Short Cuts to lists
Blu's Top Ten CDs
1. The Empire Hideous - Victim
Destroys Assailant (self-release)
My absolute favorite over
everything else I've had my greedy hands on this year. It's not a new CD,
but one that didn't get NEAR the attention it deserved when it was released
in '98. Led by the extremely charismatic Myke Hideous, the band's making
a comeback in January and I expect a great buzz to resurface on these guys.
Amazingly talented from musicianship to Myke's dramatically powerful vocals;
this band melds the best elements of gothic rock and even some metal with
roots based heavily in punk/hardcore giving them the ability to span many
different genres at once. THIS is what gothic music is about - this is
raw, real, sincere, soul wrenching, thought provoking and sometimes even
a little scary but always entertaining. The CD hasn't left my CD player
rotation since I got it. Heart felt thanks to Myke for putting up with
questions and for being such a gentleman...
2. Sumerland - SIVO (Middle
Ah - the long awaited first
full length CD from a North West band that had been captivating audiences
under its spell at live shows for years was finally made available to the
world this year. Picked up by Middle Pillar Presents, Sumerland's debut
CD is something quite unlike any novice release. It's smooth, professional,
seamless and more over, simply breathtaking. The psychedelic~spirtual tones
under ride a world of ethereal music, ambient soundscapes, and dramatic
tribal drumming highlighting deep, resonating vocals.
3. Funhouse - Oceans of Tears (Neue
Another band like The Empire
Hideous that I didn't catch the first time around; this Swedish band was
all the rage in Europe in the 90's and are in the studio now finishing
up a new CD. This CD - a "best of" from the last five years is their first
ever U.S. release and I must say, it was about time fellas! Finally the
U.S. can sink its teeth into good gothic rock - driving rhythms, gritty
guitars, dark, masculine vocals: this is the stuff goth dreams are made
4. The Deep Eynde - Suicide
Having been in existence
for over ten years, their eclectic mix of goth, rock, psychobilly, punk
and certain cabaret elements defy specific classification. Having been
called "Romantically Wicked" and "an eccentric lifeform that holds
such an elegance of dementia," lead singer Fate Fatal is worth a book in
his own right, his physical appearance morphing nearly from show to show
and his intellect something most journalists would love to have an hour
or two to pick at... Overall a CD worthy of club play be it a goth
club or a psychobilly/punk bar -- guaranteed to up the energy level in
5. Cinema Strange - Cinema Strange
I'm breaking one of my own
rules for this top ten list. I told my staff they couldn't pick any CDs
they picked for their top ten last year, unless they just really really
had to do it. And well, I really really have to do it. (Its not my fault
they don't have a new CD out yet!). Cinema Strange continues to rock my
world. One of the most original and interesting bands that I encountered
last year, they continue to amaze me. I am still addicted to their self-titled
CD a year later. They remain, the number one modern deathrock/batcave bands
6. Clan of Xymox: Notes From
The Underground (Metropolis)
Another solid CD from the
living gothic legends. Clan of Xymox can do no wrong in my opinion... every
song that spins itself out of Ronny's head and into my head phones purrs
with perfection and balance. Never repetitive, always growing and testing
new sounds, I expect CoX to be around for years to come.
7. The Brickbats - Monster
Party (Neue Asthetik)
3 years in the making (or
something incredibly torturous like that), The Brickbats finally got the
long awaited Monster Party CD wrapped up and out. They've been called
everything from Deathrock, goth, pyschobilly to gothabilly -- The Brickbats
make fun, danceable music with smart, humorous lyrics usually about monsters
and fiendish things. They are very creative and highly imaginative - they
are my stress break when the world is too serious and too hectic.
8. SPF10000 - demo (self-release)
Representing the very best
of LA's goth scene, SPF1000 is almost too pretty to be a band. But don't
let that fool you, they play as well as they sport the latest fashion.
The only band that's incorporated quite a bit of electronics into their
sound that I can stand, their music is gritty and fun and built like old
fashioned rock and roll with a touch of glam. Their "Haunted House (Mansion
Mix)" was all the rage on Halloween. And this was just a demo - they haven't
officially put out a full length yet -- hold onto your pointy buckle boots
boys and girls....
9. A Midnite Choir - You Have
Been Warned (self-release)
strangest band I've heard this year - and they're not even goth. ;)
Like some twisted combination of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Danny Elfman
lost in a Tim Burton film, lead vocalist Greg Adair narrates, inspires
and conjures a nightmarish cartoon world (think Jack from A Nightmare Before
Christmas when you see the word "Greg" and you'll be close).
10. Sunday Munich - Vinculum
A brilliant release from
a band that's too different to pigeon hole in one genre. Their mixture
of traditional organic goth rock with electronic trip-hop beats was simply
amazing to listen to and was done so seamlessly and professionally that
you could have sworn it was put out by a big label. I don't usually go
for female vocals all that much but this was the one great exception for
me this year. Completely captivating and beautifully sad.
1. Devin Townsend
This is one of the deepest
and most emotive albums I've ever heard. It easily ranks at the top of
my all time favorites list, and you're doing yourself a disservice not
to check it out (or at least read my full review in the December '01 issue).
- Pills Against The Ageless Ills
Solefald have continued
to impress me with their unique take on metal. This release is more typically
"metal" than the past releases (as far as the guitars go), but lyrically
and conceptually it's evolved beyond any typical labels. This is a must
have album for fans of more creative metal.
3. Ulver -
Garm can't seem to release
bad material. Although this isn't the black metal he once did, the darker
ambient aspects of the sound may just appeal to metal fans into other types
of dark music. Everything here is composed with a feeling of musical honesty
making it one of the most unique and emotional releases of the year.
4. Bernd Steidl
I don't know if a lot of
you listen to classical guitar or not - but if you do, this is one guy
to pay attention. Bernd Steidl's playing is so far beyond the word virtuoso
that you'd think he was born with a guitar grafted to his hands. The compositions
are elegant and emotional; and anyone into music of any sort should find
something to love about this release. Definitely worth looking into.
5. Maudlin of the
Well - Bath / Leaving Your Body Map
Now here's a unique band.
Comparisons are going to be made to groups like Arcturus and Ulver, but
that's just because when no true comparisons exist, we lump all the oddball
groups into their own category. Maudlin of the Well provides a really unique
experience unlike, well, just about anything, and it's all composed and
played with exceptional ability.
