I was once a child of God but then the devil kissed me
He gave me fear, and he said my dear
‘God will never miss thee’
How exactly can one describe a band like Birdseatbaby? Well one genre that they could be considered as is “Dark cabaret”, but what exactly is dark cabaret? Well, dark cabaret is very showtune-like style of classical music that has a very vaudeville, burlesque feel to it. It was also inspired heavily by the gothic scene. While a lot of gothic music when it was getting popular was going into more of an industrial direction like Emilie Autumn and The Birthday Massacre, some artists, categorized as dark cabaret, were left in the past to shed light on the more European and old fashioned/classical aesthetics. Bands like Stolen Babies and Dresden Dolls were exactly what this genre was bringing to the table. This is exactly what Birdseatbaby tries to do, but also adds their own very modern, glamorous and poppy approach to it.
On Feast of Hammers
, every song feels like a night at an Eastern European burlesque house. The music sounds as if it is incorporated into a large musical in a vaudeville show or freak show. The piano on this album sounds very old fashioned and showtuney which makes for a great dramatic theatrical approach. The music does sound pretty poppy, but what works about this band is how well they are able to incorporate these very gothic and classical sounds into their songs. Another thing that works extremely well for this band is that the vocals are extremely well done. They sound beautiful, but also very sharp and menacing at times which is a great contrast in the music. The song The Sailor’s Wife we have these very dreary and melancholy vocals, which sound as if they were written by a lonely gothic teenage girl writhing in angst: “The sailor clings to ropes and things / He won’t survive for long / Then crashing down upon his crown / A final, parting song”. The song Incitatus is very poppy and also very upbeat which probably represents the climactic and best part of this album. The lyrics are fast paced, sad, eerie and harsh. The violins are played gracefully, glamorously and have a very baroque sound to them. Most of the drums on this album have a very rock oriented beat.
The whole album, though, should be viewed as a whole, because each song, or section of songs, move(s) like a scene at a show. The music has a very progressive approach to it and some songs will go off in tangents. When these moments occur, they are incredible. Moments like this, for example, occur on the song Through Ten Walls where the music comes to a halt around the minute mark and we’re introduced to a very upbeat piano sound with an almost punk sound. It might be a bit naïve to compare this album to Panic! At the Disco’s album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
, but the demographic that this album should appeal to, and the structure that the album follows has the same sort of feeling you would get if you listened to it. We have our Intro song which is comprised of just piano and then it quickly escalates to the upbeat songs Love Will Bring You Nothing, and Anchor. These songs set up the start of the show. Songs like What the Water Gave Me and Feast of Hammers give us the conflict in the performance. Even the last song on the album, Finale, that is very beautiful with glistening piano, tells us that it is time to go and it’s just great to hear this as one big theatrical performance. One can even sympathize with the very slow, calm and depressing songs like A Sailor’s Wife, Victoria and Double Nine.
Overall this album is fantastic. Dark cabaret might not be for everyone, but for those who are a part of the demographic that this will appeal to, or if one is just interested in hearing some old fashioned and almost European sounding gothic music. Also for fans of Emilie Autumn, Stolen Babies, The Birthday Massacre and more will like this as well. The music is quite intriguing and deep for those who are willing to dig into it and tear apart the beautiful it has to hide. Behind all of the makeup and glamour, Feast of Hammers
showcases a very sincere and consistent direction.