TourdeForce in the key of death

TOURDEFORCE: Six In The Key Of Death

Release year: 2022
Label: SPQR

It’s no secret that for me, neofolk originators Death In June is where it’s at: that’s the one artist, that stands up high above everything else, in an exclusive pantheon where few others can ever hope to rise. So when Italian electronic-industrial product TourdeForce announced this EP consisting of electropop-industrial renditions of Death In June songs, my interest was piqued.

And then, when I heard their rendition of Fields Of Rape, I was sold. Pure gold.

So, in other words: Death In June done in an electronic-industrial vein. Some might say it sounds outlandish, others may think the opposite. It’s not like Death In June themselves are strangers to experimenting with synths and danceable rhythms – just listen to Nada!

For this EP, TourdeForce have chosen different stylistic approaches to each song. Nowhere Street is dominated by angry, shouted vocals and industrial rock guitars that would not be fully out pf place on some Ministry-derivative 90’s industrial rock band’s album. The Calling takes a pounding, 80’s style gated snare drum sound and driving arpeggiated bass, creating a powerful electro-industrial rendition. Come Before Christ And Murder Love veers off into an entirely different direction: starting out with sensitive piano, this feels at first closer to Miro Snejdr’s Death In June renditions, but evolves to an 80’s synthpop style last-slow-ballad-of-the-night type of song, with female lead vocals provided by Alessio Sogno.

And then there’s Fields Of Rape.

Even after I don’t know how many listens, I stop in awe at the greatness of this rendition. It takes classic 80’s goth rock, subversive synthpop a’la old Depeche Mode and the slightest hint of an industrial touch – like De/Vision does, maybe – and combines them into a cover that is for the ages. I mean, I love the Death In June original (which in turn is an interpretation of a Current 93 track) and can’t really find it in my heart to compare these two qualitatively, but it is clear to me that this is an example of how covers should be done. TourdeForce essentially reimagine and recreate the song in their own visage, whilst still retaining the spirit of the original.

To be fully honest, it’s a bit problematic that the EP opens up with Fields Of Rape. As good as the other tracks are, they just can’t hold a candle to Fields Of Rape. As such, the first few listens will inevitably feel like a letdown: it’s all a bit downhill after the opening track.

This is really a shame, because the other tracks on Six In The Key Of Death are more than adequate. They’re actually all good. But they’re not as good. It would’ve been better to place Fields Of Rape somewhere in the middle or at the close of the EP.

But really, that’s a minor gripe. After a few listens, you start to see the others tracks from behind Fields Of Rape’s shadow, and discover they are good as well. It’s an interesting selection of tracks, eschewing for the most part the most famous and covered Death In June tracks, opting mainly for older material. Well, I guess that makes sense stylistically, seeing as how it’s the older material that contains the post-punk and/or synth-driven, more danceable material.

All in all, an interesting item for Death In June fans well worth adding to one’s collection. And for fans of TourdeForce, too, naturally.

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