Nothing But a Nightmare
OC goth-punk isn't exactly a surprise; some the Adolescents' key members were the ones who joined up with Rozz Williams create Christian Death back in the early '80s, so there was always going to be some aggressive sonic love at work amid all the chimes and incense. Throw in the fact that the Damned will never not have a blast around here--they're playing Halloween in Anaheim for a reason--and Misfits logos as far as the eye can see and the result can be a band like the Returners. When you're fronted by a lead singer named Rik Dachau, it's a little hard not to be punk to start with.
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Though not quite a new release, Lost Souls, the trio's debut album, does sound like a modern record of its kind, for all of the many antecedents, a little more AFI than TSOL, say. The group's generally quick, fast-paced clip through things is pretty well what one would expect, but it's not without spooks and humor as well, as evidenced when a snippet of Chopin's famous funeral march, arranged for guitars, closes the title track.
For all the bravura, there's a softer side, even if emo is a dirty word in some corners: the understated breaks on "One Step Away" set against the big gang shouts let a tender heart break out just enough before quickly hiding it, suiting Dachau's singing voice, half nervous yawp and half Epitaph mid-'90s charge ahead.
The slower grind of the conclusion to "Mourning Yesterday" is brash arena rock in a different trapping, getting away with it with style, while "Killing Game" works that approach even more effectively, a total should-be-on-alt-radio number, or at least a trailer or TV placement, that has just enough character around the edges to keep it enjoyable. And when "Love Like Suicide" has the kind of snaky guitar line that just suggests Agent Orange and even older roots enough, you get the sense that somewhere Lux Interior is nodding with approval, clicking his pumps in the afterlife.
Check out the Returners via www.facebook.com/TheReturners--they'll be playing live with Mad Sin at the Galaxy Theatre on October 12.