6. ...And Oceans
This album is one of my
favorite "metal" albums from 2001. Although more firmly rooted in metal
than anything listed above, it has a very strong artistic element and mixes
trance/techno with black metal. It's an interesting mix, to say the least.
Unless you're one of those metal fans who think all keyboards are "gay"
then you'd do well to give this a listen.
7. God Forbid -
This is perhaps the most
surprising metal release of the year. Having been referred to as "hardcore
metal" or "metalcore" I certainly wasn't prepared for the devestating live
show these guys put on. After seeing that, I had to go buy the CD, and
I wasn't in the least disappointed. They've managed to package up aggression
and dynamic energy onto a CD like I've scarcely seen before. They mix melody
with the harshness and talented playing ability - making this a must have
8. Soilwork -
Soilwork sure have come
a lot way since their debut album. A Predator's Portrait shows a great
maturation in sound, and it's their most emotional and creative release
to date. If you like Swedish melodic death metal, you'll probably like
this. But you won't be getting anything generic or typical of the style
- Soilwork are definitely their own band.
(if this isn't online yet, try the official fan site: http://www.soilwork.cjb.net/)
- Prometheus - Discipline of Fire & Demise
I'm sad to see Emperor leaving
the scene once and for all, but this is one hell of a parting gift for
their fans. This album pretty much defines symphonic black metal, and owning
it should be a pre-requisite for claiming to be a black metal fan.
This has to be the most
thoroughly creative hardcore black metal album I've never heard. Abigor
haven't let up on the raw production or intensity here, so true black metal
fans don't have a lot to fear (except for maybe the ambient keyboard stuff).
Yet at the same time, it remains interesting the whole way through and
the varied guitar work will keep even the most ardent black metal fan on
- With Vilest of Worms to Dwell
was a mistake that I didn't pick up this album sooner. For those of you
who have yet to hear Hollenthon, you're missing out. Their music spans
epic action-packed orchestral metal with bombastic choirs and mixes it
all with a lighter folk sound (did that have enough buzz words for you?
How's this - they're all accurate!). It's the perfect soundtrack for when
you're out fighting huge battles against hoards of orcs, and then want
to sit by the fire and sing about your exploits. You know, since people
do that stuff a lot, these days.
Top Ten from
10. Inkubus Sukkubus
– Supernature (Resurrection Records)
It’s a formula that works.
It’s a formula that keeps me interested. And they are the some of the nicest
people in the business.
- Play of Light (Neue Asthetic Records)
I may not like this new
offering from the band as much as Blu, but I think this CD stands out as
a new direction for the band and the songs individually are amazing – although
perhaps a bit too overwhelming as a package of songs.
8. Faces of Sarah
These guys are making the
scene in the UK buzz with their evolved goth rock sound. I think they are
fab and are going to kick techno right out of the goth clubs (we can only
hope and pray)
7. This Burning
Effigy – Descent (Grave News)
Not new, and the band has
since broken up, but still one of the best goth rock albums out there.
Julianne Regan (of All About Eve fame) joins the boys and gives the music
a whole new dimension. Ger Egan may be off to Dublin, but Stephen Carey
is hard at work at new projects…look for new stuff from him in 2002.
6. Faith and the
Muse - Vera Causa (Tess Records)
Once again they make you
move, make you swirl and make you believe in it all. There is no one to
compare them to.
5. Curve –
What a gift given to us
this year by these absolute gorgeous and ever developing artists and musicians.
Toni’s voice is one that cannot be compared or emulated.
4. Nick Cave and
the Bad Seeds – No More Shall We Part (Mute Records)
The King of Goth (at least
in my opinion) still has the magic. A must for every fan and for anyone
who wants to learn more about the goth music genre.
3. All About Eve
- Fairy Light Nights No.1
A compilation of some of
their live shows since reforming, they are truly lovely.
2. All About Eve
- Fairy Light Nights No. 2
Um…another compilation of
the live shows…truly enchanting.
And the number one
for me for the year 2001
1. All About Eve
- Live and Electric at the Union Chapel
The absolutely most gorgeous
and enchantingalbum of the year. It touches and it moves. Amazingly beautiful.
Here are Kevin's
Entirely Subjective Top Ten Picks for 2001
2001: 10 Best From a Year
of Blood and Fire
The Chinese curse about
interesting times comes to mind when reviewing 2001: so does the line about
rough beasts slouching toward Bethlehem. For much of 2001 world events
made it difficult to concentrate on silly things like music and entertainment.
Still, there were some excellent releases this year, as Gothic and Industrial
Music lurched into the 21st century.
10,9 Tie) Lovespirals
(2001, Projekt) and
- Time Again (2001, Metropolis)
As synthpop's rise led inexoribly
to its decline, some Gothic-Industrial artists have started looking toward
other avenues of inspiration. On these releases, Lovespirals and
Claire Voyant provide tasty illbient and triphop-influenced grooves and
give us a harbinger of Goth's Next Big Thing.
Official Lovespirals website:
Official Claire Voyant website:
8) Emilie Autumn
- Chambermaid (2001, Seraph)
Emilie Autumn's musical
skill and presence is undeniable: if this extended-play CD single was at
times unfocused, it was due mainly to an excess of riches, not laziness
or sloppiness. I'd love to see Emilie collaborate with Ryan Lum of
Lovespirals: I'd also love to see Emilie try her hand at musical theatre.
Official Emilie Autumn Website:
7) Lamb - What
Sound (Mercury Import, 2001)
Lamb's "Angel Gabriel" is
everything that Goth music ever aspired to be, complete with some of the
best erotic-religious imagery to be found outside of a Catholic church.
Lamb may not wear eyeliner or quote Poe, but they're well worth a listen.
Official Lamb Website: http://www.lambstar.net/
6) Unto Ashes
- Saturn Return (2001, Projekt Records)
Beautiful and brilliantly
crafted Gothic/ethereal music, combining classical and world music flourishes
with operatic female vocals. The Crowleyan and Paganic themes call
to mind World Serpent; the harmonies and musical skill are pure Projekt.
Official Unto Ashes Website:
- Take Me With You (2000, Mp3.com)
Dreamy, catchy trip-hop
that seeps into your subconscious and won't let go. Mazzy Star meets
the Sneaker Pimps.
