6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2012
This album is the final part of the Darren Hayman Essex trilogy, although to me this is an album which stands apart from the other two albums, an album that stands alone. It's a record full of songs about death, civil war and an England long forgotten. As a long time Hayman fan I was worried when I heard he was doing an album based on the witch trials, half expecting some morbid gothic offering. Yes the subject matter here is grim, but the songs are so pretty and often full of hope, even if in the case of the song Elizabeth Clarke it's the hope somebody helps her reach a speedy death. The song parliament Joan is a true Hayman underdog song, which has one of the most uplifting ends to a song I've heard in years. The track desire lines would sit alongside any of the songs from (we love the city) an album by his old band Hefner. We are not evil is a song that was made for a 70s horror movie, and will be stick in your head all day. If you focus on this album it really is like a movie for the ears which tells a dark story with catchy songs. The only reason this got a 4 not a 5 is I'm not a fan of musical tracks, and their are a few musical interludes here, that's just me being picky and they don't have a negative impact on the album. This story ends with a song called the laughing tree, I don't think I've ever heard a more painful or brutal song about life and death (what kind of god loves me?) a question asked during this song. A fitting end to a dark and wonderful album
on 17 January 2013
I was a big Hefner fan (even through their electronic stage) but Darren's solo work has been more patchy, albeit always lyrically clever, although to be fair i haven't heard all his albums.
The inspiration for this CD sounded a bit dubious i.e "songs inspired by incidents and characters from the English civil war and the Essex witch trials of 1645". It doesn't appear, at face value, to lend itself to pop/indie music but it's surprisingly good, in fact probably his best solo album.
It's quite restrained (musically) and has 20 tracks , 5 of them instrumental pieces. The subject matter is very macabre but Darren's voice suits the morbid nature of the songs and in a peculiar way they're quite uplifting. There are touches of brass/woodwind throughout and mostly just picked guitar/banjo backing but he manages to turn the grotesque into the beautiful.
My favourite song is "Arthur Wilson's reverie" which is a love song by a man extolling the beauty of his soon to be hanged wife/lover, wherein he states "let me tug upon your feet"!? This must be an accepted habit of the age because it's also mentioned on "Elizabeth Clarke" a lady also due for the gallows asking who's going to feed her dog, dig her grave, wash the dirt away and pull on her ankles whilst she swings, all sung to the background creaking of a rope!!
I'm not too sure about the instrumentals as a couple of them are too long and the others don't seem to add much to the overall sound but notwithstanding this minor gripe the album as a whole is an unexpected treat.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2013
I find myself playing this album over and over. It has great depth and despite the sadness of the themes in this CD it is Darren Hayman at his creative best. Lyrics and arrangements are a real treat and the complexity of this work shows what a fantastic talent we have in Darren Hayman. I liked "Essex Arms" a lot, but I honestly believe "The Violence" is Darren's best work to date....not a bad track on the album and as I say a CD that I want to play over and over...Easy to recommend.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2012
I don't agree with the previous reviewer that the interludes detract anything from this amazing collection. This is a five star album and then some. I wasn't aware of Darren Hayman before this album but I'll certainly be looking him up. As for The Violence, there is nothing about it's appearance to give anyone a clue as to it's status as a future classic. Who would ever have imagined that this period in British history would make for such an incredible musical journey. I promise you that one listen will leave you both chilled and thrilled. Amazing.