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.
About half a year after Dahvie Vanity released the first Sinners are Winners album, For Beginners, he quickly followed it up with another album from the project: The Invocation. This album would also be the last one that would be released under the project, and despite promising a third and “final” Sinners are Winners album, it has never seen the light of the day. For some reason.
So, as far as I’m concerned, this is the second and final Sinners are Winners album, and as a follow-up to For Beginners it’s pretty great, albeit slightly less interesting. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily even say that’s a fault of the album itself, rather that it’s just less of a surprise because The Invocation is just more For Beginners. Only it’s even heavier and even darker than its predecessor.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying that this is probably the heaviest and darkest collection of music that Dahvie Vanity has ever been involved in, and it takes pretty much everything from For Beginners and amplifies it to ridiculous levels. For Beginners was an edgy, dark and extremely heavy Industrial Metal album, and The Invocation is basically the same, only it’s loaded with even more edge and anger. There’s a lot more focus on guitar this time around and some really nice, string instrumentals in some of the songs, but aside from that, this is basically what you’d expect from a second Sinners are Winners album: More dark, heavy, Industrial Metal songs, with bizarre, glitchy editing, where Dahvie Vanity screams his face off. There’s also 12 tracks on this thing, making it almost double the length of the project’s debut album, which is nice, although not all of them are amazing, but we’ll get to that when we talk in depth about the individual songs.
Thematically, The Invocation is more of the same as well. All of the songs here are either angry or depressing and they all have an underlying darkness to them that’s really fucking unsettling and disturbing. The songs, like before, focus on a wide range of topics, from religion, the occult, sexual desire, revenge, self-loathing and even suicide. There’s even a song in here where Dahvie directly challenges the allegations against him, only it some how manages to be even more offensive and in your face than Crucified By Your Lies was on Bad Blood. Again, there are a lot of songs on here that, despite how edgy they are, relate to me, my feelings and my experiences a hell of a lot, and it’s because of this that The Invocation is an album I find myself coming back to often.
The aesthetic of this album in general is also just really gloomy and while it’s just as angry and heavy as For Beginners, it also feels a lot more atmospheric and dreary. There are some tracks on here that are a lot slower and more moody, as opposed to just constant screaming and heaviness, and these are among the best tracks on the album.
So, with all that out of the way, let’s get into the tracks themselves.
The album starts things off with The Dark Order which is just a short introduction track. There’s not really all that much to it, it’s a pretty atmospheric and creepy instrumental, with a chiming bell and orchestral instruments. It’s pretty fucking dope and sets the dark tone of the album perfectly. I like it.
Immediately afterwards, the song kicks things into high gear with Queen of the Damned, which has a kickass, overdriven guitar riff mixed with a heavy synthesised beat. This track is also notable for featuring female vocalist Fallon “Vendetta” Maressa, who delivers a pretty awesome spoken word section in the beginning of the the song. Dahvie’s vocals are also pretty great throughout the entire song, and are just caked in these gravelly, distortion effects. The song itself seems to more of a conceptual song, detailing a relationship with the titular “Queen of the Damned”, with incredibly dark and almost sadistic lyrics conveying lust and obsession. It’s a pretty solid song and a solid opening track for the album that sets the tone perfectly.
Next up we have the title track: The Invocation, which is a much slower, more atmospheric song, seemingly focusing on a ritualistic sexual desire and obsession. Fallon Vendetta also appears again on this song, as a guest vocalist, and the chorus constantly moves back and forth between her and Dahvie. The beat for The Invocation kicks ass and the chorus, with heavy guitars thrown in, is super catchy, and while there isn’t much thematic substance, the lyrics are pretty solid and even relatable in some ways, as weird as that may sound. It’s a pretty great song overall, and I enjoy it a lot.
Also, the music video is basically softcore porn of Dahvie and Fallon. So if you ever wanted to see Dahvie’s “o-face”, give it a watch.
Then we have Kill Your Ego a much heavier, rock oriented song with extremely heavy guitars and powerful screaming vocals. There aren’t a lot of industrial elements here and it’s more just a really aggressive metal song where Vanity screams his face off for 4 minutes. The chorus in particular is just fucking wild, where it doesn’t even seem like he’s trying to make the vocals comprehensible and just wants to scream as loudly as possible, and layer different samples of his voice on top of one another. There’s also a really awesome breakdown about halfway through the song that is fucking cool. Yes. A breakdown. In a song with Dahvie Vanity. Shocker I know.
Thematically, the song appears to be about breaking yourself down and destroying yourself from within in order to come out a better person and just let go of all your problems? For once, I’m not entirely sure, but regardless of the intended message, it’s a pretty solid metal song.
