This is part of a Retrospective that covers the bands entire discography. You can find the post for the previous album here. There’s also an introduction and disclaimer that you can read here, that I strongly suggest you start out with.
And now, we reach one of the most interesting eras of Dahvie Vanity’s career: Sinners are Winners. Strap yourselves in folks. This is where things get a bit fucking mental…
I mentioned in my last post in this retrospective that after Scissors, Jayy Von Monroe abruptly left Blood on the Dance Floor, due to finally having enough of being Dahvie Vanity’s emotional punching bag and feeling restricted as an artist.
But what I didn’t really focus too much on was that this also effectively “broke up” the band, as after Jayy’s sudden departure, Dahvie decided to disband Blood on the Dance Floor entirely. He released the RIP 2006-2016 compilation CD, which contained multiple songs from every album since the bands debut album, both as a way to mark the end of the project and to give a final farewell gift to the fans.
But Dahvie wouldn’t stay gone for long, and he quickly re-emerged on the scene with a new solo project titled Sinners are Winners. Sinners are Winners was originally intended to be a side project alongside Blood on the Dance Floor, but after the band broke up, Dahvie decided to instead make the project his new primary focus. And Jesus Christ, what a project it was.
Sinners are Winners is fucking weird, not that that’s really anything new, given that pretty much everything Dahvie Vanity has been involved in has been fucking bizarre. But even by Dahvie’s usual standards, this project is just fucking mental. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s batshit insane, because it’s honestly the last direction anyone would have ever expected Dahvie to take things after breaking up Blood on the Dance Floor. Why? Well, to put it simply, Sinners are Winners is nothing like Blood on the Dance Floor. At all.
The band had always flirted with other genres here and there, with Anthem of the Outcast and Cruel Pornography being two notable albums that moved more towards a rock and metal oriented sound respectively. But this is just such a wildly different project in terms of both sound and aesthetic that I can hardly believe it’s fronted by the same guy that gave us albums like Epic and Evolution.
For Beginners is an extremely heavy, Industrial Metal album with incredibly dark lyrical themes and a warped, gothic aesthetic that just screams “edge”. This, along with its follow-up, are by far the heaviest and darkest releases Dahvie Vanity has ever been a part of, and make Bad Blood, which is easily the darkest and edgiest album by Blood on the Dance Floor, look tame by comparison. With extremely overdriven guitars, heavy electronic beats, warped, distorted editing and screaming vocals that are filled with what feels like genuine hatred and anger, this album is almost disturbing in how dark it is. It’s almost like after Blood on the Dance Floor broke up, that Dahvie just lost his fucking mind, completely snapped and decided to make the angriest, most hateful music possible.
He even went as far as changing his onstage persona from “Dahvie Vanity” to “Dahvie Insanity” and dropped his usual bright, colourful and extravagant look for something far more dark and sinister. The bright, pastel coloured wigs and fluorescent clothing were scrapped and replaced with jet black hair, creepy contact lenses and an edgy as fuck satanic aesthetic that wavers between being kind of awesome and being the lamest fucking thing ever.
And that’s not even getting into the central themes of the album. For Beginners covers a lot of different topics, despite only consisting of 8 tracks, and despite how fucking edgy it all is, it’s an album I actually find myself relating to a hell of a lot. The best way to sum up this record would be that it’s just one big, raging temper tantrum in music form. And while that sounds insufferable on paper, it actually ends up being the albums greatest asset and is what makes it work so well. Much like Scissors was an album for Jayy to let out all of his personal frustrations through music, For Beginners is Dahvie’s way of doing the same thing. Only unlike Jayy, Dahvie is a gigantic manchild, which causes his version of venting through music to lack any real subtlety and be the musical equivalent of a child throwing a fit and screaming “I HATE ALL OF YOU!” at everyone who’s listening.
Yet, we’ve all had moments in our lives where we’ve acted the same way. Where our impulses take over, and we snap. Where we just want to lash out at the world and fucking scream to the sky. Where we’re at our lowest point and the very worst aspects of our character rises to the surface. And for me, that’s what For Beginners represents: The worst traits within myself. I’m nothing like Dahvie Vanity, but I have my faults just like everyone else, and this album is almost like a musical representation of said faults.
For Beginners tackles a lot of different themes. Revenge, hatred, hard drug use, anxiety, depression, sexual desire, psychopathy, religion… It’s just loaded with topics that are extremely relatable to my experiences, both in the past and the present. And it’s because of this relatability that it’s one of my favourite albums. Ever. The dark aesthetic and sound definitely play a role in that as well.
So let’s start examining the tracks, shall we?
