Following their 2010 release Decent, Finland’s Antipope make another foray into gothic, cabaret metal with their darkwave infused release House of Harlot. If you’ve ever listened to Cradle of Filth and thought they sounded alright but you weren’t sure what they were doing with the midget, then House of Harlot should be right up your alley.
From the very first song, “House of Harlot” (based on Oscar Wilde’s poem “Harlot’s House”) the vocals of Mikko are what set this album above other dark metal releases. Mikko credits Leonard Cohen, Skinny Puppy and Morrissey as huge influences, and you can definitely hear this in both his lyrical subjects and his style. He brings real-world emotion to larger-than-life music. In an instant, he switches from a deep, post-rock drone to screams to a kind of vitriol hissing, and each change fit the music perfectly. The crooning, screeching vocals on “A Thing So Vile” bring a prime example.
The music, too, flits between styles, sometimes dark and atmospheric, sometimes chugging along like a freight train of brutality, sometimes hinting at classic rock influences, but always retaining a sense of what darkwave could have been if only it was a little more … awesome.
The stand-out songs for me are “House of Harlot”, which is the perfect opener for this distinct record, and “A Thing So Vile”, which drips with raw rage. The track “Morning Star” is one of those songs that really grows on you – at first you think the vocals sound a bit mental, but you find yourself humming that dark, wicked riff as you wait for your train in the morning.
House of Harlot doesn’t officially release till 30th November, but you can listen to the whole album streaming online through Finnish site kaaoszine.fi, and check out the Antipope website or Antipope Facebook page for more details.