Lizzy Borden’s career reached a peak in the late 80’s, thanks to a consolidated hard/heavy sound allied to a somewhat gothic and horror-themed aura, akin to Alice Cooper in some manner. While the band never really caught my eye, the quality and modus operandi of Borden’s music is really interesting and provides a good amount of fun.
With 30 years in the baggage and some break-ups along the way, the California natives where always sort of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in terms of musicality, shifting from hard rock, radio-friendly songs to heavy/power metal ones frequently, but never losing their own identity, mainly because of Borden’s highly reliable vocals; their last output, ‘Appointment With Death’ (2007) – for that matter – was a really cool slab of heavy/power metal with some hard rock influences that succeeded in grasping the band’s classic theatrical vein and personality.
This time around, however, the story is very, very different. ‘My Midnight Things’, seventh studio album by the Los Angeles group, throws every piece of metal and attitude that once were there and substituted it with bland, uninspired, weak and annoying arena rock. The title track – which opens the album – shows Lizzy Borden flirting with this hateful approach, slowly kicking out the heavy metal to make room for whatever bullshit was going on inside Borden’s head.
This only continues from then on, with only a few glimpses of the interesting and decent songwriting that made these guys famous and respected in the first place. Tracks like “Obsessed With You”, “Long May They Haunt Us” and “The Scar Across My Heart” sound like they were taken out from a split between late 2000’s Bon Jovi and (pick your era) U2. Pop guitar tuning, extremely melodic vocal lines and a weak-ass tempo plague the songs and turn the majority of the album into a snoozefest.
I would add to this another criminally bad part of the album, which is the closer “We Belong to the Shadows”. This is the perfect song for those who seek to do a semi-manly rendition of a crossover between ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Cats’. This is one of the most cheesy, uninventive and purposeless track I’ve heard since reviewing the equally bad ‘Hands of Fate’ album by Savage Messiah last year (I hate my life).
Hiding below all the “oh, ohs”, soap opera moments and shameful lyrics, though, are some decent and salvageable bits. “A Stranger to Love” rescues the band’s hard rock side, and “Our Love Is God” – despite being extremely modern-sounding at times – is a cool tune with heavier guitars and more aggressive playing by Joey Scott Harges in the drums, which provides the listener with at least some fresh air to breathe.
At the end of the day, these guys took ten steps back in terms of overall performance, songwriting and attitude towards a heavy metal sound (and even a hard rock sound) in relation to their last records, and instead took a path of radio-friendly, commercial approach to their music that doesn’t work at all. I could go as far as saying that they’re unrecognizable, but Borden’s vocal lines – one of the few things that are good here – are as killer as always, so the Lizzy Borden I know is buried there somewhere, below all the bullshit.
This is, by far, the worst album in Lizzy Borden’s career. Like I said above, the musical direction and the bland, safe performances completely destroy the chances of this being a commendable work by these dudes. Seeing this as a comeback of sorts, as this is their first record in eleven years, I would strongly recommend that either Borden and company listen to ‘Love You to Pieces’ (1985), ‘Visual Lies’ (1987), ‘Master of Disguise’ (1989) and such, and try to build it from there, or just end their activities altogether, because this is just too weak for Lizzy Borden’s legacy.