The 69 Eyes – West End review

The Helsinki Vampires provide dinner party music for a retro feast 7.5The 69 Eyes band

For thirty years, The 69 Eyes have boldly turned out melodies that have evolved from the Finnish glam-punk roots of Hanoi Rocks, via more gothic leanings (HIM) into a somewhat sleazier Finnish glam-goth ‘n roll. I must confess that I paid little attention. When you have Type O Negative, Danzig and The Sisters of Mercy in your life, Goth-pop  fronted with an Elvis-baritone vocalist was unnecessary for my wellbeing. I admit I was a music snob, with no time for newcomers. But The 69 Eyes have stood the test of time, exploring and pushing beyond their comfort zone. Gathering greater momentum and also fans, while intrinsically retaining their integrity (and band members!)

“Ever since the first rehearsals I felt that we had something magical coming”, singer Jyrki 69 contemplates. “And the nickname of the band – The Helsinki Vampires – does us justice. We’re the band that time forgot. We’re the band that refuses to die. We’re the band that refuses to change members. In all these years, we never saw a reason to stop. After our first 10 years, people have asked us how long we think we can keep this going… then again after our 20th anniversary. But we’re still here! And this is how rock’n’roll works: If you get it right, it keeps you going forever”.

With their 12th studio album West End, The 69 Eyes darkly question what will happen when the West ends?

“The title evokes a dark image – when something dies, something new takes its place and we all have to change in order to stay alive. I feel like this planet is at a turning point. The end of the western world is near and the question is: What will happen when the west ends..? The title has multiple meanings for us… but be assured it has definitely nothing to do with The Pet Shop Boys or London”

Opening with Two Horns Up, which is a deliciously cheesy, fist-pumping anthem featuring none other than longtime friend of the band Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth). Kickstarting the album in an upbeat and empowering style, guaranteed to raise a smile.

The music video is beautifully shot, with Dani at his exquisitely unnerving best. Do check it out here

 As unnerving as Filth’s slavering and vocals can be, the title of the next track disturbed me more: 27 & Done. Yes, it relates to the tragic demise of stars at the age of 27 but there is more. Jyrki 69 has stated

“The track deals with the idea of Hollywood and everyone coming there to make their dreams come true, but it’s very seldom that they succeed and this is something you can see everywhere. It’s a place that makes you desperate and I wanted to get those dark vibes into the song. But on the other hand the track is also a celebration of life – we should be excited to be here, everybody’s a legend and they should realise that we should enjoy what we do instead of worrying what other people think.”

The song itself is quite the ear-worm, it is hugely engaging and the chorus of ‘Let’s all die young, it’s so easy and fun, 27 and done’ will appeal to many. Including friends lost along life’s way. It’s difficult not to consider the irony of a fifty year old, espousing the live fast, die young mantra but age jades this listener. It’s a great track, with a Lost Boys enthusiasm but it doesn’t sit comfortably. The 69 Eyes teams the track with a music video which intersperses the band (with Jyrki doing a passable Ian Astbury impression) and movie footage, taken from the truly horrific ‘horror’ The 27 Club. Spoiler Alert- this is not a spoof, a journalist investigates and discovers a ‘demon’ is responsible for the deaths of these stars. Not a complex combination of contributing factors, whether it is addiction, mental health or misadventure but rather a physical monster. If only..

The Black Orchid takes a more melancholic and darkly romantic leaning. Subtle piano-work, spacey effects and kick ass guitars collide to form a collage that is missing just dry ice and green lasers. A more distinctive piano and strings introduce the emotive and brooding Change. The pace increases and the mood lifts for the dark fairytale of Burn Witch Burn, which could be a commentary on vanity and the madness of social media. With its retro styling and accessibility, this could perfectly accompany a  high speed car chase in a blockbuster.

Cheyenna feels familiar, captivating in its anthemic simplicity and its mesmeric riff. Heavy on the tambourine, and  toms it’s impossible not to think of The Cult.   The Last House On The Left, an homage to the Wes Craven cult horror film is the hardest hitting number on the album. With additional vocals supplied by Wednesday 13 (Murderdolls), Calico Cooper (Beastö Blancö and daughter of Alice Cooper) and a hillbilly feel, honky tonk piano and a driving rhythm. The track suffers a little from the myriad layers and a lack of clarity in production, but it would inspire no complaints in a club atmosphere.

Whimsical, but powerful, Death & Desire incorporates all elements necessary for a classic rock ballad. With a bluesier bent, Outsiders is somewhat overlooked in its placement as the Eastern influenced Be Here Now is far more dramatic, contrived and initially engaging. The offering closes with the longest number on the album Hell Has No Mercy. Slow burning, with a pared back precision it is powerful in its subtlety. Well-constructed, well produced and with a beautifully melancholic air. The 69 Eyes must recognise that less is more, but despite the duration – the song soes not drag.

In all, it is a good album, probably a very good starting point if you are unfamiliar with the band. There are great hooks and choruses, with less depth and complexity in the lyrical content so it is easily digestible. With less wit, briefer songs and greater repetition, The 69 Eyes could become the goth Ramones. 7.5/10

West End is available now and can be purchased here

Tracklist:

  1. Two Horns Up
  2. 27 & Done
  3. Black Orchid
  4. Change
  5. Burn Witch Burn
  6. Cheyenna
  7. The Last House On The Left
  8. Death & Desire
  9. Outsiders
  10. Be Here Now
  11. Hell Has No Mercy

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