For some reason I was under the impression that SPHS was pop-band with a gothic sound, like Editors. I was quite surprised when I saw them listed for the 2019 edition of the Wave Gotik Treffen and even more so when they were scheduled for the smallest of WGT venues, the Moritzbastei.
The overly S&M-themed lyrics and the label could have proven me wrong already. SPHS shares labels with Gitane Demone, Dear Deer (playing just before SPHS in the Moritzbastei), M!r!m and even Agent Side Grinder.
The new album makes it even more obvious. One song features Bestial Mouths, two others have been written with Ash Code and Crying Vessel. So I guess SPHS is ‘just’ a ‘more gothic’ band within the ‘minimal wave’ subscene.
The show started like an S&M electro project, but after the intro the typical gothic sound of the band emerged. A three man project, aided by a girl on the synths on stage, a drummer, a gruftie guitar player and an Andrew Eldritch-like vocalist with a great voice. Nice uptempo gothic rock with synths, drum-machine and drumming. Quite a few songs that I did not know from the “Fetish” album (2017) which was made clear at the end of the show: the new album had just been released.
“XXX” starts with a great uptempo song called “Ich Bin Dead” and contains some other great tracks. Others are less my liking and overall the debut is probably a bit better, but “XXX” is a great album of contemporary goth made by a Portugese band that has a magnificent live performance and hopefully a bright future.
One WGT I saw Agent Side Grinder in the Moritzbastei. They were already too big for that small place, but they grew further rapidly after that. SPHS deserves a bigger stage (and audience) especially on a festival such as the Wave Gotik Treffen. Personally I would have scheduled them in the Täubschental together with Dystopian Society, Inkubbus Sukkubus and Shadow Project. Perhaps another year.