Fans of acts like Depeche Mode and VNV Nation will absolutely love the work done here, as it shows a prime example of electro-pop at it’s most volatile. When we’re working with this kind of material, we’ve got to focus on how much staying power it has and how well each of these five songs will stand as a whole. It is only five tracks, but there’s enough here in twenty minutes to leave a lasting impression on the listener. The Canadian act have been around for a good while and are nearing a decade’s worth of musical activity, as this EP continues to showcase their continued staying power. The disc begins with “Seduced By A Disease” an airy, yet gothic atmosphere that reminds me a little of The Cruxshadows. What really sells the piece is it’s chorus, which is right out of the dark pop manual. Yes, this is decidedly poppy material with love/hate relationship lyrics, but I’d certainly rather listen to it than ninety percent of the material that they play on Wal-Mart Radio.
Next we get to “You Hurt” which I have a slight issue with. It seems that the band opted for a backing vocal approach in which a screamed or harsh vocal approach follows several lines in the piece, but the whole time I was listening to it, I was getting more and more aggravated with the second section of the track. Here, the backing vocals oddly began to follow the verse structure, which as you might expect, comes off hugely disjointed and sounds like a complete mess. During the chorus lines, these few shouts actually accentuate the piece, but it would have been much better if the second verse of the track followed the same approach as the first. This over-exaggeration was complete overkill for me. For All The Emptiness is not a heavy metal band, nor is their music all that fierce, so this implementation was questionable for me. If I’d noticed that the backing vocals were getting in the way of the main verse, I would have simply deleted those tracks. It’s all about breathing room, in which there simply isn’t any there.
Thankfully, the rest of the record is free from such unnecessary experiments and instead follows a rather common formula which comes off a bit more appealing to the ear. Obviously, by taking a “less is more” approach, the fragile approach offered within the vocal stylings feels more genuine and less polluted. “I’ll Remember Confusion” is decent enough, but I don’t think it’ll be the kind of song that For All The Emptiness will play live very often. “Hearts Against Minds” on the other hand, comes off just in the style of VNV nation and gives us a shiny and memorable chorus that finds itself perfectly lodged in between the dance-friendly beats of slightly dark-tinged EBM. The band is incredibly rooted in VNV Nation worship, but that doesn’t really bother me as it feels like they want to follow in the footsteps of such an act.
The last track here is “Stronger Than Before” which along with the album opener is a major standout for me. Maybe some of the soundclips aren’t necessary as they take away from the experience, but the overall performance more or less defines the band. The track is obviously a little different in nature from the romantically themed opener as it deals with “ripping the system” as KMFDM coined it back in the eighties, but it is good to see that For All The Emptiness have more in their lyrical coffers than a vast trove of these kinds of bands, who usually just focus on bad relationships, making this kind of gothic pop the alter-ego of it’s bubble-gum relative. It’s not that I mind either, (I grew up listening to the bubble gum stuff before I found out about other genres of music) but let’s not title this something that it is not and say to another that you are better because your record isn’t Sia, Adelle, Lana Del Rey or Lorde (now early Lorde, as they’ve gone into some weird avant-pop.) To Adelle’s and Lana Del Rey’s credit, they’ve performed several songs right along the lines of “Seduced By A Disease” even though stylized in a slightly different manner. At least For All The Emptiness knows what kind of band they are, and with this record they feel comfortable in their own skin. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely recommendable to fans of the genre, and possibly even those who are entirely new to it.
(5 Tracks, 21:00)