Review of Faith and the Muse

Somewhere between the Cocteau Twins and the Cranes shines Faith and the Muse. I’ve been looking for a band who could meet my Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Cranes and My Bloody Valentine needs, and Metropolis Records (thank God!) has re-released all three of Faith and the Muse’s original recordings: Elyria, Annwyn, Beneath the Waves and Evidence of Heaven.

I have a feeling Faith and the Muse’s William Faith (ex-Christian Death, Mephisto Walz, Sex Gang Children and Shadow Project member) and Monica Richards (ex-Strange Boutique member) have finally formed the band they’ve always wanted to be in. Their musical styles range from gothic/darkwave to ethereal/ambient to industrial and classical. The classical I can do without, but bring on the dark!

Here is a brief review of their three albums:

Elyria (1994 re-released 2001)
Elyria is a bit too experimental for me. I couldn’t get a lock on any of the songs, and they couldn’t get a lock on me; however, the instrumentals are lovely. The guitar work in Interlude: Annabell and Interlude: Maleficio and Heal are enchanting, but that’s about it for keepers. The acoustics here remind me of the softer side of His Name is Alive. Epilogue: Twilight is haunting. I keep seeing Nosferatu playing this by himself in the middle of his church. Vervain is the one song that foreshadows what I believe the band is striving for, and this force is finally displayed in Annwyn, Beneath the Waves.
Annwyn, Beneath the Waves (1996 re-released 2001)
If you like those heavy guitar instrumentals sculpted by My Bloody Valentine, you’ll love Annwyn’s title track, Apparition, and The Hand of Man. If you’ve been mourning the end of the Dead Can Dance, you’ll adore The Birds of Rhiannon and Cantus. Fade and Remain is angelic, music I’d love to die to. Monica Richard’s voice is hypnotic. At a distance, when I blur from the majesty created by the songs, I’m reminded of either Siouxsie from the Banshees or Allison from the Cranes. This is incredible, and I hope you check it out. All you ex-children of the night, come back. Come back and listen once again to anthems from darkness. You’ll be in a path of shadows so bright you’re blinded at times and shivering with joy.
Evidence of Heaven (1999 re-released 2001)
This album is worth buying for one song: Shattered in Aspect. It’s incredible. That piano sounds like a changeling is keying it, and Monica’s voice is, truly, evidence of heaven. Too bad they bring back that classical sound way too many times throughout the album. Scars Flown Proud could be a global goth dance floor classic, but I get the sense the band’s holding back. I’m not going to frag the album any more, so I’ll end it here.

In summary, the album to get from Faith and The Muse is definitely Annwyn, Beneath the Waves. Let’s hope their next album has a producer who can draw out the very best the duo has to offer and leave the classical behind. I hope William Faith’s spoken word poetry and singing is done as a side project because it takes up way too much time on the albums. Let’s face it: the voice of the band is Monica’s.

© 2002 Richard Van Camp
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