Your average elder Goths are likely scratching their heads at how festivals and clubs are taken over by distorted growling and dark oontz oontz. From how things have progressed over the decades, it seems hard to believe that any younglings are creating music in the vein of what flooded smoky underground clubs after midnight. One would be wrong, for France’s Soror Dolorosa has been creating cobwebbed elegies since an EP release just a few years ago. 2013’s No More Heroes shows the band in fine, gothy form.
Singer Andy Julia evokes the flair of a post-punk great, but with drama and melancholy that equalizes the throaty brooding. Always sounding on the verge of screaming, Julia guides the band through waves of murky Goth rock, like the torrential “Sound & Waves” and the somber, synth-tinged trudge of “Dany.” “The Figure of the Night” recalls the faster and theatrical side of Goth, with Julia diving into a deep baritone and the instrumentation boasting a refined dance floor atmosphere. “Hologram” sounds like a Floodland-era Sisters of Mercy, brooding through slow, crushing beats, rumbling bass, distant guitars, and a hazy wall of synth, all while Julia dives deep into the furthest pits of Andrew Eldritch-like vocalizing.
No More Heroes doesn’t skip out on the nod to shoegaze either. In addition to Julia lending his vocal talents to that dreamy, far-away croon, guitarist Nicolas Mons weaving a delicate tapestry in “Motherland” and “Wormhole,” extracting huge surfs of sound from the instrument.
Soror Dolorosa ends the album with “Exodus,” a chugging, sorrowful wash of crashing guitars and a noisy backdrop before giving out to tremulous plucking. In all its aggression, grief, pace, and ensemble of instruments, it seems like the ideal summation of what Soror Dolorosa bring to the table with their cold, oddly theatrical brand of Goth. No More Heroes nods to fallen idols with a refreshing modernized focus, an almost forest-like ambiance permeating through even its heaviest moments, and the album is all the better for it. Clubs and festivals will likely never see a Soror Dolorosa song in the mix, which is a shame, because the break new ground where others stagnate.