The Danse Society: Scarey Tales – Album Review

Danse Society Scarey Tales

The Danse Society – Scarey Tales (Society Records)

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Reformed Positive Punk   band The Danse Society’s new release is described in the sleevenotes as a ‘Goth concept album’. Mark Ray reviews the record for Louder Than War, read what he thought below.

The Danse Society were one of the most interesting Positive Punk/Goth bands to emerge from the early ‘80s – if you haven’t heard their 1982 release Seduction, then track it down, it’s a classic from that period – and they were one of the few bands to flirt with mainstream success. They split in 1986 but, like many bands, the itch was still there and they reformed in 2009, sans vocalist Steve Rawlings who was replaced by Blooding Mask founder Maethelyiah. In 2011 the new group released Change of Skin and now their second release is upon us: Scarey Tales.

 

Firstly, I should mention that the packaging for the CD is beautiful: it’s in the form of a booklet with lyrics, photos, illustrations and a poem. In this age of instant downloads you gotta offer the punters something more to encourage them to get the physical format, and this does the job excellently.

 

In the sleeve notes, Paul Gilmartin calls Scarey Tales a Goth concept album. With titles like ‘The Scarecrow’, ‘The Wolf’ and ‘Jekyll & Hyde’, you know the sort of territory you are in. It’s odd but Danse Society seem more Goth now than they did back in the ‘80s.

 

The drums pound out a dark, tribal beat whilst the bass rumbles in the background, laying down a rhythmic repetition that hammers at the brain like a zombie pounding at your door. The guitars are discordant, edgy and the keyboards ethereal, making the darkness uplifting. Maethelyiah vocals are superb (whether by serendipity or design, the decision to replace Rawlings with a woman immediately cut short any comparison with the original band and gave them a new dimension). Her voice soars, like a rather sinful choir girl, and at times has a vibrato like a middle eastern houri, singing in a desert, calling the unrighteous to explore the dark sides of their nature.

 

At the beginning of ‘The Scarecrow’, Maethelyiah recites spoken word/poetry, which is difficult to do without sounding naff, but she pulls it off with a staccato reading and with the band making eerie noises in the background.

 

They also do one of the best versions of ‘White Rabbit’ I’ve either heard, though with only 6 tracks on the CD I’d have liked to hear more original compositions.

 

 

Perhaps ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ sums up the theme of the album best.  Maethelyiah sings: “The temptation to do what is forbidden, because it is forbidden. It is the strongest temptation of them all.”

 


Scarey Tales is a celebration of the old tales that lead us into a greater understanding of our own natures. There can be no true self-awareness without an awareness of our own dark sides. Without death, life has no meaning. A fascination with the darker side of life doesn’t mean you’re a Satan worshipping cult member. Goth took rock to the extreme opposite end to the sugar coated boy meets girl pop. It lifted the coffin lid and delighted in what it found in the corners of attics. Unfortunately, like so many movements, it began to take itself too seriously and became a cliché of itself.  With Scarey Tales, Danse Society have shown that you can revisit your past and make music that both celebrates that past and reinvigorates the present.

 

I’m seduced.

The Danse Society’s website is here. They are on Facebook here and can be found on Twitter as @TheDanseSociety.

All words by Mark Ray. More work by Mark on Louder Than War can be found here.

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6 comments on “The Danse Society: Scarey Tales – Album Review”

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  1. cool but 6 traks, it aint an album is it………..?,,unless there quite long

  2. I used to quite like Danse Society, back in their day, and saw ’em live a few times.
    Why the frigg have they called the album ‘Scarey Tales’ as opposed to ‘Scary Tales’, I wonder?
    I have to say that having only just heard their version of White Rabbit (thanks to the You Tube link on here) I find it fucking hilarious. Maethelyiah seems to be offering some rather overbearing grandiose vocal moments by attempting to scale heights attainable only by a certain Dame Shirley Bassey, which in this instance, for me, comes across as laughable and over optimistic.
    Still, I’ve heard worse and it was mildly entertaining. Let’s hope that this album / E.P, whatever it is, promises some more tracks that are little more interesting and original.

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  4. Scarey Tales is a very good album, and yes I agree with the comment above, it is a bit short. They could have shorted Change of Skin and stretched Scarey Tales. I prefer Scarey Tales to Change of Skin because I find it deeper, more intense and much better performed. Any male vocalist would have been sadly compared to Steve who had his own image and style. A female choice is more mature, a true alternative, and in this case striking. Thumb up for me. Looking forward to the new album soon!

  5. Trawling the web for Danse Society stuff and found this review. Well. A lots happened since 2013 it seems and now we have two danse societys to choose from. The fans said it was a bad move on the original facebook page. Looks like they were right. Scary Tales has some good songson it as already said. Sacercrow. Jekyll and Hyde Message in the Wind . They said a male singer would be compared to Steve. Well now there is a comparison for us to listen to between the femal and male singers and it can be found here
    https://soundcloud.com/the-danse-society/message-in-the-wind
    For my money I know what I want to listen to.
    All this crap about the split up. ffs. No one listens to quote the song. We the fans know what the problem is. a crazy megalomaniac worming its way into a band and splitting it wide open. We told you on the Plot. We said she was nuts. We said get a bloke. This new bloke singer is a bit rocky but boy can he sing.
    I for one don’t care about all the he said she said sh*t. the Maethelah Danse Society is a joke and is the main trouble causer. The Paul Gilmartin Danse Society has kept the original vibe and as soon as their album is out I will be buying a copy. I am down to go see them soon and from the videos I have seen the sound is raw and tight and worth travelling for. Louder than War needs to get a copy of renacrnated and review it.
    And the t wo bands want to stop being kids and settle the issues and get on with making music. We the music buying gig going fans are getting pretty fed up of it all.

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