The 69 Eyes

Back in Blood

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The 69 Eyes may have been Finland's premiere goth'n'roll band for many years, but with their international career still largely relegated to minor cult popularity at best, the fact that 2009's Back in Blood is actually the group's tenth studio album will surely be lost on most music consumers. Incredible as it may seem, though, the band has indeed been around since 1989, and therefore can boast both the mileage and experience to back up its seemingly gimmicky, sleazy glam-punk image, as well as its surprisingly traditional ‘80s goth foundation, sonically steeped primarily in the Sisters of Mercy thanks to singer Jyrki Linnankivi's Eldritch-like baritones. And despite the inescapable aesthetic similarities, Back in Blood highlights like the guitar-driven, piano-tinkling "We Own the Night," "Dead n' Gone," and "Lips of Blood" prove yet again that the 69 Eyes are almost always at their best when safely ensconced within that mid-paced goth rock comfort zone. Even minor deviations, like crossing the cock rock borderline on "The Good, the Bad & the Undead" or waxing balladic on "Hunger," generally fail to pack quite the same punch. So too several songs that resemble mere musical shells hastily plopped atop clever but clumsily written lyrics ("Dead Girls Are Easy," the hard-edged "Suspiria Snow White") or the occasional glaring song-theft (see "Night Watch," which nicks the dual harmonies of Blue Öyster Cult's "Burning for You"), but when you least expect it, the album's closing Johnny Cash-inspired lament, "Eternal," hits the mark perfectly, like it's an outtake from the American Recordings series. And it's precisely because of these mixed results that perhaps the weirdest thing about Back in Blood is how damn entertaining it is from start to finish and through thick and thin -- surely a testament to how the 69 Eyes have been haunting their castle long enough to get by on charm, even when the music itself lags behind somewhat.

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