Evidence of Heaven - Faith and the Muse

reviewed by lec** | Tuesday, December 16 2008 @ 01:39:23 GMT        

Cover art

Evidence of Heaven

Release date: July 27, 1999
Length: 50:12
Genre: Goth Rock, Ethereal

  1. Joy
  2. Scars Flown Proud
  3. Shattered In Aspect
  4. The Chorus of the Furies
  5. Patience Worth
  6. Dead Leaf Echo
  7. Porphyrogene
  8. Through the Pale Door
  9. And Laugh - But Smile No More
  10. Plague Dance
  11. Denn Die Todten Reiten Schnell
  12. Importune Me No More
  13. Reine La Belle
  14. Old Souls
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Faith and the Muse is an underground gothic/darkwave band from the United States. Formed in 1994 by Monica Richards and William Faith, they have recorded several consistently good albums of the genre. Six months before the new millennium, they released Evidence of Heaven, an outstanding album and generally among my favourite gothic rock albums of all time. Their music encompasses many genres, from folk-style songs to darker compositions. Richards is the primary singer, although Faith sings one or two tracks on each album.

Faith and the Muse presents the full bleakness and iciness of the best artists of gothic music like Bauhaus and Siouxsie & the Banshees, but in a way that focuses more on quiet sorrow and personal depression than these early bands. Evidence of Heaven lets you can immerse yourself in music that goes down several paths - from the ambiental piano tracks (as Joy and Shattered in Aspect), to the cult-like chanting in The Chorus of the Furies. Actually, it was this album defined the word "gothic" for me.

After the initial distant-sounding dreamy piano introduction that is Joy, the album throws you into Scars Flown Proud, an excellent song worthy of something by Fields of the Nephilim. After that intense experience, the calmer, soothing Shattered in Aspect starts, sculpting a misty scene of some desolate forest, or a long-abandoned mansion (reminds me of Nox Arcana a lot). The next several songs are mostly great pieces with a mid-80's gothic rock sound, until you reach Through the Pale Door. This song is one of my favourites on the album, and along with the track after it is the closest thing to vampire music that I've ever heard - brooding male vocals (by Faith) and perfect droning bleakness.

The next song, And Laugh - But Smile No More, is another harpsichord great, though totally instrumental this time. The feel of this track is exquisite: you hear someone playing what sounds like an old harpsichord, and nothing else. Nearing the end, the music steadily gets louder and finally becomes a blur, sounding like some extensive pedal use on the harpsichord. Vampire music perfection, again.

After "Plague Dance" which I've always felt is the weakest and least significant composition on the album (though it sounds very influenced by Siouxsie & the Banshees), the chilling Denn Die Todten Reiten Schnell comes up - a wicked dark piano composition that both Faith and Richards sing to, and another excellent program piece. After that comes an old early-renaissance-sounding composition (Richards even trills her "r"s in this one), Importune Me No More, which turns the sound around to a more soft-ambient folk-influenced style. A short, refreshing break from the chill that dominates the rest of the album.

The 13th track, Reine La Belle is notable. Highly experimental, the first half has no instrumental backing at all - only Richards singing in a soft and eerie way, sometimes speaking fast with a crackling filter applied over her voice, reminiscent of Emilie Autumn's style. When the music starts, it's rather playful and simple, and hardly like anything else on the album. An exceptionally weird (thus not appealing to all) song.

The album ends on a glum note with Old Souls, another impressive piano-and-vocal track, though with a quiet and soft gothic-rock guitar in the background. I think it's representative of the album, and a good pick for a last track. Ending the album on a note of depressive defeat, it captures the prevalent emotion of the album and delivers it once again in a beautiful, dark wrapping.

The album artwork was designed by the band's primary singer Monica Richards, and I really couldn't imagine a better suited one. Something interesting though, is that a photo of Richards and Faith that's in the album's booklet, was taken by (and probably modified by) kaRIN, the singer of another of my favourite darkwave bands, Collide. I listened to both bands in parallel, and never knew this until I researched some facts about the album for the purposes of this review. I've uploaded a low-res version of the photo, which is really neat.

A supremely cool album, a must have for any fans of gothic music, and likely a better soundtrack for glum, rainy days (optionally in medieval castles) than even cult albums like The Cure's Faith (hah, notice the coincidence). Would have scored full marks if it were not for the excessive repetitiveness and excessively slow progressive nature of "Plague Dance" and "The Chorus of the Furies", which are both tiring enough to qualify as skip-happy from time to time.

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