Dreamfield on MP3 - http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/62/dreamfield.html
4) Acts Magdalena
- Hunters and Spinners (to be released in 2002, Zombie
Christian Merry's Drano-and-lace
voice has to be experienced to be believed, preferably in a stage setting.
If you want to get some idea of the power and beauty of this lady's singing,
you can check out some of the tracks from the upcoming "Hunters and Spinners"
... but don't say I didn't warn you. Astonishing stuff.
Official Acts Magdalena
3) Lovesick -
3 Song Demo (2001, Idiom Records)
Jeran Dahlquist's "Sometimes"
has been echoing in my head since the first time I reviewed this CD: this
guy can craft a hook like nobody's business. If this demo was any
indication, I'm betting Lovesick lands on quite a few Best of 2002 lists.
Official Lovesick Website:
2) Sabrina -
Many musicians use "commercial"
like a dirty word. Sabrina's debut release is commercial in the best sense
of the word: easily accessible and
Sabrina is what AOR music could be if AOR had a heart; her songs are timeless,
touching and universal. If it weren't for (1), this would be my pick
for Best Debut of 2001.
Official Sabrina Website:
- The Shark Who Pulled a Mussel (2001, Streetlight Farm
If Paul Simon had released
this CD, critics would be calling it his best work in thirty years.
Miles Fender's melancholy acoustic release reminded me at various points
of Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks," Frank Sinatra's "Only the Lonely" and
old lovers I'd long since lost touch with. A much-needed highlight
to Fall 2001, definitely the year's best debut.
Dozen for 2001
In no particular order:
Lacrimas Profundere - Burning:
A Wish (Napalm Records)
Brooding, moody, and melodic...
Smooth male vocals, catchy melodies, but never loses sight of emotion.
True Dark Gothic metal at its finest.
Essential, funereal DOOM.
Thick guitars ringing over dirge-paced rhythms, capped with unholy guttural
vocals. A warm production with loads of eerie reverb drenching everything!
This is uncompromised emotional desolation...for the whole family!
Mira - Space (Projekt)
Mopey, romantic shoegazer
- perfect for rainy Sunday afternoons. This CD was addictive.
A dense, full organic sound, fantastic drumming, hypnotic guitars, and
alluring female vocals. One of the best concerts of the year as well!
Maudlin Of The Well - Bath/Leaving
Your Body Map (Dark Symphonies)
dark, progressive metal...complex, emotional, epic, mysterious, and vastly
intelligent - there is simply no band in the metal scene that can hold
a candle to these guys.
Sopor Aeternus - Songs From The
Inverted Womb (Apocalyptic Vision)
Perhaps one of the most
purely Gothic musical outfits in existence...this album is 70+ minutes
of dreariness, melancholy, terror, mischeif, and Romantic decay.
Organic, Neo-classical backdrops and goblin, banshee-like vocals.
Sopor Aeternus are unparalleled.
Unto Ashes - Saturn Return (Projekt)
Pagan, medieval Apocalyptic
Folk. A variety of dark moods and styles. Some of the most haunting
and fantastic melodies of the year appear on this disc. And covers
of Coil and Current 93! What more could you want?
November's Doom - Amid Its Hallowed
Mirth (Dark Symphonies)
Though originally released
in 1995, the album was re-released this year, so it still counts.
This is one of the absolute BEST albums I own. Its dark, heavy, cold,
depressive...everything a Death/Doom release should be. A tasteful
and cautious use of operatic female vocals, monstrous male vocals, and
awesome guitar riffs. A genuinely suffocating and perverse Romanticism
colours the entire album.
My Dying Bride - The Dreadful
No yearly top ten list of
mine would be complete without My Dying Bride. While their contemporaries
continue to stray and change into bands that can barely be recognized as
metal, My Dying Bride remain loyal to their fans and continually churn
out some of the heaviest, most depressive, atmospheric metal around.
A band I can always count on.
Neurosis - A Sun That Never Sets
Oppressive and extremely
dark, Neurosis blend elements characterizing all the genres I love: Doom,
Classical, and vintage Industrial. Though this CD is probably the band's
mellowest and least aggressive, it still crushes and flattens most competition.
A raw, yet passionate release.
Moonspell - Darkness & Hope
A bit different than I had
expected, but I still loved this album. The more I listened
to it, the more I began to enjoy it. Perhaps this decades closest
torch bearer for the Fields Of The Nephilim and Gothic Rock in general?
Eisheilig - Eisheilig (Napalm)
German Gothic Metal with
flashes of darkwave, a fantastic release. Sort of like a hybrid of Type
O Negative and Das Ich. I could not spin the track "Vater Unser"
enough when I DJed. And The Doors cover is splendid!
Current 93 - I Have A Special
Plan For This World (Durtro)
Even though this didn't
come out in 2001, I finally was able to buy it this year. It must be mentioned
as it defined my summer in many ways. It is easily the most frightening
and unsettling album David Tibet has ever done and I HAD to mention it.
And if you like 'Gothic'
music, you must take...
The Archive Dive:
And Also The Trees - The Millpond
Years (And everything else)
My further discovery and
love affair with this UK band continued into this year. They are
without question my all time favourite Gothic Rock band.
Xmal Deutschland - Fetisch /
Awesome old school death
rock! Sort of like an angrier German Siouxsie. Eerie guitar discord, those
bass lines we all love, and angsty female vocals.
Echo & The Bunnymen - Heaven
Up Here (Sire)
I discovered the importance
of this band about 8 years later than I should have. Their early discography
is absolutely essential. "Heaven Up Here" was released in 1981 and
is the band's gloomiest and most angst-ridden release.
The Birthday Party - Hits
RELEASE THE BATS! I have
always liked Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, but this is so much more colourful,
bitchy, dark, and violent. "Mr Clarinet" rules, and "Junkyard" is
one of the greatest death rock tantrums ever caught on record.
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry - The
Very Best Of...(Cherry Red)
Over 20 tracks spanning
the career of this formidable Goth rock act. A vastly underrated
band. For every Sisters song played in a club, there should be three
Lorries tracks played instead. Outstanding stuff...
Mike V’s Top Ten
Compiling 10 Cd’s that merit
a top ten mention for the Starvox end of the year issue has frequently
been daunting. From the start of any given year, CD’s are demarcated
for this, only to be replaced along the way when something else is released.
