The Black Hotel’s Doorkeepers are a cold wave/post punk act from Nimes in France, based largely around the imagination and talents of David Droz. As a mission statement, Droz makes it clear that he intends to “bring back the glorious 80s to a younger audience” although to these ears he is more likely to attract fans from the original time.
The concise version of ‘Nothing Is Colder Than You’ can be signposted by the first and last tracks. ‘Nothing Is Simple’ is a reassuring beginning as a delicious backdrop of lurching, moody bass, elegant synth washes and crisp drum machine accompany Droz’s dramatically brooding baritone. The album ends with an epic, industrial-flavoured instrumental; simmering with attractive mystery and possibly evil intent. In between there are only shades of black and grey but Droz is an experienced campaigner who delivers his message with style and period detail; frequently recalling the greats of the post-punk and gothic era.
‘To Say Goodbye’ may be shrouded in murky echoes of The Cure’s early years but the melody is undeniably sweet, ‘Believe In Me’ is an intense Bauhaus pastiche with additional Gregorian chanting, whilst both ‘The Revolution Is On The Way’ and ‘Walking On The Sky’ channel the frenetic guitar/bass intensity of Joy Division’s ‘Disorder’. For much of the time, BHD seep gothic majesty from every pore. Forlorn keyboard figures wrap around an increasingly despairing Droz for the vulnerable ‘Secret’ and you can imagine Droz with a permanently curled lip as he snarls the lyrics of ‘You Know What I Mean’.
An hour of this unremittingly dark music is a lot to take in one sitting (at its most testing, ‘Kill Me Again’ seems to be an endless murmur) and by the conclusion even the drum machine seems to be suffering from fatigue. Having said that, it’s hard not be carried away by conviction of Droz’s dystopian vision and there is a refreshing old school production here which should appease the wishes of dyed-in-the-wool goths.
Bauhaus, The Cure, Joy Division, The Wolfgang Press