Friday, January 20, 2006

Are You Ready To Go Now?

Coil - The Ape of Naples

After the sad death of their singer Jhon Balance in late 2004 the remaining members of Coil announced that they would release some material they'd already recorded and then call it quits. The Ape of Naples is their final album, mostly consisting of material from many years ago when they recorded at Trent Reznor's Nothing Studios. The album was to be called Backwards but it was never released and was presumed lost forever in giant record company limbo.

Since the tracks on this album come from a few different sources they don't really fit together very cohesively, but individually they're very strong. It doesn't rank in the top tier of the albums they've released, but for such a good band with such a sizeable back catalog that's no insult. More than anything it sounds like Horse Rotorvator, one of their earliest albums. The songs are more 'songy' and conventional in structure than their more recent releases, which tend to be more experimental.

Two of the Nothing Studios tracks are very reminiscent of the older albums, 'It's in my Blood' and 'I Don't Get It' are full of dirty-synth screamy goodness, almost like Throbbing Gristle. Other tracks are not such difficult listening, 'Cold Cell' and 'Amber Rain' are, freaky subject matter aside, fairly accessible. 'Triple Sun' is surprisingly melodic for these guys, and 'Heaven's Blade' is very catchy and even danceable. Together they represent Coil at their most upbeat and beautiful, and are some of the best songs on the album.

The newer tracks include 'Tattooed Man', which is in a similar vein to the others, although with a quirky circus vibe, and featuring an accordian of all things. There are also extended versions of two of their older songs 'Amethyst Deceivers' and 'Teenage Lightning' (both of which exist in several other versions already).

The album is bookended by two hymn-like songs, 'Fire of the Mind' and 'Going Up', both of which deal with death. The last is the better of the two, the lyrics are provided by the theme song to an old British sitcom, and are reinterpreted as an ascension to the afterlife. The backing music is stolen from one of my favorite Coil songs, 'Rosa Decidua' off Amethyst Deceivers, and underneath it all Jhon Balance whispers 'It just is...' from beyond the grave.

It's not their best album, but still a worthy swan song for one of the greatest bands ever, and I'm really going to miss them.

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