All items are actual music purchases and not demo submissions, for those
interested in the goth consumer bent. All of these items are available
from Middle Pillar ( www.middlepillar.com)
If it were up to me, this
would be a top 50 list, but since it isn’t, here are the choices that would
have worn out a turntable needle had we not invented the CD player. I attempted
to at least cover something from goth, darkwave and synthpop/EBM simply
because the work is still very much underground and highly worth the purchase
price and support of the fans and consumers.
1: The Empire Hideous:
Victim Destroys Assailant ( www.empirehideous.com)
Certainly not new, but pretty
much new to me as a purchase this year. The Empire Hideous provide the
type of goth rock roots that made this scene great to begin with. Now with
their come-back tour, one can only hope that they garner even more fans
for a follow up album. THIS is what the scene was about. Lyrically, the
album is almost chillingly prophetic about the sign of the times we are
living in, especially in light of the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy.
2: Various Artists
- Sex, Death & Eyeliner: The Soundtrack
Some DJ’s pissed and moaned
about the spoken anecdotes between some of the songs, making it difficult
for club play. However, this CD helped to propel a number of sales for
the artists that are included on it, demonstrating that it IS resonating
with the stay at home goths on a large scale. In essence, it offers a taste
of some of the most desirable and brilliant dark music in the scene. At
a time when money is tight for everyone, this CD whets the appetite to
further explore the work of the featured artists. The film of the same
name is also quite a bargain and rather well done even if it pushes the
envelope pretty far over the edge. No matter how you look at it, this CD
and film will remain as a part of goth history.
3: Midnight Syndicate:Gates
of Delirium (www.midnightsyndicate.com)
While some artists are seeking
ways of making their music more club and mainstream oriented, Midnight
Syndicate continues to create soundtracks to our own nightmares. The music
continues to have haunted atmospherics that are particularly great when
you want something dark but not necessarily ethereal. For those with a
taste with high spook factor, you just can’t go wrong with this group!
4: Mors Syphilitica:
and Fate (www.morssyphilitica.com)
There is a reason that this
duo remains a NY phenomenon. They pour their heart and soul into each recording,
and marry operatic vocals to some of the most intriguing compositions.
Special mention is also given because just when we thought we heard every
range that Lisa Hammer could achieve, she shatters the image and goes even
further. Eric Hammer is commended for being able to constantly come up
with fresh and new sounds while still providing that distinctive Mors Syphilitica
guitar sound and trademark. (Also available from Projekt Records www.projekt.com)
5: The Azoic:
When darkwave was in its
infancy, this band was at the forefront, creating some of the most chilling
songs with sampled sound effects and dialogue. The songs were some of the
most nightmarish style music which wasn’t quite goth, definitely not mainstream,
and seemed to define a parameter for darkwave at its best. Since their
inception, they have indeed moved forward, towards a more EBM style but
maintaining elements of the dark sound which are woven through the fabric
of the songs. Old fans will not feel abandoned simply because they maintain
their dark roots in full view while offering club friendly songs for those
who just want to dance in the dark.
6: Clan of Xymox:
From The Underground (www.clanofxymox.com)
Back in the 80’s, my late
friend Phil introduced me to the music of this band when Twist of Shadows
was first released. Needless to say, I have been hooked on their work ever
since, including their side projects and name changes. Thankfully, I don’t
have to choose a favorite album of theirs, because it would not be an easy
choice. Phil passed away in the early 90’s, but this music will manage
to keep him alive in my memory as a wonderful soundtrack to those times.
7: Faith &
The Muse: Vera Causa (www.mercyground.com)
When I first bought this,
I figured it was going to be something like a greatest hits type of retrospective.
It is that and much more. Anything put out by this band, Mephisto Walz
or Clan of Xymox is immediately purchased without even hearing a track
off of it simply because the integrity and quality of music is always evident.
This 2 CD set includes compilation appearances, covers, acoustic versions
and rarities on The Morning Cd, while The Night CD offers Live versions
and some remixes. In addition to the great music, we also get a booklet
insert which details their history thus far. Depending on one’s age and
duration in the goth underground, one or the other disc will appeal to
a wide group of fans. We are enchanted with more somber versions of some
tracks while some of the familiar standards are revamped to entice a club
8: Various Artists
- Beauty In Darkness Vol. 5 (www.nuclearblastusa.com)
I have this thing for compilations
and can never seem to get enough. This CD from Nuclear Blast demonstrates
the company’s ongoing penchant to be a musical entity to reckon with.
Artists included are The 69 Eyes, Dimmu Borgir, Lucifire, Therion, L’ame
Immortelle, Project Pitchfork, Theatre of Tragedy, Amorphis, Nevermore,
Lacuna Coil, Entwine, Crematory, To/Die/For, Love Like Blood, Silke Bischoff,
Mandragora Scream, Tapping The Vein, and Within Temptation. Buy it because
a few names are familiar to you and I can almost guarantee that you will
find a host of other new artists that you will become a fan of in short
9: Escape With
Romeo: Come Here White Light (www.ewscape-with-romeo.de)
My friend Kim kept insisting
I listen to this band and she managed to sit me down long enough in my
hectic schedule to get the headphones on my ears. As another band who has
been around for quite a long time, the accolades heaped upon this Cd are
worth every ounce of it. It is dark pop but with enough darkness that it
won’t offend a goth audience, and just enough of a synthpop element to
cross over into mainstream if necessary. The songs, vocals, choruses, and
overall atmosphere are addictive unlike much of what is being churned out
these days. They rank up there with the phenomenal band Behind The Scenes.
Many folks at the job have asked about this particular Cd because they
heard it while I was playing it and just had to have a copy.
One: Virgin Superstar (www.andone.com)
After being around for about
10 years or so, this underground band was signed with Virgin Records. There
is a high level of pop elements to this CD, however they do maintain a
sense of dark humor in their lyrics. This is the type of CD for those who
like their music with a bit more synthpop. My favorite tracks are the anthemic
"Wasted" and the tour de force EBM/Industrial track "Panzer Mensch". The
latter song recently had the floor erupting into sheer madness when Ian
Fford played it one night at Albion Batcave.
