The 69 Eyes – “Death Of Darkness” – Review

The 69 Eyes – “Death Of Darkness” – Review

7th May 2023 0 By Gavin Griffiths

“Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.” You’ll recognize these words, as the iconic tagline from the 1987 cult classic, that is, “The Lost Boys”. A film that will stand the test of time; it modernized vampire cinema over three decades ago, with a stunning location, and a superb cast, mixing dramatic tension, with light horror and dark comedy, and it arguably has the best soundtrack ever put to film. It’ll forever go down as one of the all-time greats of its genre. Funnily enough, as it just so happens, it perfectly ties into today’s band; THE 69 EYES 


The Helsinki Vampires are essentially the lost boys of Gothic rock (Come on like, they have a song about the film for Christ’s sake) and just like David Powers, they parade more denim and leather-clad swagger than you can shake a crucifix at. Some bands are just built cool, and The 69 Eyes have been among the coolest cats in town since their inception in 1989. Their stunning 30-year anniversary celebration album “West End” was, yet another argument for the case that they actually ARE vampires, as they never seem to show signs of slowing. 2023 is about to test that theory once more, as the Finnish five-piece has just dropped another new album, entitled “Death Of Darkness”. Is the Sun about to rise on these nocturnal rockers, ending an era? Or will they just sparkle like fucking Edward Cullen, hanging from the rafters of The Riff on disco night? Let’s find out… 


 The album opens up with the title track, and we’ve got a wonderful dose of throwback Goth rock. Aesthetically it’s a slower track, with minimalist riffs for the most part, allowing the simplistic piano keys and Jyrki’s vocal baritone to shine. It could EASILY be from their “Blessed Be” days. As the track grows, it’s a clear case of less is more, which suits Jyrki as a lyricist as well as vocalist, as most 69 Eyes tracks are lyrically, truthfully basic. But, while not quite poetry on say, Ville Valo’s level, it’s the mood that carries you and it works just as well. There are occasional snarls that are quite new for Jyrki, which add more depth and character, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyably straightforward track. Conceptually it’s a song of hope; getting back up on your feet and surviving; surprisingly motivational. 


Next up we have the first of three previously released EP tracks, starting with “Drive”. It’s a very guitar-driven track, with a somewhat 80’s glam rock/hair metal appeal in its tone. As Gothic as the band are visually, typically tonally even…it’s tracks like this that showcase their love for no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll, and they have fun playing it. It’s an up-tempo, percussion-rich, no-nonsense rocker and harks back to the band’s garage rock roots.  


The EP also offered up “California”, which could easily be an unreleased track from the “Angels” sessions, or even a demo for “Los Angeles” thinking about it. They do like California to be fair, especially with their live album “Hollywood Kills”. I’m surprised they haven’t done songs about the Hillside Strangler, but they DO subtly make reference to Richard Ramirez here. It’s less Kanta-Häme, and more Santa Clarita, y’know? It’s another upbeat bluesy rock ‘n’ roll track and has a message of indulgence, addiction if you will; that LA lifestyle and the craving for it, good or bad.  


“Call Me Snake” has a very SISTERS OF MERCY-inspired riff as it harks back to the 80’s post-punk vibe, almost embracing Jyrki’s work with MUSTA PARAATI in ways. It’s more aggressive vocally in places and is a grittier, angst-riddled track as a result. There was a stand-alone single by the name “Gotta Rock” which is also included, and it’s a very bass-driven offering. It is, in ways, an ode to rockabilly legend GENE VINCENT in a classic 69 Eyes fashion, with nods to “Be-Bop-A-Lula”, modernized with more of a deep drawl, and it showcases Jyrki’s influences. It’s sultry and highlights the edgy sex appeal these personalities had in the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll. It highlights the importance of the genre, culturally and socially, as it was a massive shift in style and perception from traditional blues, despite the fearful naysayers. 


The biggest take from the new album, however, comes in the form of a collaboration, and we find reality TV superstar/tattoo artist KAT VON D returning for the track “This Murder Takes Two”. Since we first heard her on “Rosary Blue”, she’s come on leaps and bounds, especially with her recent solo electro-pop album “Love Made Me Do It”. The dark-country vibes and Americana stylistics, with the duality of Jyrki’s baritone and Kat’s more melodic, albeit fragile performance, give off almost Bonnie & Clyde vibes. There are references to counting crows, (Although technically three crows make a murder), and the country aspects are apparently from a planned recording with JOHN CARTER CASH, son of the one and only JOHHNY CASH. It’s different but it remains dark enough to feel at home here. A lovely, simplistic album highlight.

Elsewhere we have “Something Real” and it’s a late highlight, parading The 69 Eyes by numbers if you will, with a repetitive yet catchy guitar hook, while the rest of the album plods along in a frankly platonic manner. Sure, it’s The 69 Eyes; their vampiric blend of Goth ‘N’ Roll is a naturally sexy, winning combination, generally speaking at least. However, for a group of veteran bloodsuckers, it’s somehow lacking bite.  


The EP and singles that fed into this album are fine, we’ve already heard them, we know they are good…and we’ve got some additional gems, but the ten tracks on offer here, as a collection overall, feel very safe. The 69 Eyes are masters of their craft, there is absolutely no doubt about that, but there are elements here that feel as though they are going through the motions. Of course, this IS an enjoyable record, and it was always going to be, but with past efforts like “Cheyenne”, “Black”, and “Blackbird Pie” on recent albums, this falls JUST short of their typically high standards. With a scheduled date at Whitby penciled in for this Autumn, (Regarding the UK at least) and the possibility of a handful of additional dates, it’s safe to say that these new tracks will slot in alongside existing classics, if not highlight them. I’m not knocking the album, far from it, it’s an enjoyable listen, we’ve just been too spoiled in the past. Pour yourself a Shiraz, light a candle, and toast to the death of darkness. *Lights candle* What’s that smell? Vampires my friend…vampires.  

Album Score: 7/10

Track List:

  1. “Death Of Darkness”
  2. “Drive”
  3. “Gotta Rock”
  4. “This Murder Takes Two (feat Kat Von D)”
  5. “California”
  6. “Call Me Snake”
  7. “Dying In The Night”
  8. “Something Real”
  9. “Sundown”
  10. “Outlaws”

Record Label: Atomic Fire

Release Date: April 21st (Available Now)

For all things 69 Eyes, click HERE and to purchase the album, click HERE

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