“When everything’s dark, keeps us from the stark reality” – a quote from the track Waiting For The Night – of the legendary album Violator by synthie pop veterans DEPECHE MODE seems to sum up the fascination of darkness that a lot of musicians like to share with these old heroes. There’s always a bit more to discover in the twilight. Of course the 1980s were a peak for the combination of sinister atmosphere and catchy melodies – starting from JOY DIVISION, to BAUHAUS, THE CURE or the whole scene of Dark Wave, Industrial or EBM that emerged from such bands. Over the past three decades those tendencies never completely disappeared, they always pop up from time to time – in various forms. From the hard synthetic sounds of NINE INCH NAILS in the 90s to the renaissance of post-punk at the beginning of the 21st century and groups like INTERPOL, EDITORS or the recent reincarnation of dark electro pop with acts like AUSTRA. Different forms and genres, combined in their darkened undertone and the ability to create a specific atmosphere of desperation and this specific cryptic magic. This mixture tends to be never out of style.
German quartet IMAGINARY WAR follows these footsteps by soaking up the best ingredients from all those acts, influences and genre roots and transforming them into their own unique band sound. With the release of the first full longplayer IMAGINARY WAR present themselves ready and ‘armed’ for their songs to enter a wider audience. Replacing The Ghosts shows a band capable in mixing old analog synthies with a full band sound and presents songs that are both – atmospheric and somehow catchy. Frontman Joki Schaller and his combatants Roman Geiselhart (guitar), Martin Pierzchala (machines) and Axel Kunz (drums) serve a diverting follow-up to last year’s self-titled debut EP.
The twelve hymns present themselves diversified with lead single The Tide Has Turned as driving opener that doesn’t even try to hide its pop and hit-ambitions. Tracks like Expression or Embrace show the ability of IMAGINARY WAR to create broadband anthems. Slower songs like Love Overdose with the distinctive – almost Martin Gore-sounding blues guitar and the introspective lyrics – are an obvious and loving redemption to DEPECHE MODE. Feed Me With Lies however shows the affection of combining solid pop melodies with disturbing and industrial elements. Next to the significant guitar and drum sound it’s mostly the voice of frontman Joki that leads the listener through the shallows of the night.
One of the striking characteristics of Replacing The Ghosts is the fact that there are always slices of hope in the roaring soundscape of IMAGINARY WAR. It’s not all black and futile in the darkness. Even Gore pointed this out back in 1990 – “To my surprise with half closed eyes Things looked even better than when they were opened”. And things are looking really good for those four men in the year 2012. And there’s a good choice that not only fans of old 80s Goth Pop will embrace the fesh songs and ideas of these group. Looks like it is the right time, the right songs and the perfect ‘Zeitgeist’ for falling on love with the band – even in daylight. We did – are you joining us?
wave / synthie-pop