Published May 21, 2014When a goth band calls their album Dysphoria, it's a clear case of wearing their blackened hearts, and proudly, upon their sleeves. Which is to say that Edmonton duo Rhythm of Cruelty aren't exactly all that subtle about their predilection for moody, echo-drenched post-punk bangers, melancholy lyrics and retro sounding drum machines that evoke the mid-'80s sounds of the Cure or a lo-fi alternative to A Place to Bury Strangers.
The band's full-length debut rides in on the mechanical pulse and gnashing distortion of "Way of Grief" and "Hollow Eyes" (tracks two and four, respectively), but for all the amped up intensity, there's a certain depth lacking in the album's early cuts. This is mainly due to singer/bassist Brandi Strauss relying on some fairly generic lyrical tropes to convey brooding emotional states.
It's not until the back-to-back pairing (or, A-side/B-side split) of the dynamic "Drain" and the sludgy title track that things start to feel substantial. The words and music here congeal more organically when Strauss waxes impressionistic and her Kim Gordon–esque sing-speaking is buried in reverb to the point that it becomes another sonic texture.
If anything, Dysphoria could use a touch more of the haunting ambience from the band's 2013 EP, In Time, to balance the doom with the gloom and allow Rhythm of Cruelty to go full-goth. (Crude City)