Ascension of The Watchers
"Numinosum"

(13th Planet Records 2008)Ascension of The Watchers - Numinosum

Summer is a rough time for teenage Goths. They too often insist on sweating it out in black trenchcoats and velvet corsets and by the end of a hot day the eye- or guyliner and corpse paint is melting off and even the prettiest among them reveal acne faces, crumpled with the pain of adolescence.

A few listens melt the goop -- and by goop I mean synthetic record hiss, heaps of echoed "ambience," spoken word recordings, train and heartbeat sound effects -- off the songs on Ascension of the Watchers' "Numinosum." It's then you see that the album's not so pretty anymore, that it never really was. Singer-songwriter Burton C. Bell dresses up his songs in atmospheric trappings that do little to hide weak hooks, a hollow singing voice and painfully corny lyrics. Don't blame the producer. Bell's former band, Fear Factory, exemplifies the best West Coast industrial metal; Ascension of the Watchers exemplifies the worst neo-Goth.

The only decent song, "Moonshine," resembles Jesu with mandolins (courtesy of Ministry's Al Jourgenson) instead of layers of Marshall-stacked electric guitars. I love Jesu, so I suppose that's a complement. Other songs, like the mid-tempo riffer "Mars Becoming" sound like recent …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. I detest recent Trail of Dead.

And by the time you get to track ten, a cover of "Sounds of Silence" done in the style of Depeche Mode, Buffy is standing at the top of a mountain after a hard night of slaying, bloody stake in hand, watching the sun come up over Sunnydale. Simon and Garfunkel should sue; it's depressing.

C-

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