Masquerade’s “Ritual” Review
If Finnish deathrock band Masquerade isn’t already on your radar, don’t worry! There’s still time! You might recall their Blood Is The New Black EP from 2014, or perhaps Suzi and Jacques’ other band Virgin In Veil. Their first LP, Ritual, is my newest obsession. The LP was originally released on July 15th of last year, and the CD version was released on October 14th. Masqerade signed onto Danse Macabre Records (formed by the members of Das Ich) just last August.
“Drawn and Quartered” opens with a swirling guitar reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees, a tribal drum, and primal high pitched howls from vocalist Suzi. Her deep voice and charming accent as well as the bass line are what really make this song for me. The nods to Siouxsie and the Banshees are noticeable, not overdone, and well executed. This is a perfect example of what I’d call “Siouxsie worship done right.” “Deathmarch” (see the music video for this below) is a slower track with an equally tribal sound. The feeling evoked from this matches the lyircs quite well. I find Suzi’s vocals more reminiscent of Nina Hagen than Siouxsie on this track both lyrically and vocally.
One of my favorites songs on the album is “Salt the Earth.” The chorus is ridiculously catchy, the lyrics are some of the most clever, and it has a theatric climax. The guitar is particularly spooky sounding throughout the song too. The only song on Ritual I had heard recently before listening to it for the first time was “Panic Paranoia” because of the music video released earlier this year (view it below). It remains a great choice for a first video; this is probably the song I would choose for someone who’s never heard Masquerade. It does a good job of showcasing their overall sound. Clever lyrics centered around mental illness, dark and spinning guitar.
“Lunacy” is another favorite of mine because of how unapologetically fun it is. It’s like they took all the silly elements that made The Banshees feel so realistic and combined it with a something sophisticated, as The Banshees themselves would have done. It seems like it must be a really fun song to perform. “Siberia” is their most ballad-y song on the album. It has an overall sad tone to it and it sung entirely in Russian. It appears to be about childhood memories.
“Sinners Like Us” is another favorite (I know, I know, I have a lot of favorites on this album). I really enjoy the message on this one. I was actually building ribbon racks for the military my first time listening (day jobs amirite) and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the irony. It’s also simply a catchy song; it’s gotten stuck in my head several times since my first listen. The guitar line has a reggae influence not heard in the other songs. ANGST is absolutely nothing like any of the other tracks on Ritual; it’s not even rock. I would almost call it something along the lines of atmospheric gothic folk because it’s very soft, harmonic, and raw.
“Madhouse” is another fun one similar to “Lunacy,” but much darker in tone. It has a few awesome guitar solos and a satisfying length. The lyrics somewhat remind me of Souxsie’s “Candyman” or even “Scarecrow.” “With Razorblades” is an awesome revenge song and a great choice for the final track. It’s slower, like “Deathmarch,” but has the theatrics of “Salt The Earth,” especially toward the end. Suzi’s high pitched screams balance nicely with her deep voice.
This is easily one of my favorite deathrock LPs released in 2016. It has a great variety of songs and really showcases Masquerade’s range. It’s addicting. You can purchase both digital and CD versions of the album through their Bandcamp page and follow them on Facebook.