Artemiy Artemiev
Point of Intersection
~reviewed by Adrian

Step back for a moment, if you will, and try to emerge yourself in a vast, alien landscape with visions of whales as big as 100 airplanes glide over head and playfully nudge each other while lightning softly strokes their luminescent skin. Now take this image and place it inside a waking dream that rumbles inside your head, pulling and twisting to get out and make itself be known. This is the kind of feeling one gets while exploring this wonderful delight of an artist. It has taken me some time to figure out the words to say about modern day Russian composure Artemiy Artemiev, but I will try and do his work justice by saying that his combination of styles and emotions within his work strikes a beautiful resonance within me and I am sure it would move many as well. Reading this man’s bio, work history, and collaborations is like reading a “Who’s Who?” of world electronic music, it is a startling and impressive list that spans the likes of film-director & producer Vladimir Krupnitskiy, whom co-founded the label Electroshok from which this cd came from, Philip B. Klinger, and Peter Frohmader. His exploits into the film and TV industry is quite evident in much of his sound and style, any one of his tracks could be placed on top of any variety of film and fit very, very well. Exploration into sounds, both electronic and acoustic is something of an art form, and to see such an art come to life inside your speakers is, in my opinion, something to be giddy about.

Starting off this journey is a beautifully vast tundra of a composition called “Under Cover of the Skies” which slowly sways back and forth, enveloping and swallowing, only to recreate itself and start all over again, lush synths play about like a butterfly gliding about on a winter day. Next we have “Mirage”, a 12 minute piece that invokes strange, mystical nights of some strange mausoleum deep inside a mountain somewhere. Obscure Russian words are softly spoken off in the distance while an ever present drone washes in and out, but never seems to dull the sound of the track. Our next piece is an epic journey that would make Danny Elfman smile by the name of “Down By the Footsteps Leading to the Abyss”. Another magical, yet playful tune that would be best fitted into some deep fantasy movie soundtrack that explores the wonders of nature and the magical world we rarely see. Tapping in at 21 minutes this track really does take you on that journey, rising in intensity and emotion but keeping true to its ambient nature as it soars into dark caves of sound and rises high into the air with spikes of glowing fractalized moments of aural playfulness. “Points of Intersection” goes a bit more in the direction of experimental and explores a more sinister tone, perhaps within the realms of William S Burroughs “Naked Lunch”, which you could picture being placed with. Seductive and dark, this track hold your attention, but it tends to become a bit to “spacey”  and for me falls a bit short of the rest of the magic on the cd. Moments of Steve Roach sounding exploration pop up here and there, which gives it that tribal feel, and you can see a common thread on each others music, especially on this track. The disk is rounded out with “From & to”, another deep and dark storm of a track. This one has a very strong Coil feel about it. Hypnotic beat, which is a first for the disk, lays the backbone on the track, pulsing and pushing the audience a bit further, yet has a sense of closure for the disk, which works very well, almost like the credit track that roles at the end of some horror movie.

Overall this disk is quiet a discovery. Artemiy really puts the talent back into modern day composures and puts faith back into me as to what ambient/experimental music should be. Around the world people are exploring different sounds and styles, and Russia seems to have a great individual who knows all the right moves to keep you entertained. After listening to this cd for the 10th time, I began to understand the reflective quality that Artemiy was trying to get across, that you take away from his music what you put into it, like life. He really makes you think about what is going on in his world and yours, between that nighttime world we visit each night as we lay in bed and the waking shock of reality. Perhaps we choose not to fully understand what it is that makes us who we are, but with composures such as Artemiy Artemiev, we can at least start to explore the psychic highway of human reality and dreams.

Artemiy Artemiev
Point of Intersection
1. Under Cover of the Skies
2. Mirage
3. Down By the Footsteps Leading to the Abyss
4. Points of Intersection
5. From & to


Member of Russian Association for Electronic Music
Member of Union of Cinematographists of Russia
Member of ASCAP
Member of RAO

Release Number 1
~reviewed by Psionic

~I would so love to be able to tell you, dear reader, that AnimadVersion is the most groundbreaking project I've heard since Skinny Puppy. Sadly, that would make me a liar, and I've never been very good at that sort of thing, so you'd see right through me anyways. AnimadVersion do write a solid thump-thump-thumpy-thump sort of EBM track, but it really doesn't go too much further than that. There is nothing about AnimadVersion that makes it sound any different from a dozen other thump-thump-thumpy-thump bands, save for perhaps the vocals... But the vocals stand out as a result of their exceptionally poor quality, so that isn't really a selling point on the whole originality front.. Lots of bands have bad singers. Weak, off key, and in no way beneficial to the overall package that is AnimadVersion, one cannot help but get caught focusing on them... The music failing in all ways to grab the listeners attention. The band isn't -bad- per se, more overwhelmingly forgettable. I realize this is probably the harshest cd review I have ever done, and I do feel some pangs of guilt being so abrasive about the whole thing... I mean, the packaging is slick, there is even a snazzy software package included on the cd containing their full website for you to peruse at your leisure. But it's all moot in the face of such a flaccid release. I'm sorry to be so stark, but AnimadVersion is inexcusably bland.

1- Devotion
2- Ennui
3- DiOG (Is this what the track is called? Who can tell with the SLOPPY FONT USED!!!)
4- Alicia
5- Devotion (Indifference)

AnimadVersion is:
Benjamin Bacon
Jonathan Ford

AnimadVersion website:

The Hidden Agenda / Ephemera (re-releases)
~reviewed by Matthew

There was only one shortcoming to being an obsessive Attrition fan.  It was fairly easy to obtain most of their releases via Projekt records, but for years, I have been frustrated by the fact that my discography was incomplete only by one full-length release.   But thanks to Invisible records, those gaps are now filled as the long out of print Attrition album “The Hidden Agenda” and the experimental EP “Ephemera” are both available again.

“The Hidden Agenda” was originally released in 1993 on Hyperium records, between the albums “A Tricky Business” and “3 Arms & A Dead Cert.”   It was during this time that Attrition were shifting their musical focus from a mischievous ‘horror-show’ style of Goth rock to more hard hitting electronics (at least for the early nineties).  With that said, “The Hidden Agenda” serves as a perfect bridge between the two aforementioned styles and albums, and you can hear the band developing the new style yet (thankfully) reluctant to completely leave their 80’s roots behind (as best exemplified on “This Great Design”). The semi-club hits “Lip Sync” and “The Mercy Machine” originate from this album, and until now, these tracks were only easily obtained on the recent remix and live albums.   But finally the studio versions are now as easy to hear.

I absolutely adore early Attrition.  Albums such as “Smiling At The Hypogonder Club” and “In The Realm Of The Hungry Ghosts” are essential Gothic rock classics, along with the superb moody electronics on “3 Arms & A Dead Cert.”  Though “The Hidden Agenda” and “The Jeopardy Maze” are very similar in style to “3 Arms & A Dead Cert,” THAT album was the pinnacle of creativity due to the juxtaposition of brooding viola and some of Julia’s most ghostly operatic performances with hard edged, beat heavy electronics and overall creepiness and solid atmosphere.  There was just something about the way the band utilized these formulas on this album that I feel will be very hard for them to surpass.  “The Hidden Agenda” is the CD that was working toward that perfection, and “The Jeopardy Maze” was the surreal and worthy aftermath, but “3 Arms…” was the masterpiece.

I think having to wait for this CD for so long was a bit of a disadvantage.  Since I was forever searching for it, inadvertently, I began to have really high expectations for it.  Nonetheless, I was very pleased with the album as whole and I am glad to finally have it in my possession.  It is definitely a must for any Attrition fan, especially fans of their recent contemporary electro sound.

“Ephemera” on the other hand, is a bit of a different story.  Subtitled “Incidental Musics Volume II,” it is a ‘sequel’ to the bands debut 1982 release “This Death House” which was, as you probably guessed it, subtitled “Incidental Musics Volume I.”   “This Death House” clocked in at over 45 minutes, and contained only two lengthy experimental, sound scape-ish tracks.  I remember reading that Martin was inspired by George A. Romero’s films, most notably “Night of the Living Dead,” while composing this release.   Having never been one for most ‘experimental/soundtrack’ music, “This Death House” was the only Attrition album that I never cared much for.  “Ephemera” is very similar to this release, but obviously, much more developed being recorded 13 years later in Martin’s career.

Surely, this album was a departure for Martin and crew, and it was probably interesting and therapeutic for him to revisit such abstract shores.  It is a dark release, very hypnotic and excellent backdrop music. But usually, I want music to be more than just background accompaniment, so that is where I feel this CD falls short, knowing what Attrition are capable of.   However, subtle electronic beats creep their way into parts of “Ephemera,” which helps maintain a higher level of interest for the listener.  It is easy for me to recognize that this is quality experimental music that will delight fans of this style, but I could take or leave this album. In other words, I wouldn’t miss it either way if it were not re-released.   I personally prefer the more structured style that makes up the majority of Attrition’s discography, which makes me attribute much more importance to “The Hidden Agenda” as opposed to “Ephemera.”

But either way, it’s awesome that these releases are available again so that Attrition fans have a better chance at collecting them.

The Hidden Agenda:
1.) Lip Sync (Xenophobia Edit)
2.) Agenda Station
3.) The Deadline
4.) This Great Design
5.) Sister Teresa
6.) The Silent Mind
7.) The Cage
8.) The Mercy Machine
9.) The Next Day (re-visited)
10.) His Latest Flame
11.) Lip Sync (reprise)
12.) The Third House
13.) A Wing And A Prayer

1.) The Long Wait
2.) A Great Desire
3.) The Big Lie
4.) Wetenscap (Dream #9)
5.) Lang Zal Jij Leven

Attrition was on these recordings:
Martin Bowes: voice/electronics/programming
Julia Waller: vocals

Attrition – Official Site:

Attrition – Mp3 Site:

Invisible Records:

(This review originally appeared in StarVox in July 2000)
self-titled debut
~reviewed by Matthew

In lieu of the recent synth-pop invasion, I have heard from countless DJ’s, promoters, and fans alike that ‘there just haven’t been any good Goth releases recently.’ Well, to some extent I agree, as there have indeed been a significant amount of good releases with shadows of Goth mixed among Industrial, Electro, Metal, or what have you. But as for traditional, good old fashion Gothic Rock, there has been very little. Whether or not that is just the direction, or the ‘evolution’ (lack of a better word) of the dark music scene, I cannot really say. What I do know is that there is a new band signed to Projekt that might give some Goth rockers hope, and that is Audra.

Unlike the primarily ethereal and occasionally electronic roster that Projekt is known for, Audra completely goes back to the minimalist, shoegazing school of gloom that we are all familiar with yet have seemingly lost touch with. Driving bass, deep baritone vocals, processed guitars that swirl and  buzz all the same, and post-punk drum beats encompass this CD, captured to disc by a crystal clear, smooth production that makes for a very delightful listen.

Audra’s influences ring loud and clear, as the exceptionally emotional voice of Bret Helm sounds almost TOO much like Peter Murphy and some of the acoustic passages on the CD remind one of later Bauhaus. There is a song dedicated to Rozz Williams entitled “In Hollywood Tonight” that is quite hypnotic and catchy with cascading drumbeats, acoustic strums, lulling bass, and trancey guitars. The bass lines hearken back to the great undertones of Joy Division and 12”-era Sisters, and the dosages of black humour, neurotic obsession, and sarcasm pervading the lyrics (as the sinister love song “Flowers” and the schizophrenic doom of “2 Girls 1 Dress” demonstrate) also give an inkling of the band’s Goth rock roots.

The bottom line being, however similar Audra maybe to whatever band, they are a fresh addition to a style that is slowly being buried in BPM’s and samples. The style is recognizable, yet the way it is presented is what makes Audra’s music successful. The music is a perfect medium between the unnerving post-rock and dirgey art punk of the days of yore. There is a nice blending of upbeat songs with slow, plodding marches and creepier songs, but above all, this is an excellent release. It is EXTREMELY listenable, catchy, memorable, and inspires a nostalgia and may rekindle interest and remind us that traditional Goth rock can fill dance floors as well.

And finally, it is THE answer to those DJs, promoters, and fans that are looking for a new Goth Rock release.

Label: Projekt (

(This review originally appeared in StarVox in May 2000)
Silver Music
~reviewed by Blu

Brothers Bart and Bret Helm grew up listening to the likes of David Bowie, Joy Division, Velvet Undergound, and Bauhaus. Off and on through different musical stints, the brothers stuck together and in 1991 they formed Audra. With the later additions of bass player Janel and guitarist/keyboardist Rick Zandlo, Audra has finally come of age so to speak with the announcement that its joined the leagues of ethereal enthusiasts on the divine Projekt label. Previous to this, Audra released two wonderful CDs on their own - 1998's "In a Dark Room..." which contained the memorial for Rozz Williams, "In Hollywood Tonight" and 1999's "Silver Music" which is reviewed here as a preview for their new CD which should be ready in July. In the history off their webpage, they say their music is was "built on the unsettled emotions from past relationships, the passing of heroes and friends, encounters with the divine world and erotic fantasies." Sound interesting? Oh it is… more then you know…

Maybe its just the Spring weather here, but more and more I think it's the sultry vocals on this CD that have me enamored with everyone I see lately. Bret's vocals are deep and smooth and there's a subtle sexuality to them that is hard to describe in words. The first track, "In All Our Androgyny," has become a favorite among Audra fans. Light and upbeat, Bret croons, "being there is like holding yourself, like kissing yourself in all our androgyny…"

Track 2 is probably one of the best song titles I've heard in a long time - " Spiked with Black and Rum." As you might imagine, it's a dark, moody song. When Bret sings, "And I'm left dizzy, spiked with black and rum, staring into the eyes of a doll that looks back through glass and emptiness, my problems lie in my obsessions…there are no stars, only images…" I cannot help but think of the emotionally-laden vocals of past greats like Peter Murphy. Bart paints a bleak world with his guitar - further adding to the unrest you feel in the vocals.

"Flowers" is another dark track - but more ominous in its sound. There is an element of dangerous sexual over tones - an unrequited love perhaps that boarders on obsession. A predatory bass line reminds me much of the work the Toadies did a few years ago on their dark alternapop CD. "I want to walk up to your, to your window and knock softly, hand them to you one at a time till your arms are filled. I have flowers, that I'm bringing especially for you, I thought that they would match your eyes, in the garden, I'll tie them together…" Mmmm…yummy.

