The Sisters of Mercy
ver wonder what happens when you jettison an entire crew of shipmates from your successful Stooges/Suicide hybrid dry ice rock & roll fantasy band? Well, if you're Andrew Eldritch, you hire a comely-looking bassist-cum-Siouxsie-clone, hook up with the guy that produced Bat Out of Hell, get thyself a choir, and pen the world's first Gothic Rock Opera. Subject matter? The fallibility of love and English dreaming, the impending apocalypse, hot metal, and methedrine, etc. You know. Just the usual stuff.
The good (bad!) folks at WEA have decided to reissue this gem, which once nestled at the cushy $9.99 price point, as an $18.99 "remaster" (we'll get to that later) with the two original CD bonus tracks and two additional ones—one of which any self-respecting Sisters fan has long since tracked down on dub cassette, mp3, bootleg flexi-vinyl, and/or suspicious-looking Israeli CD-single. The kicker, of course, is that pernicious fourth bonus track—the full-length version of "Never Land," which originally appears on Floodland as a three-minute excerpt. Here in all 12 minutes of (somewhat-repetitive) glory, it will inevitably force those aforementioned fans back out to the stores (once the sun has set, of course) to plop down their ducats for this album once more. Why?
Because it's the greatest fucking album in the history of humanity, you silly sod. So great that it defines and defiles a genre at the same time: it's both the best Goth album ever and not a Goth album at all. It's the epic, singular work of one insufferable bastard, a drum machine, and a chick with a bass playing along (Patricia Morrison, chick in question, was infamously dismissed at the Sisters Post-Tour Social and Booster Club Bake Sale with the words "all I need is someone to hold a bass low enough. And you're out."). Floodland is a cathedral of sound and vision consecrated in the name of the Church of the Holy Armageddon, a great sweltering slab of Teutonic shock-tactics and Albion's dismay, one tremendously portentous, pretentious and preposterous excuse to get rum-fucking loaded on speed and vodka tonics and blow shit up in the name of... well, in the name of nothing in particular. It's been a bad week, you see...
Those with silver Crowley pendants firmly tucked under their Wal-Mart blazers will no doubt rush off to stores once this sees domestic release no matter what I say, but in the interest of saving your precious beer budget, lemme just tell you that THERE HAS BEEN ABSOLUTELY NO REMASTERING DONE TO THIS RECORD. Which, really, is good news for history—even the volume has been thankfully kept at non-earsplitting levels, rather than being senselessly increased. The record sounded fine in 1987 and it sounds just fine now. It does again beg the question, though: why? And what's-it-all-for?
Simply put (again), you need to own this album. If you ever walked in the shadows with your head held high, if you ever entertained thoughts of murder or suicide, if you perhaps suspected everything might not quite be so peachy keen about this here human existence, this album is your proverbial huckleberry. The ball begins to roll down the silver chute with "Dominion" and its spooky keyboard patterns and shuffling 4/4 beat that makes no attempt to conceal its inorganic origins. Then we have the barely-sung vocals more taut than the muscles on a hamstrung junkie. And those atmospheric and epic touches hanging about like black lace over a freshly-declothed bride. Imagine watching the first day of dailies from Murnau's Nosferatu set to a late-80's dance beat. Jam number two, "Flood I," unveils the coin's flipside, as a funereal synth armada seeks and destroys all light in the known universe while Eldritch intones cozy sweet nothings about the end of the world.
Floodland gets better, but it doesn't really get all that different and it doesn't need to—"Lucretia My Reflection" and the ridiculously triumphant "This Corrosion" are the dance jams, all serpentine bass and thinly-veiled drug / England allusions. "1959" and "Flood II" are the ballads—the former just heavily-reverbed-piano and Andy's musings on some forgotten femme fatale, the latter a continuation of the tenuous concept-pieces tying this little operetta together. "Driven Like the Snow" deserves mention not for its oft-repeated "fuck me and marry me young" line (hell, it was even printed on a t-shirt), but for its sweep and roll—it ends the album (more or less) on a motion-inducing yet appropriately querulous note, leaving us panting for more and awaiting the inevitable bonus tracks with all the aplomb of a wilting virgin.
Reviewed by: Mallory O’Donnell
Reviewed on: 2006-12-07