Play of Light

Neue Asthetik Multimedia

Moving songs of love and loss, loneliness and the neverending striving after impossible beauty, truth, and perfection fill this darkly Romantic album from New York City band Judith. If Byron or Caspar David Friedrich had made their art with stormy guitar, bass, and drums, set against a backdrop of atmospheric synth and sensitive piano touches, it might have sounded something like Judith.

As with the best goth bands, Judith creates a vision of a dark, melancholy world that is all their own. Although some of the music and vocal delivery tends toward metal (doom in particular — I kept finding myself thinking of My Dying Bride), the overall feel is very Romantic in its fascination with the past, its fiery, intense emotions, and its fascination with the wilds of nature and the human (and demonic) spirits. The lyrics are extremely well done, the perfect mix of enigma and approachability. And the instrumental work just blew me away, from chiming, shimmery guitars to roaring walls of sound, gentle shakers and tympani to thundering shamanic drums, and always the bass sliding slow and smooth and sinuous beneath. Christopher David’s vocals also are extremely impressive, ranging from a low doomish growl to a higher, more poetic delivery.

When you put that all together, as on “Dissolution,” the world fades away and leaves us with just Judith, singing about an ending love that may never have been, a moment of ecstasy become an eternity of sorrow, with tender piano lines evoking the love the narrator believed in, then the harsh guitars and drums crashing in like the anger and betrayal he feels now, all haunted by otherworldly, apocalyptic synth in the background. “Willow” paints an incredibly powerful vision of a sailor caught between a love on land and a love at sea, lost wherever he goes, riding roaring waves of rolling guitar, and marveling at their shining crests of briny tears expressed in chiming guitars. And “Drop Of Passion” evokes a dark, driving vision of the heart of a vampire and those it dooms to a living death of rapture and mourning, with heavy guitars, distorted voice, and pounding drums.

This is fine, classic goth, coupled with a truly unique Romantic vision many bands can only aspire to. My one complaint is that “Air Of Lovers” gets a bit too schmaltzy/lovelorn for me, but even so its chorus is compelling and guitar touches radiant, so don’t let this one less than perfect track scare you off from what’s an otherwise great album.

Neue Asthetik Multimedia: http://www.asthetik.com

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