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Tarantism Review

by J. Edward Keyes

Though frequently mislabelled a goth band because of their penchant for fake blood and dark eye makeup, the all-girl combo Subtonix is actually closer both in spirit and sound to late-'70s bands like Essential Logic and Fuzzbox. Though Jessy Panic howls and moans like a heartsick Siouxsie Sioux, she is countered by wailing, skronking saxophone (so drenched in echo it could be coming from the bottom of a well) and shrieking synths. The songs on Tarantism have a frantic, chug-a-chug quality, built mostly around short, rhythmic keyboard and basslines (the band has no guitar player). And though Subtonix could be accused of writing the same song ten times (that song being Fuzzbox's "Love Is the Slug"), their music is so singular it is difficult to raise too many objections. Panic chants like a witch during "Black Nails in My Coffin," infusing lyrics like, "I hear her screaming down the hall" with no small amount of dread. The mood lightens occasionally (the slightly up-tempo "My Favorite Way to Die" is one instance), but mostly Tarantism plays to the band's strengths: driving rhythms augmented by foghorn-like bursts of synth and sax. To their great credit, Subtonix manages to make that simple formula formidable enough to, well, raise the dead.

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