So the album opens with the song Death Pop which is an absolutely solid start to the album, with a quiet intro and soft, sinister sounding vocals before Dahvie just lets out this intense scream and the song just explodes into a heavy, industrial instrumental. With very catchy and strong verses and an even catchier, auto-tuned chorus, it’s a banger of a track that has a lot of character. The lyrics also add to this character, focusing heavily on getting absolutely blitzed on hard liquor (“Death Pop”) and celebrating and indulging in your darkest desires. The line “Roll in with my bad witches, you can keep your bad bitches!” is both catchy as fuck in the most awesome way, and also incredibly stupid that it’s kind of funny. As an opener, Death Pop is a clear indication of what Sinners are Winners is going for sound wise, and is a near perfect track.
Afterwards, we’re greeted with Punish Me which immediately starts off incredibly heavy with insanely hard-hitting guitars and Dahvie immediately coming in with the heaviest screaming vocals he’s done in his entire career, screaming “Punish me!” over and over. The verses are also great, with incredibly distorted vocals and the editing on this song in general is just so over the top that it just feels glitched out at many points, with one part in particular just sounding like Dahvie’s voice was literally unplugged. It’s fucking insanity. The pre-chorus also has this really fucking awesome, dark, melodic instrumental that I fucking love. And the songs final stretch just explodes into one final bout of Dahvie screaming at the top of his lungs. It’s an incredibly dark and over the top track, made even more so by it’s lyrical content, which focuses heavily on being someone who’s constantly punished and despised by the world, despite just trying to be yourself. The pre-chorus and chorus also focus on getting revenge and rising above the negativity with the help of the few who believe in you. The song is clearly Dahvie trying to say that as a result of the allegations against him, he feels “punished” by society, that he wants “the haters” to suffer and that with his fanbase who believe in him, he’ll come out on top, despite being punished so heavily. But on a personal level for me, the song is still extremely relatable.
My life hasn’t been the worst ever, but I’ve had my fair share of hardships over the years to the point I feel like the world is punishing me for simply trying to exist. And yeah, I’ve been burned a lot by friend and foe alike throughout my life, to the point where I was so full of hatred that I wanted them to feel what I felt. Lyrics like “You made your bed, now lay in it. Sit back relax you piece of shit” and “Too bad now, the tables have turned. I can’t wait to watch you burn” are a pretty accurate representation of the feelings I’ve had during the lowest points where I wanted others to suffer for my own benefit. It’s dark, it’s fucked up, but that’s what makes it work so damn well as a song. And while the song continues to be dark in its chorus, the line “There were the haters, doubters, non-believers, and then were was you… Proving them wrong.” also hits close to home, as someone who is widely looked down upon by most people outside of the few friends and family members he has that believe in him. Punish Me is an excellent song that is both a good listen musically and is extremely relatable to my own experiences, and I freaking love it.
Next up we have Zero Fucks Given which another high point of the album with an incredibly heavy, chopped up guitar riff and less screaming, with Dahvie’s signature, BOTDF style rapping being brought back in for the verses, before exploding in some powerful, angry, screamed vocals in the chorus. Thematically, it’s a pretty standard song about not giving a fuck and not letting the negativity in life get you down, only it’s delivered in the most aggressive and hateful way imaginable with lyrics like “Fuck my reputation you can swallow my kids!” and “In loving memory of where I once cared, put your middle fingers in the fucking air!” Again, the track is a clear response from Dahvie towards the accusations made against him over the years, and his damaged reputation, with him trying to convey that he “doesn’t give a fuck” even though he… Clearly fucking does because he… Wrote a really angry, juvenile, temper tantrum in the form of a song saying “I don’t care!” which is the last thing you’d want to do to show that you… Don’t care…
But again, this is precisely why I love the song so much. Yeah, it’s juvenile and it’s childish and it comes across as nothing more than a man in his 30’s screaming “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK!”at everyone, but the emotion, the anger and the hatred is so fucking real and genuine that I just can’t hate it. And again, I myself have felt this exact way during my lowest points, screaming to the world “I don’t care. Fuck all of you!” when really, I did care. More than anything. To the point I was bothered by it every day. Zero Fucks Given, despite it’s title, is a song that represents just how many fucks you give about the negativity in your life and the power others have over you, even if that was never Dahvie’s intention with the song. And that, in a way, makes it even more powerful. It’s also catchy as fuck too, so there’s that.
Like a Moth to the Flame is next and it’s not the best song on the album, but it’s still pretty great. With an extremely heavy intro and a super upbeat electronic beat in the beginning, it’s a track that constantly switches between being softer than most of the album, and being ridiculously heavy to the point it’s kind of insane. The chorus in particular is just pure chaos, and abandons any intention of trying to even sound like music any more, with some incredibly chopped up, glitchy instrumentation and cringe-worthy rapping. Lyrically, the song isn’t as interesting as the previous tracks, focusing more on indulging in incredibly rough, brutal sex. It’s like a traditional Blood on the Dance Floor song, only far darker, less comical and a lot more fucked up. With lyrics like “You deserve my love, you’ll get my dick!!!” and “When I look into your eyes… I see cum!!!” yeah… This song is… Insanely fucked up and almost disturbing in its sexual content, especially if you take Dahvie’s reputation into account. Jesus fucking Christ. It’s both bone-chilling and hilarious at the same time, and it’s a pretty great song overall.
