Open The Sky
Models Own Records
Not so long ago I lamented the dearth of new legit goth rock coming our way, and was rewarded for my whinging with a recommendation to check out Rhombus, an act from the genre’s spiritual home in the north of England. They’d somehow flown under my radar despite having been around for a decade and netting endorsements from the likes of Uncle Mick, and while their third LP’s been out for a while I still wanted to yammer a tad about it. Open The Sky delivers a healthy balance of all of the goth rock tropes a fan could expect, but more importantly maintains a thread of warmth and convivial humanity which is all too often lacking from rote genre exercises.
Rhombus trade in an unapologetically melodic strain of goth which calls “Walk Into The Sun” type March Violets to mind. There’s a dreamy, almost nostalgic blend of swirliness and propulsion to the guitars, and while those are great, it’s the vocals which cinch Rhombus for me. Male and female vocal harmonies have been a part of goth as far back as you’d care to look (Faith & The Muse, Andrew & Ofra, the aforementioned Violets), and Rhombus’ Edward Grassby and Mya carry on that tradition more than capably. There’s a light schmear of Eldritch on Grassby’s vocals, but it’s sent off in a far more reflective and wistful direction. The two voices flit back and forth with each other wonderfully, before alighting on choruses in unison, and when they’re welded to a solid guitar line (as on “Addiction FFS”, “Almost Anything”, and “Anywhere”) they enter into that magical, quasi-anthemic liminal space which first drew me to this sort of stuff. The drum machine arrangements are decent enough, and while they rarely go for that galloping pummel that, say, Solemn Novena did so well, they’re all the better for taking a back seat to the vocals.
Lyrically the record’s a tad less cheeky than previous releases (earlier tracks count “You Only Want Me When You’re Drunk” and “If You Haven’t Been Shot [You Should Be]” amongst their ranks), but there’s a running theme of self-confidence and pride which is just as notable (“I’m proud of who I am”, “Nothing comes from nothing / Fortune never favours the spineless”). Hell, it’s almost enough to make one think back to that ancient “positive punk” tag!
While there are tenser, more strident moments on Open The Sky (the title track, “One Day More”), they still carry the ember-like warmth and earthiness that pervades the record. It’s a quick listen, and one which feels well-unified without ever really repeating itself. If you favour the prettier, more affirming end of goth rock, then there’s nothing not to like about this.