For their seventh LP, The Birthday Massacre once again turned to Pledge Music as a source of support, via the power of crowd funding. After a hugely successful campaign for their previous album Superstition, this move was pretty much a no-brainer. Needless to say, this second campaign was a huge success, with 233% of the goal being funded by it’s end on March 31st. It’s clear to see that the Canadian ensemble have a dedicated, loyal fanbase, and they’ve come a long way since their beginnings in 1999. The question now is, have they delivered on their promise of another epic album?
The first thing that struck me with Under Your Spell is that it feels very different to their previous releases, and yet has the familiarity that I know and love. In terms of overall atmosphere, this is definitely a lot darker than some of their more recent output, and feels a lot closer to their older material at times. In fact, I’d go as far as saying this is their darkest yet. Gone are the innocent vibes of adolescence, in favour of an album that, overall, feels a lot more haunting. It’s as if the band have been put through a grinder, and it’s glorious! Despite all this, it still sounds incredibly beautiful, and has extremely enchanting moments. The lyrics have been wonderfully woven together, and make it a very relatable experience. It’s filled with contrasts that compliment each other to a mesmerising effect, both in terms of style and sound.
The album opens up with ‘One’, an incredible track that instantly grabs you with the familiar sounds that The Birthday Massacre are known for. Chibi’s strong vocal performance is backed with sweeping synths and a superb solo delivered by Rainbow. It’s an excellent start to the album.
From there, things get a lot darker, with the title track ‘Under Your Spell’. It’s enchanting and emotional, beginning with minimal synths before exploding into a torrent of Gothic Rock. Chibi’s melancholic vocals are beautiful on this track.
‘All of Nothing’ sounds very different for the band, and yet it still feels like them! It has heavy, distorted electronic synths that ooze with atmosphere, at times giving the track a very Industrial feel. The elements of organic and electronic instruments compliment each other extremely well on this song.
‘Without You’ is a bit more uplifting in terms of beat and sound, and yet there’s still a hint of sadness within it, especially in the delivery of the vocals. This is most noticeable in the chorus, which becomes very memorable quite quickly. If it had been on Superstition, it would have still worked nicely, but it fits perfectly here.
‘Counterpane’ has some heavy moments, and really packs a punch! It’s a very fast paced track, filled with energy, the riffs and pounding drums are relentless. The brisk delivery is bound to get anyone on their feet and moving!
Bulky synths signal the start of ‘Unkind’ and give the track a really powerful vibe. Again, there’s a very Industrial feel to this one, much like in ‘All of Nothing’. The catchy guitar riff and breakdown really help to make it feel complete, and add an interesting dynamic to the song.
‘Games’ is very enchanting, and probably Chibi’s best vocal performance on the album. The combination of fairytale-like synths and her style make her sound angelic. It’s really something quite beautiful, and is very reminiscent of their earlier albums.
‘Hex’ continues the enchanting feeling from the previous track, but is a lot more guitar focused, and picks up the pace a bit. It’s a lively track, and builds up to a lovely sounding section at the end.
‘No Tomorrow’ is definitely the darkest track on the record. The subtle use of quiet synths and the way they’re used, combined with Chibi’s softer vocal style give the verses unsettling vibes. Then it breaks into a heavy chugging riff that almost sounds apocalyptic, as Chibi growls menacing vocals. I certainly got vibes of ‘Blue’ (from their second album, 2005’s Violet) when hearing this one.
‘The Lowest Low’ brings everything back to a much softer, calmer level. The contrast between this track and the previous one really works in the album’s favour, and breaks up the flow nicely. It has an extremely cinematic feel to it, and is quite calm and relaxed. It’s graceful and beautiful to listen to.
Album closer ‘Endless’ sounds absolutely massive! All elements in this track resonate perfectly, to create an extremely anthemic track. As soon as it kicks off, it’s packed with energy, only slowing down slightly for a bridge section part way through, so we can have a breather. I actually got some very Dance With The Dead vibes when hearing this one. Every track on this record is amazing, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be this. I really can’t wait (and desperately hope) to see them perform this one live!
I always have high hopes whenever The Birthday Massacre release a new album, and they never cease to amaze me. Under Your Spell has exceeded my expectations in every possible way, it’s a triumph, and truly their finest hour. There were times where my jaw literally dropped with awe. Throughout the album, it’s hauntingly beautiful and keeps you hooked with it’s incredible atmosphere. The guitars soar, the synths are captivating and Chibi’s vocals are angelic. It’s a truly emotional and mesmerising journey from start to finish. There’s not a single bad track on this record, I wouldn’t dare skip any of them. Each one is a masterpiece in it’s own right. I legitimately have absolutely no flaws with this album what-so-ever, with maybe the exception that it ends.
The Birthday Massacre have always gone from strength to strength throughout their career, and I feel that they have never created a bad album. Under Your Spell proves this fact, and is far more than just a progression, its a massive leap for the band. It’s a magnificently, carefully crafted piece of art. All the reasons why I love this band so much are encapsulated on this release. I’d say that it’s not only their best album, but it’s also one of the finest albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.
Final verdict: Not only the album of their career, but one of the finest albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Dark, and hauntingly beautiful, Under Your Spell will keep you hooked with it’s incredible atmosphere. An absolutely flawless album.
02. Under Your Spell
03. All of Nothing
04. Without You
09. No Tomorrow
10. The Lowest Low
Under Your Spell officially releases on June 9th.