Black Velvet Butterfly are a one-man band from Auckland featuring James Castady-Kristament. I was intrigued to be sent this as when I looked on their Bandcamp page it said, “It may just well be the coolest thing you’ve heard in the Goth scene since Type O Negative.” Now that is one heck of a statement and given my love of Pete Steele, I was definitely up for this. Would it have the menace of their earlier work such as ‘The Origin of the Feces (Not Live at Brighton Beach)’ or the sheer brilliance of ‘Life Is Killing Me’? Actually, neither is true, as what we have here is something which is far more related to the Eighties UK alternative scene than the Goth metal giants of New York.
For this their second album, James says possibly it is safe to say BVB make Goth adjacent music, i.e. music which Goths will enjoy, although for me this is more Goth-lite. Being a one-man band always contains inherent problems, such as rarely being a master of all instruments, and no external viewpoint, and that is definitely something this album suffers with, particularly with the programmed drums. There is also quite a concentration on keyboards, with the guitars being a long way in the background, even though there are plenty of riffs being provided. In many ways, the band BVB most remind me of is Bauhaus, but without the menace one would expect, yet with the same use of space. Some of the songs contain lyrics which are more than just innuendo and are supposed to be either funny or horrific, but miss the mark on both accounts.
The production means that the instruments rarely shine, and the vocals do not have the presence one would expect with this style of music, nor the gravitas. The result is something which would not have sounded out of place more than 30 years ago, and while there are Goth influences here and there, it never contains the melancholy and pain of bands like The Cure, now the angst or dynamism of The Banshees. The fantastic cover artwork is from Scott Jackson, and promises an album of some delight, but unfortunately the music fails to deliver, and the result is a middle of the road release with a few Gothic overtones here and there. 5/10 by Kev Rowland