Following the unexpected and very untimely death last year of frontman Steve Strange, Visage have, with the blessing of Steve’s family, decided to release ‘Demons To Diamonds’, the fifth and final studio album for the band.
To be released next month, ‘Demons To Diamonds’ is a name chosen by Steve’s family, and features the studio songs he was working on prior to his death in February last year. It’s set to coincide with the inaugural Steve Strange New Romantic Music Festival, to be held in Porthcawl, Wales, on 31 October. All Royalties from the album to be donated to the Steve Strange Statue Fund, which aims to create a permanent and lasting memorial to Steve, his music, style, and fashion legacies.
‘Demons To Diamonds’ is the follow up to Visage’s 2013 album, ‘Hearts and Knives’, with work starting in the spring of 2014. Although over 15 songs were written and scheduled, the band had managed to only record half of them by the time of Steve’s death. Rather than leave the album unfinished, they decided to persevere and complete it, resulting in a magnificent dedication to the man, and featuring contributions by Simple Minds’ Mick MacNeil, and French artist, Didier Marouani , whose song ‘Magic Fly’ reached number 2 on the UK singles charts in the late 1970s. With cover artwork by Boy George, ‘Demons To Diamonds’ is a classy addition to the collection of any Visage fan.
Lead track, ‘Before You Win’, harkens back to the glory days of Visage. A poignant song suggestive of a relationship in tatters, it’s a punchy, synth-laden dance track best cranked up to 11. It’s followed by ‘Become’, a song which is totally Steve. Sad to think he’s no longer with us – this song shows how much he he left in him.
Third song on the album is a cover of ‘Loving The Alien’, originally found on David Bowie’s 1984 album, ‘Tonight’. It’s almost unrecognisable as the same song – Visage have put their own stamp on it – UNTIL you get to the chorus, which could have been written for Strange himself.
Another standout song on the album is ‘Seven Deadly Sins Part 3’, a nice follow-up to its dance-friendly predecessors, parts 1 and 2. Strange spits out the names of each of the Seven Deadly Sins with absolute venom – synth heavy, this song is a corker to hear through headphones.
‘Aurora’ has to be my absolute favourite song. Sax and words tumbling over each other, the lyrics are painfully poignant.
“A life made in moments when the world wasn’t listening”
“Daylight’s calling, the pulse of life fading through her veins.”
Even without the music, the songs on this album would stand alone as poetry:
“Like sunrays kissing single moments, we don’t have nearly enough time to pray for this.”
One can’t help but wonder if the Aurora in the title is actually Strange himself.
‘Aurora’ is closely followed in favour by ‘Your Skin Is My Sin’. The song strikes me as very sad – despite being very uptempo, lyrics such as,
“Once more I’m left on my own and I try not to screw up my whole life.”
So, so sad.
Did I say ‘Aurora’ was my favourite? Well, perhaps equal favourite. The last song on the album, ‘Never’, was clearly chosen to finish the album because of the lyrics:
“Never stop breathing, never stop fighting or dreaming; live out your wonderful life. Never stop driving to go the way you feel: you’re behind the wheel of your life.”
Beautiful, touching, heartbreaking. This is the last Visage album. This is the end.
For further information about ‘Demons To Diamonds’, and the Steve Strange New Romantic Music Festival, visit the Steve Strange Collective.