Luiz Vasquez has been flaming up goth clubs, batcaves, venues and arenas around the world during his nine year run as the creative enhancer of The Soft Moon. As a vehicle of self-reflection and emotional digestion, the project has come a long away and became a solid reference within the realms of industrial, darkwave and post-punk; a project a Nine Inch Nails fan wouldn’t dare say no to.

On his fourth album, Criminal, Vasquez admits vulnerability for the first time, a stepping stone forward and a way of accepting his abusive past and inner demons, hence it becoming a cathartic form of release. Despite the album adopting a confessional structure, the characteristic elements of The Soft Moon’s aggression remains. And it all sounds dirtier, gritter and angrier than ever.

Criminal, throughout its forty-minute course, musically narrates the process of its mentor's purging. Revolving around his path to the acceptance of his haunting thoughts, elements of self-hatred, struggle, insecurity or even lunacy, create the core canvas here. Through signs of paranoia, anxiety and dysfunction, we are able to accompany the dissection of the musician’s wounds and traumas, echoing on songs like ‘The Pain’ or ‘ILL’.

‘Like a Father’, a reflection on the absence of (naturally) a father figure is one of the clear highlights of this album, as it floats through similar textures as Nine Inch Nails did on their colossal album The Downward Spiral. ‘Young’ and ‘Born Into This’ are used as momentum, a build up in order to achieve the lowest point of this journey: the conclusion.

Purging is a path towards freedom, a way of healing and a way of channeling emotion, it being possible to achieve positive or negative outcomes. By either accepting or remaining in pain, to find the right balance, some might find it necessary to hit their lowest depth in order to rise again to excellence. It takes courage to be honest, to be true to yourself, and self-acceptance is a process that requires precision, pondering and patience.

Music or any creative endeavor can become an escape and survival tool. Criminal, as aggressive it may appear, is a product of this particular need of healing. Its transparency and blunt truthfulness was converted into, hopefully, healthy processing on the way to a new, unhaunted, beginning in Luiz Vasquez’s life as a musician and enlightened human with a reinvigorated new perception.