My favorite song on this CD is "Venus" - which is the perfect example of that subtle sexual tone I mentioned earlier that makes me just melt. Accentuated by the driving guitar riffs of Bart and an undulating bass line, Bret sings, "There is another world, a place only I can see…not only myself, but with you, when you're alone, there's always something…and I hear your voice, and its so soft, it's like touching the air, it whispers poetry when the lights go dim…I need to get drunk on your tears, on your fears and on your body, on your body I fear I am lost…" He sings of desire, death, of love lost, and of a desperate need to reconnect to something that once was. Its bittersweet in the bluest shade of despair.

Poetic lyrics on love and death continue with "Cupid" - a swirling, quite danceable track followed by the pensive, nightmarish "2 Girls in 1 Dress." If this is a preview of what's to come in future releases from Audra, consider me waiting anxiously in wings. I'm looking forward to seeing how they're incorporated into the Projekt label.

Label: Projekt (

The Azoic
~reviewed by Matthew

With two full-length albums, their own record label (pronounced nil-EYE-ah), and over five years experience to their credit, The Azoic rapidly excelled to reign as one of the United States’ most treasured darkwave bands.  Their debut “The Divine Suffering” is perhaps one of the most disturbing and self-depreciating albums in existence, and the polished follow-up “Where Broken Angels Lie” solidified the band as a force to be reckoned with due to the stark club hits “Intimate Incisions” and “Drown.”

And as the title of their third album would hint, this Columbus OH duo seek to move ‘forward’ and further solidify and expand their sound to be more in league with current EBM and electronic bands rattling the rafters of clubs across the globe.  It is extremely impressive to hear how far the band has come, especially being a fan since day one.  Though the miserable Gothic tones of their debut release is what originally drew me to the band, they have moved further away from that style over the years much to my dismay, but have won the respect of a much broader fan base and they are obviously creating the kind of music they are more comfortable with.  And above all, I cannot stress this enough, they are doing what the do extremely well.

The direction of the new Azoic release is very similar to the young and highly successful act Flesh Field (who provide their own unique remix of The Azoic on this release), due to the hard-hitting electro ‘thuds,’ whirlwinds of wire synths, and strong female vocals.  I hear a lot of VNV Nation and Assemblage 23’s influence in the synth arrangements, and the atmospheric elements of the Azoic’s past are not completely depleted for there are a great many ghostly choir samples that appear throughout the disc.

The opening track, “Not Justified,” features one of those gorgeous choir samples and kicks off the CD wonderfully, providing a perfect balance of atmosphere and unmistakable club potential.  I love this track to pieces, it is just completely awesome.  The track “Progression” appears on this release as well, a song which has already received extensive club play over the past year due to its prior appearance in a slightly different form on the successful Resistor compilation from last year.  Those two tracks are definitely an absolute must for DJs, this I cannot stress enough either. “Progression” has consistently filled the floor in Pittsburgh since its initial release, and in many other cities as well.

“Evolution” stands out, as it is the only track which features Steve Laskarides’ lead vocals.  Steve has decreased the amount of effects on his vocals, yielding to a more organic yet still raw feel to his voice, somewhat similar to a more sedate Funker Vogt.   This track will also probably due well on the dance floor.   “Redemption” has some interesting and abrasive electronics, quite noisy in parts, yet consistent nonetheless.

“Carve Into You” has a beautiful, pensive build up, with cinematic, symphonic synths with bits of dialogue strung together and a sample of an eerie military march.  Kristy’s vocals are more reserved in this song, but the interplay between her voice and the melodies provided by the electronics make for a very moving effect.  The more I listen to this song the more I
enjoy it.

That leaves us with seven ‘new’ tracks, the remaining four songs being remixes. In terms of those remixes, the Assemblage 23 was quite nice, starting with a very unexpected classical piano interlude that builds to wonderfully melancholic yet beat heavy arrangement.  Very effective and well arranged, with a nice ethereal atmosphere.   The Flesh Field mix is pretty cool as well, pumping the aggression of the original song a few degrees higher for a more stomp friendly effect.  Nice, and quite mind-altering.  Fiction 8’s take on “Progression” keeps the feel of the original song, with lengthier build-ups and some neat reverberated effects on the vocals.  Basically, the song is a bit more stretched out, which is cool, but it’s probably my least favourite of the remixes.  The Oneroid Psychosis interpretation takes the song down a significant amount of BPM’s for a more sinister darkwave feel, but the vocals are still the same pace, which kind of throws it off.  The first listen, the song sounded a bit awkward, but with each successive listen, it will grow on you.  It’s definitely quite creative, and way sp0oky, as you can expect from these guys.

What more can you say about remixes?  I was a bit disappointed that there were only seven new tracks on here, giving the album the feel of an extended EP.  Nonetheless, the album is just under an hour, so that does indeed qualify as a full length so I can’t complain.  I just wished for more, and when you hear this CD, you will definitely feel the same.  The only shortcoming I can really find with the new direction of the band is that they could stand for a bit more variation.  A lot of the songs seem to have the same pace, feel, and synth sounds, etc.  I think the next release the band produce (and hopefully it won’t be as long of a wait this time!) will be their masterpiece.

Overall, an impressive CD on several levels, which will definitely catapult the band even further upward into ‘stardom.’   If you are on the East Coast, be sure to check out The Azoic who will be performing with label mates Fiction 8 throughout late June/early July.

Track List:
1.) Not Justified
2.) Lost
3.) Evolution
4.) Progression
5.) Harsh Reality
6.) Redemption
7.) Carve Into You
8.) Progression (Dirge Mix by Assemblage 23)
9.) Evolution (Dillusion Mix by Flesh Field)
10.) Progression (Pinchita Mix by Fiction 8)
11.) Progression (Oneiroid Psychosis Mix)

The Azoic is:
Kristy Venrick: vocals/lyrics
Steve Laskarides: electronics/samples, etc

Nilaihah Records:

The Azoic – Mp3 Site:

~reviewed by Psionic

~What happened? The Azoic used to be one of those kind of mopey Goth bands. Somewhere along the way they seem to have been bludgeoned with an EBM stick, and shifted directions entirely. Not that I can find issue with that, but wow... Not what I was expecting at all. Thump Thump, Boom Boom, Stomp Stomp, Blip Blip

Yeah, this is dance-floor friendly alright. Kristy really seems to have come into herself vocally now, her delivery is far more comfortable and powerful as a result. Once again, not something I can, or will even try to, find fault with. Go Kristy. Go Azoic.
For those of you who -don't- already know, Kristy Venrick is also known as 'That hot chick who owns Nilaihah Records, home of Fiction 8, The Azoic, and Oneiriod Psychosis'. Heh.

Often we find that the bands of labels-owners are ego-signees. The Azoic is not one of these. Especially with this new direction. Have I mentioned how much more I like this sound? Oh yes. It's tasty.
'Forward', aside from it's stunning change of musical direction, is comprised of 11 tracks. 7 new songs and 4 remixes by EBM notables Assemblage 23 and Flesh Field as well as remixes from labelmates Fiction 8 and Oneiroid Psychosis. While all these remixes are pure sugar, they also form my only complaint with this album... I would rather have seen 11 new tracks of this caliber and 4 remixes. Like that thin slice of Cheesecake at the speakeasy you went to after the bar last night...  It just leaves you wanting more. If you're a fan of cybersynth dance music, then this is a must-have cd to add to your collection.~

1: Not Justified
2: Lost
3: Evolution
4: Progression
5: Harsh Reality
6: Redemption
7: Carve Into You
8: Progression (Dirge by Assemblage 23)
9: Evolution (Dillusional mix by Flesh Field)
10: Progression (Pinchita mix by Fiction 8)
11: Progression (remix Oneiroid Psychosis)

The Azoic Website:
Nilaihah Records Website:

The Kingdom of Glacial Palaces
~reviewed by Michael Johnson

As black metal continues it’s steady ascent of popularity, more and more bands are taking their strike at making a name for themselves.  The Polish three-piece, Belfegor, is one of them that shows quite a bit of promise with their debut release, The Kingdom of Glacial Palaces.

The Kingdom of Glacial Palaces is a heart-stopping journey divided into twelve pounding tracks.  Pushing ‘Play’ on your CD player with this in is akin to poking a sleeping polar bear in the ass with a fork, and the reaction is just as violent.  The guitars snap at you out of nowhere and the vocals rend you with their unholy fangs.  This album, save a few seconds of ambience, does not stop coming at you until it either ends or it claims your soul as you lay broken and bleeding on your bedroom floor.

That being said, this assault is also the only fault I found with the recording.  With this relentless attack, it’s hard to differentiate between the songs and allow the mind to absorb it.  There are few intros and no instrumental tracks to aid in navigation through this.  Fans of blast-beat-none-of-those-pussy-keyboards metal, like Marduk, will absolutely swoon to this and for a premier album; it’s a very solid effort.  World War III Records has a great ear for new bands and Belfegor sits proudly at their table.  They have great production and a raw sound that has been hard to find as of late.  This is one of those releases that will surface again and again during my foulest moods and I highly doubt it will collect much dust in your house either.

Belfegor Is:
Tormentor – Vocals, bass guitar
Thagirion - Guitars
Lethal – Drums


Black Sabbatical
~reviewed by Michael Johnson

Beyond Salem was formed in 1996 by keyboardist/guitarist Michael Cannon.  Black Sabbatical is the third release and definitely one of the more schizophrenic releases I have heard in a very long time.

Okay, I’ll admit that when this crossed my desk, I was convinced that this was another standard gothic rock album.  The songs were strong and in the vein of The Cult but there wasn’t really anything that hadn’t been done.  The guitar work is outstanding and definitely catches your ear and this is only the first three tracks.  Track four, “When Angel’s Can’t Fly”,
takes a turn and the female vocals and soft synth take over.  Unexpectedly, a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Empty Spaces…Set Your Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” crept from my speakers following this feathery ballad. With the whispered vocals and electronics floating to and fro between speakers, this CD quickly began to show more promise.  Surprisingly, the CD maintains this ambient style, which is something I would have never guessed.  The songs are well titled and it’s extremely easy to lock on to the idea behind the song.

For instance, “13 Bells” has a bell chime thirteen times with female vocals carrying the melody behind it.  On the last chime, the song ends.  The spectral “Visitation” hints of the afterlife while the title track takes on its own haunted theme as female vocals whisper their alluring passages.  These types of tracks continue on throughout the remainder of the album and the diversity of them is sure to lock in your attention and hold you fast until the last note fades.

I didn’t expect to enjoy this album and that turned out to be its greatest ally.  Fans of either electro-ambient or straight gothic rock will enjoy this.  Michael Cannon is a talented individual with a vision that we must interpret for ourselves and Black Sabbatical is an album we can wholly enjoy while doing it.

Beyond Salem Is:
Michael Cannon – All keyboards, bass
Matte Black – All electric & lead guitars
John Campbell – Lead vocals, drum programs, bass
Anne-Marie Korber – Female voices, vocals & arias


Under The Reign Of Terror
~reviewed by Michael Johnson

The mighty Bloodthorn returns and it is clear that Onwards Into Battle, although an excellent album, was merely a setup for the holocaust to come.  Their debut album on Red Stream Records shows us a new and savage side to a band known for mixing in beautiful, melancholic passages.

Under The Reign Of Terror wastes no time in showing off the changes that have been made in the Bloodthorn camp.  The guitars are tuned lower, the vocals are lower and the layering of them gives them a much more demonic feel.  As a whole, the record is deeper and heavier than their earlier efforts and these give it a very powerful feel; and feel it you will when the bass
drums begin to kick from your speakers.

Unfortunately, I liked the more mellow stuff Bloodthorn used to throw in.  I liked the female vocals, the soft keyboards, and even the clarinet.  What tears me is that I like the brutal side as well.  Both styles were so well done that I can only sit here and hope that from the ashes of the old lineup rises a phoenix that stays true to the older style.  Or maybe, just maybe, I want my cake and eat it too.  I’ll just shut up and do my job.

As an added bonus to most (even though I do not like Mayhem), Necrobutcher from Mayhem appears on a cover song of “Deathcrush” and this is done so well, I almost had to recant my dislike for the band.  Almost.

Truthfully, this is a fantastic album that grabbed me from the get-go and hasn’t let go.  Every song is memorable and if you find yourself standing in a store holding this and contemplating whether or not to buy it…GET IT!  You will not be disappointed.

Track Listing:
2.The Return of Wrath
4.Age of Suffering
5.Fields of Blood
6.Mass Destruction
7.After the Attack

Red Stream Records:

~reviewed by Adrian

The women of rock have always seemed, unfortunately, to play second role in the public, playing more like eye candy first, sound last,  than anything else. Sad. When it comes to the industrial scene this is even more true, but over the past 6 years there have been sparks of light and female energy that have outshined even the best of the male bands. Such talents as Battery, Android Lust, and now, Chiasm have slowly dissolved away the candy coated lining that all girl groups have to be cutesy and lovable or hide behind a fake smile telling only false emotions.

Track one, “Formula” is a slow, rhythmic introduction into Chiasm’s new release, scratching on emotions and feeling and gives you a peak at what is to come throughout the rest of the cd. Next we stumble into “Chiasm 5.0”, a very intense stab at personal disorder and chaos……which is starting to become the theme of the disk. Overall a very nice track, but I would have personally dissolved the guitar on this one.  “Transparent” sneaks in next and has the same style as the first two and you suddenly get the feeling that you are peeping into her personal diary, like a naughty sibling. One of my favorites, “Disorder” has a slow, sexuality that wraps you up and rubs you in all the right directions, and this should have great cross-over potential for those goth DJs who stick to slower, angry music that drips with poison and seduction. “Fight” jumps in and starts kicking butt with a 135 + bpm that is relentless and reminiscent of her label mates Battery, full of electro gashing and gnawing and industrial terrorism.

Our next treat, my favorite song, and the one that turned me onto Chiasm in the first place, “Liquefy” which is a breathy and passionate voyage into the hearts and minds of anyone who has loved, for good or bad, and it is a highlight of the talents and passion that Emileigh keeps inside herself. If nothing else grabs you on the cd, this will. Our next treats, “Isolated” and “Cold” spin the tone of the disk in a bit more darker direction, think Switchblade Symphony with a little more teeth and leather and you will have the general idea. “Enemy” glides in next with a very nicely done slow song that really has an epic feel about it once it gets going and rates as one of the top three tracks on the disk, both in production and talent. Wrapping the cd up is “Someone”, a grinding, minimal, electronic song that speaks of many lost emotions of identity, fear, and loneliness.

