Blood in the Disco is the latest full-length album by gothic-rock outfit CORLYX. Originally from Los Angeles, the core duo of Caitlin Stokes and Brandon Ashley are now based in the UK. Their latest release isn’t just their best yet; it’s outstanding in every way, full of dancefloor smashers, whimsical and sexy songwriting, powerful vocals, and innovative musical instrumentation.
Blood in the Disco opens on a strong note with a track that perfectly showcases many of the album’s best elements. “Atrophy” kicks things off with driving guitar riffs, a rain-drenched, pavement-pounding evocation of classic 1980s Sisters of Mercy. This is music for squealing tires on dystopian freeways. Caitlin’s vocals kick in with haughty, blasé confidence. The versatility of her vocals is a prominent feature on this album, spanning the guttural vampiric to a punk-tinged whine (with plenty of fine singing in between). Wisely, her vocals remain center-stage for most of the album.
“Raindrops” introduces a sparse, bright electronic beat, quickly coupled with Caitlin’s lightly affected vocals. Like much of the album, it expertly straddles the fine line between upbeat electronics and a darker echo of lonely goth nights. “The Echo” is another quicker-paced track propelled by a mixture of electronics and guitars, with Caitlin’s vocals evocative of a later-era Siouxsie. Echo effects and a tinge of distortion lend a bit of character to what is otherwise a very 1980s-style goth rock song.
“The Taste” is one of Blood in the Disco’s stand-out tracks (although, let’s be honest, there’s not a poor track on this release). It opens strong, hard, and menacing guitar riffs coupled with a vocal style that manages to be both aggressive and sultry. If ever a track was destined to be a dancefloor magnet, this is it. The sexy nonchalance of the vocals and the strident combination of electronics and guitars is utterly irresistible.
“Take Off Everything” retreats into a den of 1980s goth-rock guitars, a style echoed in “Never Love” (which features Chris Harms from Lord of the Lost) and “Incinerate”, two of the album’s slower tracks. “Lace and Latex” is another intriguing track, a compelling fetish-themed song driven by a menacing synth line. The unique electronics are accompanied by vocals accentuating Caitlin’s impressive range of song stylings, from contemptuously spat lines to higher-pitched, gorgeously sung harmonies.
“Like a Dagger” and “The Threshold” are both a return to guitar-dominated goth rock, while “3.2.1.” is a lighter, more ethereal electronic track reminiscent at points of Chris & Cosey’s early 1990s-era ambient electronic rock. The album finishes with an upbeat, more electronic-edged remix of “Raindrops” by Neroargento (featuring Marc Massive from Massive Ego).
What’s impressive about Blood in the Disco is how cleanly and confidently it evokes the best of 1980s and 1990s gothic rock without ever becoming derivative or dull. CORLYX don’t slide into any ruts here; they explore ideas and styles long enough to interest the listener before moving on. It’s as though CORLYX deftly picked up where the best of that era’s bands drifted off 20 years ago, and they breathe life into a style that’s often copied but rarely mastered.
The album’s been complemented by several excellent videos – including one for “The Taste”, a definite stand-out track – directed by the multi-talented Caitlin herself.
There’s a definite nostalgia here for late 20th-century goth rock, but CORLYX resist falling into patterns, constantly shifting styles just enough to surprise the listener and keep them intrigued. It’s that combination – remaining true to form and mastering that form superbly and confidently; while not being afraid to play around and take it in new directions – which makes the album such a success. Both fans of guitar-driven post-punk and electronic-backed, darkwave-edged goth rock will find material to appreciate here. Whether you’re a solitary vampire lurking in alleyways or a DJ looking to fill up a dancefloor, the album’s versatility offers something for everyone. Blood in the Disco isn’t just CORLYX’s best album yet, it’s one of the best goth rock albums to emerge yet this decade. It will be exciting to see where this group takes their sound – achingly familiar, yet unfailingly innovative – in the coming years.