Ten of 2001
~My top 10 was easier this
year than last year. Here's my 2 cents worth:
1. Lustmord -
-What more can be said of
Lustmord? 'Metavoid' is a stunning release. Get it. Get it for your
friends. For your family. Get as many as you can, c'mon folks.. Lets make
Brian Lustmord a rockstar.
2. Ohgr - Welt
-The sleeper of 2001. We
all know and love Ogre from his work with Skinny Puppy, but who knew his
solo material would be such a stunning mix of industrial grooves with pop
-A recent addition to my
Top-10 list, and a suave playa in the powernoise/dark ambient field. I
still recomend this as -the- answer to the naysayers of the rythmic noise
4. Vidna Obmana
-A georgeous journey into
Vidna Obmana's interpretation of Dante's Inferno. Calm, and introspective.
5. Chris Vrenna
- American McGee's Alice, soundtrack
-The game was a spinemelter
of dark surrealism, the soundtrack a glorious complement to the images
spewed forth by American McGee. Like the game? Then this is a must-have.
Never seen the game? Doesn't matter, it's still a great cd.
-Cordell Klier's menacing
statement of malcontent. Dark, malevolent, and spooky.
7. various artists
- Funeral Songs
-From Crowd Control Activities,
we have this salad-of-funerary-dark-ambient. Nary a poor track to be found,
which is no small task for a compilation. Please, CCA, might we have s'more?
8. Faith And The
Muse - Vera Causa
-What the...? This album
is amazing!! Goth-schmoth, the songwriting and delivery is top-notch. Like
Ohgr, Vera Causa was a -very- welcome surprise.
9. Cevin Key -
Ghost Of Each Room
If only for the track 'Frozen
Sky' (which shows that post-'Puppy writings are every bit as good as 'Puppy)
this album makes my top 10. But the dearth of experimentalism to be found
on 'Ghost..' is more than the sum of it's parts, and just goes to show
that there is no fear of Cevin and friends' talent/idea pool drying up
10. Front Line
Assembly - Epitaph
-Is this really the Epitaph
of FLA? Well, if all we have to look forward to is more of the latest Delerium
material, then I certainly hope not. Slick, smooth, and dripping with lotion.
Everything we expect from FrontLine.
Brown's Top Ten List for 2001
I decided to let my top
ten list for 2001 run from one extreme to another - to coincide with my
many changing moods. This list contains silly cemetery goth rock, sexy
growling "sensual noise", ethereal, industrial, goth metal, goth punk...
and so on...
Many of the compilations
put out this year were particularly outstanding - so I really had a hard
time choosing! So... anyway, this is what I am listening to as we delve
into a brand new year -
In No Particular Order!
SUMERLAND - SIVO
Of course this would be
at the top of my top ten list! Portland, Oregon's own Sumerland takes us
upon an extraordinarily beautiful journey through lush soundscapes and
sexy sexy vocals.
Various Artists - ONLY SORROW
Not only does this compilation
contain some of my favorite artists (Tri State Killing Spree, Second Skin,
Thou Shalt Not, Faith & Disease, Deathwatch Beetle Repairman, The Cruxshadows,
Coven XIII, The Azoic...) but it is for a great cause. Only Sorrow is dedicated
to the memory of Ellen Claire Lawrence whose life was tragically cut short.
All proceeds from the sale of this CD go to the Ellen Claire Lawrence Memorial
Scholarship. I HIGHLY recommend this cd!
Scholarship info: www.onlysorrow.org/scholar2.html
SHADOW REICHENSTEIN - Self Titled
I picked this one because
it made me laugh. Campy Goth-Rock-a-Billy meets Beach Blanket Bingo. Rev
up the Munster Mobile and apply your black eyeliner in the rear view mirror
- we're off to do some CEMETERY SURFIN'!
MOONSPELL - Darkness & Hope
This one surprised me, but
I think the cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Mister Crowley" was the deciding
factor for this year's Top Ten!
TORSION - Hardware Sex and Misunderstanding
A well oiled machine, running
tight and smooth... humans and hardware working together to create that
"sensual noise", the term that describes the sound of Torsion so well.
Kathryn's vocals are slithery and sexy as she pours out songs of love,
lust, obsession and betrayal.
LIBITINA - Weltanschauung
a little bit of something for everyone. Heavy on synths with a taste of
industrial, dance, and a portion of goth rock/punk.
ETERNIA - From Dungeon's
Luxury of Doubt (Th Nature of Gothic)
VERY Gothic. The way Goth
SONGS OF TERROR: A TRIBUTE TO EDGAR
ALLAN POE (Wreckage Productions)
Wreckage (released through
Cleopatra) brings together such artists as Kommunity FK, Faith and The
Muse, Jennifer Hope, Cinema Strange, and Trance to The Sun (among many
others) to interpret the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I particularly enjoyed
Cinema Strange, Jennifer Hope and Faith & The Muse - but the entire
compilation is full of great surprises and very talented artists.
DISSONANCE - Reincarnate
I never realized just how
goth "Eleanor Rigby" REALLY was until I heard this Dissonance version!
THE LAST DANCE - Perfect
I received this cd just
days before compiling this top ten list - and I decided what better way
to round off my list than with The Last Dance. I saw The Last Dance for
the first time in New Orleans at GothCon 2001, one of the high points of
the year. "Perfect" takes me there all over again.
Ten List For 2001
1. Wumpscut -
Rudy comes through once
again with one of the finest industrial releases of the year. "Christfuck'
is a standout!
You like Wolfsheim? Depeche
Mode? This German band has it all. They made my list last year. Highly
Label: Virgin Schallplatten GmbH
3. Project Pitchfork
PP just continues to get
better with each new release. I've played this industrial,darkwave,ebm
potpourri all year.
You'll be seeing a review
on these guys in the coming new year. They aren't widely known yet, but
they should be. They're that good.
- 2000 Years of Human Error
Their cover of The Beattle's
"Eleanor Rigby" is exquisitely creepy. I love this album.
Label: Posthuman Records
6. Silke Bischoff
- Phoenix From The Flames
A new discovery for me,
I'm buying all I can get my hands on. Great voice, great music-dark ebm
7. Wave In Head
- A Time To Speak
Similar to De/Vision, and
Wolfsheim synthpop, darkpop-in a word, excellent.
