Faith and the Muse Annwyn, Beneath the Waves

Three Metropolis Records reissues by William Faith and Monica Richards - known together as Faith and the Muse. If you haven't heard this band yet, think early Cocteau Twins, Swithblade Symphony-esque vocals and a generous portion of classical sounds all blended into a beautiful gothic mix. Elyria, their stellar debut album, opens with a few heavy, dirge-like gothic numbers and then gradually moves into a set with more of a Celtic/classical feel. I like that they stay away from pigeonholing themselves as just another self-indulgent shoe-gazing goth band by really showing their talent as instrumentalists. Throughout all three CDs we hear everything from classical guitar to harpsichord to flute to mandolin, not to mention some hypnotising percussion. It is impossible to become bored with any of these discs. Their second album, entitled Annwyn, Beneath the Waves, is a bit different in that it kind of has a rock opera feel to it. It's a bit quicker paced, more rhythmic and grandiose sounding than the other two. They further the themes of Celtic mythology that were hinted at in Elyria, and you almost feel as if you're being taken on a journey, with their music to the accompany tales told so long ago in such far off lands. Annwyn conjures up images of fairytales and other worlds - the stuff daydreams are made of. Finally, Evidence of Heaven has the most polished sounding production; it is obvious they had grown as a unit by this point, creating a lush collection of rich arrangements. Richards' vocals stand out against layers upon layers of sound, and the pieces seem to roughly alternate between gothic rock and darkwave classical - sometimes a cappella and instrumental. Again, a varied assortment of songs that will put the shine on any goth's pointy shoes. (Metropolis)