Italian death rock outfit The Sade put in a solid shift on their latest effort, Nocturna, in the process seeing their gothic sounds morph into something a little more, well… cheerful is the wrong word to use in this context, obviously – and mainstream isn’t really right either… Let’s just say that, despite the tense and strange circumstances into which this album has been born, the band might well have managed to broaden their appeal as well as perhaps releasing their best body of work yet. It’s a classic win-win situation!

Tracks like End of Time see the trio move away from their more stolid roots into a more dynamic though no less misanthropic world of synthwashes, goosebump-inducing chord sequences and, let’s be honest, un-shamefaced eighties nostalgia. But it’s a winning formula, and one you’ll find yourself returning to again and again if only to enjoy bassist Silvia‘s agile fretwork and Andrew Pozzy‘s smoother-than-smooth umbric croon.

Guilty is probably more what you’d expect from The Sade if you’ve come into contact with them before; slightly ponderous Euro goth with a hint of The 69 Eyes or maybe Sleep of Monsters in one of their more somnolent moments, and it’s good that the black-clad baby hasn’t been thrown out with the bathwater entirely; however it’s undeniable that, for the duration of this album at least, it’s the less rock, more noire material that scores heaviest on the lacrimosometer, if such a thing exists (it does now – Ed).

King and Queen is fabulous, the addition of a single, plaintive violin line giving a whiff of Scottish new romantics Ultravox, whilst Pozzy’s vocal plunges even lower on the register than normal to give a positively stygian vocal performance that might well be worth the price of admission on it’s own…

Lengthy epic Long Live Death makes for an impressive centrepiece to the album, weaving together just about every strand of gothic thought and forging seven minutes of camp, kitsch darkness that lovers of the form will lap up, right down to the climactic guitar solo that rounds things out.

Somewhat improbably, the superb Flatline sees the trio inventing an entirely new genre – Country death rock – mixing tortured guitars and a cheeky borrowing from Ghost Riders In The Sky to great effect…

Hugely enjoyable stuff then, and as mixed a bag of gothic delights as even the most grim-faced creature of the night could ask for – well worth a spin!

Nocturna releases on October 28th.