Label: A Different Drum
Web Site: www.waveinhead.de/
8. Azoic -Forward
An infectious, dark electronic
dance album featuring the always delectable vocal stylings on Ms.krity
- Belief Control
Breaking new ground in industrial,
presenting things in a fresh way. Dovetails nicely where "Viral Extinction"
retro darkpop-wave stylings
Steph's Top Ten
In no particular order cause
I'm just not that organized.I blame it on being a free-thinking Aquarian
Damned - Grave Disorder
All hail The Damned! Full
of energy, fun and panache, this CD rocks hard. Dave Vanian's voice is
gloriously rich and full, and he still makes me weak in the knees.
DUST - From the Sublime to the
D.U.S.T. are not pure goth,
but who is really? Goth was always a hybrid of punk aggression and new
romantic aesthetics, and D.U.S.T. ride that middle ground with grace,style
and a joyous overflow of energy.
Michael Gira - Solo Acoustic
I picked this up just a
couple of weeks ago at Angels of Light's awe-inspiring show. A stark, difficult
and disquieting CD -just M.Gira with a single microphone and guitar, creating
what is sure to be my sleeper pick of the next few months.
The Damage Manual - The Damage
This came out in late 2000,
but who cares? This is one of the few intelligent industrial acts left
on the planet.
Eternia - From Dungeon's Luxury
Deep, rich, emotive and
goth in the truest sense of the word. A beautiful album from David Quinn,
a very promising and committed new artist.
Ghoultown - Tales from the Dead
West ( http://www.ghoultown.com/
Gothabilly! Woo hoo! A delicious
wild west twang mingled with fierce imagery and dancing guitar chords.Music
to slam tequila shots to.
The Gun Club - Fire of Love
One from the vaults. I just
discovered them this year, and with much delight, I might add. A sleazy,
bluesy rockabilly vein runs through this whole album. The Cramps, Ghoultown
and The Jesus and Mary Chain owe The Gun Club a huge debt.
Siglo XX - Flowers for the Rebels
A moody Belgian goth band
that makes gloomy sound so damn good. Required rainy day listening.
Kinda Honourable Mentions
(aka They'd be on my list if I'd heard them yet and I'm sure I'll love
them once I do)
Nick Cave - No More Shall We
Leonard Cohen - Ten New Songs
Nemesis' Top Ten:
1. Dream Disciples:
The best thing the Dream
Disciples have ever done, and this from a band who have many fine moments
in their back catalogue. A sleek chrome-plated
guided missile of an album.
Guitars like razorblades, relentless stomping machine-beats, and *that*
voice riding the thermals over the top. This isn't just 'a good goth album'
- to apply such a qualification to 'Asphyxia' simply doesn't do it justice.
This is one of the best rock albums of 2001, full stop. In a decently ordered
society it would be topping charts everywhere. Never has the goth-straitjacket
seemed so restrictive...
2. Mull Historical
Society: Loss (Rough Trade)
Just when we all thought
the indie scene had drizzled down to failure, killed by umpteen Oasis-wannabes,
along come a bunch of mavericks from a remote Scottish island to kick it
into life again. A vocal that manages to be both intense and offhand at
once, sandpaper guitars, and insanely catchy, uplifting choruses which
I was beginning to believe nobody did any more. The lyrics are often obscure,
in the way that Frank Black's lyrics have that 'on my own planet' feel.
If you can find an mp3 of the song 'Animal Cannabus' (nope, I don't know
what it means, either) you'll have the essential qualities of the band
neatly encapsulated. An unexpected treat.
3. Manorexia: Volvox
Turbo (Ectopic Entertainments)
The latest, and somewhat
surprising, incarnation for Jim Thirlwell, aka Foetus. An instrumental
album that takes in everything from atmospheric sci-fi ambience to manic
60s go-go bar music. The soundtrack to a parallel universe James Bond film.
Curious, because if you'd described the album to me in cold blood I'd probably
assume I wouldn't like it. But once I heard it, I found myself pulled in
to Jim's strange, strange world. Oh, and the Foetus live show in London
in 2001 was a mad and marvellous night.
4. Felix Da House
Cat: Kittenz and Thee Glitz (City Rockers)
The history goes something
like this. Early European electronic stuff - everything from Kraftwerk
to the Human League - found its way to the USA where it was seized upon
by club DJs in Detroit and Chicago. They mashed it up with their own soul/funk
influences and created House, Techno, and everything in between. This album
is a tribute to that old-skool Euro-electro from Chicago house DJ/producer
Felix - but if you're shrugging your leather-jacketed shoulders by now,
and muttering 'Huh! Dance shit!', stop right there. This is the best slice
of left-field electronica I've heard for ages. Sparse, mid-tempo, spacey,
and definitely further 'out there' than many supposedly alternative electronic
acts of today. Bass-pulses churn deep in the bowels of the music, glorious
squelchy analogue sounds bubble and skitter. And then, of course, there's
the wonderfully deapan Swiss-accented vocal of Miss Kittin. Her voice,
cold as Alpine snow, stalks the album like a refrigerated Grace Jones.
Sure, you can play 'spot the influence' (I swear I can hear everyone from
Pet Shop Boys to The Normal in this music), but that's half the point and
half the fun. Excellent album. Cool as ice cream, but tough enough to bite
It's hard to find Felix Da
House Cat stuff on the web, but try this on-line press kit: http://www.girlieaction.com/felix/felix-bio.html
Grab the wonderful 'Silver
Screen (Shower Scene)' on mp3 here: http://www.mp3mtv.com/dl/81268/
5. Swarf: Fall
EP (Wasp Factory)
Swarf come from Brighton,
they're a three-piece, this is their debut release, and they're probably
the best new band in the UK. Now there's a sweeping statement! Let's see
if I can back it up. Swarf create supercool electronica. Head and shoulders
above the workaday doof-doof EBM crowd. The music has a sense of space
and restraint - they don't make the common mistake of cluttering every
last nano-second with tricksy beats and fills. As Jah Wobble said, it's
not what you put in, it's what you leave out. Nor do they make the equally
gormless mistake of tying everything down to that tedious 130 bpm EBM beat
that too many electronic acts use. In short, Swarf understand *rhythm*.
