Genre: Neofolk / Neoclassical
Decadence recently released their third official release “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” finally satisfying the growing demands that their music has created amongst neofolk music fans. Decadence first gained the attention of the neofolk community in 2001 with the release of the 7” title “Romance Lover Boy.” The “Something To Love, Something To Spend” 12” also published by Hau Ruck followed in 2003 securing Decadence a committed audience eager for more of the bands unique discourse on love and life.
“Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” sees decadence drawing inspiration from dark personal times as the album features small lyrical vignettes that capture the pain and aftermath of love. The lyrics are lengthy and long winded as they attempt to address the longing and disappointment that surfaces in times of loneliness. The prose lyrics meander through reflections, curses, threats, fears, sex, and love as the heart of the author's pain is unabashedly exposed to the listner.
The music is a successful blend of neoclassical orchestration and neofolk guitar. At times the musical passages are gentle and reflective while driven by piano, cello, violin and acoustic guitar. At other times the tone darkens and flirts with rousing martial percussion. The vocals are delivered by male and female vocalists working in drastically different styles. Petros Sgardelis delivers long sultry dissertations of spoken word while Ephyrosyne Papmihalopoulou sings classical vocals that cut through the darkness like a stabbing shaft of shimmering light penetrating a darkened forest.
The album comes packaged with a twelve page booklet which includes lyrics in addition to a selection of artistic portrait and nude photography. The photographs feature male, female, and couples in artistic postures and solo portraits that evoke feelings ranging from destitution and abandonment to love and seduction. The photography echoes the lyrical dark romanticism that is such an essential element of Decadence.
“Good Boys Go To Heaven” opens the album with martial toned drums that thunder across the track dominate and undeterred. After a short introduction of drumming a distant piano gains volume as the drums fade in retreat. The lone piano is joined by orchestral strings in a passionate and saddened ballad. Petros Sgardelis begins his lyrical recital questioning the listner as if having succeeded in reanimating a faded love in order to extract answers, reasons, and verdicts. The lyrics roam through suggestions of salvation and guns to gay pornography and oral sex in a sexually charged song that manages to authentically portray sex as an inevitable sacrifice. The song is led by piano and orchestral strings that give a elaborate and embellished performance deserving of the lyrics. The music instantly captivates the listner as if you have been drenched in a thick pool of honey. The drums return for a bombastic finale that combines the opulent orchestration with martial drumming in a climactic finish.
“Everything I Am” is the eighth song on “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” “Everything I Am” begins with vigorous romantic acoustic guitar tplaying crisp and emotive chords creating a powerful neofolk ballad. Ephyrosyne Papmihalopoulou joins the song with mature female vocals that bring a refined and classical sensibility to the music. Her voice is disciplined and evokes a particular comfort and trust from the listner. Just as you feel thoroughly coddled and mesmerized by Ephyrosyne’s voice Petros overtakes the song accompanied by aggressive orchestral strings led by a driving cello. His voice shatters the delicate spell cast by Ephyrosyne with a dose of bitterness and a disbelief in love. Ephyrosyne offers backing vocals for a stretch softening the vivid and raw emotions shared by Petros. The song returns to Ephyrosyne leading vocals then returns to one final romantic denouncement by Petros before ending. The music remains audacious and bold throughout the song as Decadence masterfully blends raw emotive neoclassical orchestration with sparkling acoustic guitar.
Track ten titled “With A Dream & A Gun” is the tenth song and final chapter in this diary of lessons learned and loves regretted. “With A Dream & A Gun” begins with a skilled round of acoustic guitar before a balanced palate of woodwinds and strings sweep down and envelope the song. Ephyrosyne’s angelic voice brings a delicate beauty to the otherwise pain ridden lyrics “With a dream and a gun, here I am present to a glorious finale…With a dream and a gun…I hit and run…” The lyrics capture elusive feelings in fleeting words that cast light were shadows grow long and days even longer. Near the end of the song Petros recites several passages giving his final bout of dejection. Martial drums join the soul crushing orchestration pounding out a slow tempest that echoes the pain ad resignation of the lyrics. “With A Dream & A Gun” concludes this scrapbook of faded love and scars with one last trailing confession.
Decadence exudes emotion and intimacy. Listening to “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” is like being invited into the closest recesses of a passionate artist’s life after a devastating encounter with the love. The music coveys a depth of character and vulnerability rarely seen or felt in modern music. Decadence has captured the tormented animal released by love and written it wretched biography. They have created a befitting requiem for broken hearts harboring lust, longing, and wounds. “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” is a wonderful contribution to the genre and I highly encourage established fans and newcomers to bask in the dim wounded splendor that is Decadence.