The first full length Wesley Eisold has released in ten years in many ways finds him picking up where he left off. It’s not as if Cold Cave took a hiatus or even really slowed down, as evident on his foray into gothed-out bleakness of 2018’s EP, You & Me & Infinity. With his long-awaited third LP, Fate In Seven Lessons, he’s not delving as deep into the Batcave, thanks to a more organic slither. Eisold defies the drum machines that characterized past records to embrace the sound of a live band riding these grooves in the studio. While the bulk of the album is, for all intents and purposes, darkwave, there are excursions into other corners of the ’80s, like the upbeat new wave feel of “Night Light,” which could have fit perfectly on the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie.
One of the album’s strengths is in how the songwriting draws from a wider range of influences. On “Love is All” there are traces of The Cure in the synth melody floating in the background, as well as a touch of neofolk austerity in the atmosphere. Eisold’s vocals continue to improve as he feels like he is finding himself more than ever in the phrasing of his lyrics. He’s also once again joined by multi-instrumentalist Amy Lee, who adds a memorable guitar strum to the haunting “Love Is All.” And “Psalm 234” brings an irresistibly thick groove, setting a high bar early on.
“Happy Birthday Darkstar” is one of the few moments in which Cold Cave gloomily oblige with darkwave purism—not necessarily the most inspired moment, but a satisfying enough song all the same. Eisold not only has a little something to offer for different shades of devotees of sonic darkness, but even when toying with the more stock-in-trade goth trappings, he shows on a song like “Honey Flower” that he can mold them into something entirely his own. Eisold weaves them into his own hybrid sound rather than just fetishizing sounds from the ’80s.
The choir synth patch opening “Promised Land” borrows from The Sisters of Mercy’s template, but the vocals have enough of his own personality to them to keep from becoming a tribute. It’s another example of how a decade later Eisold can still carry the torch for the sounds of yesteryear without growing stagnant in nostalgia. Fate In Seven Lessons is a strong enough set of songs to make it worth the decade-long wait. It’s a much darker album than its predecessors, with songs that embed themselves in the subconscious.
Label: Heartworm Press