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coverpic flag Australia - Full Moon 156 - 06/07/09

The Tenth Stage
Grand Guignol

John von Ahlen and Roberto Massaglia make up the Tenth Stage, a band in a genre of its own. Their new effort is highly theatrical and synth driven, thus creating synth cabaret.

"Travelogue" starts with ominous sounds, and then spirals into a rather neat version of synth pop. The lead vocal is stylized and sinister. "The Ballad of the Decaying Man" is an intriguing slice of a macabre tale, Massaglia inhabiting the Edgar Allan Poe-ish tale with customary élan. The backing is suitably eerie and makes me think of the wonderful gothic musician Voltaire.

"Sex is bad Eddie" gives us a tale of a mother-dominated guy set to a Nine Inch Nails-like backing of hissing keyboards. It's also catchy as hell. "Early Morning Prayer" is told from the perspective of a man waiting for his execution; it's dense and throbbing in an effective way. Massaglia's vocal is maybe a bit on the affected side, but it suits the song well. The Tenth Stage's album wont appeal to everyone, but those who fall in love with it will remain that way.

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