Abaddon magazine

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review: The 69 Eyes – Drive

Label: Atomic Fire Records

Date: September 16th, 2022

The one remaining third of the “love metal” unholy trinity keeps releasing stuff on a regular basis, even while this reviewer is sleeping tight, thinking the whole genre died peacefully about a decade ago. About the time when the girls in the front rows became loving wives and mothers instead of dark-haired, pale-faced, leather wearing super goths. But The 69 Eyes seems to be out to get those that remained single, with serious issues about growing up. Or is it that there’s a whole new generation they’re aiming for?

Before I insult the entire goth subculture, you do realize I’m joking here? After all, I’ve been among the fandom of HIM, To/Die/For and here discussed The 69 Eyes for a couple of decades now. Admittedly, I’ve missed a few releases, particularly by the last two mentioned bands. And sometime during my slumber, The 69 Eyes went… Whoa, I’m really going to write it… They are quite cheerful now!

This EP is under fifteen minutes long, but contains three new tracks that are just happy, careless, and joyful. Okay, there’s the live version of “Two Horns Up” from the previous record, available only to those who come out and get the physical version of the EP. That track brings some of the gothic darkness I’m used to, even if containing the strong hard rock undertone of the 1980’s.

Regarding the main pieces of “Drive”, these are just drenched in the said stadium rock elements that Billy Idol, Bon Jovi or Motley Crue made their name on. Sisters Of Mercy influences are just subtly added on top, so that we can still speak of goth rock / metal. But tracks like “California” and especially the title track are literal summer hits, though published in September. They are the tracks that you can put on your car’s stereo while driving down the coastline, overviewing the sunset above the ocean, your partner riding shotgun, somewhat melancholic but happy with the life you’ve been dealt with. Really, the music is upbeat, danceable and what’s more, the lyrics do not invoke darkness and despair. Even when “California” discusses cocaine abuse, jet-set suicide and other issues swept under the red carpet, it still utters the adoration of the Hollywood lifestyle.

On the other hand, “Drive” is a song that you can clearly hear while driving this luxurious car from the cover art. Musically, lyrically, it just fits. Think of those movies set in California and the unavoidable scenes of pondering on the Pacific sunsets, when life is great and the remedial worries the movie plot usually takes on, just fade away. Why would a band from Helsinki, Finland be so obsessed by “the sunny state” is beyond me. Other than just being jealous of the warm weather, everlasting sun, Hollywood glitz and glam rock that basically originated on the Sunset Strip. Billy Idol approves to infinity.

Obsessing with California and particularly worshipping Los Angeles, we’ve got track number two on the EP. “Call Me Snake” is a shoot-out to one of the original anti-heroes of Hollywood movie industry, namely Snake Plissken. Though the lyrics call out 1997 as the year in which the story is set, this way invoking the original movie, “Escape from New York”, I’m willing to bet vital parts of my anatomy that The 69 Eyes had the sequel, “Escape from L. A.” in mind. This is the one track, other than the bonus song, that calls the early works of the band to attention. Dystopian, post-apocalyptic though it is, it’s still a whole lot gloomier than the other two.

Now, while reading what’s written above, I bet you’re thinking I hate this recording, right? Wrong! I actually like it very much. It’s not what I had expected, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing. There are three real catchy songs I can picture myself whistling on my way to work or singing along to when I finally get the chance to witness The 69 Eyes live. Perhaps they will ruin the mood if played on one of the regular gothic parties in Belgrade, but only should the guests pay close attention to Mr. Jyrki’s words. In that case, I suggest going for “Call Me Snake”.

Anyway, this is a fine EP. Other than the cover artwork. And I really cannot stress this enough. I absolutely loathe the cover. The CGI style, not unlike some driving simulation makes me just sick. And it’s not just because I was never that big on playing video games. It’s the fact that the picture is so obviously fake, plastic and soulless. Unlike the music itself, for which it was supposed to stand. It’s hard for me to believe The 69 Eyes couldn’t have found a real luxury car, even if only for the photoshoot. By the way, it didn’t even have to be a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. I believe they could’ve done with some classic muscle car. It would’ve even enhanced the feeling of the record. Especially since the band is still shooting for a somewhat vintage sound.

And then add to it the stylized fang in the record’s title. At least I think it is supposed to be a vampire’s fang. Simply ridiculous packaging for an otherwise decent EP. Can I buy just the record and you keep the sleeve?