They say that imitation is the best form of flattery, and France’s Soror Dolorosa, in choosing to name their sophomore record after a Stranglers album (due to a badge depicting the album appearing on a jacket used for the cover art) manage to wear their hearts on their leather sleeves and show exactly what they’re about in one fell swoop. Their cold, gothic sound is one we’ve all heard before, albeit some twenty or thirty years ago, but this quartet are taking 70s rock and 80s goth back and injecting it with some twenty-first century class and gorgeous French beauty.
Andy Julia (vocals, ex-Peste Noire, Celestia, Nuit Noire, plus a few more excellent French black metal bands) is usually found behind a drum kit, but this being his darling, he has stepped out to handle a style that wouldn't be out of place on a Sisters of Mercy record. His deep voice often carries hints of bottomless emotion and it rides the waves of melancholy in blissful harmony. The inflection that the French accent puts on the words is both deadly and beautiful, which along with the ever present and distinctly resonant bass lines (Hervé Carles) gives No More Heroes a wonderful touch of humanity.
No More Heroes follows in the footsteps of 2011s Blind Scenes, a melancholy and nostalgic trip into memory, with a similar tone but an obvious move towards stronger song-writing and glossy vocals gives Soror Dolorosa a much needed boost. Whereas Blind Scenes occasionally fell into a lull and songs blended together a little more than you'd like, No More Heroes is on point from beginning to end. "Silversquare" kicks the album off with a pounding drum beat (Frank Ligabue) that gives way to intonations of warm and silky passion, and Soror Dolorosa writhe with a bombastic tension that's wracked with a sensual desire that pours from Julia's voice.
"Hologram" is deliciously dark and Julia's voice reaches ever more dastardly places, creeping further and further down into sublime and sexually charged waters whilst "Wormhole" flitters between otherworldly twangs of guitar (Nicolas Mons) and rich beats of drum. No More Heroes is a pool of different ideas and structures yet as a whole it's cohesive and magnificently fleshed out. Slow, dirty and rocky tracks are countered by upbeat stomps which are in turn played off by moments of extreme sadness and yes Soror Dolorosa are aware of their peers and of course those influences filter into the music but they are never allowed to overwhelm the music that the band make because these words are their own. Shades of The Cure push through "A Dead Yesterday" and the pain of longing is clear throughout album closer "Exodus" and its bittersweet choral lines that crush the soul. No More Heroes might have gained its name from elsewhere, but this is record is Soror Dolorosa through and through. Gorgeous, gothic and completely entrancing. Exquisite.
8.5 / 10
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