Blood on the Dance Floor - Haunted (Review)

Martin_Canine
BLOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR
Haunted
★★★★☆

Even the most devoted of haters will have a hard time panning Haunted, which shows an outstanding growth on an artistic level that little people could foresee when they were releasing the explicit techno jam Sexting in 2010. In 2018, they sing lines like “We fake to be happy, covering up the scars / Giving off the look of strength while breaking down from deep within / Swallowed by emotions, waves of despair / Overthink to oblivion, I'm tearing out my hair”. They have done music that went beyond sex before - actually, there are quite a lot of songs that don’t care about said topic at all - but this time it feels introspective. This time, they don’t talk about their fans, they talk about themselves.

Ever since the 2010s, catharsis is one of Dahvie Vanity’s major ways of working. Bad Blood was taking revenge at the haters, his solo efforts For Beginners and The Invocation were triggering them with self aware controversy and lyrics full of wrath. These rank among the strongest works in his uneven discography. However, Haunted is unveiling a softer side, it’s more melodic, much less heavy, much less gimmicky and vulnerable. First things first: It’s a pop album. More than that: it’s a fine pop album. And even more: it’s better than what Shakira had in store for us last year. And it’s almost entirely clean, which in and of itself doesn’t say much about the quality, but surely sets the tone for the entire record.

Blood on the Dance Floor are now Dahvie Vanity and Fallon Ven Detta, and the latter is the best substitute for Jayy von Monroe fans could have hoped for. For once, she’s an equally good vocalist that delivers whatever a song demands from her at ease, plus as she’s female she won’t suffer from unfair comparisons. It also helps that the two singers are a couple - while on some projects this is a deadly combination that kills the creativity, on here it makes both singers sound secure and confident. Fallon gets more time in the spotlight than on their previous Kawaii Monster, singing large portions of most tracks, and almost the entire songs Ashes to Ashes and Haunted House, which rank among the album’s highlights.

But From Dreams To Nightmares is the true peak of Haunted, and is up there with Where’s My Wonderland and Unforgiven as the group’s best tracks to date. It’s also one of the best songs of the first four months of 2018. “I blame your father, he never noticed a queen / I blame you mother for not building up yo' self esteem” - yes, that can leave a mark on your character. There’s also My Last Breath, that has this enchanting part where only piano and string-like synths support Fallon’s voice singing “ooohhh…”. It sounds really graceful, and not like anything you’d expect from a Blood on the Dance Floor record, even if you aren’t opposed to them.

The two final songs, Other Side of Fear and World of Secrets were initially composed for Dahvie’s two side projects, Master of Death and Sinners are Winners (both of which have sparked albums that are better than the Blood on the Dance Floor records, save Bad Blood), but were then included on Haunted instead. The latter’s bleak industrial horrorshow perfectly fits into the album’s overall emotionally tormenting tone, as a much heavier closing track, but Other Side feels out of place, as Master of Death has an ongoing storyline and concept that is continued, and which this record of course lacks (also it ends with a music box playing the leitmotif of the first MoD album). It of course doesn’t change that this is some fine EDM - and is this the My Last Breath piano line playing in the background?

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