Aurelio Voltaire has been releasing increasingly more mature work as of late, which is solidified at this level with Heart Shaped Wound. The album is actually billed as a sequel of sorts to Boo Hoo! which was one of the first Aurelio Voltaire albums that I had heard growing up during those “New Sound Of Goth” days. That record however, was a bit more melancholy and not quite as upbeat as this one, which is certainly not a bad thing. I’d definitely consider The Cure meets Sisters Of Mercy sound more than fitting, with several memorable cuts to be found within it’s hour-long playing time. We begin with the surf-rock of “The Projectionist” in which the violins handle the mood quite well. It’s a bit of a dancy track, with a meaningful metaphor in the lyrical matter. “Human Nature” actually feels touched by a little bit of early U2 or REM. The new wave styled guitars bring a decidedly different approach to what we know from the artist, albeit in a satisfying way. “Leaves In The Stream” continues the guitar-influenced sound, with an opening solo that makes me questionably wonder… “Is he actually going to go heavy during this one?” While there is definitely distortion used in the track, it retains a jazzy nature as it incorporates a male/female duet and some unexpected metal riffs. Yes, I am being honest here, those are metal riffs. The symphonics in the background also help the mood of this piece, seeming like a Baroque era meld of vaudeville and heavy metal. I never would have expected a heavy song from Aurelio Voltaire, but it works. This is definitely a standout for me.
The mood changes with “Butterfly” which brings in another male/female vocal duet. It’s a slightly melancholy, yet rather beautiful piece. The piano flows well with the violin and light pianos, making me think of an early ’60s rock piece. “In Disguise” brings back that signature Aurelio Voltaire sound, as gypsy-folk combines with carnival synths to show us that despite all of these unexpected changes, this is still the same Voltaire we knew before he added the “Aurelio” to his name. Without a doubt, this is not only his signature sound, but truly signature Voltaire. We could go all of the way back to The Devil’s Bris for this one. Next we have, “The Ones Who’ve Hurt You” which is a rather dark and passionate ballad. Voltaire’s approach here is nothing short of heart-wrenching, it can at often times be a bit difficult to listen to, especially for those who can identify with the lyrics. The next one is actually a cover of the classic “Hallelujah” which I would have never expected from this guy in a hundred years. I think some of the lyrics might be a bit different though. Oh, yeah. They’re definitely different. A background choir is actually utilized here, along with a church organ; so it is meant to sound a little authentic. But that’s not the real shocker, as “The Necropolis Of Former Lovers” doesn’t even sound like Aurelio Voltaire at all. This is about the closest that he’s gotten to emulating The Smiths or The Cure, especially in those synths and dreamy riffs. What’s more, is that there is a slightly different mix of this track located at the very end as a bonus. The emulation is however perfect, and it stands as one of Aurelio Voltaire’s best moments.
“The Folly Of Love” is a piece that utilizes it’s jazz and acoustic goth rock elements perfectly. Lyrically, it’s a beast. I think that many of us can relate to this one, myself included. The horns and saxophones are equally as beastly, crafting yet another real hit. This one’s going on my playlist for sure. The last song here is called “A Romantic Guy” which I’d consider to be rather jaunty. The lyrical matter is also something I identify with, having been with some of the kinds of people mentioned in the song. Nope, I don’t have time for that shit either. The bonus mix of “The Necropolis Of Former Lovers” definitely creates more of a foreboding nature to the piece, though it keeps airy. This is considered the “Midnight Mausoleum Mix” and I’d certainly consider it that. I daresay that the vocal performance sounds even better in this mix, and it is in by no means a cast-off.
Aurelio Voltaire decided to pull off something completely different and out of character this time around, opting for something that feels less like what we’d expect and more like those that inspired him. The end result is nothing short of memorable, even though it could be an arguable emulation. Even so, Heart Shaped Wound may very well be one of the best album I’ve heard from the man since Almost Human. The approach to heartbreak here is far more mature, and I guess looking at it through the eyes of an older man really seemed a bit more identifiable for me. Not all of us WILL find love. That’s the clincher. No matter how many people say, “Oh, you’ll find the right person eventually” that is actually nothing more than wishful thinking. It’s like if someone said, “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be a millionaire someday.” Obviously, that just doesn’t happen either. You have to think about it like this: How much of other people’s shit can you actually deal with on a daily basis? I hear constantly about couples that fight all the time, yet are still together for the kids. I hear constantly about women going through custody battles and men who just leave abruptly with no intention of ever being a father to the woman they knocked up. Also keep in mind that you never know who it is that you’re really dating or are in love with, and personalities change like the wind. I’ve known couples that have been together for a decade and then split because their personalities changed so much. Robots are obviously the next venture for human relations, so I suspect that much of the reality that we’ve observed regarding this subject will change entirely. Unless we end up fighting them for out survival, as that is ALWAYS a possibility. In any case, definitely pick up Aurelio Voltaire’s Heart-Shaped Wound as it is one of the best releases he’s ever made in my opinion. Though it isn’t silly, it is passionate – which is an area in which the man has always been proficient.
(11 Tracks, 54:00)