The Birthday Massacre have always been one of those bands lying just beneath the surface. Despite having a decade of successful releases, they remain the “black sheep” of the Canadian rock scene. Last year, the six-piece dropped their fourth studio album, Pins and Needles, and this year’s Imaginary Monsters EP is a collection of three leftover tracks, along with a few remixes. The new songs offer an expanded take on what the band does best: combine heavy rock and synthesizer melodies. The remixes don’t work out as well.
Out of the original numbers, “Forever” stands out as the strongest. A blooming keytar and propulsive bass churn straight into Chibi’s smooth, spirited vocals. Arpeggio melodies and heavy riffage bounce well off of each other, despite their differences. Neither side is overwhelmed, finding an audibly pleasant balance. Lyrics like “You wait for the sun in the morning/I’m waiting for rain” are a perfect match for the music.
The other two new tracks make worthy partners for the excellent opener. “Burn Away” goes for a literal approach, with engulfing flames slamming into the dual guitars of Rainbow and Michael Falcore, while “Left Behind” transforms street audio into a deep, reverberating bass note. It slowly chugs along, while the synth notes jump around ahead.
The remixes are really what drag this EP down, though. Both the Rubber Unicorn mix of “Pale” and the Assemblage 23 mix of “Shallow Grave” trade in the original nuances for standard bass and drums. The Good For Her mix of “Shallow Grave” is a stuttering mess of cut-up vocals, and other audio annoyances. The only decent remix is “Control [tweaker Mix]”, which succeeds by staying true to the original track’s vision of distorted vocals and keytar melodies, while warping the latter.
If it wasn’t for the remixes (which dilute the original tracks from Pins and Needles), this EP would be a lot shorter, and a lot stronger. Just buy the new songs, and leave the remixes behind. You’ll be better off.
Essential Tracks: “Forever”, “Burn Away”, “Left Behind”