Musically Emileigh has  incredible talent, rising and falling with her songs and her intensity is solid and never wavers. My only complaint would be the variety, which tends to haunt many industrial artist these days…..they stick to the formula inside the box and rarely step foot outside to explore other options. Now, don’t get me wrong, what Emileigh does, she does well, but variety and fresh ideas is the spice of life and with a little focus she can and will become a solid force to be reckoned with inside the industrial/goth arena. DJ’s, both industrial and gothic should eat this disk up as it is quite dance floor friendly, albeit on the slower side, but it has that ever present loom of sexual energy and enticing force that drives within like a thunderstorm.

Chiasm – Disorder
1.      Formula
2.      Chiasm 5.0
3.      Transparent
4.      Disorder
5.      Fight
6.      Liquefy
7.      Isolated
8.      Cold
9.      Enemy
10.  Someone

Chiasm website:
COP website:

The Ghost Of Each Room
~reviewed by Psionic

At this juncture, cEvin Key has more than proven his genius for sound design and manipulation. From his history with the legendary Skinny Puppy to his more recently eclectic work with Download, he has shown us all time and again that there is an eccentric sounds factory churning within his skull, and we're all the better for the little audio gnomes that punch the time-clock in that factory and keep the assembly line of cool ideas flowing forth like wine from the jug of Anachrion.
So with this in mind we have his latest solo effort, The Ghost Of Each Room.

The title is a bit of a misnomer, as it isn't a particularly haunting release... At least, it doesn't fit with what I think of when I think of empty rooms populated by the deceased. But maybe that's just me.

It is, however, a crispy and well-tossed sonic salad. Guess what the dressing is? Long-time compatriots Nivek Ogre and Edward Ka-Spel.  *glee*

The Ghost Of Each Room shares much in common with the last Download release, Effector. Similarly quirky sound structures, the same tongue-in-cheek humor lying buried in the mass of noises, the same sort of "Listen repeatedly, hear new stuff every time"-effect. It lacks, however, the vaguely funky mood that was present on Effector, and adopts an almost Acid-Jazz-ish mood. Well, it does here and there at least, the subtly-placed Saxophone helps. The tracks that Ka-Spel add voicework to have a feel to them not unlike that of the Tear Garden in their "Last Man To Fly" era. Having been only lukewarm on the latest Tear Garden, these two tracks ('15th Shade' and 'A Certain Stuuckey') more than make up for it. The track that Ogre adds guest vocals to, 'Frozen Sky', is a curious blend of cEvin's solo work, Ogre's solo work, and a dash of old-school 'Puppy flava.
I love Skinny Puppy.
I love cEvin' work.
I love Ogre's work.
'Frozen Sky' is like some sort of freaky musical cake, only I get to eat it too.
I really must find new analogies, this food thing is getting out of hand. Or maybe I should just eat something. Stir-Fry? It would keep with the mood of this album...

So what is the final verdict? If you found anything redeeming in the last Download, then this disc is a must-have. Personally, I love it, and can hardly wait to start plying it to my dj setlists.

1: Bobs Shadow
2: TAtayama
3: hOropter
4: 15th Shade
5: Sklang
6: Frozen Sky
7: Aphasia
8: Klora
9: cccc4
10: A Certain Stuuckey

Subconscious Website:
Metropolis Website:

Claire Voyant
Time Again: A collection of remixes
~reviewed by  Mike Ventarola

Claire Voyant once made it to a list which ranked their band name as one of the top ten worst band names to have. The band’s tenacity has allowed them to have the last laugh because not only has the name and the music been embraced, but it continues to ignite the many passions of new and old fans alike. In spite of the cruelty of that list, the band is far too humble to share that last laugh while they continue to be astounded with how well received their music has been on a world wide scale.

This low-key trio from California has been rather busy with their new CD, which is tentatively slated for a September 30, 2001 release. In addition, their work has been picked up and re-issued by Metropolis Records as of January 2001.  Also, at the time of this writing, Claire Voyant has been scheduled to perform at Convergence 7 in New York City!  This is a 3-day event to be held between August 17th and 19, 2001. The Convergence 7 website (  has all of the details of the bands and events.

To look at the band promotion photo’s one can’t help but feel they are the folks next door. They have sculpted complexions only rivaled by Marlene Dietrich with her Dresden china appearance. Their outward angelic beauty hides a breadth of passion that is only released through listening to their musical work.

Time Again features many of Claire Voyant’s hits, remixed by a line-up of some of the hottest underground masters to date. The CD was recorded as DDD making it FULLY digital, giving the impression of sitting in a “live” recording session.

Before we go further, it is important to note that Victoria Lloyd not only wrote the lyrics to the songs, but also had a hand in the many arrangements. This is emphasized simply because a trend seems to be that the female in a band “just” sings while all the guys do the writing. Not so with Claire Voyant. This is a band that works as a team, a functional unit of 3 where ideas are developed together and worked through cohesively.

Iolite “Trancelite” remixed by Francis A. Preve, took Lloyd’s smooth as ice-cream vocals and immersed it into a trance-like, pulsating rhythm. This is destined to make club patrons scream on the dance floor by a savvy beat mix pro-DJ. If one needed to describe what trance music sounded like, it is this track that clearly emotes the bliss which defines the genre.

Eventide “Riptide” as remixed by Front 242 opens in a dark place and takes us down a trip hop avenue. The beginning sequence floats like an abandoned ship in the harbor of lost souls. Even with the dark elements and sound effects woven between the song, it resonates with a highly seductive rhythm that is a cross between Switchblade Symphony and Collide. However, two minutes into the song and there is a pure electronic kick that if this song isn’t a part of the Ibiza playlist during a foam party, it needs to be!

Majesty remixed by VNV Nation begins in a classical vein, showcasing the smooth vocals without hiding it behind gadgets and gizmos. The irony behind this track is with each held note from Lloyd, one can’t help but take deep breathes along with the stanzas. The track picks up with a touch of pulsation, but overall is delivered in a more ballad style.

Mercy touched up by starts the track with a droning that segues into electronic effects cascaded over classical notes. The vocals are up front with a background that has a more drum and bass. This is only the intro folks. About a minute and half into the track, the song bleeds with an EBM style married to electronics, emphasizing the vocal line, “You don’t feel a thing.”  This can remind one of something heard in the fetish clubs, which are becoming the rage as of late. One could contend that this track could also be great for those with too much on their minds who need to unwind, if only for a few brief moments.

Majesty “Premonition” is mixed and featured again, this time with the help of Assemblage 23. The song seems to open from some frozen tundra in the Arctic region, warmed by the electronic pulsations that come through like laser beams. This EBM mix seems to flow over the brain with lush high and low notes designed to cause mental visions of color. The amazing thing about this mix is it works well for a dance floor but is also “gentle” enough to just chill out too.  Here, the brilliance of the music does detract from the vocals just slightly because it stands out in such contrast that one can get lost in the sound alone.

Love The Giver remixed by Eskil Simonsson of Covenant slams in with pounding electronic rhythm, razor sliced sound samples and episodic minor chords to make it just that much more goth friendly. Simonsson takes all the elements of infectious EBM and utilizes it to caress Lloyd’s vocals so that both music and voice are the star attraction.

Iolite “Octaine Mix” begins in goth fashion with the minor guitar sounding chords. The electronic drums dance at the intro, begging to come forth, which they do. The track takes on an almost Spanish flavor whipped up with minor chords and dance. Lloyd’s vocals are cut up, switched up, backward masked and utilized like an instrument. The lyrics aren’t as important as the sound on this mix and Octaine utilized every bit without wasting a drop.

Time and The Maiden ”Luxt Mix” by Luxt has also been available for sampling on the band’s MP3 page. The PC does NOTHING for this track compared to hearing it live on your stereo. The DDD takes this song into a realm of darkwave, industrial electronics that seems to float right out of the walls. There is a pervasive feeling of a free-fall delivered with the construction of this mix.

Blinking Tears remixed by Haujobb took low tones and tucked them behind the vocals so that Lloyd’s emotiveness could come to the forefront. Daniel Myer’s collaboration with Lloyd on his side project, HMB, featured a more dance version of both artists, so it was quite interesting to sample this song that is featured in a very slow groove ballad. This song is not constructed in any predictable fashion, so it may take some ears a few listens to get used to it.

Bittersweet “LSD Mix” Love Spirals Downward took this track, managed to give it a rainy day somberness that is lead by drum and bass. The bluesy horns echo from the caverns giving it a jazz-like effect, that really are the main attraction to this song. Lloyd’s vocals are utilized like silk around a lampshade, giving color but not overpowering the atmosphere.

Everafter “Singing In The Rain” was mixed by J. Stephen Foster who gave this an almost life-like quality with the opening that seemed to sample real life outside sounds. The vocals are given episodic electronic manipulation, once again, utilizing the vocals as an instrument to the composition rather than the featured focus of the song. The quality may remind some listeners of Ultravox.

Majesty “Beborn Mix” is the third mix of what seems to be a favorite track among many artists. Beborn Beton created a touch of somberness coupled with an isolated space like encapsulation.  Imagine, if you will, the bands Yaz and Erasure creating a song that is dark, isolated, and atmospheric, and you have some idea how this track comes across.

Serenade “Trance To The Sun Mix” has an ominous and somewhat lethal intro, which segues into an electronic and drum pulsation that dares you to turn away. The groove is bound to shake the hips of some Goth purists because the mix takes it all in and recreates it in dark luscious tones. The mix clearly brings Claire Voyant out as a goth/dark band. This is a track that Goth fans are likely to have on repeat play for some time.

Claire Voyant is somewhat of an anomaly. Their music is comfortable in many guises, as this remix project clearly demonstrates. Many of the stellar underground artists put their touches on this work, recreating the songs to make them EBM, Trance, Industrial, Goth and even Jazz.

Claire Voyant is not a typical Goth band. As a matter of fact, despite the large Goth fan base, it really is tough to pigeonhole the band into any category. This mystery of genre classification has often hurt many bands because marketers need labels to categorize the music they want to push. This hasn’t been the case with Claire Voyant simply because the lush tones and smooth as silk vocals have managed to seduce a growing number of music fans from a variety of genres.

These remixes work well because it meshes completely to make a full bodied and riveting sound. The track listing flows expertly, careening the listener into a world of the nether reaches while still maintaining the ambience between the dance layers.   The best way to describe Victoria Lloyd’s vocals is to call it “creamy.” She sings with a smooth, silky and hypnotic inflection. It is hard not to be mesmerized by her talent.

Ben Fargen and Chris Ross, the two talents who make up the Claire Voyant trio, have managed to demonstrate to the musical world that a cohesive band can in fact work to create songs that are enchanting, marketable and mesmerizing. Lloyd, Fargen and Ross weave tones around the lyrics that are at once subliminal as well as introspective. Despite the attention that may naturally come to Lloyd as the vocalist, one cannot think of this band without all of the members coming to mind. This is no accident; it just indicates how tight the working relationship of this group is which is the litmus test that all bands should aspire to.

Time Again is an album full of great dance music that can also be utilized to chill out to. Very few available projects can do the same with such ease. From the outset, one cannot help but feel that something almost magical is going on between the notes. Despite all the dance rhythms inherent on this disc, it is impossible to not come away feeling emotionally cleansed in some way.  Long after the CD is over, Lloyd’s vocals seem to play back in the mind, like an angelic being calling from the ethereal reaches of heaven. Somehow the sound makes us breath a little deeper, creating a safe space where we can refocus our energies.  This is definitely not some studio trick as much as it is the burning passion where artists poured their life force into its creation, which reflects back to us upon listening.

Track Listing:
1. Iolite “Trancelite”       Francis A. Preve
2. Eventide “Riptide”     Front 242
3. Majesty                     VNV Nation
4. Mercy            
5. Majesty “Premonition”  Assemblage 23
6. Love The Giver   Eskil Simonsson of Covenant
7. Iolite “Octaine Mix”  Octaine
8. Time and The Maiden    Luxt Mix
9. Blinking Tears   Haujobb
10. Bittersweet “LSD Mix”  Love Spirals Downward
11. Everafter “Singing In The Rain”   J. Stephen Foster
12. Majesty “Beborn Mix”  Beborn Beton
13. Serenade    Trance To The Sun Mix


Current 93
I Have A Special Plan For This World
~reviewed by Matthew

I am a little late with this review I suppose.  This mini release came out earlier last year, but I have only now just finally found it, and despite my punctuality, I find it far too important to bring this terrifying release to your attention.

This is probably the most unnerving and frightening Current 93 CD I have ever heard.  Quite a different form of neurosis when compared to the horrifying experimental work of the project’s earlier years and the melancholic strains of folk most are familiar with.  This 22 minute, one-track release is a very minimalist and nightmarish foray into the dark and twisted mind of cult author Thomas Ligotti.  The surreal settings and psychologically desperate characteristics of his writing filtered through an equally as depraved mind as David Tibet should obviously yield some seriously grim results.   “I Have A Special Plan For This World” succeeds on nearly every level, without going over the top.  It lurks just at the yawning gulf of that abyss and leaves you hanging, held only by a leering face of suspenseful fear.  The CD is sinister while you listen to it of course, but the true horror results when you walk away and the aura of the song sticks to you, rotting and dissolving any sense of peace that silence may have brought otherwise.

The music, or mood rather, is produced with a distant and repetitive drone, and with each cycle the sound goes through it acquires an even starker effect.  In the right channel of your speaker, Tibet reads various passages from Ligotti, beginning with the following and integral lines:

“When everyone you have ever loved is finally gone, when everything you have
ever wanted is finally done with, when all of your nightmares are for a time
obscured, as by a shining brainless beacon or a blinding eclipse of the many
terrible shapes of this world. When you are calm and joyful and finally
entirely alone, then in a great new darkness you will finally execute your
special plan”
The dialogue is broken by an unwholesome, eerie ‘voice,’ all jarbled with static, sounding as if it is gagging.  It has a Lovecraftian approach, but by gods it is so eerie.  This cycle of distant ghostly drone, David’s lulling and icy narration, and this unholy buzzing increases with intensity as the song progresses throughout its 22 minutes.  It never gets to excessively ‘intense’ in terms of ‘loudness.’  Quite the opposite.  There are no climactic Industrial freak-outs.  It just lurches along, never changing pace, never offering too much new, but you are HOOKED by a hypnotic combination of fear and masochistic absorption.  Once you let this song in, once you invite it, let it pass over the threshold of you mind, there is no turning back and you must gulp and bear it until the superbly fantastic ending. Here, David’s voice repeats the aforementioned excerpt from above without any accompaniment, though spoken through a strange processor that catches and bends his voice, staggering it and stretching the words out in an unnatural, sluggish pace.  The final effect of the song makes the skin crawl.

