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REVIEW: The 69 Eyes come to life

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Since 1897, when Bram Stoker wrote the first significant book on them, vampires have always been something of intrigue. Now thanks to “Twilight,” the creatures of the night have never been more popular.

If the aforementioned books and movies have the literary and celluloid worlds covered, then Finnish band The 69 Eyes should reign supreme in the music world. The fivesome — Jyrki 69 (vocals), Jussi 69 (drums), Bazie (lead guitar), Timo-Timo (guitar) and Archzie (bass) — blend Dracula with Elvis and a little bit of Los Angeles glam metal for its distinct sound.

The band, together since 1989, released its 10th CD “Back In Blood” in September. It was the band’s first album not recorded entirely in its hometown of Helsinki — and its first without its longtime producer Johnny Lee Michaels. The 69 Eyes decided to team up with Matt Hyde (Slayer, Monster Magnet) to record the record.

“It’s dark, but it’s rocking very hard,” Jyrki told the Weekender Wednesday night during an interview in the basement of The Note in West Chester, where the band was headlining a show. “(Hyde) squeezed every bit of sweat, blood and tears out of us on this record.”

It’s no coincidence The 69 Eyes were playing The Note, which is owned by Bam Margera, a close friend of the band. Not only did Margera direct “Back In Blood’s” first video “Dead Girls Are Easy,” but the video was also shot at the club and featured Margera’s wife Missy as one of the vampire temptresses.

“This is actually the place we keep our coffins when we come to visit,” Jyrki joked, pointing around a corner of the basement.

With music that’s heavily Gothic and thematic, the Weekender couldn’t help but ask Jyrki what his thoughts are on today’s influx of vampire hipsters.

“You cannot improve on Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi, but we always need fresh blood,” he deadpanned.

About an hour after the interview, “The Helsinki Vampires,” as The 69 Eyes calls themselves, delivered a night of pure rock mixed with those Gothic themes. Powerfully kicking off “Back In Blood,” the band took hold of its audience and didn’t let go for the next hour. The dark and sexy “Never Say Die” preceded another new song, “Lips of Blood,” which could have been sung by the Count himself.

“You can’t keep me waiting forever, baby/ Who’s in perfect skin” Jyrki sang in the seductive “Perfect Skin,” from 2007’s “Angels.” “Feel Berlin,” which asked “Do you like punk rock mutiny rock ’n’ roll depravity?/Tell me baby what you need,” was down-and-dirty and gave way to train track guitar play by Bazie and Timo-Timo.

Five other songs from the new CD also got play Wednesday night: the tasty “Suspiria Snow White,” “Dead N’ Gone,” the haunting “Hunger,” “Kiss Me Undead” and the first single, “Dead Girls Are Easy.” With its heavy guitars, pounding drums and Jyrki’s Elvis-esque vocals and swagger, the latter absolutely kicked ass.

The 69 Eyes could have ended the show on that explosive note, which would have perfectly bookended its first song of the night, but it closed out the set proper with the sinister “Devils.”

A two-song encore featured “Brandon Lee” and “Lost Boys,” which kept the energy so high a mosh pit briefly opened.

The set was extremely tight, with Jussi pounding drums and many excellent solos by Bazie that rival any popular guitar gods. For fans of the whole vampire movement, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t discover The 69 Eyes. If sunlight on the Sunset Strip is more your bag, this band delivers that, too, because The 69 Eyes are better than most bands that came out of that glam metal scene, even when that scene reigned supreme.

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