PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

The 69 Eyes: Angels

Finnish goth-metal group, the 69 Eyes further Americanize their sound and have a sleazy good time in the process on their latest release, Angels, a tribute to all that is Hollyweird.


The 69 Eyes

Angels

Label: Caroline
US Release Date: 2007-03-06
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

One of the many Finnish rock acts to recently wash up on American shores, "goth n' roll" progenitors, the 69 Eyes further Americanize their sound, steeping it in the fine tradition of 1980s Sunset Strip sleaze-metal on their latest outing, Angels. In the decade and a half that the Finnish fivesome have been together, their musical style has undergone a striking metamorphosis that has come full circle.

Affectionately know to their fans as the "Helsinki vampires" -- a direct nod to both seminal Strip band L.A. Guns' Hollywood Vampires album and club of heavy, celebrity boozers of the same name that frequented the legendary Rainbow -- the 69 Eyes proffer a disc of gothic-tinted sleaze rock that sounds more at home in the '80s heyday of the Sunset Strip than a bleak Finnish landscape. Openly citing such influences as Elvis Presley and a cluster of punk and/or goth bands that start with "The" (Ramones, Misfits, and Sisters of Mercy), the 69 Eyes bring these unlikely muses into a sound configuration that simultaneously blends and highlights each one. The Eyes' first two albums, 1992's Bump n' Grind and 1995's Savage Garden could have easily stood alongside Faster Pussycat or a host of glam-metallers of the late '80s. Gradually, the group began moving towards a darker and heavier sound. As evidenced by the Angels redux of "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" from the band's 1997 album of the same title, vocalist Jyrki69's voice has taken on a completely different inflection, swapping the nasal upper register commonly assigned to the glam-metal genre for a low-end baritone that combines the wormwood-and-velvet tones of Type O Negative's Peter Steele with the curled-lip sneer of both Elvis Presley and Billy Idol.

With Angels carrying over the same production team of Johnny Lee Michaels and Hiili Hiilesma from their previous album, Devils, it seems that the 69 Eyes have hit their stride musically and found a happy middle ground in doing so. Having evolved into a style that sets them apart from both the pack of West Hollywood trash and gloomy goths, Angels picks up where Devils left off. It seems that the band has formed an eerie kinship with the city of Los Angeles as well as American culture in general. Scattered throughout the album are tongue-in-cheek references to various and sundry, sordid, and sultry bits of Americana. The album's first single, "Perfect Skin", pays homage to Hollywood blondes, past and present, while oozing sexuality with its grinding, pulsing guitars. Jussi69's drums crash and then pause for effect, kicking in at the right moments to underscore the song's primal nature. "Frankenhooker" is reminiscent of W.A.S.P. with its stinging, scratchy guitar riffs and mad, Blackie Lawless-style cackling. In keeping with the Hollyweird theme of the disc, the track stands as an ode to the sublimely trashy cult comedy/horror classic of the same name.

While the tongue-in-cheek references work well on Angels, there are a few clunkers here and there. "Rocker" runs rampant with cheesy lyrics that recall some of the worst of the '80s glam bands, and tries too hard with its declaration of "Baby, I'm a rocker… / A goddamn rocker, yeah!"

In spite of its seraphic title, the bulk of material on Angels deals with darker, more macabre themes. The disc's self-titled opener is dense with post-apocalyptic and vampire imagery layered over heavy drum beats and a synthetic Transylvanian pipe organ that makes you wonder if Grandpa Munster was lurking about in the mixing booth. The dark themes continue on the disc's second single, "Never Say Die". Featuring some well-placed sound effects that add a suitably eerie touch, the track marries harmonic vocals and chunky guitar riffs with lyrics that tackle the best of the literal and metaphoric. In the same vein, "In My Name" puts the 69 Eyes' fast-paced dirge-rock spin on gospel (goth-spel?) music and comes up big.

While Angels is about as straight-forward of a rock album that you're going to get, the band pulls out a few surprises from its bag of tricks (namely a guest-appearance by Finnish metal cellist trio Apocalyptica) adding to a complex, neo-classical string arrangement on "Ghost". Similarly, the beautiful "Star of Fate" sounds like a lost number from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, tinkling music box and all. The song's blending of theatrical and rock elements is reminiscent of the epic Use Your Illusion era Guns n' Roses, particularly with guitarist Bazie69's fret work adeptly channeling Slash.

With this latest release under their belts, it seems that the 69 Eyes have almost Americanized themselves, sounding much more Hollywood than Helsinki. While its native country has embraced the band, with both Angels and "Perfect Skin" hitting #1 on Finland's charts, it remains to be seen how big of a splash the Eyes make in their newly-adopted homeland. But bless their devilishly angelic hearts, the 69 Eyes offer a unique brand of full-throttle rock that hasn't been seen on either continent for some time.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.