I heard this song in headphones for the first time near 4:30 AM, illuminated by the blue glow of my computer and I just sat there and stared for the entire macabre journey.  When the song finally ended, I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, I wanted to laugh to shake it all off, and I sort of did a strange conglomerate of all three.

If you are a fan of Current 93, and you have yet to pick this up, you absolutely must.  It is a masterpiece.  I am not that big on experimental music, but I never HEARD experimental music nearly as effective as this.  If it were all this frightening, I would love it.  This, this is like equating Throbbing Gristle’s “Slugbait” to a Disney faerie tale.  I love this.

Since this EP, if you haven’t already picked them up, two more Current 93 releases have become available.  The first, entitled “Faust” is supposedly a droning release similar to “…Special Plan…” but based on the writings of Count Eric Stenbock and also comes with a booklet of Stenbock’s work.    And just recently released, an ambitious collection entitled “The Great In The Small” that supposedly has snippets of EVERY Current 93 song ever recorded?!@.  Both of these I have yet to hear, but as soon as I get them I will review them, as well as the new Death In June “All Pigs Much Die” which  was released this month as well.  Stay tuned…

Track List:
1.) I Have A Special Plan For This World (21:57)

CURRENT 93 is:
David Tibet

Current 93 – Official Site:

Current 93 – Shadows Of Ghosts (GREAT fan site)

World Serpent Distribution:

Strange Fortune – Mail Order (BEST source for all things WS related)

Thomas Ligotti – Official Page:

DURTRO Records Site:

~reviewed by Matthew

Perhaps best known (by studious Gothic rock and dark metal fans) for their cover of the Sisters Of Mercy’s “Alice,” Daeonia hail from the Netherlands and offer a fresh approach to Gothic rock for the new millennium.

Well produced, and tastefully polished, this Dutch sextet present themselves as a melodic Fields Of The Nephilim, with light touches of keyboard work that remind me of the earlier albums such as “Always” by The Gathering.  The male vocals are deep, full of feeling and tinged with a Dutch accent.  They take a bit of time to get used to, as at times they sound a bit deeper than what would come natural to the vocalist, but after a few tracks it begins to make sense.  The guitar work consists of laid back riffing, not too flashy, but as metallic as it is melancholic, achieving a nice balance.  The drums and bass interlock to create a solid rhythmic layer beneath the swirls of moody ambience.  Daeonia sit comfortably perched in the purgatory between Gothic rock and melodic metal, never venturing too far left or right into either field.  I think perhaps their music could stand to be a bit more daring, but of course, when you listen to the nameless scores of other ‘gothic metal’ bands out there, that could be a disastrous move and perhaps Daeonia are fine where they are.

The fact that there are not many tracks that stick out on there own is simultaneously the album’s weakest and strongest quality, weak in that there are truthfully no songs that I found myself humming afterward nor did I find any tracks worthy of extensive club play.  Yet all twelve tracks compliment each other and create an album that is a delightful listen as a whole, a feat that is hard to achieve for most bands that rely on filler to achieve the full 40 minutes to qualify for a full-length release.

Having heard Daeonia in the past, I was excited to hear this one.  This release is a bit more sedate I think when compared to their past EP “Morphic Lands” and it lacks the punch of the material on the limited edition “Alice” single.  But it is still a very good CD and in terms of quality, it outshines quite a few other new releases on the market that masquerade as Gothic metal or Goth rock.   Not the most exciting album that has crossed my desk this summer, but certainly something enjoyable with a great deal of maturity and melodic appeal.

Track List:
1.) Crescendo (an introduction)
2.) Drowned
3.) Meridian
4.) The Bridge And The Ashes
5.) Thoughtograph
6.) Within The Blink Of An Eye
7.) December
8.) The Ghosts Of Christmas Past
9.) Bitter Sweet
10.) In Cimmerian Dreams
11.) Orion’s Fall
12.) Requiem

Daeonia is:

Daeonia – Official Website:

Candlelight Records:

Reload cd & Far And Away ep
~reviewed by Adrian

At some points we see music as an uplifting, almost euphoric experience full of magic and wonder. Electronic music has the ability to twist and buckle under one's perceptions and moods, creating an atmosphere of vivid rainbow swirls or dark and cold voids that swallow the listener and place them inside the musicians mind. Not an easy task. Among such pioneers of these journeys are many composers and creators, modern day Mozarts who take control of sounds and manipulate them to their will. Dado (aka Deedrah) is such a pioneer, whose ability and background are legend in many of the circles inside the electronic scene. Starting at a very young age and influenced by the likes of Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Deedrah created a blanket of skill that would develop into a unique ability to open the senses and peak inside the cerebral party that happens in everyone. Deedrah's latest release Reload is everything you would come to expect from such an artist, yet still has the freshness you crave.

Starting his path well cemented as a psychedelic trance act in the early 90's, Deedrah opened up new minds and new sounds, working under various monikers such as Cypher and Synthetic, and has always been well respected inside the underground DJ community as an excellent producer and writer. His latest effort keeps that magic and explores a more uplifting and softer sound while keeping hold of his roots and talent, which never gets washed away in the limelight of that plastic, mass produced "club sounds", which tends to happen to so many artists who travel down the "new territory" road.

Reload is such a collection of songs that to say "song A sounds like this and song B sounds like this" would be an injustice. Instead I will try to diverge the ebb and flow of the sounds and beats as they swirl and crest, pounding wave after wave of emotion and magic. Old-school fans of his may sit there and scratch their heads when the disk firsts starts with the title track, Reload, a beautiful, yet melodic piece that starts the energy of the whole disk. Dark and brooding like a storm in the distance soon turns to sharp as a tack deliveries and whiplash energy that speeds up and slows down, speeds up and slows down, yet keeps the energy "there" without turning the dancer/listener into a ball of mush. Purple Unicorn is a delightfully playful creation that bounces around in a funky sort of way that really triggers thoughts of those magical Full Moon parties on the beaches of Ibiza. Keeping with that zest the tracks speed up and get a bit more progressive/house in style with the likes of Land of Freedom and Fireball but still bares its teeth in all the right places and all the right times.

More on the aural soundscape side, Far and Away and Something is Wrong With the Machinery! invoke a bit more out of the listener to comprehend, which is a good thing. Head music is something that is lacking these days and it forces you to think about what you are hearing instead of just giving it to you all in one blast. Gangster is the kind of style and sound that brings you back into the sweaty club dance floor, thumping and grooving in the style of Digweed or Oakenfold, but doesn't fall prey of being too over the top or cheesy. As the disk wraps up with Liquid Skies, Ananda, and The Final Swirl Deedrah really lays the energy and focus on deep and hard, touching in on classic "goa" styles and sounds but bringing a breath of more modern, uplifting sounds, almost sounding very Israeli at times and switching back and forth from morning to full-on, like a roller coaster ride that doesn't let up.

Some people may not understand this new sound from Deedrah, some may think it is horrid, but to embrace new directions while keeping true to yourself and your style is a feat well worth respect and understanding in my book. For those who just cannot grasp such a direction change, may I present you with the Far And Away ep which covers a more "harder" psy trance style than his full length. With the help of GMS, whose known for dance floor stompers and outstanding creative ability Deedrah puts his style that he is known for back on the map. Hard hitting remixs of Liquid Skies, Far And Away, and Reload hit the dance floor with intensity that doesn't let up. Very much like the original mix, each song on this ep develops into their own personality and with the artists remix ability to spice up the style. What I find so interesting about his sounds are the melodic touches that lace and interweave throughout each composition. Deedrah's ability to manipulate and stretch audio tracks while still keeping composure and beauty is amazing and I have been hard pressed to find someone who can keep up with him in that area. Wrapping up the ep disk is the radio edit of Land of Freedom which is very euphoric and beautiful, yet very, very progressive....having a strong California Sunshine "morning" sound that relaxes you and seems to put a smile on my face each time I hear it.

Overall I personally enjoy and appreciate the direction that Deedrah has taken and I highly suggest giving it a browse. It is nothing in the realms of industrial or goth, but those DJs who bounce around with more "clubby" sounds in their playlists may find this is something you should not be without. It is a very refreshing change from the over produced, cheesey anthems that seem to populate most dance clubs and it is much, much cleaner and "to the point". Dance floors around the globe should take notice as the sounds that shape our culture are getting better and better by the day, but it seems to be a crime that the artists who create these sounds are hardly recognized. Explore and expand....there is a lot of good things out there that you just cant label. Why would you want to?

Deedrah - Reload
1. Reload
2. Purple Unicorn
3. Land of Freedom (2001 mix)
4. Fireball
5. Far and Away
6. Something is Wrong With the Machinery!
7. Gangster
8. Liquid Skies
9. Ananda
10. The Final Swirl

Deedrah - Far And Away
1. Liquid Skies (GMS remix)
2. Far and Away (Low-End mix)
3. Reload (GMS mix)
4. Land of Freedom (Radio Edit)


~reviewed by Psionic

~Long known for a revolving mix of musicians from all over the industrial world, and more recently for the development of a deserved reputation for exceptionally entertaining live shows, Deathline Int'l brings us their 4th album, Cybrid. By this point, Deathline Int'l have settled into their signature sound, a stompy blend of Coldwave and EBM, with a distinctly anthemic bent. I feel credit must be given to Deathline Int'l for not hopping on any of the currently trendy bandwagons and staying true to their own sound, harkening back to the days of yore... Which is not to say that this album sounds dated in any way. High-energy, highly danceable, catchy hooks aplenty, crystalline production.. Yeah, it's got a good beat that you can bug out to. And of course what Deathline Int'l album would be complete without some unexpected cover song? This outing includes 'Paradise City', where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Like an aluminum bat upside the skull, Deathline Int'l bludgeon respect for their efforts out of the listener, and to be honest it's about time these workhorses got some. Dig deep for some shekels, give Cybrid a go, then take the time out to see them whenever they come to your town, you won't be disappointed. After that, I'm laying odds you'll be believer.

1-   Destroy
2-   Can You Feel It
3-   You Kill Me
4-   He's In My Head
5-   Paradise City
6-   Outcast
7-   Falling From Grace
8-   Iron Rain
9-   Feuer
10- Liquid Dreams
11- You Pull The Trigger

Deathline Int'l are:
The Count [0]
Maurice Jackson
Guest Musicians on 'Cybrid':
Jay Tye [Soil & Eclipse]
Steve Watkins [Scar Tissue/Form Alkaline]
Nial McGauhey [3D House of Beef]
Ryan Paul
The Gun [Razor Skyline]
G.W. Childs (IV) [Soil & Eclipse]

Deathline Int'l website:

COP Int'l website:

(single from the full length Seraph Records album "Enchant", c. 2001)
~reviewed by Kevin Filan

In today's music industry, specialization is favored over diversity.  ("This isn't Dark Ambient, it's a Psytrance remix of an Ethereal track... ") Emilie Autumn is a welcome exception to this rule.  Her CD sampler "Chambermaid" draws from Bach, Broadway, and Bauhaus with equal skill.  At times unfocused but never sloppy, "Chambermaid" gives us an artist who has mastered her craft and is now finding her voice.

The self-titled opening track (taken from the full-length CD "Enchant") begins with a gorgeous multilayered intro, then quickly segues into an edgy, angry rock vocal.  This dichotomy between hard and soft reappears again in the bridges; Autumn shows off her classical violin training with a plaintive flourish, then spits out a chorus of "I'm not your Chambermaid/you're not my Lord."  I'm less impressed with the Space Mountain and Decomposition mixes of this song; although both showcase Autumn's instrumental skills, they struck me more as filler than as completed ideas.  With a little work the "Space Mountain" mix could definitely be dance-club material... but watching a superb musician try to work with the 1/1 thump-thump-thump house beat is like watching Mozart try to play piano with his nose.

With "Largo for Violin and Harpsichord," we get to see Emilie Autumn's classical training in action.  Many people believe classical music is a boring intellectual exercise, something to be studied but never enjoyed.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and this track makes that perfectly clear.  Together with Edward Murray on harpsichord, Autumn does for J.S. Bach's Sonata No. 4 in C Minor what pianist Glenn Gould did for his "Goldberg Variations" ... namely, bring it to immediate, passionate, urgent life.  Autumn's violin playing here is almost soulful, owing as much to torch songs as to classical rigor.  It's a wonderful effort, and one of my favorite songs on this CD.

The next track, "What If," left me simultaneously awed and annoyed.  The song itself is superb, as is Emilie Autumn's performance: unfortunately, the album mix sounds uncannily like Tori Amos, down to the trilling vocals and jangly piano.  This is unfortunate, particularly since Autumn is generally a more interesting (certainly a more wide-ranging and less self-indulgent) performer and writer than Amos.  I much preferred the Blackbird mix of this song, which showed off Autumn's skill in the studio.  The multilayered vocals and string arrangements were particularly nice: if she ever tires of performing, she's definitely got career potential as an arranger and producer.

The closing cuts, "Hollow Like My Soul" and "I Don't Care Much," give us Emile Autumn as torch singer.  This is a bold effort, particularly for a 20-year old classically trained musician.  Torch music is not about precision so much as world-weary passion: classical singers tend to catch the bombast and lose the soul.  Autumn avoids that trap handily.  I give her major points for covering Kanter and Ebb's "I Don't Care Much."  (Taken from Cabaret, the most Goth Broadway musical of all time).  Autumn gives this standard a great reading: she may not have had the time to live Sally Bowles' life, but you'd never know it from her bitter, ironic, vulnerable performance here.

Looking at this sampler, it's difficult to tell where Emilie Autumn will be ten years from now.  I can see her succeeding in musical theater, or in production and studio work, as easily as I can see her making her mark on the Goth scene.  With this kind of talent, I have no doubt that she will succeed: as Confucius said after visiting Lao Tze, "Today I have seen a dragon."  I just hope that her diversity doesn't scare off record executives unable to think outside an increasingly narrow set of boxes.  Bureaucrats rarely know how to handle dragons.

