Over the past 12 months, Victor Sierra have really upped their game in the UK steampunk scene. They’ve always been there, pottering about in the fringes – popular in mainland Europe and with a steadily growing fanbase in the UK. Since appearing at The Asylum in 2017, they’ve increased their visibility. They are highly active on social media and are performing at more events such as Hebden Bridge Steampunk weekend and Northstar.
Victor Sierra consists of three members; Commander Bob, The Legendary Converted Princess and Big Machine. Commander Bob and Converted Princess are co-founders of the group and provide the main bulk of vocals. On Manchurian Pass, there’s also notable input from well known steampunk singers such as Josh Pfeiffer from Vernian Process and Montague Jacques Fromage. Interestingly, despite coming from very different backgrounds – Josh’s style is more goth while Monty has his own unique steampunk funk, they’ve adapted to fit the vibe of Victor Sierra perfectly. For example, Monty adopts a low, booming voice for his parts of Planet 9. There’s also an appearance by Mark Rossmore from Escape the Clouds on one of my favourite songs from the album Arguments & Facts.
The album opens with a marching steam train ploughing its way through the skies which eventually gives to the rhythmic percussion and low strummed guitar. Converted Princess performs most of the lyrics on the tracks and the hard edge to her voice accompanied by the distinctive French accent give the songs an almost militaristic quality. None of this energy is lost through the album regardless of who performs the song or what the subject matter is about.
Manchurian Pass review: Conclusion
Many bands use steampunk differently for their music. Some simply enjoy the style, some the community. Victor Sierra are clearly highly immersed in steampunk and have not only created characters and backgrounds for themselves, but have their own steampunk airship and a universe to surround it. This leads to compelling songs that tell stories and get the listener involved.
Victor Sierra’s steampunk universe is arguably different to many others. For example, Professor Elemental’s universe is light on the aesthetics and more focused on adventures. Victor & The Bully’s act focuses more on the social and community aspect. Victor Sierra’s is a dark, majestic steampunk world full of huge machines covered in shining brass and gilding. It’s a steam shrouded world which is brought to life by the dramatic industrial midi and rock opera style songs. These songs wouldn’t be out of place in epic science fiction films from the 80s and 90s. Not that they’re dated, but that they’re large, ambitious and extravagant.
The Manchurian Pass is a driving album that rockets you relentlessly from one track to the next until all of a sudden it falls silent and you come back to reality and find that nearly an hour has passed and you’re at the end. If you like your music with an industrial flavour, covered in grime and swathed in a world of steampunk technology, then Victor Sierra will be right up your street.
The Manchurian Pass is available from Bandcamp as a digital download. It costs €10 but you can pay more for it if you wish.
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Go to their website and find out loads more about the band, what they’re up to and their origins.