Supported by a drum machine by the name of The Mechanical Hound, the two man set of Beryl Bacavis (vocals and guitars) and Vaux “Jimmy” Borden (bass and backing vocals) return to the early days of gothic rock. This is not as much imitation as revival. While other bands may feel free to tread the same path that their forefathers had laid with stuttered beat, flanged guitar, and pronounced bass, Beryl Beloved from Denver Colorado uses the same trappings, but in the spirit of the original artists. There exists in their music the spark of inspiration, of creativity. Each track of the Dressed for Burial EP speaks of an honesty that comes from within, while simultaneously paying homage to what came before.
Upon first listen, one is struck by the competency of musicianship. Opening the EP is Procession. At first, the unfamiliar ear may regard this song as being clumsy and awkward. The plodding beat and chaotic guitar suggests an immaturity. However, as the song progresses, gaps between the beats are filled. The guitar, once aimless, matches the rhythm of the beat. Beryl Beloved embraces that which is ugly and raw and turns our preconceptions upon themselves. Beauty lives in between the beats.
The next aspect of Beryl Beloved to strike the listener in Beryl’s superb vocals. In some respect, the young man captures the primal energy of Peter Murphy in the early days of Bauhaus. Elements of Spy in the Cap and In the Flat Fields issue forth as Beryl croons the more impassioned stanzas. Askari Lullabies illustrates Beryl’s vocal talents. In a word, Beryl is pitch perfect, managing to emote the anger and the frustration written into each line. He gives the song life.
Beryl’s vocals are not just about passion. He tempers it with control. A weapon in the hands of the untrained will likely injure the wielder. Likewise, an energetic vocal style can cause a track more harm than good. With focus that same weapon not only can injure and kill, it can defend and save lives. Beryl sings with the music, not against it. The two work in tandem to create a dynamic that chills you to the core. This is music you feel in the soles of your feet. Cradle showcases Beryl’s voice well. He holds pristine notes that are so sharp as to cut glass. Yet, it never usurps its role. The music blends with his voice, pairing like skilled dancers.
Yet, one should not forget his partner in crime, Mr. Borden. While in most genres the bass guitar, while important, typical assumes a secondary role. In gothic rock, the bass guitar is king. Not only is the bass level pronounced, often the bass is the melodic component, working closely with the vocals. As such, Beryl and Jimmy form a team. The bass line forms the frame work of every great gothic rock song. Imagine Bela Lugosi’s Undead by Bauhaus or Nightshift by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Each is defined by the bass. Roger Alan spotlights Jimmy’s fingering well. The bass line is complex, here up and here down, but never straying far off the mark. It works within the context of the song. So it is throughout the EP.
Foot Stuck Child could have been lifted from the early eighties. The lead guitar adopts a punk rock, simple chord approach. The track is clinical, exact, piercing. This is gothic coldwave as Siouxsie and her Banshees pioneered so many years ago, only with that sharper an edge. It is reminiscent, too, of early Killing Joke. Foot Stuck Child is an anachronism, as true to the early days of deathrock one can get in this, the third millennium.
In short, Dressed for Burial is a work of unmitigated genius, a must have for any fan of traditional gothic rock. It is a rare thing these days to come across a deathrock band. Yes, there are The SlimP in Germany and Plastique Noir in Brazil. Yet, to have such a pure, gothic sound come from the Rocky Mountains lifts the spirits of a dark soul.