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:Retrowerks: The Ladder – Charade EP

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The Ladder – Charade EP
Release Date: October 13, 2013
Label: Self-Released
Website: theladder.bandcamp.com

Review by Stephen Beck Fey

Beatsmith Addz Vindicare and his EBM/futurepop project, The Ladder, have been milling around the UK goth/industrial scene in one form or another for about seven years now, occasionally helping out bands like Grendel or Surgyn on tour. Having evolved into a real group somewhere along the line, The Ladder finally saw fit to put out an official release; an EP entitled Charade.

A band’s debut EP is as much a promise as it is a product in itself, so reviewing such a release is often more about predicting the future than it is about actual critique. If we’re using Charade as a guide for this kind of prognostication, things look mostly sunny, but there are few dark spots.

The opening song, “Requital,” features a very nice vocal melody, but doesn’t do enough to support it; leaving the verses adorned with only some rote pounding and buzzing from way down below, while piling onto the chorus with a synth line that just competes with the main melody and makes it hard to focus on either. It’s really a shame because Danny Dellamorte’s singing is quite lovely and the trance-y instrumental breaks work really well. I’m not a big fan of remixes, but this song definitely cries out for one.

The closing original song, “Clockwork,” has much the opposite problem. The instrumental is great and it plays just fine with the vocals. Unfortunately, Dellamorte delivers his lyrics in what sounds like a bad Trent Reznor impression. The style does not suit him.

Happily though, “Enabler” and “Charade” are both excellent; each with the supreme catchiness and “soaring over the clouds” feelings that are the hallmarks of futurepop done right. The title track isn’t even too far removed from “Requital,” it’s just beefed up a little so it supports the vocals better, coming across as driving and powerful instead of just by-the-numbers. Amazing, the difference a little polish can make.

As I said earlier, I don’t often like remixes, but the two here are to die for. Ghost Loop’s reimagining of “Charade” takes the sweeping feel of the original and just runs with it; adding coldwave guitars, echoing keyboards, and a bunch of reverb. It sounds absolutely enormous. It’s so much more epic, but at the time, emphasizes how pretty the song actually is. And it isn’t even the better of the two remixes.
Monomor✞e’s take on “Requital” actually feels like a completely different song. Specifically, it sounds like it should soundtrack an orgy in a haunted house. The original’s upbeat trance sound is replaced by a witch house monstrosity of primal drums, demonic chopped-&-screwed vocals, and SO MUCH BASS. It’s spooky, but it’s also sexy in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on. Anyway, it’s awesome. Even if you don’t get the whole EP, grab this song.

In conclusion, The Ladder still has some kinks to work out, but they’re obviously talented and they have some solid songs behind them. I’m looking forward to their first album.

Track Listing
01. Requital
02. Charade
03. Enabler
04. Clockwork
05. Charade (Ghost Loop Remix)
06. Requital (Monomor✞e Remix)

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