Its influences are clear and it wears those on its blackened sleeve, however there are moments that show flashes of a Gabriel Bruce wise beyond his years
There is a certain amount of gothic electro swagger on Gabriel Bruce’s ‘Come All Sufferers’. It feels as though you’ve wandered across a field on a hot spring day and fallen down a particularly dark rabbit hole. You awake in 1987 to find Andrew Eldrich plying you with opium laced tea. You scrabble around looking for the dry ice machine and trip over three members of The Mission, while you try to make sense of it all.
‘I’m going somewhere, guess I’m about halfway there, and all I own, just flesh and bone and the book of common prayer’ burrs Bruce on opening track ‘Freedom’, complete with gothic synths and clapping beats. Vocally, Gabriel Bruce’s rich, snarling baritone calls to mind a whole wealth of influences. On Tracks such as ‘Scared Heart’, there are snatches of Pretty Hate Machine era Trent Reznor. Suddenly out of seemingly nowhere, Bruce begins to rap. It’s an unexpected surprise but a tinge of the modern; it’s what’s needed here.
It’s an anchor to the past that could make you overlook Come All Sufferers as a dated listen, as though Bruce is attempting to re-hash everything that has gone before. Indeed, there are big shoes to fill with comparisons in the press to Nick Cave at his most forlorn. The comparison is not without merit, the whole album bubbles with twisted religious imagery, Jesus Drag Queen, showcases this with a snarling violence, however Bruce lacks Cave’s depth of storytelling and it feels a little contrived.
Title track ‘Come All Sufferers’, could have been taken from any of The National’s early releases, the lyrics are cynical and cutting. The line ‘Got my pastry mixed with cinnamon and cyanide. Got everything that money could have ever bought me’ evokes an image of Bruce stalking the streets in the early morning, disheveled and disillusioned.
Track five. There’s always some special about track five on an album. It’s the midway point, time for a change or pace; it stands out amongst the radio singles. It breaks new territory usually. You could be forgiven for thinking all this album does is pay lip service to the past and everything that’s gone before however just when your ears are telling you that, Gabriel Bruce spins you on your head with two tracks to slow the pace and begin the contemplation. ‘Metal Soul’ and ‘This Human Mess’ offer a new direction. The latter has a gentle harp beginning, as Bruce confesses, ‘It’s pretty scary as far as omens go’is no different. A mature offering, and like Stuart Staples at his melancholic best. This is a true highlight of ‘Come All Sufferers’ and showcases Gabriel Bruce’s vocal and song writing abilities, in their own right. ‘I’m an ostrich with his head in the sand, forcing it down I can hardly breathe’
‘Come All Sufferers’, is a multi-layered work, its influences are clear and it wears those on its blackened sleeve, however there are moments that show flashes of a Gabriel Bruce wise beyond his years. Closer, ‘Kurt and Kanye’, features a rap section. It’s these moments which are the most interesting as they feature glimpses of the artist that Gabriel Bruce will become. He might want to step out of the shadows of his inspiration to influence listeners of his own but it’s an intriguing start.
This Gabriel Bruce article was written by Jessica Otterwell, a GIGsoup contributor