Reap What You Sow is next, and I honestly don’t have much to say about it at all. It’s one of the weaker tracks on the album and lacks much of… Anything interesting really… Outside of the intro, which is an ambient, low pitched, distorted beat, the rest of the track is just really uninteresting and honestly kind of boring. I barely bother listening to this one if I’m going through the album, and I only did so a few times recently for this very post. And I ended up having nothing to say about it. Figures.
But thankfully, we’re brought back into the top tier with Invoke the Darkness which is far and away my favourite track on the entire album. Starting off with a really epic and atmospheric string instrumental, the song then kicks things up with an incredibly heavy, but slow-paced, beat and very distorted, but sad and pained vocals from Dahvie. This is easily the most atmospheric and saddest song on the album, with next to no screaming vocals, and lyrically it’s a song I find extremely relatable. The lyrics focus on your taking your inner demons and your darkest desires and embracing them and accepting that they are a part of you. As someone who isn’t exactly the most mentally stable person in the world, I often find myself overrun by my own dark thoughts of self-loathing and sadness, and like the song suggests, I’ve had to learn to accept the darkness within me, even if I don’t want to. Lines like “I must have a dark side, if I am to be whole” and “Torn between the light and the darkness of the night, hello darkness I’m the wildest soul and I’ll never be tamed” just… God fucking dammit, do they hit me hard…
There’s even a neat little spoken word section in the pre-chorus where Dahvie appears to be speaking directly to his own mother, begging for forgiveness for abandoning his Christian faith. Given comments I’ve seen from his mother on his Instagram posts, it’s pretty obvious that Dahvie was raised as a Christian, so there’s probably some real truth in this section. And as someone who was raised Christian myself, but who abandoned his own faith yeah… I can relate to this shit more than you’d think. At least, this is how I interpret it.
All that aside Invoke the Darkness is an excellent song and easily the best on the entire album, as well as one of the best songs released under the Sinners are Winners name. Phenomenal stuff. Give it a listen.
I Hate Every Fucking One is the next track and it’s another solid song with a more metal sound to it, focusing more on heavy guitars and drums and extremely loud, distorted screaming vocals. It’s probably one of the angriest songs on the album, with the lyrics essentially being a raging, childish rant from Dahvie, literally screaming “I fucking hate everyone!” And like most of the “screaming temper tantrum” tracks in the Sinners are Winners discography, it’s extremely juvenile and borderline comical with lines like “Don’t be racist, hate everyone equally” and “I’m a killer on the trigger, raising up my middle finger. Bang! Bang! Bang! And I shoot ’em all down” being unintentionally hilarious. Yet, in spite of that, it’s a kind of childishness I’m sure most people, myself included, can actually relate to. I’ve often had moments, when I’m at my lowest point, where I’ve literally thought to myself “fuck this world and everyone in it, I hate fucking everything and want to watch it all burn!” So in a silly way, yeah… I can relate to the feelings of this track a lot, even if its presented in a pretty stupid and immature way. But honestly, that just makes it even more relatable and effective in conveying what it’s trying to communicate, even if it’s clearly not what Dahvie himself intended.
There’s also this one section before the second chorus where the fucking drums and guitar just go fucking crazy and Dahvie screams “HAAAAATE MEEEEEE!!!” and god damn, that part is a banger. Oh, and there’s this really interesting, orchestral section with a spoken word monologue that’s really out of left field and comes out of fucking nowhere. It’s pretty epic. Overall, this is a really interesting and varied track and a highlight of the album.
Next up is Elixir, which stands out from most of the other tracks on the album due to being more of a heavy brostep infused dance track and being less heavy in general. Out of all the tracks on The Invocation, this song is probably the closest this project has ever come to sounding like Blood on the Dance Floor, although it’s still drowning in the darker and moodier atmosphere that the album is going for. I used to really dislike Elixir, but on repeat listens for this Retrospective, it’s grown on me quite a bit. The instrumental is pretty great, with a really static-y intro that explodes into a brostep beat that slaps hard. And the vocals are great, being a lot more smooth and melodic compared to everything else on the album. As usual, Dahvie’s singing is ridiculously off-key and is a far cry from being “good”, but as I’ve often said in the past, this only makes the track feel more emotionally genuine and helps to sell the atmosphere it’s going for. The lyrics themselves seem to focus on someone else in your life being your “elixir”, helping you escape your problems and being the cure for your own despair and… Yeah. I’m sure most people can relate to that theme some what. As someone who’s often found himself haunted by his own past and his own insecurities, there are people in my life, both online and offline, who have been my elixir and have rescued me from my own inner turmoil. Elixir is a fantastic track.
