Shannon Funchess is somewhere in between a force of nature and cult leader. Her voice is difficult to describe, decidedly larger than any petty adjectives you try to throw at it. It would be booming if it weren’t so in control, husky if it didn’t frequently remain in a silky timbro, post-human if it didn’t ever so often break and reveal the very real person beneath. Nonetheless, it’s a voice so alien as to conjure images of the azure opera singer from The 5th Element, or perhaps the house band of Thunderdome. As is to be mentioned in any discussion about Light Asylum, they are a somewhat lopsided operation.
This isn’t necessarily the fault of the other members – though on some songs they get out of the way a little too much – but more the fact that coming up with a cohesive sound that fits the same, for lack of a better word, genre as Funchess’ vocals proves to be a task I would wish on no one. A majority of the songs fit under the goth umbrella, but there are industrial flourishes around as well, fuzzy marching drums intertwining with numerous synth zips and trills. But even on the best musical songs (“Hour Fortress,” “A Certain Person”) the sudden reappearance of Funchess is jarring, laying waste to everything else.
Lyrically, the album works best when it sticks to repeated phrases that Funchess can twist into increasingly larger proclamations, like the very good “nobody’s innocent” chorus of “IPC.” Some tracks lose the plot a little bit, like the too dancey “Heart of Dust,” but at the end of the day, this is just a really hard record to say no to. It’s like saying no to a tornado: what’s good would it do anyway?