Electric Hellfire Kiss

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When Swedish goth metal pioneers Cemetary announced they would disband in 1997, numerous groups in and outside Sweden jumped at the chance to step into their shoes. Among them was the then recently formed Tenebre, who anointed themselves the "International Magik Group" -- whatever that means. It's fair to say that they never came close to matching their heroes in terms of success or impact, but six years and four albums later, Tenebre were still peddling their melancholy trade, and listening to Electric Hellfire Kiss is like stamping you passport straight back to old Cemetary classics like Sundown and Last Confessions. Their derivative origins thus exposed, the opening trio of the title track, "Alienation," and "Descend From Heaven" nevertheless get the album going in very promising fashion, their mid-paced hard rock laced with gothic overtones meshing both growled and clean vocals with fetching minor-key guitar melodies and riffs. Sadly, from here on out, brief glimpses of excellence like the energetically straightforward "Beauty Destroyed," the unerringly catchy "Death Becomes You," and the sweetly melancholy outro of "Malochia" are all too often countered with double their dose in clumsy execution ("At the Mountain") and embarrassing gaffes ("Starlight Wolverine"'s opening shout of "Suck me, baby!" -- whatever). Frontman Victor Fradera's often flat, Pete Steele-inspired style of operatic bass singing is partly to blame for this, but it's really Tenebre's collective habit of aping, rather than inventing, that, when all is said and done, causes Electric Hellfire Kiss to ring rather hollow.

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