Track Listing:
1) Chambermaid (Album Version)
2) Chambermaid (Space Mountain Mix)
3) Chambermaid (Decomposition Mix)
4) Largo for Violin and Harpsichord
5) What If (Album Version)
6) What If (Blackbird Mix)
7) Hollow Like My Soul
8) I Don't Care Much (from the musical, Cabaret)

Recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered by Sanford Parker at Rainwalker Studios, Chicago, except
(2) remixed by Emilie Autumn with additional remixing
by Jim Vanaria
(3) remixed by Mykel Boyd of Angelhood and Sanford
(6) remixed by Emilie Autumn

Emilie Autumn: all vocals, baroque violin, violin, electric violin, piano, harpsichord, keyboards, programming
Edward Murray: harpsichord on Track 4
William Skeen: cello
Graham Brisben: drums
William Weaver: drum programming on Track 1
Michael Verzani: bass on Track 1
Official Emilie Autumn Website
Seraph Records

Earthbound Smoke Ghost
Karma’s Grave
~reviewed by Matthew

I will keep this short, but I cannot promise to be sweet.  Culling their name from William S. Burrough’s “Naked Lunch,” Earthbound Smoke Ghost is the self-proclaimed bastard child of Alice In Chains and Acid Bath.  I beg to differ, as those bands both produced more substantial and memorable music.  To me, this music sounds like boring stoner rock, which poorly regurgitates riffs and rhythms that Black Sabbath did 25 years ago.  The music is capped with vocals that have potential, yet come across extremely lethargic and off-key.  The clean vocals have an underlying hint of melody, but rarely  does any melody shine through barring the first few verses of the opening track “Asphalt Green.”  The rest of the vocal performances, especially the aggressive screams that pop up in “Until” just sound like they are trying too hard and the result is extremely phony.  A few vocal parts sound like a poor man’s Danzig, which also produces anything but genuine results.

The musicianship is not horrible, however, it is rather sloppy, even for this kind of music, which calls for a loose and natural groove.  This is not doom metal.  This is closer to dirty garage rock as far as I am concerned.  This is more akin to Lynard Skynard on downers as opposed to the score of a ‘funeral procession’ as the press release mistakenly described the mood of their music.  I cannot even feel comfortable recommending this to fans of St. Vitus, Kyuss, Sabbath, etc because it is easy to recognize that this is not even a quality doom rock record.  Earthbound Smoke Ghost could comfortably fit in with those kinds of bands, but they need to go back to square one and reevaluate their intent as a band.  The sound needs to be thickened, their singer needs to relax and let his vocal strengths rather than his vocal weaknesses lead the band.  The riffing is ok, but they need to try something new and a bit more interesting.  The drums need tightening and pushed up in the mix more, and the vocals need to be pulled back especially if the singing remains to be this mediocre.

I hate reviewing CDs that I dislike.  I despise giving negative reviews, but this band needs to go back to the drawing board and channel their energy and raw emotional power in order to come up with something that will make a more impressive impact upon the underground.  At the very least, compose something a little more listenable.  The blueprints of success are here, but ESG is nowhere near it’s potential.

Track List:
1.) Asphalt Green
2.) Buried
3.) Outer-Self
4.) Until
5.) Black Saturn

Earthbound Smoke Ghost is:
Pheroze: vocals
Marcos Orellana: guitar
Jeff Scott: bass
Dalton: drums

Official Website:

~reviewed by Psionic

~Hmmnn.. Is it fair to judge a band using as a distribution house for their demo's? Well, fair or not, I'm judging anyways... I dislike, I dislike how poor the quality of their DAM cd's are, I dislike the gratuitous use of the logo on the DAM cd's themselves... Like buying a band t-shirt at a concert that has the full Fruit-of-the-Loom logo on the back. I plug this DAM cd into my harddrive, and what do I get? Some annoying Macromedia ad disguised as a personalized band media player!! No sir, I do not like, I do not like them in my cd-rom... But I digress. Dr. Suess-isms aside, I must focus on the music of Faith itself. Written entirely by one Christian Ore, the music is a sort of midi-videogame-mishmash of synthesizers. Poppy, in places kind of catchy. Too quiet and underproduced. BUT, this is an DAM cd we're talking about, so the mp3's used were capped in Low-quality mode, and the resultant sound loss could be responsible here. Though it kills me to say this, the vocals simply do not fit the music, and are rather cliché... But to be fair, they are more energetic than much of what's out there . It's just that the music hints at a pop sensibility that the vocals overwrite entirely with their shrieking angst. My take overall? Faith needs to tighten production, search for a vocal delivery that more closely matches the music, and invest in a cd burner to facilitate better quality offerings. Some good ideas that have the potential to truly shine given the right spit-polish, and the right medium of delivery.~

1-   Coming Home (Karaoke Mix)
2-   Step Away
3-   Slow Rising Hope
4-   DOWN
5-   Digital Redemption
6-   Zero Signal (Auschwitz mix)
7-   Mother
8-   Coming Home (Dead Souls mix)
9-   EVIL (BPT Vocal Stereo mix)
10- The Bond Of Perfection

Christian Ore

Faith website:

Through The Eyes of Night…
~reviewed by Michael Johnson

The black metal market is quickly becoming saturated. I know I’m not the only one to notice this lately. Band after band is being signed and the music is being pumped out at an alarming rate that will end up in either an empty wallet and/or complete and utter hatred of the scene.  Fortunately for those who are careful about what they buy, there are still a few choice bands being signed.  Fog is one of those bands.

This American quartet is another band signed to World War III Records, a label that is hell-bent on being the only one left standing after creating its own holocaust.  Fog is another band that pulls no punches and doesn’t give you the option of pleading for mercy before hitting you head on.  The guitars fly blindingly along with machine-like precision while the drumming gooses them along at their own furious pace.  The vocals actually remind me of Toxine from Witchery but the music is nothing like that of Witchery.  In fact, please stop the comparison right there.  There are a few spoken passages thrown in as well to break up the chaos.

If I had to get nit-picky, which I will thanks, I would say that the vocals seem a little muffled and pushed back.  I like the vocal style a lot and had hoped they would be more in the foreground.  They aren’t buried, but they have to fight to be heard more
than they should have to.

For those of you who have become more cautious before jumping into the festering pool of black metal, or if you are already a fan, Fog is a band I would have to recommend.  Songs like “The Leech Within” and “In The Sorrow of A Crimson Sea” make this a recording that will remain in your regular music rotation.

FOG is:
Lord Typhus Mirinor – War Axe and Serpent’s Call
Tophetarath – Cadence Iniquities
Atziluth Voluspa – Cosmic Annihilator
Luathca – Abysmal Undertones


World War III Records:

The Face Of Sarah
~reviewed by Matthew

Britain’s The Faces Of Sarah are one of the few bands that give me hope that traditional Gothic Rock is not entirely dead, but just on a lethargic sabbatical.  After being introduced to the band via last year’s three-song mini sampler, I have been excited to see whether or not these guys make a break in the ‘Goth mainstream’ where they most certainly deserve to be.

With a sound that contributes a modern adaptation of the murky arpeggio guitar work of Fields Of The Nephilim with the angsty yet bizarre dance appeal of the Sisters, The Faces Of Sarah are a band that resurrect the lost guitar hooks, pulsating bass guitar work, and live drumming that electronics have all but eclipsed from the darkwave underground.  Not to mention the fact that TFOS are lead by vocalist Nick Schultz, who truly possess the gift of voice.  His vocals are riddled with an honest and raw emotion, yet possessing a smooth and honey-throated quality.  In my humble opinion, an ability to truly sing can never go out of style and will always be one of the most important assets of any band, regardless of their style.

TFOS should not be mistaken for a band that is merely adopting a dated style of music for the sake of doing so.  Instead, they really have succeeded in producing a quality record that has both a contemporary and old school feel.  Their influences do bleed through, but they have filtered their inspiration through their own unique filter and the end result is an excellent CD with its own style.  They really do set themselves apart from other bands, as there are few bands active today producing this kind of music, with the exception of perhaps Judith, Mephisto Walz, and a small percentage of Faith & The Muse’s work.

It would also be a mistake to assume that the band takes it’s Gothic Rock roots too seriously, because despite the sincerity of the release overall, there is an amusing rendition of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” appearing right smack in the middle of the CD!  To break off on a tangent, a friend of mine has always argued that the lyrics of Britney’s squeaky modern day classic had a certain Gothic appeal:

“How was I supposed to know that something wasn’t right here…
My loneliness is killing me
I must confess I still believe
If I can’t have you I’ll loose my mind
Give me a sign, hit me baby one more time”

The sulking, obsessive and masochistic undertones are unmistakable and though I am positive that the song was indeed meant for fun, it may be the darkest track on the album! TFOS’ interpretation of it is both stark and quite troubled, with overdriven guitar arpeggios, eerie drum cascades, and an intense vocal performance.  In fact, the song is pretty much unrecognizable despite the lyrics, and it may not have the dancefloor gag appeal that it could.  Instead, the song is a misanthropist’s delight and a rewarding gas for those that actually pay attention to the lyrics of songs.

This debut full-length release from The Faces Of Sarah is just what the doctor ordered for ailing fans of Rosetta Stone, The Wake, and the Lorries.  Granted, a great bit of the songs possess a similar pace, a similar feel, and they seem to have a preference for similar musical keys, but the string of upbeat Goth rock anthems are broken up by slower and more pensive tracks like “Love Me(2)” which recalls Sisters tracks like “Lights” and “Valentine” as well as the recent unreleased track “Romeo Down” to mind.   I don’t claim that this is like, THE Gothic release of the millennium or anything that drastic, but it is indeed one of the better efforts I have heard lately.

Overall, ”Twentyfour” is a refreshing album on a multitude of levels.  The album’s opening track “All That Is Divine” has the potential to pack dance floors with it’s high energy and contagious chorus, and though I really resent the fact that many Gothic oriented bands are validated by their club potential, I have to say that this is something that can appeal to not only the masses, but to the anti-social homebodies that miss ‘the old days’ as well.  I highly recommend this release to not only fans of dark music, but to club promoters and DJs that are looking for something a bit more organic to stir up the monotonous mess of electronica and discogoth that is flourishing at the moment.

Track List:
1.) All That Is Divine
2.) Heaven
3.) Forever Sleep
4.) Second Skin
5.) Fatalistic Warning
6.) …Baby One More Time
7.) As You Were Leaving
8.) Come To Me
9.) Where No Shadows Fall
10.) Love Me 2

The Faces Of Sarah are:
Nick Schultz: vocals, lyrics
Alan Tampion: guitars, keyboards
Frank Walters: basses, keyboards
John Currie: guitars, keyboards
David Lockwood: drums, background vocals, keyboards

The Faces Of Sarah – Official Website:


Falling You
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola

I first came across John Michael Zorko’s work through an e-list group that we are both subscribed to. His commentaries are often enlightening, humorous, reflective, pensive, and at times very far left of the center. In a sense, his written words enticed the group to tune into the musical work. This artist captivated our imaginations with the printed word, hypnotizing us with his unique ability to shade the world into a multifaceted array of color and imagery.

After many extensive dialogues with the artist, it can clearly be stated that he does in fact live in a nether realm that few ever have the opportunity to see. Good karma follows him everywhere and in his world, there is nothing but happiness and beauty, far from the graying, decrepit scenes of the big cities. Despite all this contented reflection, Zorko’s world is also one of unique irony. He is NOT a Goth artist, as he will declare often, however it was within the Gothic underground where his music was embraced.

The breathtaking female vocal contributions of Jennifer McPeak, Sara Ayers, Krista Tortora, Dru Allen, Tara VanFlower, Erica Mulkey, Victoria Lloyd and Cyn Surreal to name a few, grace his many works in an almost Goddess enshrinement. Many Gothic fans will note that some of the above mentioned names are also from some of the luminary Gothic bands such as Lycia, This Ascension and Claire Voyant.

Zorko remains humble in spite of the lush beauty of his creations and he often downplays his own role with the musical conception. His position remains that without the lovely beauty reflecting off the vocal abilities of the various ladies, his work would not be what it is.

Though Mercy is not a Goth CD, it does have some rather dark and nebulous moments.
Prelude is the introduction into this part of the darkness. Zorko takes various sounds and embellishes them with a web like array. This is the stuff of movie soundtracks. It is no mystery then that his work was also chosen as part of the soundtrack to the film America’s Most Haunted Town ( along with Claire Voyant. After we have been sieved through this odd downward spiral of music and cacophony, there is a droning effect that seems to somehow make one’s aura tingle. It is almost as if he is running our spirit through some musical MRI, sloughing the dead aspects and breathing new life into others.

Jennifer McPeak is the main vocalist on Mercy and is also credited with the written lyrics. When Will It End has a trip hop blend over “new age” style sounds. McPeak’s vocals are truly sublime, hence it is understandable why Zorko credits his vocalist’s with the “life” behind the music. This is a bittersweet tune that reflects, “…when will it end, all the suffering and agony? The never ending tyranny that sells our souls?”

No Voice delivers a lyrical sentiment of anguish and a sense of involutional melancholia. Ponderances between the anger one feels towards someone and the inability to see them hurting are encountered. It is almost as if this track is the sentiment after a couple has had a fight and now are in the “time-out” phase between reconciliation or total breakup. Despite the harshness of the lyrics, the melody infuses that sense of affection that lurks just beneath the angry heart. We have all had that moment where we have looked at our partner and thought, “I love you, but I am really pissed with you right now.” This is the type of complexity this track brings out.

Lament is an instrumental piece that once again has that dark ethereal quality to it. The intro can remind one of waking from a disturbing dream and then veers into a deeply pensive moment. The notes are like rain drops on the most overcast day. They live and breath with a life of their own, calling the listener into that quiet reverie of the soul. Noise effects are utilized with skillful precision to assist the music to take on an almost lifelike mobility.

Mercy is another trip hop style track where McPeak’s delivery sends chills down your spine. This song is borderline commercial in the sense that it has that bouncy rhythm, passionate vocals that reach many octaves and a sense of seductiveness that is often seen with the band My Scarlet Life. “Broken and feelings of aching/ somewhere another heart breaking/ I know/ …into the eyes of mercy/ she is crying/ I know it is for me. DJ’s, you HAVE to get this song into your nightly rotations!

The Dream Begins has McPeak gently telling us to close our eyes, that everything will be all right. We are then thrust into this strange surrealistic panorama with silken vocals cooing in the background to swirling noise effects.

Halloween is lyrically ambiguous. It gives rise to embracing the crossing of the threshold during that time of year between the veils. It is nightmarish in parts and encapsulatingly warm in other sections. At the same time, it seems to also reflect on the hearts of mankind with their shrouded smiles.

