The Sisters Of Mercy

Elektra Records, 1987


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


To paraphrase Bart Simpson, "Making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel."

Unfortunately, that quote can extend into my mid 20s. That would be one of the only reasons that I could be attracted to Floodland, a breakthrough album for the band, Sisters of Mercy. Introduced to it by my roommate, it quickly became a soundtrack to playing "Goldeneye" on the N64 with a nice glass of merlot.

But to do this review, I have to drop the "G" bomb on you readers. For those unfamiliar with Sisters of Mercy, they're one of the cornerstones of the much misunderstood "goth" genre of rock music.

Emotions are more bloated than Fat Bastard's belly on Floodland. One the first track, "Dominion/Mother Russia," Andrew Eldrich croons and moans such lines as "When I lick your wings" and "Mother Russia rain down, down, down." Jim Steinman, a producer known for putting a pristine sheen on recordings, is a perfect pick for a producer for the Sisters of Mercy.


If goth wasn't invented before Floodland, it would have been invented shortly after. The album cover, black as an oil slicked river, shows Eldrich's face, ghost white, and donning sunglasses, of course. Most of the songs on Floodland run above six minutes. Perfect for such over-the-top emotional bloodletting.

The music, so good on Floodland, makes you forget the goofy style of goth immediately. The chilling church organ beat of "Flood I" seems to flow effortlessly out of "Dominion/Mother Russia." Two songs, and you're already almost fifteen minutes into this monster of an album.

When the Sisters of Mercy focus on rhythm, they're gripping as hell to listen to. The hot-rod race theme of "Lucretia My Reflection" is propelled by a simple bass line and a metallic drum beat. And with lyrics like, "Hot Metal and methrdrine" and "I hear the sons of the city and dispossessed/get down get undressed," you swear you feel like you're in the parking lot of your old high school on a Saturday night.

Sadly, when SOM try to achieve crediability by writing a pensive ballad, the become laughable, almost. The hoaky, "1959" does not help the cause. Eldrich seems to break down during the chorus, but the lyrics are as vague as a script on MTV's "Road Rules" show.

Things perk up with the anthem heavy, "This Corrosion." Though a ten-minute song may seem a bit excessive, especially with a chorus that is repeated continuously throughout most of the song, the music is so compelling you have no idea that ten minutes has just passed.

As good as "This Corrosion" is, the rest of the album doesn't quite live up to the heights achieved by the first couple tracks on the album. They're still gripping, however. It just takes a little more work to digest tracks like "Flood II" and "Driven Like The Snow."

Floodland is basically an album for those days in which you're riding out a deep depression (sorry Shirley Manson) and you don't want anyone to screw with your funk. It's brooding to the highest degree. The only albums that could possibly out-brood Sisters of Mercy may be those from Portishead or Joy Division.

It seems unfathomable that the media could even attempt to associate music like the Sisters of Mercy to entice kids to behave in a sadomachastic way. The reaction I usually get from listening to Floodland is usually to wear black and write a poem about how my deliquent MCI long distance bill is causing me to have an ulcer. Though their general vibe may be harmless, their music definitely is not.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.