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In 1984, Depeche Mode set the music scene afire with their "Master & Servant" single, almost instantaneously transforming the group from teen-scream, synth-pop stars into serious artists. The band's flirtation with the industrial scene was exceedingly brief, but extraordinarily influential, providing a launching pad for such later legends as Skinny Puppy, Ministry, and Nine Inch Nails, among many others. Depeche's Some Great Reward album's lusher sounds and its search for meaning equally resonated with the New Romantics, whose own love of decay and romance was spawned straight out of the U.K.'s earlier proto-gothic movement. Suddenly the gap between Depeche and the likes of Duran Duran, Soft Cell, and Ultravox dramatically closed. Crüxshadows' Dreamcypher beautifully bridges the remaining gaps between the two genres. In fact, the album seems to pick up precisely where Reward left off, such a logical progression that it actually makes more sense than Depeche's own move towards the despair of Black Celebration. The perfect union of early industrial sounds and club-fired rhythms, wedded to darkly lavish New Romantic atmospheres, almost vulgarly rich infectious melodies, and lyrics that delve goth-like deep into the human psyche, Dreamcypher travels a road not taken, but one that has beckoned bands ever since the mid-'80s. Echoes of the past reverberate throughout the set, the shaded but still catchy synth-pop melodies so reminiscent of Depeche, the wafting atmospheres of Ultravox, the shrouded auras of the Mission, the disco-fied beats of the Pet Shop Boys, but Crüxshadows do give it their own twist, chiefly through the band's excellent use of strings. There's at least half-a-dozen tracks that are potential club hits within, including the driving "Sophia," the compulsive "Windbringer," the guitar flecked "Defender," the disco- fied "Elissa," the sweeping "Birthday," and the epic "Eye of the Storm." There again, one could easily add another four or five to this list, so strong is this set. The past as it never was, but always should have been, and now finally is.

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