Running Still is another instrumental track which utilizes an oxy-moron for the title. (I told you Zorko doesn’t play by any conceived notions or perceptions.) This track is a hybrid of warm and dark tones with a touch of cacophony and pulsating rhythm. It is a beautifully done trance track where you can either dance to it or just chill out and let the mental imagery have a field day in your head.

The Dream Ends opens with clangs like buoys on the water. The electronic effects proceed to zero in like a laser beam, encircling the atmosphere. A deep voice declares in sotto voce, “Dreams are my specialty.” McPeak adds her vocalizations to the music and sound effects that seems to be a musical montage of the alpha brainwaves of the sleeping mind.

Glacier is a powerful ballad with great lyrics. It is the transcendence from life to death and reflecting on that which we are, that which we hoped to be and that, which will never come to pass.

Feathered utilizes a white noise intro to create the flapping of mechanical wings. It then peaks into a dreamlike segue, casting an image of birdlike flight over the mountains.

Reprise brings us full circle, nestling us between the gentleness within the turbulence.

Falling You delivers a body of mostly ethereal work that stokes the imagination of the listener. Music and noise effects are utilized to cull emotional perceptions from us to make our hearts open and at times, melt. The depth of darkness is quite evident though it is NOT the main characteristic feature. These elements are brushed on like paint to further color the work for emotional effect as opposed to incorporating them for a spooky effect. It is no mystery why the Goth underground embraces this work with passion. There is a sense of truth in the beauty that sometimes underscores the reality of darkness in our lives.

Since this CD was released, Falling You has gone on to record a number of new tracks that are even more compelling with the many vocalists noted above. Step into the world of John Zorko with his featured work on MP3. He demarcates the true meaning of being an artist. He sees and hears the world in ways that most of us have tuned out and helps us get back to those roots through his work.   Falling You takes dark ethereal sound and creates a world devoid of light but not of innocence. It is entrancing work that pulls us through the glass darkly until we come out upon the other side, where muse like creativity envelopes the listener to play with the many shadows against the wall. To know the man and the music is to be have been touched by genius.

Track Listing:
1. Prelude
2. When Will It End?
3. No Voice
4. Lament
5. Mercy
6. The Dream Begins
7. Halloween
8. Running Still
9. The Dream Ends
10. Glacier
11. Feathered
12. Reprise

Web Site:

Tales From the Dead West
~reviewed by Steph

There's a low grey sky on the horizon. It's twilight, and the air feels like fear. The horizon slowly darkens with solitary figures
dressed in black. Slowly they drift, drifting slowly towards a battered saloon.

A wild music blares from inside, a dizzying swirl of stomping feet and clanging guitars. It's Nick Cave, The Gun Club and The Cramps duking it out in a bar-room brawl. It's Ghoultown.

This mariachi band from hell looks the part, all decked out in white-face, black sombreros and delightfully campy Wild West garb. Formed in Texas in 1999, the combine an endearing punk roughness with the spaghetti western stylings of Ennio Morricone to tremendous effect. The look may be camp, but the quality of the music is anything but.

Goth-punkabilly makes you want to leap on a black horse and gallop into the fading sunset. To that end, "La Noche Diablo" is an insistent guitar-driven instrumental that sets the tone for the rest of the album as the guitar bleeds into the driving drum kick of "RotoRiculous". With stream of consciousness lyrics that recall the Jesus and Mary Chain at their sleazy finest, this
song takes you on a "wicked wicked ride/rolling backwards on a serpent mile". Then it's time for a little down home murder
and mayhem with "Killer in Texas", as vocalist Count Lyle sings in a sweetly rough voice that "I'm a hell raisin outlaw".

You knew it was coming. It had to be..."Ghost Riders in the Sky". What a perfect cover for a band like Ghoultown, and what an intensely engaging, low key version they've done.

"Midnight Train" has the most overtly goth sounding guitar chords on the album, and the dark images that unfold in the song would make Nick Cave proud. This is not a typically goth record though, not even close. Ghoultown are not trying to fit a mold or a stereotype.

The musicianship on this record is fantastic. Trumpets and trombones blare in the background, with a odd harmonica blast for good effect. The endlessly churning guitars do a graceful dance with one another from the beginning to the end of this album. It makes you want to pour yourself a shot of tequila and watch while the sun sets in the wild, dangerous west.

Track Listing:
La Noche Diablo
Killer in Texas
Ghost Riders in the Sky
The Burning
The Worm
Midnight Train
Death of Jonah Hex
Running from the Sun

Ghoultown are:
Count Lyle: vocals, guitars
Jake Middlefinger - lead and slide guitars
Queeno deVamps - bass, vocals
Lizard Lazario - acoustic guitar, vocals
X-Ray Charles - drums, percussion
J. Luis - trumpets, trombone, harmonica and
skulls (ah yeah!)

c/o Angry Planet Records
PO Box 141092
Dallas, Texas
75214   USA

Hand Of God
At Heavens Gate
~reviewed by Digital Angel

Hand of God offers no information about themselves, only that they're out of New Brunswick, NJ which holds a special place in my heart for various reasons. I was excited to hear a musician from somewhere I am so familiar with.

This 13 track industrial offering is a fine effort. It has similar early Skinny Puppy / Leather Strip elements. The music itself is competent. A sense of progression is apparent. The vocals however, disappointed me. I have learned through the years that people hide behind heavy reverb and distortion for a reason. The vocals on "At Heavens Gate" sound almost comical at times. That whole monsterous, scary distortion a la Peace Love and Pitbulls, or Haloblack.

A lot of the same sounds are repeated on "At Heavens Gate" ferocious switches in tempo, and non-sensical samples are over - used and distracting.

The better tracks are "Burning X" for percussion straight out of Wumpscut's "Music For A Slaughtering Tribe", "Everyone Isolate" for reminding of Mosaic Kisses or early Apparatus with a synth pop melody.

"So Be It" for it's great, heavy industrial beat, and "Fire: Relax" for the meaty synthesizing that sounds like they sampled Rebirth.

A wholehearted effort. Give it a shot if you're down with Industrial flirting a bit with noise.

Track Listing:
Gate 1
Burning X
Kick th' Eye
Everyone Isolate
So Be It
Heed th' Call
Saviour 6
Fire: Relax
Gate ii


Holy Cow
~reviewed by Matthew

There are a lot of high expectations at Neue Asthetik for this release, but after several consecutive listens to Holy Cow’s offering, “Purge,” I just cannot figure out what all the hoopla is about.

For one, the band’s name is a bit, well, dumb. <cringe>  Sorry for the lack of a higher brow adjective, but they didn’t give us an interesting enough moniker to warrant one.  I suppose ‘You Get What You Deserve.’

However, I am not one known to dismiss a band solely for their name, hence I pressed on and attempted to discover what exactly this band is all about.  The first thing that struck me about this CD is that it is extremely lo-fi for a label that in the past has released CDs with outstanding production.  But the entire disc sounds flat, the drum programming is weak and too simplistic, and the guitars sound like a swarm of bumble bees unleashed upon an unsuspecting victim, coming across way too fuzzy when they are at all comfortably audible.  I do not know if the band was shooting for this kind of production, but to me it does not sound too many leagues above an amateur demo release.  That is not a good thing if the music will be widely distributed to the public.  Even if Holy Cow was purposely going for a raw, lo fi production, it does not help but rather it hinders their music.

Perhaps I am just way to burnt out on CDs that are merely nothing more than a drum machine and synths, with obligatory yet mediocre guitar work. I tend to expect more from bands, especially if it’s any form of Gothic Rock.  I enjoy live drummers, and most bands (unless they are straight-forward synth pop or EBM) that substitute machines for man usually leave me cold.  Holy Cow’s sound could be drastically improved with better production and a live drummer, but even then, I am not too sure.

The band is marketed as having similarities to Nick Cave and Swans.  I can deduce why such comparisons were being coined, but to me, it sounds like they were trying to emulate the aforementioned legends, but were embarrassingly distant of their mark.  A faux sense of jaded smoothness and black humour is attempted to warrant the Cave influence, as well as some sprinkled expletives.  But “Stagger Lee” ‘tis not.  What it is instead is a mess of dark rockabilly with very unconvincing electronics.

In terms of validating the Swans/Michael Gira comparisons, no.  Though a few bitter and tongue-in-cheek folk ballads appear, and my guess is that these comparisons were to draw the “Love Of Life” / “Burning World” eras to mind, Holy Cow in no way flatters or carries the torch of the Swans.

I am not going to be shallow enough to dismiss the band for the ill-fated regurgitation of their influences either, but I will dismiss them because I cannot, no matter how hard I try, find any merit in their music, even in aspects of the few things that seem to characterize their sound and set them apart from other bands.  The lackluster production, combined with poorly penned lyrics, exaggerated and theatrical vocals and mediocre, uninteresting musicianship leads me to pan the CD on all accounts.

Perhaps I am crazy, being that Neue Asthetik believes so much in the potential appeal of the CD that they have a deal going on through their website, that if you order “Purge” and dislike the CD, they will replace it with another CD from their label free of charge.  To each their own, and I guess my own little island for me?

With a roster as powerful as The Shroud, Judith, Star Industry, Das Ich, and at one time, Faith & The Muse, I expect much more from this fine label, and I do not feel that Holy Cow is an asset or contribution in any way.  They offer a negative rather than positive variety, and though the album may be received by a small consensus of the Gothic audience, it is definitely not a CD that I can comfortably recommend to anyone.

Track List:
1.) Dig
2.) Outsider
3.) You Get What You Deserve
4.) Two Women
5.) Dance Of Torture
6.) St. James Infirmary
7.) The Desk
8.) Random
9.) Nub Of Flesh
10.) Drug

Holy Cow – Official Site:

Neue Asthetik Multimedia:

Heaven Falls Hard
~reviewed by Matthew

Heaven Falls Hard is a female fronted darkwave project from Virginia, and it was not too hard to fall for the soothing and calming moods captured on what I believe is there first official release, “Colder.”   The music of HFH is sparse and minimalistic, utilizing waves of oceanic synthesizers and simple yet effective drum loops, with bass guitar leads to fill in the spaces and carry many of the central melodies of the songs.  A strong female voice, peppered with an appropriate amount of catches and diversity of range, adds the final and emotive touch.  I was impressed with how well the bass guitar took the place of a usual guitar throughout many of the tracks, and the overall feel of Heaven Falls Hard is similar in spirit to classic 4AD acts like This Mortal Coil, and modern bands like Faith & Disease that evoke the same kind of overcast moods.

Though Heaven Falls Hard are exploring familiar territories, it’s nice that someone still produces music of this kind.  The overall CD has a very fluid consistency, however, the songs at times drone into one another, and it seems like a very long sixty some minutes when the CD at last draws to it’s close.  This is most likely do to a rather weak mid section on the CD.  The first eight tracks are all taken from a previous EP release entitled “Descent” where the last five songs originate from another EP called “Alastor.”  Around tracks 8 through 10, I began to get a bit restless. The first six or so songs held my earnest attention, especially the more beat driven “Guilt And Wilderness,” the distorted bass lines of the mischievous “Open” and the reverberated gloom of “I Died For You.”  But after that, there is a brief period of excessively ambient tracks, including the nine-minute plus “Without You” which is a fine song, but I have to admit it drags a bit and disrupts the flow of the disc.

I was stirred back to attentiveness with the stronger track “Infatuation” with its slinky rhythms, static filtered synths, awesome Cocteaus-esque bass line, and a more assertive and edgy vocal performance from Stacye.  The final track, “If Only” is a piano driven ballad, very romantic and dreary, deeply effective and truly gorgeous.  These two songs, along with the earlier track “Guilt And Wilderness,” in my opinion, represent the distinct and different stylistic strengths of the band, and I hope in the future, they pick up where these songs left off.

Heaven Falls Hard is an unmistakably talented band, with a confident vocalist, a keyboardist with a keen sense of atmosphere and a bassist that would make Peter Hook and Simon Raymonde proud.  I would like to hear HFH with a slightly fuller production, a greater variety of pace in their songs, and perhaps a smidgen more energy (without betraying their mastery of creating poignant atmospheres). Definitely worth checking out, and a band to keep an eye on.

Track List:
1.) Fade Away
2.) Three To Midnight
3.) Guilt And Wilderness
4.) Believe (live)
5.) Open
6.) Colder
7.) I Died For You
8.) Uneasy
9.) Without You
10.) Death And The Maiden
11.) Gorgeous
12.) Infatuation
13.) If Only

Heaven Falls Hard is:
Stacye Bedford: vocals
Randy Ashberry:
Joey Moser: bass

Heaven Falls Hard – Mp3 Site:

Hail The Frozen North
~reviewed by Psionic

~Hollydrift is one of those projects that you traditionally hear at 4am on a college radio station whilst coming down off of an acid trip, munching on granola and downing green Kool-aid 'cause it's seemed like a good idea at the time... Wait, maybe that's just me. I guess what I'm trying to get at is, Hollydrift as a project is one of those cool surrealist kind of deals. Structured soundscapes. I like it. Sadly, this is only a three song cd, so it really only serves to whet the appetite. Written by one Mathias Anderson, Hollydrift preaches (sorta) intellectual immersion beyond the mundane, unfettered by such base drives such as violence, or 'Phat beats'. Hollydrift is proudly wack-beats-free. Hollydrift would be absolutely at home amongst the Solielmoon catalogue, sharing as it does similarities with soundscape notables Robin Storey (Rapoon, Hank & Slim), Coil, People Like Us, even some of Negativland's work. Similarities with those aforementioned bands abound, but every bit as good as them as well. High praise? No more than is deserved, this is good stuff. It's the soundtrack to a film-noir based on a Burroughs piece, all mood and the glamour of alienation. Watch this one closely, folks.

