“death, sex, and doomed romance”.
These are three main themes that run through the evocative, dark wave music made by Jack Armondo, aka Panic Priest. His rich tenor cuts through the mix of guitars, drums, and synths like a hot blade through flesh. There’s a pop eloquence in his vocals that bring the otherwise Gothic rock anthems out from the shadows and into, while not the sunlight, moonlight.
On Panic Priest’s newest album, the kinetic and driving Psychogoria, Jack Armondo continues to propel the seductive dark wave sound he’s nearly perfected on previous releases Second Seduction(2020) and 2018’s self-titled debut. The songs are more urgent and the hooks dig even deeper into the flesh.
Panic Priest is connected sonically and spiritually to the 80s Gothic scene, but never gets too maudlin. Armondo is more interested in making you move and feel something rather than mope quietly in a darkened room with nothing but flickering candlelight. I mean, sure, that’d be okay but only after you get home from the club. These are darkly-lit dance songs in the spirit of Depeche Mode, Peter Murphy, and Dead Or Alive. Panic Priest is a contemporary of bands like The Soft Moon, Vlimmer, Cold Cave, and Automelodi. Bands that flirt with darkness while still keeping things moving with a dance floor pulse.
Psychogoria opens with the kinetic “SANCTIFIED”, a song that propels along with a driving rhythm, keys, guitars, and Armondo’s big and bold vocals. There’s a certain amount of theater in the delivery, bringing to mind master of rock and roll theater Alice Cooper. I can just imagine a beautifully over-the-top live presentation. “When Daylight Disappears” keeps that drive going, with some tasteful guitar and definite pop lean in the vocals. “DEADLUST” is a nasty little number with some excellent mid-80s Martin Gore production values and a Peter Murphy-like delivery in the vocals(I’d love to hear Armondo cover “Cuts You Up” at some point.)
Panic Priest never lets up throughout Psychogoria’s dark and sultry tracks. From “Your Tell Tale Heart” to the dance floor exorcism of “DEADFALLEN” to the nearly operatic electro close of “Start The Night”, it’s a perfect coming together of big 80s rock moves, dance floor rhythms, and Jack Armondo’s pristine and powerful vocal delivery.
Psychogoria has something for everyone. From Love and Rockets to The Mission to Depeche Mode to Soft Moon, this is the album that’ll bring the metal kids, electro kids, and theater kids together.
‘Psychogoria’ is out now on colored vinyl via Midnight Mannequin Records. Order it here.