Their songs - and they *are* songs, not the will-this-do beat-workouts
bashed out by so many other bands in this genre - ebb and flow, build up
and break down, in a way that gets me right there. And, of course, Liz's
haunting vocal is a real treat after enduring the gutteral monotone chants
of far too many male 'singers'. Imagine an electro Suzanne Vega and you'll
be.....oh, about a quarter of the way there. For a new band to be so good
straight out of the box, as it were, is unusual and encouraging. I expect
great things of Swarf.
A new compilation of out-takes
by the post-punk supergroup most famous for that splendid anthem-o-doom,
'Nemesis'. Some of the music here is self-conciously cerebral; some of
it's just plain weird. But along the way there are unreleased songs easily
as good as most bands' high profile crowd-pleasers, plus a live version
of 'White Out' that knocks you over with kick-to-the-head bass, and a gorgeous
high anxiety take on 'Feelers'. These are worth the price of admission
by themselves. Probably not the best introduction for anyone unfamiliar
with Shriekback's music (I'd recommend the 'Oil and Gold' album as a suitable
entry point) but for a Shriek-obsessive like me, a veritable casket of
gems. The Shriekback story continues: the band has a new album due for
release...sometime. They just need to raise the money. Which, as ever,
is the *big* problem...
7. Passion Play:Dreaming
Gothic Rock is not dead.
It's just been experiencing a few quality control problems recently. We
have all suffered far too many bands who can't get further than reheated
versions of the tired old Sisters/Mish/Neph sound. It's therefore a pleasure
to discover Passion Play, an outfit who are unashamedly goth, most definitely
rock - and unquestionably *good*. Solid, driving, music with its own identity,
and all based around good songs. Which might sound like a no-brainer, but
we all know bands who've got the *sound*, but can't write a song for toffee.
Passion Play have the
songwriting thing down to
a fine art, and that gives them the essential advantage. Perhaps the production
on this album could do with a tweak - the vocals really should be further
forward in the mix - but the guitars ring out good and loud and it all
thunders along like a truck on the freeway. Encouragingly, Passion Play
seem to be notching up a fair bit of success in Germany. Which is good....because
that's where the money is!
8. Leisure Hive:
Buncha weirdos. This, of
course, is a *good* thing. I have no idea how Leisure Hive view their own
music, but to me they connect to that post-punk era where the musical limitations
of punk (much of which, after all, was fairly straightforward rock) were
thrown out of the window, and the essential rule - that there *are* no
rules - was applied to *music*. And we got Pil, Magazine, Wire, uneasy,
angular bands with heads full of ideas and no time at all for the dog-eared
rock 'n' roll rule book. Leisure Hive tap straight in to this attitude.
They're all strange shapes and musical non-sequiturs. This album is not
easy listening; Leisure Hive have no truck with the normal geography of
rock. But stick with it and the band's peculiar genius becomes clear. Like
so many current bands, they're really only in the goth scene by default
- because in today's climate, where else can a 'weird' band go to find
an appreciative audience? But I for one am glad we've got 'em. Any band
that plays effects-pedal solos and comes up with song titles like 'The
Envelope Itself' is fine by me.
9. Seventh Harmonic:
For many years, conventional
wisdom had it that ethereal bands just couldn't cut it in the UK. We were
all far too punk rock for any of that stuff. But things are different now,
and I think that's due to a large extent to the efforts of this all-female
outfit, who threw conventional wisdom to the four winds and just got out
there and *did* it...and discovered, slightly to everyone's surprise, that
there *is* a UK audience for lush, swooping, ethereal-isms. It hasn't been
an easy ride - the band have suffered more than their fair share of personnel
upheavals, and in fact the line-up that made this album has now changed.
But even so, as a document of the activities of one of our most intriguing
bands in 2001, this is worth grabbing. The music is multi-layered, virtual-orchestral,
but always packs a punch. I think the best is yet to come from Seventh
Harmonic (2002 should see the first release from the current line-up) but
this makes a tasty hors d'oeuvre.
10. The Damned:
The other day I realised,
with a certain sense of shock, that I went to my first Damned gig over
20 years ago. If you'd told me then that I'd be enthusing about a new Damned
album in 2002 I would've probably laughed in your face, rude little punk
rocker that I was. And yet, here I am, enthusing about the new Damned album.
A rumbustious romp in true Damned style, easily good enough to stand alongside
such classics as 'Strawberries' and 'The Black Album'. Shot through with
glorious psychedelia (as with all the best Damned music), and peppered
with little musical jokes - the Beach Boys harmonies on 'song.com' (surfing,
geddit?), the snippet of John Lennon's 'Imagine' that crops up at the end
of 'Would You Be So Hot (If You Weren't Dead?)'. This is a splendid return
to form by a band who've had more comebacks than a bad curry. Nice one,
you bunch of dodgy old buggers. Welcome back!
10 for 2001
The following 10 titles
are music I found noteworthy for the year 2001. I have put these
in the order of like the most down. This is the second year I have
had to put together a list of my top favorite artists of the year and both
times it has been extremely difficult. So much music worth mention
of one type or another, it's hard to wrap that up into a mere 10 artists.
This album pleased me the
most this year. I discovered the band while reviewing the Accession
Records Volume I CD earlier this year. At the time we only had Pale
(their first release) in stock at the music store I work at. I really
enjoyed Pale, but knew Her Liquid Arms would surpass it in quality and
progression after hearing a newer release. Diorama is a dreamy Dark
wave group with a small hint of EBM underlying in some of the tracks.
This release was produced by Adrian Hates of Diary of Dreams and similar
in quality and fluidity. A MUST HAVE!!!
23 - Failure
Tom Shear is a genius!
I can't really say a whole lot more than that! Buy this CD *NOW*
and listen to it repeatedly! Failure is the best EBM album I have
encountered! Really, it's amazing! Tom is a madman! This
release showed an extremely positive progression from his first release
Contempt (which I loved). Expect to hear deep lyrics, mesmerizing
male vocals and a bouncy, yet striking EBM style of music only ala A23
(if that makes any sense).
3. The Cruxshadow's
- ECHOES AND ARTIFACTS
The Cruxshadow's were undoubtedly
the best live performance I attended all year! This statement says
a lot as I saw many fabulous bands last year while visiting Germany.
This album was only available on their tour and if you were lucky enough
to acquire it feel blessed!! This release has remixed and regular
versions of their songs, which appear on their first two albums.
