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CORPUS DELICTI (Buy CDs by this artist)
Twilight (Fr. Glasnost) 1993
Sylphes (Fr. Glasnost) 1994
Obsessions (Fr. WMD Music) 1995 (Etherhaus) 1996
Sarabands (Cleopatra) 1996

The touristy city of Nice on the sunny Riviera might seem an unlikely hometown for Corpus Delicti, France's only goth band of international repute. Any doubts about Gallic suitability for that gloomy genre are quickly laid to rest by Twilight: Sebastian (vocals), Roma (drums/synths), Chrys (bass) and Frank (guitars) serve up by-the-book heaviness on all eleven tracks, laying it on particularly thick for "Poisoned Dead Flowers" (!!!) and "Haunted Picture." Early Bauhaus records obviously played a pivotal role in forming Corpus Delicti's sound, especially when it comes to Sebastian's suspiciously Peter Murphy-like vocal delivery. The English-language lyrics are unfortunate — the romance of the French language would perfectly convey goth's seductive side.

Sylphes continues in the same vampiric vein as Twilight. These folks aren't breathing any new life into the idiom, but the album is still good solid goth rock. Two notable exceptions — "Saraband," with a sprightly verse and pulsating, sinewy chorus, and a haunting version of "Noxious (The Demon's Game)" — display bolstered confidence.

Obsessions finds Corpus Delicti finally well on its way to perfecting a distinctive goth sound. Sebastian's lyrics show a new sensitivity and subtlety, and his French-accented singing (which still sounds like Peter Murphy) gives the material that crucial swoon factor. The fragile, melancholia-soaked "Motherland" is one of the band's finest compositions; with a winding melody and rousing chorus, "Treasures" is another standout.

For its first American release, Corpus reworked the best material from the first two albums, adding more layers and atmospheric touches. As a result, Sarabands is by far the most satisfying Corpus Delicti album yet. There are also a few new additions, which stand up well against the earlier work. The only failure is an over-the-top cover of David Bowie's "Suffragette City."

[Katherine Yeske]