The Birthday Massacre is a Canadian gothic/alternative synth-rock band, formed in 1999, in London, Ontario, and currently based in Toronto, Ontario. The band is fronted by Chibi (vocals) who often wears a school girl uniform in concert. And, yes, I think that’s extremely sexy. The rest of the lineup consists of Falcore (lead guitar), Rainbow (rhythm guitar), Owen (synthesizers), Nate Manor (bass), and Rhim (drums). TBM sounds like a female-fronted version of The Cure, but with heavier guitar riffs, less moping, and a bit of an industrial influence. The band played here, in Cleveland, last Halloween but, sadly, I missed the show. This band, live on Halloween, would have been a wonderful nightmare. TBM recently offered an instrumental track, “Night Shift,” as a free download at the website for Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue (a subscription must). The track was, according to guitarist Falcore, “an homage to ’80s John Carpenter movie soundtracks.” And, that it was. Well done.
The excellent “Walking With Strangers,” released in 2007, is TBM‘s third studio album, but it’s the one that I fell in love with this band listening to. The other two, “Nothing & Nowhere” (2002) and “Violet” (2005), are good, but this one’s much better. The album opens with the awesome “Kill The Lights,” in which, all Cure-like, layers of synths and guitars are added, one by one, in the lengthy intro. Then, Chibi joins in with fairy tale imagery: “This story’s missing a wishing well / No mirror to show and tell / No kiss that can break the spell / I’m falling asleep.” That imagery continues in the next track, “Goodnight,” a rocking Depeche Mode-esque song: “Mirror on the wall / Frame the picture / Reflect this kiss to wish us all goodnight.” Now, if you doubt the Cure influence, then listen to the ballad “Movie,” which sounds like a lost track form The Cure‘s 1989 classic “Disintegration.” But, my favorite track is “To Die For,” which would be played, always, if the goth kids had their own prom: “Tighten your tie, boy / You’re something to die for.” Watch the video for “Looking Glass” from this album here:
And watch the video for “Nevermind” from the album “Violet” here:
The “Looking Glass” EP, released in 2008, offered two new tracks including an anti-Tiffany cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” originally by Tommy James and the Shondells. Later that year, TBM releaseed “Show And Tell,” which was recorded live in Hamburg, Germany. But, I’m not a big fan of live albums. “Pins And Needles,” their fourth studio album, was released, at last, in 2010. TBM kicked out louder guitar riffs on this release, and, as such, it rocked much harder than their previous full-length. The first single, “In The Dark,” is a perfect opening track, with a cool horror movie inspired video directed by guitarist Michael Falcore and editor-in-chief of Rue Morgue magazine, Rod Gudino. “Pale,” “Midnight,” “Two Hearts,” and “Always” are favorites, but this album is awesome from the first to the last track. In “Two Hearts,” Chibi sings these cool, twisty lyrics: “Two hearts beating / One beats the other / While the other just looks away.” The “Imaginary Monsters” EP, released in 2011, added three tracks that didn’t make the “Pins and Needles” release, including another cool Cure-like ballad, “Left Behind.” At this time, TBM also started a North American tour with the awesome Japanese metal band Dir En Grey. Cool band. Watch the video for “In The Dark” here:
TBM‘s most recent album, “Hide And Seek,” released in 2012, was much darker, per Chibi, with less guitar crunch, more gloomy lyrics, particularly in the lead track, “Leaving Tonight,” one of their best, in fact. I read that the song was inspired by the unsolved 1984 rape and murder of 9-year-old Christine Jessop, so I looked the case up. Sad. And, now, this song is difficult to listen to, especially when Chibi sings: “She’s out of the light / She thought it’d be safer / She said I wanna go home.” Then, she adds, in the chorus: “This will all be over tonight.” “Down” almost veers into nu metal with its snarled pre-choruses over an industrial beat. “Need” begins with a synth riff that recalls 1982’s “American Heartbeat” by arena-rockers Survivor(!). I hope that wasn’t intentional. In “In This Moment,” Chibi waxes nihilistically about life: “We pretend we’re all that matters / We’re endless / Do you think this is forever?” This year, TBM asked fans, vis Facebook, to create their next official music video with prizes at stake. I happen to like this one for “Down” by John Brennan:
Wait! In this band’s post, I have to mention the YA book Amplified by Tara Kelly. I’m too old for YA fiction, but I read it anyway, especially when it’s about chicks who rock. In this book, Jasmine is a privileged 17-year-old who moves to Santa Cruz to make it on her own as a lead guitarist in lieu of college, against her father’s wishes. The band she joins, C-Side, is modeled after The Birthday Massacre, and when author Kelly describes her fictional band’s music, she might as well be describing TBM‘s. That’s all!
Website: TBM Official Facebook