THE BELLWETHER SYNDICATE
The Night Watch EP
"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative". Thus wrote H. G. Wells and perhaps his words may describe what has encouraged the renowned artist William Faith (Christian Death, Shadow Project, Mephisto Waltz and, of course, Faith and the Muse) to make a fresh start embarking on a new phase, opening the eyes to the current dark music trends but also without fully neglecting the genre guidelines. The Bellwether Syndicate is a name that fits perfectly this project. Bellwether, in a sense of leading indicator of future sounds and Syndicate, referring to their self-organizing group status and, according to the anarchist theory, this word also could have a meaning of alternative to the established power. This may sound a bit pretentious, but I think the band has had a considerable success in its 'goth revolution' attempt, as demonstrated by their five track debut EP "The Night Watch" (2013). William (vox/guitars) has been joined by Sarah Rose (vox/guitars), aka DJ Scary Lady Sarah, in this innovative endeavor which emerged in Chicago a little over two years ago. Both of them are the song writers but the line-up also features Philly Peroxide on keyboards/percussion and Mike Skull in their live shows.
Turning to the mini album's substance, one can distinguish two differentiated blocks. The first three songs are speed, hook-laden and explosive, while in the last two ones the dynamics are slowed down for the sake of introspection and atmosphere. Drones and noisy synth lines introduce the opener "All Fire", yet warning about what awaits us here is dark but also unconventional. Seconds after, humming riffs and addictive drums burst into the scene, which is driven by the moody bass playing. William's clear vocals call for the oppressed uprising, assisted by Sarah in the hypnotic chorus. From time to time, a repetitive semi-acoustic pattern adds subtlety some worrying and martial hints to this cut. Following "The Night Watch" besides giving its name to the EP is probably the track that better represents The Bellwether Syndicate's overall sound. This tune has a driving, incendiary Post-Punk rhythmical core with Dark-Indie inspired touches, specially in some guitar lines, vocal stylings and electronic envelopings. This mixture makes sense to the lyrics where current social sins are denounced and the individual reaction is encouraged as the ultimate solution to eradicate them. The ground-breaking "101 Go" comes next, thrown by assertive motor-guitar moans, frenzy drums and bass at full gallop. Modern rock and roll as its best, hard and fast, recalling nocturnal incursions through the neon jungle. Following "Traslucent" marks a turning point in the repertoire. William turns the seductive roars into emotive, elegant whines in a Bowie-esque vocal performing that hovers over an exuberant, Shoegaze-textured backdrop. When Sarah leads the singing, guitars cry in the distance setting an unsettling atmosphere that contrasts with the seductive rhythmical section. Finally, "You Can See Through Me" takes the listener into a charming, yet bittersweet, reverie. Sarah's enchanting vocals waft above shiny electroacoustic chords and soft drum beats. Near the end, the jolly Pop rhythms dissolved into an Ethereal Wave soundscape, where a guitar solo provides certain melancholy vibe to the song. It seems like a perfect closer for this brief but intense opera prima.
Cards are on the table now and predict a bright future for The Bellwether Syndicate. "The Night Watch" EP facilitates a handful of interesting keys to modernize Goth Rock without distorting it in essence. Here there is an extrovert approach to today's dark music that is worthy of further consideration, even more it's based in healthy experimentation instead of the arrogance shown by other avant-garde contemporaries.
Review by Billyphobia