Verena von Horsten is if the authentic and honest vocalization of Bjork fused with the pop sensibility of Lady Gaga, into one being. Alien Angel Super Death, the solo artist’s latest full length release, is a dark synth-rock journey; reflecting on a life full of tragedy, as the artist tries to cope with the loss of her brother, Hakon, from suicide. The brooding nature of Alien Angel Super Death, is met with an equal representation of energetic dance musicality. The combination of these elements, give birth to something that is truly genuine.
Verena does a great job of showcasing the rage and anger of her situation. Instead of falling into this pit that some artists do, whining about tragedy, Verena portrays a very human and powerful reaction. Most of the songs off the album are driving and danceable and others are atmospheric and mournful. While, some songs have a pop element to them, layers of weird modulated synthesizers are added throwing off the concept of a formulaic pop song.
The opening track, “The Hymn,” sets a haunting motif for the songs that follow, with pounding percussive rhythms, ominous synthesizers and eerie auxiliary chiming in the background, depicting a scenario within some deranged underground dance club. Although, inspired by a tragic concept, Alien Angel Super Death is in no way unpleasant to listen to.
Verena does more than just sing a melody, she emotes her despair and loneliness. The songs can be enthralling at times, which I find to be an uncommon characteristic of pop music. Not that this album is really confined to just one genre of music. The incorporation of a diverse set of instrumentation adds an eclectic identity to each song and the album as a whole. There is even sitar, in the song “What You Say,” which is both the coolest and strangest song off the record. Could possibly be the soundtrack to someone’s “bad trip.”
A notable track off the record, “A Healing Moment,” is a tranquil piano interlude, offering some glimpse of hope that Verena is recovering from her past experiences. It’s songs like this, when included, can make an album more believable and compelling. Sticking to one mood can make a record a bit monotonous and boring but in this case, “A Healing Moment,” breaking apart from the common theme, incorporating a necessary contrast of tone.
This record isn’t groundbreaking but it’s a true and relatable experience worth listening to. Some songs can be a little repetitive, dragging on a bit longer than they should and drum rhythms can be somewhat unoriginal. Understandably, the drums aren’t the focus of a record like this. There is always going to be a weak point to an album, where an instrument is there to just serve a purpose. That’s what the drums do for this album, nothing more, nothing less and that’s perfectly fine. It doesn’t really take anything away from the album as a whole, just could have been more interesting.