After a nearly ten-year absence, long-running Swedish goth metal band Beseech has reformed with three all new members and turned the machine back on, presenting the world with “My Darkness, Darkness,” their sixth studio record overall. Having trampled a long and winding road through associations with different high profile metal record labels, Beseech is starting over only figuratively, continuing to produce goth metal in their same idiomatic style.
Now, goth metal takes on a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people, but in this case, we are speaking of the well-heeled roots of the genre, beginning with the romantic and theatrical tones of Bauhaus, before the genre even had a name. Beseech, much like Finnish genre darling HIM, are concerned much more with creating the proper image and setting and atmosphere than simply using the label goth to shock or repulse.
So it comes as a refreshing change of pace when we are greeted with the solid downbeat and melancholy guitars of album starter “Beating Pulse,” a song that is concentrated around proper songwriting and craft in the goth paradigm, rather than dark clothing and brooding tones. The song is bright without being chipper, like seeing a rainbow through a dirty window. It’s properly laid out and executed with confidence.
The title track is a whirlwind of different influences and tones, incorporating some mock-country guitar for the opening, a piano riff that fits well in the pocket of the music and a pristine flow that leads to a hook-laden and memorable sing-along chorus. It’s the album’s best track by leaps and bounds, the clear signal that Beseech both knows how to write songs and still has power and authority in their genre despite their long absence. This kind of professionalism and expertise is dotted through the experience of “My Darkness, Darkness,” making for an album that is not bold, per se, but striking in how it creates plenty of feelings without needing a ton of bells and whistles.
There’s really only glaring drawback with Beseech’s record. Which is, WHY THE FUCK ARE WE WHISPERING?! All the time! The whole album! It’s enough to drive a man bananas! Like, okay, I get it: plenty of artists have used whispered tones with great success in their careers. Blue Oyster Cult did it. Clutch and Monster Magnet have both done it. Danzig does it. Marilyn Monroe famously did it for John F. Kennedy (first time Danzig and Marilyn Monroe have been in consecutive sentences.) 69 Eyes does it. Rage Against the Machine. Peter Steele frequently used his whisper as a contrasting agent, to make his harrowing bellow all the more profound. The list goes on. The issue with “My Darkness, Darkness” is that Angelina Sahlgren Söder and Klas Bohlin never emerge out of that fog. In the end, it causes two distinct problem for the record, the first is that it never really feels like the wheels up and we’re off the ground – there’s an energy sap that’s persistent, particularly in spots like the repeated drone outro of “Darksome.” The second is that a song like the title cut that we spoke about earlier, which is wonderful in pitch and color and cadence, lacks urgency and comes across like The Birds doing metal covers.
This is the kind of record that can make you want to bite your fingernails in consternation, because so there’s so much good here, but it’s marred by a single critical flaw. Now, there’s an argument to be made that Beseech is simply sticking to their idiom, that goth metal should maintain a muted countenance, and sure, there’s merit in that. Far be it from me to judge a band who’s been pounding pavement (off and on) for roughly twenty-five years. But there’s also something to be said for innovation and flexibility and in this case, Beseech might just be holding themselves back from their best music.