Then we get Down With My Demons which is far and away one of my personal favourites. The intro is a little bit cringeworthy, with a spoken word segment that repeats the line “Live is just evil spelt backwards” over and over again, but it’s immediately rectified with a kickass guitar riff and really fucking excellent vocals from Dahvie. The pre-chorus in particular is one of my favourite parts of the entire album, with really melodic vocals and a much softer, electronic beat before exploding back into a heavier chorus where Dahvie just constantly whispers “Down with my Demons” over and over again. It’s fucking great.
Lyrically, this is another song that relates heavily to me, focusing on depression, anxiety and mental illness and forcing yourself to take medication to take the pain away. It’s a song about being overcome by your inner demons to the point that you’re “down with them”, you live with them, co-exist with them. They’re a part of you. It’s frighteningly accurate to my own experience with depression and anxiety. Lyrics like “Have I gone mad, I’m afraid so? The best people will let go” and “Tripping from the drugs, feeling just fine. Sit back and enjoy the ride.” god damn, this song speaks to me so damn much it’s kind of unsettling. At least, that’s how I interpret it. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.
After this we have the two weakest tracks on the album, and I honestly don’t have much to say about either of them because they’re kinda boring. Believe In Yourself is a heavy industrial rock song about… Believing in yourself… And it’s pretty catchy, but it’s a little grating and is pretty uninteresting both sonically and thematically. I don’t hate the song, but I don’t go out of my way to listen to it often.
Then we have Sex Drugs Hexes and Gore which is again, just really boring with not much going on. It has a cool and catchy beat in the chorus, but the lyrics are pretty bad, talking about satanism and shit and I just… Don’t vibe with it at all. It’s the only song on the album I don’t consider good and is a blemish on an otherwise near-perfect set of tracks.
Thankfully, the album closes out with another top tier song though, Psycho which perfectly encapsulates all of the best aspects of For Beginners into one, final track. With extremely distorted and heavy guitars and the heaviest vocals from Dahvie on the entire release, this song is just a fucking banger. The chorus in particular just hits so damn hard with Dahvie constantly screaming “I’m a psycho!” over and over again. And the final section of the song just has the guitars and vocals glitch the fuck out for like a whole minute, to the point that it can’t even be considered fucking music any more and I can’t even tell what the fuck is going on at all. But it’s fantastic.
The lyrics are also incredibly dark, diving into the mind of a psychopath, with Dahvie comparing himself to the likes of Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy… Jesus Christ Dahvie. It’s an extremely edgy and disturbing song with incredibly fucked up lyrics, but it bangs hard, is super catchy and is just… The perfect encapsulation of everything that makes Sinners are Winners such an interesting project. I like it a lot. It’s a great closer.
And that sums up my thoughts on Sinners are Winners first album. It’s dark. It’s moody. It’s edgy. And it’s fucking weird. But it’s also interesting, relatable and very, very good. And it’s probably my favourite Industrial Metal album of all time.
There are a couple of weak tracks towards the end, but overall, it’s a solid set of heavy, hard-hitting and aggressive songs that most people can relate to, despite this clearly being a personal album for Dahvie Vanity himself. It’s one of the best records he’s ever been involved in, and I have no shame giving this a 10/10.
And now, here’s some track ratings for you all:
- Death Pop – 10/10
- Punish Me – 10/10
- Zero Fucks Given – 10/10
- Like a Moth to the Flame – 8/10
- Down With My Demons – 10/10
- Believe in Yourself – 6/10
- Sex Drugs Hexes and Gore – 2/10
- Psycho – 10/10
Down With My Demons, Punish Me, Zero Fucks Given
Sex Drugs Hexes and Gore
Would I Recommended It?
That depends. If you’re into really heavy and aggressive metal with overly edgy lyrics and just want to fucking scream at something, then sure. Give it a go. Even if you aren’t, I still think this is worth checking out solely because of how unique it is musically. There’s not an awful lot of music that sounds like this, and it’s even more bizarre that the guy who gave us songs like Sexting and You Done Goofed is the same man who… Created this dark, twisted shit. It’s pretty amazing, honestly.
So yeah, fuck it. Give it a listen. It’s a 10/10 album. And I love it. A lot. Maybe you will too.
Next time we’ll be continuing with Sinners are Winners by looking at the project’s second, and final album, The Invocation. With an even gritter aesthetic, darker lyrical themes and a heavier sound, how does it compare to this release? We’ll need to wait and see.
Until next time!