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The Silver Cord

With few bands pursuing a dark muse at the moment, it's paradoxically refreshing to listen to this unapologetically bleak document of inner turmoil. Ken Keifer's low baritone is surprisingly musical as he sings and cries out tales of love, betrayal, murder and existential anguish, and Karl Haikara's hauntingly chiming guitar soars and savages like Daniel Ash guesting on a Wumpscut album. Dane Bernhardt's synth parts heighten the mood of each song while Heather Hemming's cadenced bass playing gives each song the weighty solemnity of a funeral procession. Although there's definitely a pervading sense of tortured isolation on such cuts as album standout "Fear," there's also a core of defiance against extinguishing the light within us. That informs the songwriting that lifts the whole beyond a gothic-rock well of despair.