Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or just really, really, super late to the party, you’ve probably heard of William Francis. From his popular stint with the band Aiden, and his hand in the literature world, to his ongoing dance with his dangerously dark alter ego William Control, there’s not much this man can’t do.
Now with his fourth studio album on the pad, ready to launch, it’s time for Substream to diverge into the deliciously addictive prelude to Hate Culture, The Neuromancer.
From the get-go you know it’s a William Control record. The intro of the deep and borderline horror-movie spoken word (which has lingered in not only the late Aiden records but in past albums like Silentium Amoris), is present here again. Bouncing straight into “Adore (Fall In Love Forever),” it’s everything you would expect from a William Control track; a dark 80s-esque beat, Francis’ deep, yet soothing vocals, and an allure which wants you to listen intensively. Such theme follows throughout as we’re presented with tracks “Revelator,” “God Is Dead” and the surprising “Illuminator” – with angelic choir opener included.
An outsider may mistake this for an early Depeche Mode (prior to “Personal Jesus”) record, and who can blame them, with its seductively 80s dark-synth-pop vibes and lyrical content that swings from that constant conflict of love and hate, it’s very dated, but in the best possible way.
“Passengers,” offers a different side to Francis, as opposed to the one-trick dance house we’ve heard previously. It’s slow, hypnotizing and only furthermore highlights the full vocal range Francis has to offer. However, before you get too used to that “The Blade” smacks you back in the face with its raunchy and demanding beat which only makes you succumb to join his musical dark side.
The Neuromancer rounds off with the anti-love symphony “Love is a Shadow,” and the slower “Where the Angels Burn,” which bows out with a twisted spoken word by Francis which wraps up the album nicely.
In music, sometimes a bit of negativity is harming to an artist, because they’re pigeonholed as that dreaded ‘e’ word. However, as William Control, William Francis takes this ongoing theme and runs with it and whether you class him as dark-synth, Goth-electro or just a new form of rock altogether, it works. It really works.
From tracks about love to the swipes at self-hate or hate on others, this album highlights that it’s really okay to be this negative and it really is okay to happy. The Neuromancer is sexy, dark and the perfect medium to the two feelings us as humans battle daily.
The only problem is you’re going to find it very hard to find a reason to hate this album.
The Neuromancer is available April 4.
Album review by Nicole Tiernan