Self-proclaimed interstellar psychedelic noise pop producer Death Hags had a very, very special Halloween planned for everyone that you (and, admittedly, myself) most likely missed. What started as a fun project covering Sister of Mercy’s classic song ‘Alice’ turned into an entire project. Rather than just covering the song, Death Hags went on and created an entire album around it. Keeping the focus on the spookiness of Halloween and the goth influences of Sisters of Mercy, “The Alice Tape” was released in both digital and limited-edition cassette formats in October of 2021. The result is a mixture of Death Hags’ oddball combination of noise, pop, post-punk, and electronica wrapped up in a sweet, horrific delight.
The album begins off with ‘Night of the Wolf’. It serves as a bit of an introductory track, with a light, pulsing techno rhythm and dreamy notes flitting about. Throughout the track, ambiance plays through and samples of gruff voices and other creatures of night come to join the party. The second track is the titular cover of Sister of Mercy’s ‘Alice’. The original version of ‘Alice’ is not my favorite within Sisters of Mercy’s discography; it was their third single and doesn’t sound quite as good as their later material. That being said, Death Hags mercifully transforms the track into a goth-y post-punk single. It sounds as if the original was re-written with further echoes in mind with a remixing and remastering as a priority. Death Hags’ uses a gentle but fun voice to deliver the lyrics. Attached with those are cosmic reverberations that bring the interstellar part of the act into the song. To take a song that I don’t like and make it into something that I do like is stellar.
‘Not an Ordinary World’ comes in next. I can best describe this song as lo-fi darkwave, as the crawling beats rather fit the genre but there’s a polished muddiness to it all. Goblin like vocals hit in the song in complete collision with Death Hags’ surreal voice. It furthers the Halloween / horror genre without every feeling out of place. ‘Big Grey Sun Invaders’ follows this up. As understood by the samples talking of giant insects attacking the Earth, I can only imagine this single was inspired by 50s and 60s, science fiction, B-movies. It certainly sounds it, thanks to the wonky electronics and lo-fi presentation. One of the shortest songs on the album ‘Dance Around the Fire’, features Death Hags chanting the title multiple times. Thanks to the almost tribal beat, it sounds like an evocation more than anything.
‘Le Vampire’ is simply a throwback to 60s and 70s garage rock. Death Hags sings in French on the song and it fits in so well. While I normally would not sit and listen to something like this, I can’t deny that it fits on the album. It sounds like the song that would play during the opening credits of a horror movie when a group of unsuspecting teens are going on vacation unaware that they are about to meet their end. A rather minimal song hits in next titled ‘Metal Teeth’. Focusing primarily on bass guitar and slight drum work, it’s a simple song that demonstrates Death Hags’ vocal prowess whilst not under electronic effects.
‘Creation / Destruction’ is a six-minute monster that sounds like a synthetic dream. Synths are stretched out with vocals to match the calming energy. It is a harmonious section of the album that’s simply wonderful. The final song ‘Monster Lullaby’ matches the spirit of ‘Creation / Destruction’. As stated, it’s a very dreamy and calming lullaby. However, given the context of the album, I couldn’t help but take some horrific subplots to the song. One of the lines is sung out as ‘you have nothing to fear / life is just a dream’. If sung in a normal environment, it might sound innocent. But, since this is a Halloween album, I highly doubt there’s anything innocent about it. Either way, it’s well done and a fantastic end to “The Alice Tape”.
Death Hags once again demonstrates her ability to produce within and outside of her genre on “The Alice Tape”. There’s a certain hypnotic element Death Hags that is inescapable. Whether she’s tackling electronica, post-punk, goth, or even lullabies, there’s an undeniable allure that goes along with it. I may have missed this album when it first launched in October, but I’ll be damned if it’s not part of next spooky season’s celebrations. Eight out of ten.
This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.