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Needless Cane - Album Review: The Red Masquerade

16 Apr 2020 // A review by Peter-James Dries

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Fan fiction. The expanded universe. A spin-off with none of the original cast members, writers, producers, or audience. They’re all a glimpse into an established world where the fans take over when the artist has checked out. A view into a parallel universe of what could have been.

That’s the Needless Cane shtick. Blessed with the voice and cheekbones of the-artist-formally-known-as-Brian Warner, Needless Cane has made a living... Well... At least an art form out of providing the world with the classic Marilyn Manson sounding music.

Once a full band experience, Needless Cane’s latest line-up change to form a duo with Jeremy Garner, ala Reznor and Ross, has shifted the music’s direction from a Spooky Kids-era fuzz-fest to a more refined Hollywood and Golden Age of Grotesque styled sound.

Musically at least, Garner has been a good influence. While the last outing with Garner, 2017’s Sick World had some memorable moments, but The Red Masquerade is Needless Cane’s strongest work to date. It may be the least experimental Needless Cane release to date, but it’s the most diverse, shifting between elegy, ode, and ballad. Visceral rage to existential introspection.

The Red Masquerade mixes pulsing electronic Cyber Goth EBM and nightmarish soundscapes, with more traditional ‘real’ instruments to create a spectacle, nay experience, that’s like a Phantom of the Opera-esque recital of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death in the key of Goth Rock. It’s more of an art piece than an album.

Kicking off strong with the flail-inducing Who Killed the Phantom? the album descends into some dark places, ending with the spoken word noise-scape that is The Bottomless Pit of Creeping Crawlers.

There’s an added attention to detail and high production values that raises this release from a mere bedroom recording, albeit a well recorded one, to a more commercial product. The vocal tracks feel like their part of the music now, as opposed to an addendum to them. There is more air to the effects and instruments that extends the mix to the edges of my headphones, and the bass pops like it should. Blake’s voice is more consistent throughout, and very, very Manson.

The Red Masquerade is a Needless Cane that has found their sound while losing their mind. I’ve been following Needless Cane since the days of Bebo and have watched his sound evolve over the past decade or so. I used to consider our music as growing in parallel, that we were of the same ilk. But while I've languished in the same sound, Needless Cane has grown considerably since those early per-Facebook times and this album deserves all the praise Facebook's algorithm will let it muster.

Recommended for former angsty teens that grew up playing Twisted Metal on PlayStation while listening to Antichrist Superstar, and those disappointed with Remix and Repent. You can find The Red Masquerade on Bandcamp. While you’re at it, check out the video for Demons Are A Girls Best Friend on YouTube. Like the album, the video shows off the higher production values of the new album.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Needless Cane

Born of the ashes of former project Omega, frontman Needless and bassist Ruby went on to create the band Needless Cane.

Surviving countless line-up changes with only N.Cane remaining as the constant member (Ruby was not to re-unite with the band until mid-2012)
The band quickly became the torch bearer for alternative music in its hometown of Timaru.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Needless Cane


The Red Masquerade
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Sick World
Year: 2017
Type: Album
The Sun Did Not Shine
Year: 2013
Type: EP
Year: 2011
Type: EP

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