1- Smile For Me
2- Lost In Flight
3- Buried By The Briar

Hollydrift is:
Mathias Anderson

Hollydrift website:

Set Adrift On Seas Of The Lilted Axis
~reviewed by Psionic

~Some people overwork their concepts, overthinking them to the point that the idea gets lost in the translation. Some people don't think about it at all, slapping down whatever occurs to them, presenting an unfinished work as the final product. Then again, others just take an idea and flog it so hard it warps into something other than what it could have been. Sort of like when you chant a familiar word over and over and over again, it becomes a gibberish word, devoid of any allure it might once have held. Sadly, this is the same sort of thing that Hoth(e) does. I honestly don't know if it was Mr. Bury's intention to beat his idea into the ground, if it was.. Well then, he's succeeded. Oh and how. What makes this so frustrating is that the ideas start out quite interesting. The drifting, almost haunting use of pitch-bent harmonica set overtop of a dreamlike soundscape for Horizon 1 had me all geared up for an immensely pleasurable experience. After hearing it used continually all the way through Set Adrift On Seas Of The Lilted Axis, I was more than prepared to hear something else!! Track 3, Time Collapse, ahhh... Something different, an acoustic treatment, similar to Lycia somewhat. Track 4... MORE OF THAT FRIGGIN' HARMONICA!!!!! At this point I'm losing my objectivity, and suddenly the gratuitously messy homepage (popups, midi, and banners, oh my!) is grating on my optic nerves, and even the 5 page band bio is bugging me. I know these things aren't fair to harp on, especially as they don't apply to the music at all, but you see, the collective effect of the overworked sounds is hypnotic, culling out all these nitpicky, anal observations that I just cannot ignore. All in all, HOTH(e) does have some good ideas, it's simply packaged in such a manner as to not understand the concept of restraint at all. Sometimes less is better, for HOTH(e), that is definitely the case. Given some time, HOTH(e) could become a potent musical endeavor, but not until some discretion is learned.

1-   Horizon 1: 4am
2-   Set Adrift On Seas Of The lilted Axis
3-   Time Collapse
4-   Horizon 2: Empty Hall
5-   Pictures
6-   The Hollow Point
7-   One Alone
8-   Outside
9-   The Hidden Mask
10-  Hole Inside
11-  Neon And Beyond

HOTH(e) is:
Cory J. Bury

HOTH(e) website:

Jennifer Hope
Reflections Of An Enchanted Soul
~reviewed by Michael Otley

Jennifer Hope follows her debut *Winds of Tomorrow* EP with this year's Reflections Of An Enchanted Soul EP on her own label Mystic Dreams Music.  Again, Jennifer is joined by Tomie Reeves in the studio to create another 80's-esque newwave EP.

This EP is a bit more dance oriented than the last, but overall keeps a similar feel.  The main difference would be the straight forward beats here, where the first album had much more experimentation with time and rhythm.  The first three songs on this one I could imagine hearing at the local club, or even on the radio.  The electronic drums are fairly consistent, and Jennifer again has her unusual vocal phrasing in a couple of songs.  When I listen to this CD, I often feel like I should go rent Top Gun with it's 80's appeal.

Track 4 is a cover of Enya's "Exile", and is quite nice.  It gave me chills to hear, and it is immediately recognizable.  The final track on the album is a remix of "Angels Alone" from her first EP, with some alternate instrumentation.

I would say those who liked her first EP will like this one as well.  For me though, I haven't heard anything quite as unique and surreal as "The Sky is Blushing", which is my favorite from the first EP.

1. Reflections of an Enchanted Soul
2. Deja Vu
3. Don't Leave Destiny
4. Exile
5. Immortal Love
6. Angels Alone - Remix

The Ghost Of Each Room
~reviewed by Psionic
At this juncture, cEvin Key has more than proven his genius for sound design and manipulation. From his history with the legendary Skinny Puppy to his more recently eclectic work with Download, he has shown us all time and again that there is an eccentric sounds factory churning within his skull, and we're all the better for the little audio gnomes that punch the time-clock in that factory and keep the assembly line of cool ideas flowing forth like wine from the jug of Anachrion.
So with this in mind we have his latest solo effort, The Ghost Of Each Room.

The title is a bit of a misnomer, as it isn't a particularly haunting release... At least, it doesn't fit with what I think of when I think of empty rooms populated by the deceased. But maybe that's just me.

It is, however, a crispy and well-tossed sonic salad. Guess what the dressing is? Long-time compatriots Nivek Ogre and Edward Ka-Spel.  *glee*

The Ghost Of Each Room shares much in common with the last Download release, Effector. Similarly quirky sound structures, the same tongue-in-cheek humor lying buried in the mass of noises, the same sort of "Listen repeatedly, hear new stuff every time"-effect. It lacks, however, the vaguely funky mood that was present on Effector, and adopts an almost Acid-Jazz-ish mood. Well, it does here and there at least, the subtly-placed Saxophone helps. The tracks that Ka-Spel add voicework to have a feel to them not unlike that of the Tear Garden in their "Last Man To Fly" era. Having been only lukewarm on the latest Tear Garden, these two tracks ('15th Shade' and 'A Certain Stuuckey') more than make up for it. The track that Ogre adds guest vocals to, 'Frozen Sky', is a curious blend of cEvin's solo work, Ogre's solo work, and a dash of old-school 'Puppy flava.
I love Skinny Puppy.
I love cEvin' work.
I love Ogre's work.
'Frozen Sky' is like some sort of freaky musical cake, only I get to eat it too.
I really must find new analogies, this food thing is getting out of hand. Or maybe I should just eat something. Stir-Fry? It would keep with the mood of this album...

So what is the final verdict? If you found anything redeeming in the last Download, then this disc is a must-have. Personally, I love it, and can hardly wait to start plying it to my dj setlists.

1: Bobs Shadow
2: TAtayama
3: hOropter
4: 15th Shade
5: Sklang
6: Frozen Sky
7: Aphasia
8: Klora
9: cccc4
10: A Certain Stuuckey

Subconscious Website:
Metropolis Website:

Lacrimas Profundere
Burning: A Wish
~reviewed by Matthew

This could quite possibly be the best Gothic metal CD of 2001.  Suffused  with vibrant and metallic energy which gives the songs an uplifting boost,  Lacrimas Profundere do not betray the gloom or the mood of the Gothic,  producing an album of misty gray textures and sad cerulean ballads.  Though  much of what makes up this German outfit’s sound are also tools used by other pioneering dark music artists, Lacrimas Profundere are not nearly  regurgitating what has been done before.  Part Nephilim in their watery guitar arpeggios, part Anathema with the charging galloping rhythms that recall the British band’s brilliant “Silent Enigma” era, and part “Discouraged” Katatonia with the clean vocals wrought with desperate romantic passion and thick textures of guitar harmony, Lacrimas Profundere are still 100% themselves and could show a thing or two to the ridiculous number of bands out there jumping on the Gothic metal band and missing the point completely.

These are not syrupy love songs disguised by crafty packaging or formulaic ‘Gothic’ song titles; this is instead, the real deal.  “Melantroduction” serves as the album’s slick intro and foreshadows the genius that will follow for the hour of music that remains.  The track fades in with soft Floydian guitar modulations to climax into a rushing waterfall of dirge-like percussion, bleak guitars, and smooth, seductive, and lulling male vocals.  The vocals of Christopher Schmid are one of the band’s highest selling points.  His voice is absolutely hypnotic, confident, and weighed with genuine feeling.  At times he is reminiscent of a smoother, more controlled and key friendly Fernando from Moonspell.  There is nothing at all strained about the vocals on this release, they flow and drown the obliging listener.  The band is tasteful when it comes to dusting their music with bursts of aggression, using death metal vocals extremely sparingly and only when the music calls for it, with funnels of clashing symbols and climactic guitar riffing.  Rarely is an actual lyric verse delivered in a death metal style, which is a rare relief.  Of course, Lacrimas Profundere may be one of the first bands in quite awhile to have lyrics that are too important to slur with clichéd growls.

All of this is exhibited in the three minute INTRO to the album, and it all continues to seduce and entrance as the album unfolds into first “Without” and then the ‘single’ “Adorer And Somebody” which features some of the album’s most gorgeous melodies.  An awesome breakdown occurs in the center of the song, quite Katatonia like in its deployment but something that they have obviously abandoned for more commercial and boring shores.  Some nice acoustic guitar and piano weaves its way in between the desolate power chords for an effect most bands have been screwing up and cheapening for the past three years running.  Though “Adorer & Somebody” is the album’s single according to Napalm, I elect “Last Dance” as the track I feel to be the most accessible, with a prevailing murkiness that sounds like the Nephilim at a funeral.  It’s beautiful and has the album’s most memorable and striking vocal harmonies.  It sadly runs out of momentum toward the middle of the song, but the pace of the beginning returns briefly toward the end of the track.  I think it’s my favourite song on here but it’s hard to say because the whole CD just simply rules.  They even manage to have a track centering around piano with a duet between male and female vocals, using a worn out idea and managing to make it sound as fresh and as exciting as it did in 1993 when metal bands first started experimenting with these atmospheres. The female voice that accompanies Christopher possesses a strong alto and she adds a delightful dimension to the CD, but sadly, I could not find her name in the lyric booklet.  But whoever, she is, please acknowledge my salute.

This release is quite a pleasant surprise from Napalm Records.  Though Napalm is a respectable label for atmospheric metal, the roster had enough bands sharing and or cloning Tristania and The Sins Of Thy Beloved’s sound.  And thankfully, the cover art was a tasteful and arty departure from the usual ‘naked vampire chick with sword’ imagery.

In a nutshell, buy this CD now. (I am going to seek out the other three that came before this one hopefully and report on those later) Every track is intensely passionate and breathtakingly beautiful in a dark and sadly Romantic way: it’s Gothic in its purest and most traditional literary and psychological manner.  No cheese, no vampires, no vinyl, no dance hits, no bullshit.  Just a tide of haunting images and poignant feelings delivered with a sense of drama that stimulates the heart rather than make a mockery of it.

Track List:
1.) Melantroduction
2.) Without
3.) Adorer And Somebody
4.) A Summer’s End
5.) Solicitude, Silence
6.) 2 sec. and a Tear
7.) Last Dance
8.) Morning…Grey
9.) Diotima
10.) Re-Silence

Lacrimas Profundere is:
Christopher Schmid: vocals
Oliver N. Schmid: lead/clean/acoustic guitars, feedbacks
Marco Praschberger: rhythm guitars
Rico Galvagno: bass
Christian Steiner: keyboards
Will Wurm: drums

Lacrimas Profundere – Official Site:

Napalm Records:

Loretta’s Doll
Creeping Sideways
~reviewed by Blu

Creeping Sideways is the newest release from Loretta’s Doll, a joint effort between Middle Pillar and World Serpent labels, that marks their 7th release. For those of you who know Loretta’s Doll, feel free to skip to paragraph two. For those who don’t, welcome to an entire new world in musical expression. Loretta’s Doll first took their eclectic, esoteric brand of “musik” to the World Serpent label and was told, quite frankly, not to expect much because American bands didn’t impress them. World Serpent is known for its stunning releases from bands like Sol Invictus, Death In June and Coil so the bar was rather high, to say the least. However, after hearing their musik and meeting Bryin Dall, World Serpent was convinced they had something special and in 1993 Loretta’s Doll’s The Chemical Theatre, recorded live at CBGB's, was released on the World Serpent label. Since then, Loretta’s Doll has developed and cultured its own strange and ecletic fan base with its adventuresome and creative releases – the scope and themes of their work embodying magikal journeys, spiritual discoveries, dark psychosis, sexual over tones and out right creepiness. Listening to Loretta’s Doll is akin more to an experience than just entertainment. It operates on your mind and emotions in an intense way.

The CD opens with the atmospheric instrumental “saved” that plays with a rolling base line and memorizing keys. “nature” is up next and gives us our first taste of Bryin Dall’s unique vocal talent – a deeply resonating voice that gives off an air of wisdom and time-worn experience. Very measured and backed by a cadence in drum rhythms, the song is primal sounding, “When you go to nature, backwards.”

Track 3 is a favorite. “song of Solomon” features a sample of Orson Welles  reading various lines out of the bible. What really draws my attention to this song is the intensity that develops as Orson reads. I’m sure, in its original form, it was a inspired and dramatic piece, but set against the musical backdrop that Loretta’s Doll has created for it, it becomes something altogether different. It’s obsessive and lusty. It’s twisted, almost alarming.

“covered in the wild roses” is another track I’d like to mention. It’s a prime example of what I feel Loretta’s Doll does best. It’s dark and dense and atmospheric – yet engaging and fascinating and forward moving. The percussion elements are rhythmic yet experimental in nature. Bryin’s voice is mysterious and wise as he weaves a fantastic story seeped in literary references and legends. “Open necked and full of profound wisdom, the shadow calling himself Cthulhu rampaged, and fell through the veil like ice.”

And finally track 7 should be a huge favorite among those who follow this band as Genesis P-Orridge lends his talent to “the disconnected.” Simply fascinating. Every time I hear this track I’m held in some semi-hypnotic state. It’s simply mesmerizing – this voice, measured and determined against a background of whirling chaos. My ears strain to hear more, to pick up every word that’s being dished out like its vital to my very existence, as if its something I need to understand, to hear. Amazing.

A lot of people I know were anxiously waiting this release. They were not disappointed. Anyone who thinks there's been no substantial music released this year needs to hear this. Anyone who complains that electronic music, due to technology, has birthed nothing but unskilled button pushers, should get aquainted with this band. These songs will take you on journeys if you let them. Close your eyes and go – it’s guaranteed to be better than most movies you’d pay to see...

Loretta's Doll is:
Bryin Dall (Vocals, Samples, Guitar)
Kevin Dunn (Drums & Electronic Percussion)
Scott Reiter (Synths and Engineering)
Kevin Wahlen (Chapman Stick and Synths)

Track Listing
1 saved
2 nature
3 song of solomon
4 albemuth
5 covered in the wild roses
6 center of nothing
7 the disconnected
8 crawling over the moon

Loretta's Doll official website

Middle Pillar Presents

World Serpent

This Dollar Saved My Life At Whitehorese
~reviewed by Matthew

This just might be the score for the summer, baby.  Need a good album to cruise around with your friend’s at night?  Here it is.  Lucyfire is one of the personalities of the schizophrenic mastermind of Sweden’s Tiamat.  We have seen his black/gothic/doom metal genius, his best impressions of Andy Eldritch and David Gilmour, his skills at technofying Goth rock bands, NOW we see something we probably never expected. “This Dollar Saved My Life At Whitehorse” (a phrase attributed to the one and only Scrooge McDuck) is a playful impression of America and it’s fast food, fast cars, and capitalist lifestyle.  Johan sheds his brooding pretense and dons the persona of an honest to god clichéd Amercian rock star.  This album is sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll all the way.  This is meant to be a fun record, resulting from Johan’s own surprise at his success, and simply stated he is just feeling good and decided to pay homage to his rock n’ roll heroes.

