Sisters of Mercy – Floodland

Floodland   1987 Elektra/WEA

First of all, you either buy into this sound or you don’t.   Plain and simple.

The reviews I’ve seen of this disc are of both extremes…either totally sold on its apocalyptic and gothic vision or laughing hysterically at its seemingly overt seriousness.

Andrew Eldritch’s deep baritone vocals are the center of attention here (as they are on all of the Sisters’ scant releases) and for me this sound totally fits the bill in my most gothic of moods.  I’ve always felt that music is supposed to take you somewhere…somewhere you’ve never been before and, in the case of good music, somewhere you want to return time and again as years pass.

This disc brings back memories of my ill-fated stint as the host of the morning show on KLSU (Louisiana State University’s radio station) back in 1987-1988.   Man I was hated by most of the staff of the station because I wasn’t “cool” enough, but my time at KLSU was a time of expansion of my musical tastes.   As a metalhead, I felt a kinship with bands like the Sisters because of the heaviness of their sound, and this disc to this day finds its way to my Windows Media Player as a pure, unadulterated mood spin.

Dark, yet somehow hopeful, Floodland is chock full of big, bombastic sounds propelled by a machine-like (actually it IS a drum machine!) groove that in retrospect laid the groundwork for crossover bands like White Zombie.  Perhaps taking itself too seriously at some points, it nonetheless is a dark, smoky world unto itself with songs like “Dominion/Mother Russia” relentlessly weaving their way into your consciousness.  And has there ever been a more foreboding chorus than “This Corrosion?”:  Hey now, hey now now…sing this corrosion to me.

Now what the hell does that mean exactly?  And do I really care?

“Flood I” and “Flood II” are atmospheric and propulsive at the same time, while “Lucretia My Reflection” is probably my fave of the entire Sisters catalogue.   Guitars, funereal keyboards, bass buried in the mix but always evident, and Eldritch’s incomparable vocals (hey, he IS the Sisters of Mercy)…it’s all here.  This is goth music pure and simple, and if you like it then you’ll like this disc.  If you’ve never been into goth but have been curious as to what it’s all about, I recommend this disc (for better or for worse) as a dimly shining example of the best the genre has to offer.

By now old, but not really sounding dated, Floodland stands the test of time…existing as its own universe and challenging enough to demand more attention than mere background music.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5