The 69 Eyes – Death of Darkness (Album Review)

Release Date: April 21st 2022 - Atomic Fire Records

The 69 Eyes - Death Of Darkness

The Helsinki Vampires have been around for more than 30 years now, yet somehow they manage to sound as youthful as if it was 2001, which is more or less the year I first heard of them and instantly got hooked to their bite-sized radio-friendly Gothic Rock bangers. The formula they had back then worked perfectly for me. Deep atmospheres, beautiful leads, catchy choruses, and the very distinctive baritone voice of frontman Jyrki. After a few magnificent albums they switched to a more sleazed-out Glam Rock sound, and I kinda lost track of them as I didn’t really like the new sound they had adopted. To be perfectly honest I haven’t paid much attention to their releases in the last decade or so, with only the occasional single or video making it to my playlist, so I was surprised and curious to hear that this album recaptures some of that early 2000’s Goth nostalgia.

The album opens with the title track “Death of Darkness”, and I was extremely happy to hear that classic 69 Eyes sound from the early 2000s. Mellow vocals, tasteful keyboard notes, clean guitar licks and a thick bass line. This song rules and takes me back directly to the days of “Blessed Be”. This song is the perfect way to open a 69 Eyes album. Next comes “Drive”, and this one is a more straightforward Glam Rock song like the ones they’ve been doing for the last 10 years or so. A very safe song in general. Not my favourite at all but still pretty enjoyable. Next comes “Gotta Rock”, a cover song originally played by the Finnish Hard Rock band Boycott. The intro bass line reminds me quite a lot of “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, but they manage to actually pull a very enjoyable version of the song, more sing-along than the original but also less gritty and raw. “This Murder Takes Two” is a pretty straightforward Country song featuring famous singer and tattoo artist Kat Von D. If you don’t like Country songs or were not ready for The 69 Eyes to pull one out of the blue, then most likely this track won’t be your cup of tea. It is enjoyable enough, and Jyrki’s deep crooning voice gives it a slight Johnny Cash feel, but it is definitely not a song I can say I like. The next song, “California” is also pretty skippable for my personal taste. It is just one more of those cookie-cutter Glam Rock songs, singing cheesy lines about LA, Sunset Strip, Hollywood and all those Cali clichés they’ve been obsessed with for the last decade of their career. Nothing memorable in there for me.

Fortunately, the 2nd half of the album packs a bit more punch than the last 2 tracks. “Call me Snake” starts with a badass hard rockin’ riff and quickly becomes one of the most interesting songs in the album. Still sleazy and cheesy, but ultimately a much fresher take on their usual Hard Rock sound of the last years. The main riff and lead melody are really cool and retro-sounding. One of my favourite songs in the album. “Dying in the Night” is a nice and soft Gothic Rock track. I love the clean guitar licks and the thick driving bass lines. Very mellow and reminiscent of classic songs like “Only You Can Save Me” or “Radical”. It can become a bit repetitive and definitely overlong though, but it doesn’t really matter as it is very enjoyable. “Something Real” is another great Goth Rock track that takes me back to 2004. Deep croony voices accompanied by nice female choruses that fit the mood perfectly. The clean guitar arpeggios are awesome as well. This is the classic 69 Eyes that I was longing for. “Sundown” comes next with its more uplifting and positive attitude. This one is a very radio-friendly song that doesn’t break any rules or brings anything new to the table but ends up being enjoyable nevertheless. The album finishes on a strong note with the very awesome “Outlaws”, a heavy, slow and chunky that hits the spot. Like in the title track, I love the use of tasteful and discreet keyboard leads.

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This songs has one of the most memorable and anthemic choruses I’ve heard from the band in many years.

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This is not a bad album by any means, but it is a mixed bag of good in my opinion. It does manage to successfully bring back some of that 2000s phase nostalgia, and the sound that made them very famous in the first place, but it also has some odd choices and some really average Glam Rock tracks.

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It is a fair balance, and a fair deal considering their long career, but this is the kind of album where I would only listen to the tracks I really like and enjoy. Still a very nice surprise from a band that has been around for a long time now and still manages to sound fresh and youthful.

Album highlights: Death of Darkness, Call me Snake, Something Real, Outlaws

For fans of: HIM, Unto Others, Lacrimas Profundere, Poisonblack

The 69 Eyes: Facebook

Release Year: 2023
Label: Atomic Fire Records
Category: Album
Country: Finland

Reviewed by Roman Ibarra