It’s really interesting actually to see such a pure and innocent European perspective of American culture.  Usually, it’s a sarcastic and snobby condescending reminder that we suck, but this is all done in good taste and it’s a helluva fun ride.  If you are expecting another Tiamat record, you won’t be disappointed, as long as you don’t expect the same depressive themes.  The music is still dark, but its dark in the same way as the Sisters’ “Vision Thing” and bands like Star Industry are, yet spiced up with a bit of the rock n’ roll decadence characteristic of the Stones.

The song titles alone ought to give away the vibe of the album, but the opening lyrics to “Baby Come On” put it all into perspective:

“Don’t want to hear you talk at all
Just want to see your dress fall
When the sun settles for a Tokyo day
Give me one night and we’ll rock it away”

Granted the lyrics are trite at times but a riot from start to finish, expressing some remarkable wit!  Its just so goddamn fun and hard to resist that there is no use!  The music is still good.  Its NOT cock rock or anything, I mean no matter what Johan does its going to have a tinge of misery to it, but everyone is allowed to lighten up (yes, even me).  Most bands couldn’t pull this off, and I would probably hate anything else like this, but you know it’s all for a change of pace, and it is still graced with Johan’s charm.  He is a smart man and an all around musician.  With Lucyfire, Johan proves that he is capable of nearly anything.

There are still quite a bit of moody atmospherics, such as in “Thousand Million Dollars In The Fire” with some twinkling pianos, synths, female vocals and melancholic guitar progressions.  “Mistress of the Night” is very Sisters-esque, while “Over & Out” has an upbeat club go-go beat warring with a sluggish little break between.  “As Pure As Sin” is a beautifully romantic ballad that sounds very much like it was left off of Tiamat’s “Skeleton Skeltron” sessions.  This is a touching song, genuinely moving with Johan’s deep and thick Swedish accent lulling you into a sweet mess of tears. “Automatic” returns the albums gothic rock n’ roll pace, but is interrupted by the amusingly Gin Blossom’s esque “Perfect Crime.”  A feel good song (awww) that manages not to sink into poseur territory and somehow makes me laugh when I think that this is the same man who was responsible for “Sumerian Cry” only a decade ago.  Some people would get mad, and they undoubtedly will, but I venture to say that most people will get this album and see it for what it is and have a blast with it.

“U Can Have All My Love 2Nite” is a mischievous and subconsciously dark song that scores points for spelling from the abridged Prince dictionary!  ROCK!  I love it.   Then we come to track nine, and goddamn right it IS the ZZ Top anthem.  You are probably reading this thinking I have gone insane.  But this faithful and perfect Goth Rock version of the hillbilly rock classic is hysterical.  The accent kills me!  “Every girl crazy about sharp dressed man.”  It’s just great, and the song perfectly solidifies Johan’s whole theme.

Delving into more expected territories of Americana, he gives us an updated cyper-punk “Annabel Lee.”  Very reminiscent of Tiamat, yet with lyrics lamenting the isolation and surmounting regret of living the rock star lifestyle.  Johan ties depraved cultural angst with the psychology of American Gothic, asking, “Who will be my Annabel Lee/Who will be the one loved by me?”

Indeed there is a point to all this, and it is summed up in the designed for club play anthem “The Pain Song,” where all Johan’s ideas are brought together in his final soliloquy for living life to the fullest.  This is an addictive track, as catchy as it is haunting, and it will have people BOUNCING all over the place.

This is a wonderful album, a unique glimpse into the mind of an imported genius and his take on a part of the world that seems as fantastic to him as all us Europhiles who wish we were steeped in the old world atmosphere across the Atlantic.  It’s an interesting change of pace and a refreshing album, which fans of newer Tiamat are going to eat up ravenously.  Sorry to disappoint older fans, but again like Paradise Lost, Theatre Of Tragedy and all the other doom giants that have moved on, get over it.  This is still great music!

Track List:
1.) Baby Come On
2.) Thousand Million Dollars In The Fire
3.) Mistress Of The Night
4.) Over & Out
5.) As Pure As S.I.N.
6.) Automatic
7.) Perfect Crime
8.) U Can Have All My Love 2Nite
9.) Sharp Dressed Man
10.) Annabel Lee
11.) The Pain Song

Lucyfire is:
Johan Edlund & Jack Daniels: lead vocals, concepts, this whole mess
Dirk Draeger: guitars
Jan Kazula: bass
Bertman Engel: drums
Sille Lemke: female vocals

Lucyfire website:

Official Tiamat/Lucyfire Website: (temporarily disabled it seems?)

Mazur Public Relations:

SPV Distribution:

Awakening The World
~reviewed by Michael Johnson

Power metal.  For years and years the formula has been the same: soaring vocals carry the tunes while the drums gallop along next to the equally fast guitar riffing.  It is very high-energy stuff and is usually accompanied by themes of warriors, courage, and eventually, mastery of the entire world.  Power metal can basically be divided into two categories: total crap and great stuff.  Lost Horizon fits easily into the latter.

When I first looked at the CD, I scoffed and thought I had just been sent something to take out my aggression on.  Perched atop a hill the band stands (a la Manowar’s Fighting The World release) wearing makeup akin to Crimson Glory back in the Transcendence era.  However, within mere minutes of hitting the play button, I knew I had a good one.  You see, Lost
Horizon doesn’t do anything new, but they do it well.  Very well.  The key to good power metal is the hooks, and there’s a ton of them on Awakening The World.  There are a few sparse and short instrumentals to break it up but they’re short enough not to deter you from the power of the songwriting.  In fact, as I write this, I’m listening to something else on the stereo but “World Through My Fateless Eyes” is on repeat in my skull and I’m pretty damn happy about it.  “The Kingdom of My Will” and “Welcome Back” are equally addicting but it’s unfair to single out only a few tracks.

Lost Horizon has also done something on this album that I have never seen.  Normally thrown into the album somewhere is a gentle ballad where the band shows their flexibility and that it’s not that easy to be a true metal warrior.  These attempts at wooing the audience normally fall flat and for me, become a spot on the disc that shows little to no wear.  Lost Horizon has chosen to slip the mold and, save for the small interludes, release an album that is fast from start to finish.  In case you didn’t notice, that’s yet another kudos for this album.  I could do without another song about lost love.

In short, I am going to give this album a high recommendation.  Any fan of power metal will enjoy this release.  I’m not sure whether it was the fantastic vocals or the lightning fast guitars that did me in, but I have a feeling it was the delivery of the entire package as a whole.

Lost Horizon is:
Transcendental Protagonist – Guitars, Synth
Cosmic Antagonist – Bass
Preternatural Transmogrifyer – Drums
Ethereal Magnanimus – Vocals


Koch Records

3 song Demo
~reviewed by Kevin

I hesistate to call Boise band Lovesick "Gothic Pop." Sure, Lovesick's music is melodious and hook-laden.  Sure, their influences are obvious: Morrissey, the Cure, and Sisters of Mercy, with a heaping helping of 80s synth/MTV bands and a sprinkling of 90s indie rock to top things off.   But "Gothic Pop" brings up nightmare images of perkigoths bobbing their heads vacantly to the latest from I Can't Believe It's Not Gary Numan... and Lovesick deserves far better than
that.  Their music is catchy without being lightweight and tuneful without being trite.

"Haunting," the track which opens Lovesick’s three-song demo CD, is well crafted, with clean production, nice guitar work, and refreshingly sincere vocals.  When they finally put the tombstone over alternative rock, its epitaph will read "It Smirked
Itself to Death."  Thankfully, Jeran Dahlquist doesn't sound like some art school dropout affecting a pose.  When he sings, "You keep telling me/That I don't understand/Well, no shit/isn't that the point?" he really sounds... well, Lovesick.  Still, this version of "Haunting" didn't quite work for me.  Lovesick plays well -- but so do many other bands doing this
brand of Alternative Rock.  On the rest of this CD the slick production is a feature: here it's a bug.  I suspect "Haunting" is more impressive on stage than in the studio: I'd be very interested in hearing this as a straight-ahead bluesy rocker recorded live at a small club.  Its catchy bass line and 4/4 beat would adapt well to a harder-edged treatment and to the demands of live performance.

"StarFall," on the other hand, drew me in from the start.  The synthesizer riffs and tinkling electric piano, combined with Jeren Dahlquist's crooning, reminded me of Howard Jones, Spandau Ballet, the Thompson Twins and other 80s synthpop ballad bands.  I'm usually not a big fan of synthpop, but Lovesick did a superb job on this one.  This one brings back memories of Molly Ringwald and the Breakfast Club.  It's astonishing how well Lovesick captured the sound of that era in this song,  but never let things become glossy or cheesy.  (Until now, I would have said it was impossible to separate the cheese from 80s synthpop... ) "StarFall" has definite potential as a single, particularly if they edit it from its current 8’34” length.

"Sometimes"  really showcases Jeran's vocal skills.  "Sometimes I'm strong," he half-sings, half-mumbles over slow funeral chords, "sometimes I hate you like I should."  The lyrics are dark and depressing as anything Robert Smith ever wrote, but Jeran's performance is genuinely anguished where Smith would have been grandly theatrical.  "Sometimes" is probably the most classically "Goth" song on this sampler, arguably the strongest.

It's not often that a three-song demo yields  two exceptional singles and one strong contender.  I'm hoping Lovesick makes it to New York in the near future; in the meantime, I’m going to be waiting  patiently for their inevitable major label debut.  This band is too good to stay underground.

1) Haunting
2) StarFall
3) Sometimes

Lovesick is:
Jeran Dahlquist (vocals, guitars)
Ryan Powers (keys)
Thom Keithly (guitars)
David Schafer (bass)
Landon Shaffer (drums).

Artist's Site

c. 2001 Idiom Records

Compilation Appearances Vol. 2 (The Ohio Years: 1995 – 1999)
~reviewed by Matthew

This August marks the release of the second installment of Lycia’s compilation appearance collections. This disc, like its predecessor, collects compilation only releases by the band, as well as tracks that were never formally released at all.  The first disc collected tracks spanning the years 1990 – 1994, where as this disc collects the years the band was  stationed in Ohio, throughout 1995 to 1999.

Having always been a greater fan of Lycia’s earlier work, I anticipated preferring the first release to this second one, as it was after the release of the band’s “Burning Circle & Then Dust” CDs that the bleak intensity of the music was bumped down a few notches to make way for more beautiful ethereal elements.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the second volume was just as good as the first, and just as enthralling.

There is an impressive and unmistakable fluidity to this disc, all the tracks perfectly flow into one another and work together to create a solid and excessively dark mood, a quality that was initially what made Lycia so great a success.  The overall atmosphere of the CD is simply fantastic.

The album kicks off with a nocturnal etude entitled “This Brilliant Nighttime,” a very cool track with awesome synthetic cello passages, resulting in quite an organic orchestral feel, yet still with the characteristic Lycia sound of swirling guitars and reverberation.  A most excellent way to begin the CD.

Both of the band’s contributions to the seasonal Excelsis compilations appear, with “We Three Kings” being a song I forgot about and was totally thankful to hear again.  A very dark and spooky arrangement that arose from a collaboration with Jason Wallach of The Unquiet Void, the song sounds more like a funeral march than a Christmas carol, which is of course a good
thing.  The wispy gloom of “O Little Town Of Bethlehem brings the disc to a close.  Despite the summer heat and lack of snow, this CD is like having Christmas in August with all the wonderful audible gifts that are presented here.

Such as the spectacular cover of Joy Division’s “In A Lonely Place.” (Which I think, was actually a New Order B-Side intended to be a Joy Division track, but tragedy prevented that from happening.) Regardless, the song and the arrangement is brilliant and appropriately mysterious.  This was the perfect song for Lycia to have done.Making us miserable and gloomy fans of early days content, the slightly more sinister version of “Everything Is Cold” from the Cleopatra Goth Box appears, as well as a mopey live recording of one of the most emotionally desolate Lycia tracks ever, “The Morning Breaks So Cold And Grey.”  The appearance of these earlier tracks (albeit in newer forms) was a very nice treat and contributed to the variety of the disc.

Some readers are hopefully aware of Mike’s side project Bleak, which utilized more abrasive and experimental electronics to create more violent and dark soundscapes.  An unreleased track entitled “Dome” from these sessions appears and with it comes a hypnotic yet unnerving interlude of screeching metallic wails, droning synths, and eerie static.  Something that takes skill to pull of correctly, otherwise it just becomes chaotic noise.  I always wanted to hear more of Bleak, and I am glad to have this last track to hold on to.

The tracks, “Defective,” “Caterpillar Butterfly,” “Transition,” and “The Devil” are all outtakes or alternate interpretations of songs from the “Estrella” sessions in late ’97 early ’98.  Most of these tracks feature Tara’s vocals, who I have always felt had an entrancing and gorgeous voice (despite some of her lyrics being a bit to ‘cutesy’ for my taste ;P).  “Defective” is an upbeat track with swelling synths and distant vocal ambience, and unless I am mistaken, I don’t remember it appearing in any form on “Estrella.”  “The Devil” is an alternate (and superior) version of the song “El Diablo,” coming across twice as stark as the original.

“The Time Passes Quickly” is a very interesting track, one of the most valuable tracks salvaged from the vaults in my opinion.  Very brooding and melancholic acoustic guitar passages sneak and slither through oppressive synths and Mike’s icy whispered vocals. In this track, there is a perfect balance between the beautiful and ethereal aspects of later Lycia with the eerie electronics of their past.  An outstanding song, to say the very least.

Apparently, there will indeed be a third installment in the Lycia archival series, hopefully seeing a release date for late 2001 or early 2002.  In the meantime, if you haven’t picked up these two compilations and you are a Lycia fan, you are missing out on some superb material.  Fear not, as all songs are indeed not easily available elsewhere.  These are great additions to the Lycia discography, and truthfully both volumes leave the impression of two new albums, surpassing the quality of even “Estrella” in terms of consistence.  Well done!

Track List:
1.) This Brilliant Nighttime
2.) We Three Kings
3.) In A Lonely Place
4.) Everything Is Cold
5.) Clouds In The Southern Sky (Sweeping In Like Waves)
6.) Caterpillar Butterfly
7.) The Morning Breaks So Cold And Grey (Live)
8.) Grey Clouds (Live)
9.) Dome
10.) Defective
11.) Transition
12.) The Devil
13.) The Time Passes Quickly
14.) O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Lycia is:
Mike VanPortfleet: vocals, guitars, programming, synths
Tara Vanflower: vocals, synths
David Galas: synths, bass, programming

Lycia – Official Website:

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