And now we have probably the most aggressive and controversial song on the entire album: Allergic to Bullshit and… Oh boy… This one’s a doozy. It’s another extremely aggressive and heavy song, with loud guitar and and heavily distorted screaming vocals, but it’s the lyrics that are really worth looking at here. The song, like Crucified by Your Lies on Blood on the Dance Floor’s studio album Bad Blood, is a direct challenge to the sexual assault allegations surrounding Dahvie Vanity, where he basically screams about all of the alleged victims being liars and that he’s “allergic to their bullshit”. And if you thought Crucified was offensive then… Christ. This is so much worse. He literally threatens physical violence against his accusers and calls them “cunts” among many other nasty things. The lyrical highlight definitely being “Say it to my face don’t be a fucking CUNNNNNNNTTTTTT!”. Charming, Dahvie.
Yet, despite all that, it’s not even a bad song. It’s obviously a disgustingly immature rant directed at Dahvie’s alleged victims, but it’s catchy and fascinating in the weirdest of ways. As a “take that!” song it does its job, even if I don’t necessarily morally agree with it (obviously).
War Inside Our Soul is next and honestly I don’t really have anything to say about it at all. It’s just a heavy, aggressive song that I barely listen to and can hardly remember anything about, despite listening to it over 20 times for this post, and it’s easily the weakest and most forgettable track on the entire record. Meh.
But thankfully, the penultimate, and final full length, track delivers on every single front to make up for that previous disaster in the form of Perfectly Flawed which, as the final song in the Sinners are Winners discography, perfectly encapsulates everything that makes this project so great. It combines all of the core aspects of the project’s sound, with heavy guitars, epic orchestral instruments, distorted electronic beats, chopped up editing and both melodic and angry screaming vocals. And it presents them all in what’s probably one of the best songs on the album, with the lyrical themes being extremely relatable, focusing on the topics of depression, worthlessness, imperfection and suicide. It’s an extremely depressing and angry song that’s almost painful to listen to, particularly the pre-chorus section where Dahvie just explodes into screaming vocals that sound like he’s on the verge of tears. The phrase “As I look down the barrel of a gun, I realise all the wrong and hurt that I’ve done” just… Fucking hell. It’s really powerful stuff. The chorus is also something I find myself relating to hard, with the line “I’ll never be what you want, the image that you create” being something I myself have felt many times during my lowest moments.
And the songs final moments are by far one of my favourite sections of the entire record, where Dahvie just repeatedly screams the phrase “Once it breaks it will never be same again” over and over, with the speed increasing so fast that it basically becomes indiscernible and explodes into one final scream before the vocals completely glitch out and the track abruptly ends. It’s fucking awesome. There’s other way to describe it.
The album then closes out with Life is Evanescent which is just a short instrumental track to wrap up the record. It’s nice, atmospheric and pretty good overall. Not much else to say about it.
And that more or less sums up my thoughts on The Invocation. As a follow up to For Beginners it’s fantastic and ups the darkness, the edginess and general weirdness to even more absurd levels. And it does so while continuing to tackle the relatable themes that were present on the project’s debut album.
There are a few weaker tracks, but overall it’s a solid release and easily the darkest and edgiest album that Dahvie Vanity has ever been a part of. And it’s very good.
And now, here’s some track ratings for you all:
- The Dark Order – 8/10
- Queen of the Damned – 9/10
- The Invocation – 9/10
- Kill Your Ego – 7/10
- Reap What You Sow – 3/10
- Invoke the Darkness – 10/10
- I Hate Every Fucking One – 10/10
- Elixir – 9/10
- Allergic to Bullshit – 8/10
- The War Inside Our Soul – 2/10
- Perfectly Flawed – 10/10
- Live is Evanescent – 7/10
Invoke the Darkness, Perfectly Flawed, I Hate Every Fucking One, Elixir
The War Inside Our Soul, Reap What You Sow
Would I Recommend It?
Like For Beginners, that honestly depends. If you’re into really heavy and aggressive music and the idea of Dahvie Vanity alternating between screaming his face off and crying into a microphone for almost an hour sounds appealing to you, then go for it. Even if that doesn’t appeal to you, I’d still recommend trying a few tracks out, particularly those I listed as the “best” songs. And yeah, it’s still fucking insane to me that this incredibly dark, angry and atmospheric album was brought to us by the same idiot that released songs like Yo Ho! and fucking Sexting. That will never not be funny to me.
So ehhh… Fuck it. I recommend it. Why not?
Well, now that we’ve finally wrapped up the Sinners are Winners portion of the Retrospective, we’re going to be moving back to Blood on the Dance Floor themselves. Because despite everything, Jayy leaving did not mark the end of the band, and within a year of breaking up, they formed again and released their next studio album: Kawaii Monster.
This album was notable for being yet another stylistic change, being a weird combination of new and old Blood, while also being the first to feature a new member: Fallon “Vendetta” Maressa on vocals alongside Dahvie. She was notable for being the bands first female vocalist since Rebecca Fugate on Let’s Start a Riot and also for being Dahvie’s fiance at the time.
With a new vocalist and another shift in style and aesthetic, how does Kawaii Monster hold up compared to other Blood releases? We’ll need to wait and see.
Until next time!