Stolen Babies – Naught (2012)
Has it really been that long since Stolen Babies’ first album, There Be Squabbles Ahead (2006)? It seems it has.
Stolen Babies hail from California and sit rather comfortably into the Avant-metal tag, alongside Mr Bungle, Dog Fashion Disco, Circus of Dead Squirrels, Diablo Swing Orchestra, et al. Drawing influence from the three big Cs: cabaret, carnival and circus (in a sub-genre playfully called Dark Cabaret or Circus Metal).
At first listen to this kind of music, you could probably take it one of two ways, you’ll love the interesting instrumentation, the innovation and the influence of music not traditionally linked to metal, or you’ll find it more of a novelty than anything serious, and maybe a bit pretentious. I would hope that it goes without saying that I fall into the first category, and I hope that if you fall in the latter category, that you give it a another try.
This style of music tends to corrupt circus and cabaret music to create a kind of nightmare circus, à la Beetlejuice, Pennywise or Killer Klowns from Outer Space; or evoking the history of the freak show. On Naught, this is perhaps most evident on Behind the Days, a dark waltz with a gypsy dirge feel, or on Swimming Hole, beginning with a music box melody and moving into mournful theatrics.
And just when you thought you might have got a handle on Stolen Babies, they hit you with industrial-influenced I Woke Up and Second Sleep, or pretty much straightforward rock Dried Moat, sounding almost like Marilyn Manson, or Prankster, showing some influence from the Sisters or Mercy at times!
Naught would be a good place to start if you hadn’t heard this genre of music and is a good album overall; however, it would be a lie to say that I didn’t prefer There Be Squabbles Ahead.
Favourite tracks: Behind the Days, I Woke Up, Swimming Hole.
Spotify link: Stolen Babies – Naught