They might have missed the chance to fill your Halloween goodie bag with this one but just the same Caroline Records has issued a Special Edition 2CD/DVD set for those Helsinki Vampires The 69 Eyes; it's a release that will make any Gothic Hard Rock fan blush until there is once again some color in their cheeks. Entitled Angels/Devils, the release features the entire Angels and Devils albums that the band had delivered to their fans over the last couple of years. Angels bears no difference to the original but Devils adds a couple of bonus tracks to enjoy. Given the similarity to the original albums we are re-printing many of our initial thoughts on the release.
Devils (originally released 10/2004)
Straight out of Finland comes a true Gothic Rock sensation and with Devils The 69 Eyes have successfully landed on US soil to give us their first official release in the region. You might have heard of them in some fashion recently given all the attention that was put into them by media personality Bam Margera who even included them on one of his "Viva La Bands" CD's (the track was "Lost Boys" in case you wondered). His interest in The 69 Eyes can only be a positive move for the group to obtain a larger audience here in the States and perhaps other Countries as well. Before this CD was out there were many fans for the group Stateside but most had limited access to the band and in my own case had only heard less than a handful of numbers, but each of them made me an instant fan who wanted to know more about the group. The tracks were "Brandon Lee" and "Gothic Girl" and while hard core fans might warn that I am missing out on better stuff the release of "Devils" helps us all make up for it just a little better by offering us a healthy dose of Hard Rock with a very apparent Gothic edge. The albums title track "Devils" is gloomy and catchy at the same time and as soon as the band begins I felt that lead singer Jyrki 69 reminded me of someone and as research led to trying to solve this, I found a little Peter Steele (Type-O-Negative) and perhaps a touch of Danzig in his voice. Either way the band delivers a brooding and at the same time melancholy piece of music that is not easily forgotten. "Sister Of Charity" is a trudging and keyboard laden number that utilizes some great Gregorian backgrounds as well as the accompaniment of a female singer. This is perhaps one of my favorite numbers on the record. "Lost Boys" speeds it up a little and is a sure fire hit that I hope finds a home on some of the stations that have found HIM of late. "Christina Death" is another track that I enjoyed a lot for its catchy rhythm and very dark lyrical content. With such a similarity in some areas I feel most fans of that group and those that find The Misfits and Bronx Casket Company will also enjoy The 69 Eyes. Most of the CD is catchy and gets you curious enough to listen straight through and then refer to some key tracks after that. I did not like every song I will admit, but there were more high points than low ones across the record which is very well-produced and laid out. I have found that too many albums start with a lackluster track and then find a killer yet this is not the case on "Devils". The roster of the band is as follows: Jyrki 69 (vocals) and Timo Timo (guitar), Bassi (guitar), Archzie (bass) and Jussi 69 (drums). It's a tight group and according to their website they have been together since the early 90's. It almost seems common practice these days that bands who have made their mark in Europe take such a long time before they can even get music released over here and while I don't like the timeframe I am happy that we eventually get the tunes. The Special Edition includes two new songs not available on the original and in listening to them they sound like they might have only been left off in the interest of keeping the album shorter. They did fit in the context of the other songs very well and are by no means throwaway tunes. Devils is the eighth outing by the band since they first formed and is a worthy release on its own. Finding a special edition like this makes it all the more worth investigating.
Hails to The Helsinki Vampires for they have returned to us with Angels on their side. Yes fiends and dwellers in the dark, The 69 Eyes are back and present to us some rocking new music and on a brand new label to boot. One of the things that make Angels special is the fact that it's the first releases by the group to come out at the same time in most parts of the world as opposed to the States waiting almost a year to have it like we experienced with Devils. For those that might be unaware, The 69 Eyes are another one of those overnight sensations from Finland who have been around for almost two decades and their strong underground popularity has allowed them to build a following that is second to none. Angels finds the band picking up where they left off with Devils and the overall result is not as dark and brooding as the predecessor but still grooves with the Gothic Rock vibe that the band excels at. The listener will find subtle similarity on a couple of tracks but it seems as though these were done on purpose for the offer some consistency and relation to this and the last release. "Angels" starts it off in cryptic fashion as Jyrki 69 sings of an apocalyptic time that finds us at the end of the world. A good track, but followed by the stronger "Never Say Die", which is this album's "Lost Boys" as far as a track to find you speeding down some highway. The song "Rocker" was slightly tongue-in-cheek if you ask me, as the singer puts on his best attitude ala Billy Idol meets Glen Danzig. Fellow Finnish sensations Apocalyptica make an appearance and bring the song "Ghost" to a rich gloomy life. They add to the melancholy Gothic theme of the track very well. Midway in we find "Perfect Skin" and this was their first single of the album and a catchy number that simply invites the audience to sing along during the chorus. "Star Of Fate"' is essentially the ballad for the recording and one of the best tracks with lush strings and mood. From here, it jumps into "Los Angeles", where the singer talks of one of his favorite places in the US to be in. "Frankenhooker" was a tad punkish and ok at best, and they close it up with one of their older tunes "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams". Essentially there is a lot of different ground covered that keep it a solid listen for the most part. Fans of bands like Type-O-Negative and AFI should be impressed with this one very much.
I liked the album, but I found more personal appeal in Devils, and perhaps this was based on the darker aspect being addressed. The 69 Eyes are continually good at keeping a freshness to their sound and this time around they employed a little more of their original Glam-Sleaze side than they had done for a number of recordings. I give them credit for not only keeping it interesting and also allowing new fans in with ease, but also in their keeping the same lineup since their inception (hails to Bazie, Archzie, Timo-Timo, and Jussi 69 as this is not easy to do in any band). Given this is their ninth studio recording, I found it still a good jumping on point that does not leave you totally lost at what the band comes from. The album is a great jumping on point for a new listener and it comes with "open disc" technology, which if you play in your computer will give you access to bonus goodies.
The Special Edition features a DVD that includes several songs from the bands performance at the Whisky A Go-Go from Hollywood in 2006. This was shot during the bands first tour to the States and while it would have been awesome to have the whole concert we only get five of the tunes ("Devils", "Christina Death", "Feel Berlin", "Lost Boys", & "I Just Want To Have Something To Do"). They also include the videos from these two albums and as result we get "Lost Boys", "Devils", "Perfect Skin" and "Never Say Die". For those fans who want to see the bands other video films there is a DVD called "Helsinki Vampires" which is available care of Cleopatra Records, who also handle the bands back catalog in North America.
This release comes in a stylish foldout digipak case that while sporting some cool artwork on the outside is very limited as far as graphics and photos on the inside. We get one band photo and no booklet which would be my one criticism of the release since the original albums all featured lyrics, photos and liner notes in their respective inserts. This is the perfect collectors edition for any of the most staunch The 69 Eyes supporters but it will not be one that causes them to take their original CD and pass it on to friends since its missing a couple of images that they no doubt love very much. Got Goth?
Track Listing: "Angels"
2. Never Say Die
5. Perfect Skin
6. Whings And Hearts
7. Star Of Fate
8. Los Angeles
9. In My Name
10. Shadow Of Your Love
12. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
Track Listing: "Devils"
2. Feel Berlin
3. Nothing On You
4. Sister Of Charity
5. Lost Boys
7. August Moon
8. Beneath The Blue
9. Christina Death
11. Only You Can Save Me
12. Dusk 'Til Dawn (bonus track)
13. Pitchblack (bonus track)