In a time when sludge metal is booming and goth rock is resurrecting, it should be no surprise that a band like Ides of Gemini would come along. Ides of Gemini’s debut, Constantinople, combines muddy riffs with melancholic wails to create an engaging sludge-goth fusion. Guitarist J. Bennett produces a slew of massive, melodious hooks that are both powerful and memorable. Along with steady bass and drums, the riffs provide the perfect bedrock for Sera Timms’s commanding voice. Timms’s voice earns favorable comparisons to Siouxsie Sioux in creating a melodious and spooky aura; however, Timms’s voice is really too unique to be pinned down to a single comparison. She belts out her lines with an operatic force that at its best will give you shivers. Kelly Johnson’s thin, girlish vocals (think Alison Shaw of Cranes) provides the perfect accompaniment for the sheer girth of Timms’s voice.
Still, while the basic elements of Ides of Gemini all seem to come together in a beautiful sonic mosaic, the simplicity and predictability of the songwriting seriously hurts Constantinople’s replay value. Every song has the same standard pop structure. There really isn’t a compositional surprise on the entire album. As a result, Constantinople sounds way better on the first listen than it does on the tenth.
Another problem is that the album is frontloaded. The first three tracks are easily the best on the entire album. “The Vessel and the Snake” contains a heart pounding buildup to a deliciously groovy chorus. “Starless Midnight” is absolutely the star of the album, with a sultry verse that leads to an epic chorus. “Slain in Spirit” is an excellent exhibition of the band’s darker side. The middle three tracks are solid, but a step down from what came before. Then, the last three songs seem to suffer from lethargy. The tempos slow, the intensity drops and the album finds itself floundering to the finish line.
First hearing Ides of Gemini is a refreshing experience. Killer riffs plus an original and talented vocalist is usually a winning combination. However, Constantinople definitely sounds like a debut album. The talent and even the chemistry are certainly there, but the songwriting lacks an element of creativity that Ides of Gemini will need to tap into if they want to reach the next level. Here’s hoping the best is yet to come.
Written by Jael