There is synth-pop, and then there is synth-rock, the more aggressive sibling of this subgenre of electronic music. The massively influential English group Depeche Mode was able to indulge in — and pioneer — both sides of the coin with equal success. One-man band Ehron Vonallen juggles each stylistic take, leaning towards the heavier side while not alienating synth purists.
Taking a cue from the brooding melodrama of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, Vonallen never strays from the Biblical seriousness of his vocal delivery. His voice is deep and looms large, adding emotional weight to this lyrics. A number of older, traditional rock critics have a problem taking this kind of material seriously; then again, even Doors frontman Jim Morrison was clobbered in the early days for being too pretentious. The song titles here — “Rapture,” “Red Angel,” “The Statue of Light,” etc. — suggest candles lit in darkened rooms by hooded figures.
Nevertheless, for all the otherworldly bleakness of Vonallen’s music, the lyrics are grounded in everyday reality. On “Faded Memory,” Vonallen slams America’s war against Iraq with palpable venom: “Patriotic, that’s our defense/ Casting false pretense.”
Fans of latter-day Depeche Mode and even David Bowie in his last changeling shapeshift as a merchant of industrial doom will have much to wallow in here.
Ehron Vonallen: www.ehronvonallen.com