It’s increasingly hard for new acts to get noticed these days, with the freedom of the internet giving everyone the opportunity to put themselves and their music out there. So it helps to have a gimmick, and September Mourning have worked hard on theirs ahead of the release of debut album Melancholia.
In many ways, theirs is an old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll gimmick played out for the new media age, using technology to build on tricks invented by the likes of David Bowie, Alice Cooper and Kiss. September Mourning is a ‘transmedia’ character created by model and singer Emily Lazar, and, if all goes to plan, she’s someone we’ll see a lot more of in the near future.
It’s quite confusing to write about something like this, which gets described in press releases and website blurbs as being a ‘project’ or a ‘character’ or a ‘story’, depending where you look. It’s not often described as a band. On one particular site, we get this introduction: A Dark Culture Fantasy told through the heart and split soul of a girl named September… My name is September. I am a Reaper. I live with a shattered soul bridged between the worlds of the living and the dead. I am here for the sole purpose of being a portal through which souls of the living travel to reach “Mortem”, or as humans refer to it as, Death. My story is a long and twisted tale. There are others very similar to myself roaming the earth searching for souls. Beware of the Reapers….we are the Children of Fate and we are coming for you.
All of which sounds a little scary, but there’s certainly room to grow, particularly with collaborations with Dark Cow Comics and MTV apparently lined up to bring September’s story to life, but where does this leave the music? Lazar and her associates have toured with Marilyn Manson and other similar acts over the last few years as the first stage of their ‘project’, alongside appearing at places like Comic Con to reach out to the other side of their intended fanbase.
But when it comes down to it, Melancholia is an album made by Emily Lazar and her collection of musicians, and it’s got to be good enough to both stand on its own and go a long way to establishing September Mourning’s character and backstory. Of course, with that kind of story, the kind of genre Melancholia operates in isn’t disco or country, but gothic metal, blending female vocals with crunching guitars and a fair bit of growling and screaming.
And generally, it’s actually very good, managing to tread lightly along the line between melody and bludgeoning riffage so that it won’t scare off the goth girls you’d imagine it’s largely aimed at, but will also engage more serious metalheads in more than just gazing longingly at the very photogenic singer. Tracks like Fallen and – particularly – the epic Crimson Skies are both more than good enough to win plenty of fans on their own.
Of course, it’s all fairly doom-ridden stuff, as you’d expect from song titles like Beyond The Grace, Last Embrace and Lost Angels, but Lazar’s airy vocals do bring a lightness to even the darkest of tracks, and Melancholia flies past rather than dragging. It’s hard to tell whether September Mourning will manage to be as big a project as they’re hoping, but this album certainly provides a very solid base for the rest of the ‘transmedia’ work to build upon.
There's not many albums that have seemed as safe a bet as Clockwork Angels by Rush, but as Prometheus has shown, just because something seems to have all of the right ingredients, that doesn't mean it will turn out to be tasty. But make no mistake, Clockwork Angels is no Prometheus and it's very tasty indeed.