This is more than a review of Satanic Panic ’81’s Mara album; it’s also me projecting my thoughts onto each track. The thing about soundtrack music is that it’s supposed to foster images in people’s heads. So, for most of these tracks, I have written down what each song makes me think about. Will some descriptions miss the mark? Possibly. Are some of my music-inspired scenes messed up? Probably. However, Satanic Panic ’81 will easily conjure up strange scenes in your mind, too, so I doubt I’d be alone.
Listen to the album, and then read the review!
Anyway, here are my thoughts on this neato album’s tracks:
1. “Never Forgive”
You first hear this song and think, “Okay, this could easily be in a John Carpenter movie.” However, like most great synth tracks, you can easily forget any comparative context and just assign it a world of its own. It’s hard to capture the power of soundtrack music in words, but each sampling can be like an event, if not a full story. It’s almost like they simply recorded the words that were spoken, only through musical tones and possibly a drum beat. “Never Forgive” works either played quiet or loud, and it keeps gathering around itself as it builds. Just say, “Yes” to “Never Forgive,” because it’s a coalition of tones intended to gather your senses for a sound story.
In my own vision, I saw a crowd of disenchanted vagabonds surveying their decaying metropolis. They know they are living in dangerous times with terrorism, faithlessness, and corruption stacked against them, and this is the soundtrack to their statement against the evil that’s running their city into the ground. Either that, or a bunch of C.H.U.D.-like creatures are prepared to mount their attacks. Or hey, why not a combination of both?
This track has somewhat more of a goth/pop vibe. Everything in the genre tends to be lumped into minimal configurations. However, make no mistake that this track could evoke enough memory to fill multiple hard drives (if you know what I mean). This track would definitely be in the running for the most melancholic one from the album. It’s sufficiently beautiful.
“Mara” comes equipped with dark and murky synths. Then, you get a springy bass with a chorus effect. This is a candidate for my second favorite track. It seems to embody both stereotypical masculine and feminine traits, blending them together like a Yin and Yang. I don’t know if the track is its own universe, but it’s definitely its own animal … one that can be solemn at times, like it’s on a meaningful prowl.
4. “Dead Pigs”
Admittedly, I don’t have much to say on this one, other than it’s good and a bit spooky at times. Oh, and it has synths (you’ll probably notice that pattern).
“Mercy” has a bass line that pleads with you to come along on a quest. What is that mission? Possibly to rediscover the band Joy Division. You might also think of “Solitude” by Killing Joke. In fact, that would be a kick-ass companion piece to this track.
6. “Walking Free”
Like the other tracks, “Walking Free” has an overall spooky feel. However, the drums are a bit different. The guitar makes an appearance with bell-like chords and bluesy lines thrown in. I speculate that it has an Ennio Morricone influence. In my scattered opinion, the track could just as well be called “Leaving Home.” With this in the background, I could easily imagine a child somehow obligated—possibly forced—to leave home, and the kid is not fully aware of the rights and responsibilities of the outside world.
It is a sad soundtrack for a sad child, possibly alone and looking out the window on a bus at a degraded concrete jungle. Will the kid seek the help he/she needs? On that note: Sharing is caring, so hopefully, this imaginary child finds responsible people who both share and care. Hell, some people might even argue that sharing is more important than caring.
7. “No More Pain”
Replete with orchestral synth, “No More Pain” might also be called “Braver Vistas.” I imagine it occurring during a training montage. Of course, there are other possibilities. Are you very close to death? Then this might be playing. For all the pain, the reminders of your fleeting life, and your utter confusion, take the easy way out. That does not mean a gunshot to the head, but listen to a track like this instead. Don’t cry, don’t be sad. Just be up, up, up, and go about your business.
If you have your limb amputated after it was bitten by a zombie, let something like this underscore the experience. Braver. Braver! Learn the origin of your struggles, the complex nature of dying, and the art of helping others to deal with it. Be aware of your actions, and in a crisis, remember that a synth soundtrack is ideal.
This is my favorite track, cool as ice, multifaceted, and effective. How much do I like it? I don’t have any more dumb things to say about it!
9. “Cross to Bear”
“Cross to Bear” certainly has an edge, but it’s the sort of edge that’s distant and frosty somehow. Does this make sense? Am I projecting my own personality upon the piece? Probably.
I could imagine this track playing in a scene where there’s heavy traffic, and a man staring emptily at it, knowing it will run all day and night. Either that, or he’s vacantly watching people entering and exiting an apartment building, studying the people’s movements coldly, calculatingly. He’s deciding whether to cross that terrain into villainy, knowing he can’t turn back once started.
List to Satanic Panic ’81’s Mara right here!
Do you love Satanic Panic ’81 and their synth sounds? Let us know in the comments!