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Ides of Gemini – Old World New Wave

There are albums that pull you into winter’s icy silence and others that call up summer’s brutal heat (or its endless ebullience, if you’re into that sort of thing). Old World New Wave, the second full-length from LA’s Ides of Gemini, is pure, unadulterated October. The rapidly advancing dusk, the scent of leaves crushed underfoot, the long walks through mist that sogs your clothes, the deep breath of relief that summer is finally over—they’re all here, woven among the songs like streamers of Spanish moss tangled in cemetery trees.

If Ides of Gemini play doom metal, it’s a contemplative doom resonant with Sera Timms’ vocals, which don’t so much sing as proclaim in slow, epic tones. Timms’ bass anchors the lush songs on Old World New Wave while Jason Bennett’s guitars offer context, from the suffocating riffs in “The Chalice & The Blade” to his spacious, shimmering counterpoints in “May 22, 1453” (the day Constantinople fell—apparently one of Ides’ favorite subjects). Drummer Kelly Johnson’s thoughtful work punctuates these concise moments of gloom.

My quibble with Old World New Wave is relatively small: it starts off strong with the descending riffs of “Black Door” and stays potent through much of the record, but by “Valediction,” the penultimate track, the energy starts to fizzle. “Scimitar,” the closer, ends abruptly, making you wonder where the rest of the album went. For all the great moments on Old World New Wave, it winds up feeling a little unsatisfying in the end.

Above all, Ides of Gemini has a knack for atmosphere, for creating a world of sound and inviting the listener in. Their music has the feel of a classic horror film: all psychology, no fake blood or cheap startles. If there’s a goth revival afoot in metal culture—and, given last year’s releases by In Solitude, Beastmilk and others, there’s certainly an argument to be made for that—then Ides of Gemini is among its most evocative front-runners. Old World New Wave—whose very title hails that classic goth vibe—is the perfect music for those lengthening nights, those long walks as you disappear into the shadows.

— Beth Winegarner

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