Monsters, Here Comes the Rain Again (Eurythmics cover), and of course the
classic Marilyn My Bitterness but with a new twist are just a few of the
notable tracks on this album. I would be holding back if I didn't tell
you that all of the songs and remixes on this album are fabulous and worth
mention!! If you aren't familiar with the Cruxshadow's, think,
great energy, upbeat, darkwave, with beautiful lyrics/vocals and the most
captivating electric violin you will ever hear!
4. Clan Of
Xymox - Notes from the Underground
As if you even have to question
why this made it to my top 10 list!! CoX continues to be one of my
all time favorite bands. I am always impressed with the sheer brilliance,
excellence and progression of their music and have never been disappointed
with any of their work. Expect to hear dark, dreamy, dancey, haunting
melodies as you get lost and melt away into soul swirling moments while
listening to this album.
Lakaien - Generators
Deine Lakaien without fail,
amaze yet again with their latest release. Although it's not a full-length
album, I feel it deems attention. If this release is any indication
of what we have in store for us with the full release, it will be a mandatory
addition to your collection. There are four tracks on this MCD in
its entirety. The most notable is Generators (club mix). Please
take a listen for yourself!
Strange - Self Titled
Although I know this album
wasn't released this year, it is new to me and definitely worth lots of
uber yummy gothy mention J Until last month (when I first listened to this
release), if I were asked about any good new death rock/gothic artist over
the last 5 years, my response would have been rather limited and somewhat
disappointing with the exception of a few (at least in my opinion).
I was pleasantly surprised with Cinema Strange as they are able to pull
off a classic style death rock/gothic yet still remain unique as if it
was being done for the first time. I believe we can be expecting
a new album this year, be sure you don't miss it!
Pitchfork - Daimonion
This album was long over
due, and well, I suppose well worth waiting for too. At first, I
was a bit disappointed with the single "Existence" as I feared they may
have been moving into a bit harder style of music, almost on the verge
of a guitar metal type sound. The album on the other hand proved
that theory wrong. Project Pitchfork worked "Existence" nicely into
the layout of Daimonion and once again produced a phenomenal album.
Be sure to check out 'We Are One' and 'Time Killer', two of the *many*
ear pleasing tracks on this album. PP seems to age like a fine wine
in their musical growth and progression.
- Space Radio
This album is just plain
pretty! As Evil's Toy put it, "We just aren't evil anymore", being
the reason they changed their name (or at least that's what I heard ;).
And well, that's about the turn around in style of music and progression
of this band with their latest release. If you enjoy Synthpop, be
sure to check out T.O.Y..
9. The Azoic
I first heard a song from
this album when reviewing an Accession Records compilation. I was
quite intrigued as the style of the song I heard, was quite different from
the tracks I had heard in the past. Forward is EBM in style topped
with beautiful female vocals. I think the vocals are what make this
album so appealing. It's a fresh addition to the EBM music scene.
I heart the entire album!!
Vola - Omnis Mundi Creatura
I mention the single hear,
only because I haven't had a chance to listen the full length in its entirety
as of yet. Helium Vola is Ernst Horn of Deine Lakaien and Q'ntal.
This track's sound is more along the same vein as Q'ntal but a little more
crunchy with rhythmic, defined down beats and amazing operatic medieval
TOP TEN 2001
These albums are listed
in no particular order.
Maudlin of the Well - Bath/Leaving
Your Body Map (Dark Symphonies)
Absolutely incredible musicianship
and astounding lyrics quite possibly make these the most important albums
of the year. A breathtaking journey
through a spectrum of styles
that should not be overlooked or underestimated.
Diabolical Masquerade - Death’s
Master of horror themes
Blackheim (Katatonia, Bewitched) was asked to create a soundtrack for a
motion picture and the result is nothing short of spectacular. A
fast moving epic complete with a live string section and Dan Swano (Edge
of Sanity, Pan-Thy-Monium, Bloodbath, etc…) providing clean vocals and
drums. As addictive as it is adventurous.
Opeth - Blackwater Park
It’s almost a given that
Opeth will get into the top ten somehow. They always manage to equal
or better all previous efforts and although I stand by Still Life as their
best, this is a masterpiece of technical musicianship. I would highly
recommend any of their albums.
Dimmu Borgir - Puritanical Euphoric
Misanthropia (Nuclear Blast)
One of the absolute finest
black metal albums I have ever heard. The recent additions of Galder
(Old Man’s Child), Nick Barker (Cradle of Filth, Lock Up), and I.C.S. Vortex
(Borknager) shattered all of the high expectations placed upon them.
This is essential!
Graveworm - Scourge of Malice
I am still fully convinced
that this is the best band no one has heard of. Very melancholic
blackened metal and is definitely a worthy follow up to As The Angels Reach
The Beauty. Contains an amazing cover of Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the
Dark” complete with strings and war pipes.
Tristania - World of Glass
Tristania took the top spot
on my 2000 list and have again returned. Their style isn’t as original
as it once was but they’re easily the best at it combining a perfect balance
of soprano female vocals and both clean and growling male vocals with beautiful
songwriting and musicianship. I can’t recommend these guys highly
Mortiis - The Smell of Rain
Mortiis’ dungeon-style ambient
music has fallen to make room for Era II. Nostalgic dark synth-pop/dance
that I found highly addicting and although many will find this too sharp
of a turn to follow, I loved it and still have not grown weary of it.
This is a great album from start to finish in my opinion and there isn’t
one song I don’t like on here.
Slayer - God Hates Us All
The mighty Slayer showed
us in this album that they are still the kings of their genre. After
the last two albums swerved dangerously close to mainstream, they have
reloaded and delivered another high-powered and hate filled opus that any
Slayer fan would be proud to own.
Witchery - Symphony For The Devil
Old school thrash guitar
riffing mixed with a more modern black metal vocal approach is a style
that greatly appealed to me from the get-go. I love every one of
their albums but this one is the heaviest to date and the songwriting keeps
getting better and better.
Winds - Of Entity and Mind (Avantgarde)
In short, this is absolutely
beautiful music performed with a degree of professionalism that is rarely
seen anymore. Metal is an undertone here beneath the clean vocals, dense
piano, and soft drumming. I would have never guessed that an EP would
make it into my top ten, but I am privileged to own this album and cannot
wait for the full length in the spring.
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