Like a vampire crawling out of its grave at night, Bauhaus are back. Thirty years after forming, and 25 years after their last album, the post-punk goth peddlers of decadence reunite for one final descent into the dark side of the human psyche. Apparently the band has now thrust a stake through its collective undead heart, so Go Away White will be its final statement.
In fact, this is not a bad way to bow out. After such a long time apart a comeback album had all the makings of disaster but while there is nothing here to challenge songs from Bauhaus’s prime – like Dark Entries or Sanity Assassin – many of the tracks stand up well, even if there are a few fillers too. But, then, Bauhaus were never known for their consistency, and like their previous four studio albums pretentious self-indulgence lies side by side with genuine innovation.
However, with all four original band members present – singer Pete Murphy, guitarist Daniel Ash, bassist David J and drummer Kevin Haskins – it’s good to hear the distinctive mix of psychedelic poetry, distorted guitar riffs, brooding bass and doom-laden percussion one more time.
The opener, Too Much 21st Century, is probably the strongest track on the album. A pungent comment on the ever-more competitive materialistic excess of contemporary society, it features set to a rock-solid catchy groove. The relentlessly bass-driven Adrenalin expresses the plight of a howling junkie unable to come down and in Undone dub bass echoes gloomily through a fragmented consciousness.
International Bullet Proof Talent is more of a harder-edged guitar-based rocker, while the insistent drumming of Endless Summer Of The Damned seems to batter inside our heads, with Ash’s angst-ridden vocals sounding more like early Bowie than ever. Saved is a more experimental, atmospheric piece, and the Germanic style of Mirror Remains shows the on-going influence of Krautrock on Bauhaus, though neither song makes much of an impact.
The excellent Black Stone Heart contains the album title in the line �I come with this darkness and go away white’ – a cathartic purification which could sum up the feeling of the entire Bauhaus oeuvre. The nightmarishly haunting The Dog’s A Vapour was actually first heard ten years ago on a reunion tour, but the album ends disappointingly with the short, spoken Zikir fading into nothingness.
With no tour to promote the album, this really does seem to be the final nail in the coffin for Bauhaus, even if their influence lives on in the intensely moody sound of the likes of The Killers and Interpol. Go Away White is an unevenly inspired valediction, though the epitaph on the band’s tombstone will surely read Bela Lugosi’s Dead.