Music Reviews

Artist: Florian Grey (@)
Title: Ritus
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Florian Grey is a German gothic rock band fronted by vocalist Florian Grey, with bandmates Von Marengo (guitars); Yannik "Rage" Bockelmann (drums); and Simon Zlotos (keyboards/bass). Hell Boulevard Frontmann Matteo Vdiva Fabiani also provides some guest vocals. 'Ritus' is their sophomore album after 2015's debut, 'Gone'. Mr. Grey was previously with the band Eve's End, and although he started this new enterprise as a solo project, it's developed into a regular full-time thing. One listen to 'Ritus' and it sounds like these guys have been around a lot longer than 2015. There's a professional quality to it that bespeaks lots of experience, and although some of that may be due to producer Hilton Theissen, it's Florian and the band that are doing the heavy lifting here. The first thing that makes this band stand out is Florian's strong, distinctive, melodic baritone vocals. Nothing gruff, screamo or harsh here, just an excellent voice. Next thing you may notice is the plethora of hooks, and while not all equally potent, there are enough standouts to make you want to hear them again, and that's a really big plus. Third is the musicianship and arrangements, both of which are impeccable. With all three going for the band, this is a killer combo. And it's not just the songs, but also the atmospherics which are important in gothic rock. Although the band does occasionally sound more alternative than goth (owing to a more pop-commercial than arcane appeal) there is enough dark matter to pull the listener back to the black. While I wouldn't call the band goth metal, Von's guitars have plenty of edge that often lean in that direction giving the band a certain toughness, especially on "Blucifer" (which opens the album), and "Relief," two of the best rockers on the album. Another song that deserves mention is "My Babylon," perhaps the real hit single off this album. From song to song there is plenty of variety- up, down, and mid tempos that keep the listeners engaged. And of course, all songs are sung in English. You know, some of the best gothic stuff is coming out of Germany these days (Such as the band The Cascades) and with Florian Grey's crossover appeal, they really should be popular in America as well. (Why can't we have talented bands like this here instead of the crop of whiney-ass millennials that always seem to be in the spotlight?) Unfortunately it's expensive to tour (especially in the States) and unless there's a big pile of money behind a band, it just can't happen. For my money though 'Ritus' is an excellent album, well worth purchasing, especially in an age of hit-or-miss efforts. You should visit Florian Grey's website too because it's very well done, better than mnany I've seen and that's another plus.

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