Hailing from Columbus, OH, Absinthe Vows is a band blending gothic rock, post punk and darkwave with hints of alternative rock. The variety of genres their music possesses makes it interesting and entertaining to take in. They released their second album, Sunlight Stabs, earlier this year, and I’m reviewing it, as well as interviewing the group about their music.
Sunlight Stabs is my initial exposure to the music of Absinthe Vows. As I listened to the album, I was reminded of 80s gothic rock bands such as Bauhaus and a little bit of The Sisters of Mercy. A few songs also had elements that brought to mind 90s dark alternative groups like Nine Inch Nails. In my opinion, “Candy Sick” gave me these vibes the most. At times, the singer Justin dips into a vocal range reminiscent of Marilyn Manson in his heyday, particularly in parts of “Passing Orbits.” Since Manson is portrayed in a less than savory light these days, I want to make it clear the parallels between him and Absinthe Vows end there.
Speaking of vocals, Justin’s have a phantom-like quality. His voice vacillates between sounding muted and muffled, heavy and monotone, and aggressive and more pronounced, depending on the song. These qualities enhance the morbid and uncanny themes permeating the album. For instance, “Dead Limitus” and “Floating in Moonlight” have steady, hypnotic beats. The opening track, “The Shimmering Weight of Defiance,” ruminates on existence and laments how humanity is stuck in a matrix of illusions. The most danceable tracks I envision being played at a club on goth night are “Miracles of Subversion” and “The Great Rite.” It’s apparent 80s gothic rock and post punk influence the two pieces.
I listened to Sunlight Stabs several times and discovered new things I enjoyed with every replay. It’s an easy album to absorb, and I feel it has the potential to appeal to many creatures of the night.
In the following interview, Absinthe Vows talks about the formation of the band and the process behind creating the new album. Enjoy!
Q: So based on your Bandcamp page, you debuted your first album in 2021. Although you’ve started releasing music recently, can you talk about the formation of the band and how Absinthe Vows came to be?
A: Absinthe Vows was initially just envisioned as a 4 song EP as a homage to Joy Division, made by myself, Justin, and my long-time songwriting friend, Frank. He writes the music, and I write the lyrics and do the vocals. Immediately our other musical influences began to bleed through, and we quickly realized, this could be more than an EP inspired by just classic Goth. What started as an EP has now turned into 2 albums in 2 years, lol.
Q: What bands or musicians have had a significant impact on the type of music you produce? What is it about these artists that leave an impression on you?
A: Other than us both sharing a love for Joy Division, Sisters Of Mercy, and traditional Goth, we also bring separate influences to the table, which I think makes for an original blend of genres being represented. Frank loves everything from classic punk, Dead Boys, Misfits, etc., to Post-Punk bands like Wire and The Cure. I love everything from glam rock acts like T-Rex and Bowie, classic rock acts like Floyd and The Beatles, to current acts like Radiohead and Preoccupations. And so many more. We are musical nerds, lol.
Q: How did your approach to creating Sunlight Stabs differ from your self-titled album?
A: For ‘Sunlight Stabs’ I think we were recognizing how genres were being pushed and blended on our self-titled effort and really wanted to just further expand on that. Also, we did receive a great reception to our first album, which gave us motivation as it seemed we were not the only ones that felt something interesting was there!
Q: The theme of Sunlight Stabs seems quite mystical and otherworldly. What was going through your mind as you were writing lyrics for the tracks? Are there certain ideas you’re attempting to explore through the music?
A: I think writing lyrics for any band that wants to be gothy or darker toned, there tends to be a slippery slope to sliding into coming across as very trite or cliché. If a singer is trying to convey depression or some darkness they feel, I think lyrically there needs to be some substance there verses just singing, “I’m sooo sad..ohh darkness surrounds me..blah blah.” I also feel a listener can connect more if they feel they can be in the singer’s shoes and the microphone is in front of them. I thought about all this for every song, and though I sing a lot about my own feelings and emotions, I really didn’t want to spell things out. I like painting with words and leaving some meaning open to interpretations by the listener. These songs are not just about me. If you are listening, they are also about you.
Q: What does Absinthe Vows have in store for the future?
A: Crazy to say, but we have been busy little bees and have already started working on new material! We hope that our next effort may be releasing next year? We thought the inspiration for Absinthe Vows was just a pool. Now we think it may be a very deep well. A very..dark..deep well. 😉
3 thoughts on “Absinthe Vows: ‘Sunlight Stabs’ Album Review & Interview”
As usual, Jenn, fascinating details in abundance. Typically, it takes a day or two, as well as a repeated readings, to absorb everything. This entry is no exception.
At first glance, though, I took away the band’s diverse influences, ranging from the completely mainstream Beatles, to performers much more specialized and “arthouse.” A musical diet this varied builds intense, pulsing songs.
Oh, and a purely procedural question – about how long does it take you to think of the questions you want to pose each time? Or does the prep time range widely?
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Thank you! And in regard to how long it takes for me to come up with questions, it varies depending on how much research I’m doing beforehand. Typically, I take a few hours to a few days.
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Impressive, particularly as so much else competes for your brain power those few hours or days.
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