Lost in the ’90s: Xymox, “Twist of Shadows”

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Netherlands-based Xymox had been kicking around in goth circles for most of the ’80s as Clan of Xymox, but when they signed to major label Wing in 1989, they shortened their name and expanded their appeal. Their major label debut, Twist of Shadows, was filled with more of the band’s Cure-inspired danceable goth, but this time the hooks were front and center.

The album’s first single, “Obsession” (download) set the tone, as the thunder that begins the track segues into an industrial-tinged dance beat as vocalist/guitarist Ronny Moorings (there’s a gothic name for you) sings in a Robert Smith style. The combination was irresistible to alternative dance clubs and video got a fair amount of play on MTV’s 120 Minutes (God, I miss that show):

But it was the album’s third single (after “Blind Hearts”), “Imagination (Edit),” (download) that brought the band the most mainstream attention. This time around bassist Anke Wolbert took the vocal lead over a New Order beat that was certainly more in vogue in 1990 than during the band’s mid-80’s efforts. They were rewarded with some sporadic Top 40 radio airplay and the single even charted in the lower reaches of the Hot 100, an unimaginable feat for a former 4AD band.

Did Xymox sell their souls for commercial appeal? If so, it certainly worked – Twist of Shadows spent some time on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and sold more than 300,000 copies. The group would really reach for the brass ring with 1992’s Phoenix and its Madchester-inspired and certainly of-its-moment single “Phoenix Of My Heart,” but neither the album nor single would match Twist Of Shadows‘ success.  Now back to being called Clan of Xymox, the group continues to record and tour with another album scheduled for release this year.

“Obssession” peaked at #16 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart and at #12 on the Dance Music/Club Play Singles Chart in 1989.
“Imagination” peaked at #85 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1990.

Get Xymox music at Amazon or on Xymox