2009: year of the old-school goth? Seems everyone these days is unashamedly reclaiming their goth roots and really, thank god for it; without the likes of Sacred Bones and Captured Tracks helping to usher in a new day of darker-than-dark releases, we might’ve been stuck in that cheesy post-industrial meets candy-raver purgatory forever. And though Cold Cave is arguably at the forefront of the whole thing (thanks in part to Matador giving them a go), San Diego duo Blessure Grave is far and away the most promising of the bunch.
But Blessure Grave’s latest—and by far my favorite, despite the amazing Learn To Love The Rope EP—can’t be reduced to sheer revivalism; this is an album far more intricate than that. Sure, it harkens back to Play Dead, Bauhaus and even early Front 242 in equal measure, but at the heart of Judged By 12, Carried By 6 is that undefinable thing, a mystifying X factor: it just gets you. Judged isn’t great because it takes a cue from Red Lorry Yellow Lorry; it’s great because the songs are evocative and dramatic. Because there’s something in the sweet sadness of “In The First Place” and its strained guitar, or the frantic layers of melody on “Stop Breathing”, that feels like a punch in the face. Like the first time you heard Unknown Pleasures and wondered how anything could be so miserably lovely.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Blessure Grave is primed to be the next Joy Division—such a distinction barely exists anyway—or that Judged will necessarily be the album that catapults them into the throngs. But if their momentum thus far is any indication (and really, the songs just get better and better), Blessure Grave is headed for a long run of beautifully stark releases—as well as a much-deserved place at the top of this nouveau-goth heap.