Sutcliffe Jugend - Shame [Hagshadow - 2017]Upping their release schedule exponentially over the past year, Sutcliffe Jugend is back (again) with Shame from Hagshadow. Consisting of five introspective tracks. Kevin Tomkins and Paul Taylor continue to grow Sutcliffe Jugend within the industrial/power electronics framework. Closer in nature to Offal than earlier works, Shame sees SJ stick more toward musical structures than the wailing feedback of power electronics.
Shame continues the current trend of richly produced, really clean Sutcliffe Jugend releases that have graced the scene the past few years. Thick synths pop in the beginning of "Shame" before distinct, somewhat distorted vocals come to the fore. Kevin's rant works well with the low, slowly moving synthesized notes and accentuated, creaking highs. While interesting, new sounds pop in and out on "Shame," the opener doesn't stray too far from its course on the thirteen minute run time. High, plucked strings add a shrillness to the first few minutes of "Sledge." Channeling horror movie scores, this somewhat creepy beginning is compromised by a fairly goofy lyrical approach. Transitioning from Halloween into Jerry Maguire, "Sledge" seems to go off course and crash in a jumble of wonky note patterns and power electronic, lyrical humdrummery. Though, there's an over-the-top, Morrissey vibe to Kevin's delivery at times, so it's not a total loss. "Hurts" recovers the tone of Shame quite nicely, and begins with low oscillations and sweeping waves of gritty static. With the vocals dirtier and further back into the mix, one feels that Sutcliffe Jugend is returning to familiar turf on this track. Noisy swashes break way and free the seething, otherworldly oscillations from their cocoons, leaving the listener stuck aboard a spaceship under an alien attack and heading for disaster. Like the alert sirens that would sound on the aforementioned ship, "Bait" uses a persistent pulse of crunchy synth to rhythmically bring the listener in close before Kevin and his angry vocals grab him by the ears and scream SJ's message into his face. The backing synths are much lighter and add some honest to goodness music into the fray. Head noddingly different, "Bait" shows a new direction for Sutcliffe Jugend, and it's a nice change of pace. "Blood," on the other hand, closes out Shame with a dense, swirling mass of sound that seems to capture everything around it. Like sirens teaming up with a black hole, "Blood" draws the listener in only to bring them to their sonic demise.
Sutcliffe Jugend has been prolific over the past year or so, and have been working on tweaking their sound a bit on each release. Having been part of the scene for over thirty years, it's great to see Kevin and Paul staying active and doing their best to keep their project fresh. While Shame has some goofy, somewhat clunky moments, overall, it's a solid release that should please most of the industrial community.Paul Casey