Still Confused but on a Higher Level
Hailing from Sweden, Medicine Rain is a Gothic Rock outfit whose sounds are charmingly haunted by the ghosts of Rock'n'Roll, and also spiced with a dash of subtle humour. Founded in 1989, their debut album "Native" was to wait until six years after. Once the CD was released, it did not just open to rave reviews but also struck deep in the heart of gothrockers. Its rapid success led to a contract with a bigger record label and opened doors for them to festivals. Although everything run smoothly, things began to change for worse. Then the members put aside the project for a while and the band's second output never took shape. Fortunately, those tracks - originally recorded in 1996 - see the light now, duly polished but retaining all their original flavour. "Still Confused but on a Higher Level" sounds delightfully 90s while the songwriting was enough brave and risky at the time that seems as if were done only yesterday. Affiliated with the 'guitar&machine' division, the Swedish don't hesitate to go off in more experimental directions, featuring wailing 80's sax solos, glam keyboard playing or sweeping synth envelopings. Tunes such as "Enter the Vail", thrown by the programmed winds and the singers' gritty howls, or the rattling gothrocker "Let It Ride" in its slower moments, are pretty illustrative in this regard. But the band's name has not be selected by random as there is much of early The Cult in their music too. You just have to let yourself launched into the amped-up, winding guitar figures of "Spinning" or "No More" to notice the slight hint of leather lingering in the air. Pounding tom beats and springing, growling bass lines make the songs kick into gear. Raspy baritones struggle into bluesy dragouts, while serrated and melodic chords clash in duel. In three words: Goth and Roll - I'd put a fourth swear one, in front of the others. Not to speak of tunes like "Tango", featuring an exciting 'From Dusk Till Dawn' vibe, or "Move On", fierce, groovy and fist-pumping, yet infused with catchy choruses. But we can also park the bike and get carried away by the smooth cadences of "Real Time". The clean and effective vocals, along with the elegant tapestry of strings, keys and sax, carry an hypnotic kind of gloom with them. Some distant-sounding guitars give the piece an impressive mournful finish. Otherwise, "New Religion" merges the kind of electro-hooked Gothic Rock that Still Patient? themselves could sign, with expansive saxophone passages that bring Psychedelic Furs to my mind. Best of all, they don't fail in the crossover which speaks well to the talent of these experienced team. The same can be said about the exciting cover of Stillborn's "Albino Flogged In Black", taking the original darkness into a deeper level with the morbidity of an old Sisters' vinyl b-side. Perfect ending for this album, which has a lot of relevancy underneath its rocker irony. One is aware of this when realizes that has played the repertoire for the umpteenth time without interruption and serotonin levels keep sky-high. Such is the appeal of "Still Confused but on a Higher Level", which sounds like a virtual "Northern" Death Cult meets "Goth" Label Society might do. Medicine Rain manages to heal souls through their unrestrained Gothic grooves, soaked with a genuine, thoroughly enjoyable Rock'n'Roll feel.
Review by Billyphobia