hangman’s Chair)

Reviews

  • Music5
  • Vocals/Lyrics5
  • Production9
  • Artwork7
  • Originality7
  • 6.6

    Score

    Perturbator's 'Lustful Sacraments' may prove to be a somewhat underwhelming experience for hardcore synthwave fans. Me, I'm calling style over substance on this one. But if new wave gloom and melancholy are your thing, then you may enjoy it far more. For now, I'll be content with his previous works.


Wim

Wim is an avid enthusiast of any form of extreme music that ranges from ridiculously profound to profoundly ridiculous.


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