It’s been a pleasant few years for The Birthday Massacre. The release of their 2nd studio album ‘Violet’ gained them huge recognition among the underground music industry, they released their first DVD following the album’s success, and they are currently touring alongside established punk rock band Mindless Self Indulgance in a tour spanning America and Europe. In between all this, in the autumn of 2007 they release their hugely anticipated 3rd studio album ‘Walking With Strangers’.
The band have always been known for bending genres and defying the rules of sticking to the conventions. Chibi mentioned in a recent interview that the band ‘grew up listening to Nine Inch Nails and all the 80’s retro stuff like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, but also Metallica, Megadeath, Pantara, and with our music, we try and bring all those interests together’. Much like the dark-themed ‘Violet’, ‘Walking With Strangers’ takes on a deliciously ethereal approach to the construction of the album, but also add some subtle lighter moments.
Lead single ‘Looking Glass’ combines a bludgeoning barrage of clashing synths and crunching guitars and a tortured vocal delivery by Chibi to create a catchy yet hard-hitting anthem, while ‘Kill The Lights’ creates a more down-tempo atmosphere with a tinkling melody sprinkled over a steady bassline. The first downloadable single from the album, ‘Red Stars’, switches from vicious, heavy guitars to a hypnotic electro-ballad, channelling ‘Blue’ from the previous album.
The band are fond of re-working old tracks, and ‘Remember Me’ and ‘To Die For’ – both from very early times of the band’s formation – make an appearance here. The former is an almost unbearably bleak tale of a child wanting to run away from the world – ‘If I don’t come back here, will you remember me?’ – to which Chibi delivers a heartbreakingly tender vocal performance. The latter is a beautiful, mesmerising slow burner which has been given a more opulent production than the previous dream-esque version found on ‘Nothing & Nowhere’.
The true highlights of the album are found towards the end. The title track is a frenetic rocker which throws the listener into a world of daring adventure with a beat that borders on danceable. The final track, ‘Movie’, is an electronic ballad that is nothing short of breathtaking. Sung entirely in ballad-form, Chibi draws out every line of her vocal to emphasise her passion when singing the song. Combine this with the wonderous, ghostly synths and devastating lyrics and you have a truly astonishing ending to an album that was worth the wait for any Birthday Massacre fan.
‘Walking With Strangers’ simply sums up the band’s slow rise to success over the years. Chibi has revealed that the band are already working on their next album. If the quality continues to get better with each album, soon the Birthday Massacre will attain international success, and I am one fan who can say I’ve been with them right from the beginning.