The Black Queen ‘Fever Daydream’ Review: Dillinger Escape Plan frontman indulges his love of gloomy 80’s synth-pop and 90’s ambient textures on electronic project.
When I saw Dillinger Escape Plan open for Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden back in 2014, I could’ve sworn frontman Greg Puciato was rocking a New Order T-shirt. Could the singer behind one of metal’s most chaotic acts have a soft spot for New Wave, or were my eyes deceiving me?
Well now I have my answer. Puciato, along with multi-instrumentalist Josh Eustace (Telefon Tel Aviv, NIN) along with musician/tech Steven Alexander, have formed The Black Queen, whose début album Fever Daydream is a love letter to 80’s synth-pop, with elements of industrial, ambient, and silky R&B thrown in for good measure.
The album kicks off with Now When I’m This, a soothing instrumental which transitions dreamily into Ice to Never, which recalls both The Human League and Prince, with Puciato’s soulful vocals soaring over the song’s appropriately frosty sonics, all glacial synths and percolating percussion.
Songs like The End Where We Start hint at what the group does best: cavernous, layered soundscapes ideal for quiet reflection, a late night drive, or a romantic evening. Hearing Puciato in a different light from his day job is a jarring, but wonderful revelation, giving his evocative pipes a chance to stretch in different directions.
Secret Scream is a dance floor ready sensual stomper, replete with a whipcrack beat and serrated textures, which recalls both Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode with Puciato balancing a Reznor worthy whisper amidst his emotive backing wails.
Likewise, Maybe We Should offers R&B with a darkwave edge, with emotive vocals espousing an evening confessional:
We breathe the night because it’s ours
I’m convinced we’ll live forever
Leave all your shame behind the door
Some things just can’t last forever
Perhaps the biggest surprise with Fever Daydream, is that despite their noirish videos, ominous moniker and song titles like That Death Can’t Touch and Apocalypse Morning, this is a collection of upbeat, albeit chilled out material.
This comes as a surprise given the pedigree of its members, and the genesis of the album, which was recorded under emotional duress. Puciato noted in the group’s press release that making Fever Daydream acted as therapy by: removing the walls that we’d spent our lives building. Going into the void because you know something beautiful is still in there, and not stopping until you get to it.
Fever Daydream is an incredibly assured début. While its airy ink blotter atmospherics might alienate close-minded metalheads or electronic music snobs, it’s a refreshing proposition for the musically curious.
It’s a daydream you might not wish to wake from…so here’s hoping for a follow-up soon.
You can pre-order ‘Fever Daydream’ from iTunes or Amazon below: