The Album List: #81 The Sisters of Mercy “Floodland”

I’m not a goth. I’m a clean-cut looking punk rock girl. I worship the Clash and the Kinks and the Smiths. While all three could have their depressing moments, let us face it, none of them are goth. But then the part of me that adores the Cure, Souixsie and the Banshees, and The Sisters of Mercy. Those bands- goth. Granted, calling the Cure goth is kind of like calling Green Day punk- the pieces are there, the execution is different from what it should be.

Floodland was Andrew Eldritch’s masterpiece, rising like a phoenix out of the ashes of the original The Sisters of Mercy, which fractured after their first full-length album. Eldritch emerged victorious after all the lawsuits and PR nightmares, and released this operatic, Jim Steinman-produced classic of the genre. The centerpiece is an epic, nine minute-plus track that has a forty member choir singing on it. This album, in fact, makes little sense.That track, of course, it the massive and brilliant “This Corrosion”, rumoured to be about his relationship with past band members, who went on to become the Mission. He and Patricia Morrison, who plays bass on the album, and the ever faithful drum machine, nicknamed Doktor Avalanche by Eldritch, create a massive, Wagnerian sound scape. by this point, they were all that was left of The Sisters of Mercy, and Steinman’s natural inclination for vocals and show were conflicting with Eldritch’s own inclinations to have massive guitars and drums.  The song is a masterpiece of bitterness and viciousness. I listen to it often as a result, for when one despises people as a concept, it makes life a little less lonely.

Eldritch’s own favourite track was the album opener “Dominion/Mother Russia”, an anti-American screed inspired by Chernobyl. like the other Steinman produced track on the record, it’s got that massive choral part, and let’s face it, Eldritch knew exactly how to program a drum machine.

The third single, “Lucretia My Reflection”, is often credited for bringing industrial music to the public consciousness. The entire album actually moves further from traditional “goth” ambitions to a harder, cold, mechanical sound.  This song, dealing with war, death, destruction, and the end of times, is brutal in it’s patterned rhythms and emotionless vocals.

The piano of “1959” stuns when you first listen to it as it’s completely organic, as opposed to mechanical clang of much of the music. It’s more surprising once you read that it was done on a sequencer.

The two pieces that create “Flood” (“Flood I” and “Flood II”) are one part steady beats, one part Eldritch’s obsession with water, with touches like acoustic guitars being buried in massive sonic sagas.

The band recorded one more album before Eldritch proclaimed himself a slave to Warner Brothers, and went on strike. Warners released the band from their contract in the late 90s. The Sisters of Mercy are now exclusively a touring band.  It’s a little sad. Eldritch is a charismatic and compelling singer and songwriter. I’d love to hear more of his band.


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