Aural Vampire - Vampire Ecstasy

review - 10.06.2010 01:02

Fear, hate, love, immorality - it is Vampire Ecstasy.

EXO-CHIKA and Raveman may look like a union of B-movie horror baddies, but they are in fact two halves of pop electro-goth band Aural Vampire. It then comes as no surprise that they say they are inspired by 70's and 80's horror films and come bedecked in long blonde hair, fangs and axe-murderer masks. The seductive "vampire vocalist" and creepy "masked DJ" released their first album Vampire Ecstasy under the appropriate indie label Tokyo Lolita Style in 2004.

The album is presented in a radio game show format, with a phantom DJ voiceover introducing the band to us in the gothic Opening. After this invitation into the hellish survival game, it's on to the title track Vampire Ecstasy, a dark industrial track with heavy trance beats. EXO-CHIKA's voice is made for this type of music, having an electronic quality of its own: it is feminine, ethereal and slightly disconcerting. Then the more electro pop sounding Freeeze!! gets you bopping. It is a more mainstream dance track than the others on the album.

This feeling carries over into the military styled Terror Vixen. Then Hana no Sakigake allows EXO-CHIKA to emote more with its slower tempo and more acoustic feel that adds a break to the abundant techno and synth. A favourite track would be Preservative Woman, an extremely catchy pop song with an oriental motif running through it. It is a song that gets everyone onto the dance floor and would be great live as well.

For an electro-based album, Vampire Ecstasy boasts enough variety to keep you interested. There is the eerie music box theme of S.O.B; the darkwave Banboro Koubou; Disco King, which doesn't resemble any other disco song ever made but probably would suit a vampiric disco. Then there's the pure whistle-blowing, strobe-light flashing, raving techno that is Murialism. The album has some humorous moments as well and doesn't always take itself very seriously: throughout THE REPOMAN, a sound clip announces "I'm the repo man - that means what's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine too!" amidst echoes of "THE REPOMAN!!" in this upbeat electro track. In Crimson Tyrant a deep, twisted voice taunts you with a menacing laugh before hilariously stating "Uh huh, come on, uh huh, in da house."

The brightest sounding track is the final one, PNFPN. It's a bit reminiscent of Phil Oakley's Together in Electric Dreams but without the electric guitar and optimism. This is interrupted near the end by the phantom DJ, which starts out like an unsettling technical fault. It actually seems like there is something wrong with the track at first, until you get used to it.

For this first outing, the duo is impressive. One minor complaint would be that the radio announcements and commentary preceding some of the tracks break up the flow of the album, although it does make the album feel more theatrical - which was probably the intent. It is a solid debut containing catchy, beat-driven music that would be perfectly at home being blasted out of a gothic lolita shop in London's eccentric Camden Market. With their blend of gothic themes, electronic sounds and vampire links, there is no doubt Aural Vampire's future will contain major success.
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