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Nuclear Blast (2012)
Rating: 6.5/10

Finland’s The 69 Eyes continue their slow takeover of the world with X. Over the years the band’s image has become increasingly more gothic while their sound has become much more guitar rock orientated. X is the culmination of that, offering ten melancholic anthems, that certainly bring to mind higher profile artists such as HIM and Sisters Of Mercy, while maintaining a slightly edgier approach.

Most of this album has an even-keeled, dark sound to it. While that’s not entirely unexpected, it has much more of a Billy Idol vibe than a Danzig one. ‘Love Runs Away’ is a good example of this as it pounds through the verses before exploding into a big anthem chorus that comes back into the verses with a dirty, sleaze rock tinged guitar riff. This song in particular exemplifies everything great about The 69 Eyes. A perfect choice to start the album.

The more melancholic moments stand out here the most. ‘If You Love Me The Morning After’ is as beautiful as it is creepy, boasting a deep vocal and plenty of atmospheric guitar work and background vocals. The jangly ‘I Love The Darkness In You’ is another backstreet inspired moment that is impossible not to like. ‘Black’ has a super-catchy sound that proves goth kids love strong melodies too. The early 80s hollow room sound of ‘When A Love Comes To An End’ is a definite highlight as well. Personally, I wish it were a bit longer because by the time it really captures you it comes to an end. It’s a great example of how a ballad should be however.

There are a few stinkers here unfortunately, but they don’t dominate the album. The Rozz Williams (ex-Christian Death) twang of ‘Borderline’ gets more and more annoying on repeated listens, and ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ is fair to midland musically, but I find it hard to get past the lyrical content being so cheesy. ‘Tonight’ is an okay song, but the verse feels like it’s falling apart. I’m guessing that it’s intentional as the chorus is fairly catchy.

Overall, this is a solid album. It’s not my personal favourite from the band, but I’d be willing to bet that the more radio-friendly appeal will expose The 69 Eyes to a whole new audience. The dark, melancholy sound is balanced fairly well by mid-paced tempos and big choruses that make this an enjoyable ride, even if it’s not a contender for album of the year.

Mark Fisher

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