REVIEW: Seraphim Shock - "Nightmares for the Banished"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

Nightmares for the BanishedI've been a Shock fan since I first listened to one of their tracks on Cleo's popular Goth Box compilation set where their first single from Red Silk Vow, After Dark, appeared. Also released was a video for this song as well, very well done with wonderful imagery and horrific themes. I admonished everyone into the heavier (much heavier) side of gothic rock music to check out their Red Silk Vow release as I waited for the release of their next album, Nightmares for the Banished.

As usual, the Shock have brought us some of the heaviest and most powerful music to date. The power behind the guitars, bass, drums and pain-laced vocals remains accurate and clear through and through with a tight sound, excellent arrangement and show that the band as a whole is growing together like a web of thorns. Each of them, Charles Edward on vocals/keyboards/programming, David James on bass and Michael on guitars provide a separate piece to the powerful puzzle that is Denver, Colorado's heaviest hitting barrage of dark rock.

The Nightmares for the Banished EP is not all roses however. First off, after spinning Red Silk Vow at least a half dozen times a week, regardless of how CDs were piling up on my desk for review, is an obvious indication to how much I enjoy this group's work. Therefore the receipt of Nightmares for the Banished was a joy, but to discover only six tracks was kind of a let down for me. But ok, that's just nitpicking - myself as Oliver asking the headmaster, "Please, sir, can I have some more?" That is my issue, not theirs. But there is another. The track listing as shown on the Nightmares jacket is screwy and doesn't match the actual track listing of the CD. It caused a bit of confusion, because I'm the type of person who likes to read along with the lyrics as the song plays. For a while I thought I was either blind, crazy or both.

But nonetheless, the music itself is purely shocking. Seraphim Shock have put out another release that, somehow, is even heavier in some areas than Red Silk Vow. Opening with Upon a Time with a windy introduction and surreal entrance, Nightmares immediately begins Xtian chastisement on a grand scale with such biting lines as "Gotta Nazi Pope." The bass line provided by David James, truly a musician who doesn't fall prey to the bass-as-metronome school of playing, is fresh and strumming. When Charles and Michael step up to barrage the speakers with their full, wrecking sound of disturbing vocals and heavy, floor stomping guitars, you're already swept deep into the maelstrom of the Shock's latest masterpiece. Also, I must mention that Seraphim Shock, in this track, are the first that I've heard to use quotes from my favorite silver screen monologue to date - Pacino as the devil in Devil's Advocate. "God…likes to watch…"

Little Gothic, one of my favorites of the EP, is a story of the Mansonite. For those that don't know, a Mansonite (doomcookie, HotTopicer, etc.) is the goth scene's version of the teeny bopper. Riding from trend to trend and, to quote godfather Mr. Smith, "jumping someone else's train." Charles' lyrics when dealing with such are brutal, unnerving and something akin to Nosferatu at a Marilyn Manson concert, leading the kiddies to their doom for daring to assimilate something they never should have dug their fingernails into.

I'm only going to highlight one more track on Nightmares. Called Mommy Strange, I want to bring this one up because it is one of the most powerful and moving pieces of music I've heard in a long time. It opens with a wonderful sample - one that I'm not sure where it's from. "…and push myself away from the dinnertable and say, 'No more Jello for me ma!'" Another story, Mommy Strange is about a child akin to Damien - or, for the older movie lovers, Rosemary's Baby. Charles' vocals during the chorus are simply awesome.

Ok, in short. Seraphim Shock have shown that they can grow stronger, tighter and churn out even heavier barrages of sound - all without losing the strict arrangement that has launched them up the gothic rock charts. From the double-bass drum rhythm and terrifying vocals of Mommy Strange to the tongue-in-cheek sadistica of Little Gothic, the Shock have shown that wit can indeed be black as night. To quote Anthony Burgess' character of Little Alex (A Clockwork Orange), "Truly horrorshow, indeed."

Contact Information:
Post: Robert H. Hammond, Sr. (Managing Partner), 8973 W. Harvard Dr., Lakewood, CO, 80227
Phone: (303) 980-9422
Fax: (303) 980-9422
E-Mail: requiemllp1@juno.com
Web: http://www.seraphimshock.com

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