Amber Asylum is the phenomenon and brainchild of neo-classical musician, Kris Force. Force has earned a respectful reputation by contributing string and vocal arrangements on material by bands such as Swans, Neurosis, and Tribes Of The Neurot. With Amber Asylum, she creates her own surreal dreamscapes of avant-garde ambiance. The ‘hit’ of sorts by this project was “Dreams Of Thee,” an acappella interpretation of Shelley’s poem “The Indian Serenade” which appeared on a few compilations by Projekt, Middle Pillar, and Misanthropy Records if I am not mistaken.
With this new release, the fourth full length and third release through Relapse records, there seems to be a more memorable quality to the music. When compared to earlier material, there is a more solid and concentrated sound due to a greater use of percussion and multiple vocalists, and the music is not as prone to dwell too far on the edges of distant spheres. Though as the title of the release suggests, Amber Asylum spirit emotion through music and play the role of a ghostly chamber orchestra gone awry and subtly mad. Indeed ambient, entrancing, and beautiful, there are explosive fits of cacophonic and frenzied tangents that set them apart from other ethereal acts, best exemplified at the finale and peak of “Silence Of The Setting Sun,” the third track on the CD.
Their moments of astounding beauty is perfectly expressed in the melancholic aria “Black Swan” and again in the more depressive William Blake inspired “Shepherd Remix,” where the melodies seem to catch in mid air, and then plunge with the soft accompaniment of brooding cellos and whimpering violins. Minimalism is the key, as the music is dependent upon the light cadences and the suffocating silence that lurks behind the instruments during the more quiet parts.
Amber Asylum are highly introspective at times, and are tinged with a strange psychedelia as heard in the lengthier ‘jam’ passages that spiral into bleak and confusing realms. “Disembodied Healer” for whatever reason reminds me of Black Tape perverted by King Crimson and Syd Barret-era Floyd. Also, the entire CD has an almost ‘vinyl’ sound to it, recalling an experimental early classic rock sound.
Last but not least, there has always been a mischievous, bitter sense of humour to the project, but this time a downright silliness is heard with a cello driven interpretation of Black Sabbath’s self titled masterpiece. It’s just hysterical to hear slithering cellos (through a subtle fuzz pedal and Cry-Baby wah effect) playing those ominous three chords! The infamous opening lines delivered through a sultry, female voice as opposed to Ozzy’s timeless wail is quite a memorable experience as well. The song almost comes across as a Satanic lounge party, and indeed, the climactic fast paced outro of the song is matched to a tee with ‘cello riffing’ and a steady pounding percussion, not too mention a violently shrill cello solo modeled after Toni Iommi’s best. It cracked me up, but it was thoroughly innovative and ingeniously done, and not done with an ounce of disrespect as it still sounds somewhat serious…in a fun, death rock kind of way.
Fans of experimental classical and dark ethereal would adore this, and I urge Gothic fans of Black Sabbath check out this awesome rendition of their infamous track.
1.) Black Lodge
2.) Black Swan
3.) Silence Of The Setting Sun
4.) The Shepherd Remix
5.) Disembodied Healer
6.) Black Lodge Reprise
7.) Black Sabbath
Kris Force: guitars, violin, voice
Wendy Farina: drum kit and percussion
Cat Gratz: oboe
Jackie Gratz: cello
Melynda Jackson: guitars on “Black Lodge Reprise”
Jayne Roderick: piano
Erica Stolz: bass, voice
Asylum Official Site:
Asylum Relapse Info:
Arms Of Someone New
Susan Sleepwalking andLove, Power, & Justice
~reviewed by Matthew
I have a deep unfillable void in my heart that only vintage Gothic rock and the early music of 4AD can fill. I was very young when all this stuff originally surfaced, but thankfully, the music is still available for a latter generation to appreciate. The Projekt Archive, a subsidiary of Projekt Records as you could guess is responsible for re-issuing back-catalogue releases from bands such as Attrition and Area, and their latest restoration project is for the mid-eighties band The Arms Of Someone New.
The band formed as a duo and the two members Mel Eberle and Steve Jones collaborated from Boston to Champaign, IL respectively. Other contributors of the band were Lynn Canfield and Henry Frayme, who with Jones went on to form Area. So its all rather interesting how the two bands overlapped. But the Arms Of Someone New never really broke and were left on the backburner as the members focused on Area and other outlets and projects. The master tapes were left undisturbed until now, and the band’s collective material has at last seen the light of day.
The Arms Of Someone New: That easily wins the award for most striking and unusual moniker, and the music without a doubt lives up to be as avant-garde and introspective as expected. In the arms of a new lover, you find something daring and unexplored, yet something recognizable and comforting, as love is essential to us all. There is a similar effect with this kind of music for me, as I have discovered something ‘new’ to my ears and in that embrace waits a familiar sound that I utterly adore.
The music is comparable to the traditional Xymox 4AD sound and the earliest recordings like “Ceremony” and “In A Lonely Place” by New Order. Incidentally, New Order’s album title “Power Corruption & Lies” was punned by AOSN with their release “Love Power & Justice.” Their minimalist sound scapes are comprised of reverberated male vocals, tight simplistic drum programs, vintage synths and strummed guitar doodles that definitely overwhelm the listener with the long disappeared yet passionately revered “cult” sound of Goth’s early days.Projekt has re-issued two CDs, the first of which is the band’s debut ten song full-length, entitled “Susan Sleepwalking,” which also contains eight additional tracks taken from their “Burying The Carnival” EP and the “Holy Dance” single. The “Susan Sleepwalking” CD is primarily more mellow and reserved, with a greater focus on synth drenched ambiance. The second reissue “Love, Power, & Justice” is probably the better of the two to start with, as it is more upbeat and has a stronger rhythmic presence.
Regardless, both CDs are incredibly worthwhile collections. Here is a band that could have lost the battle to history and remained in 4-track purgatory, haunting the closets of the busy musicians who never had the opportunity to solicit their work appropriately. But thankfully, their music has been made accessible again for a new generation to discover, and I highly recommend these two CDs to fans of 4AD, vintage alternative, and Goth rock.
SUSAN SLEEPWALKING (1984/1985)
1.) St. Catherine
2.) The Fisherman
3.) Song For Krista
4.) With Louise
5.) The Turning
6.) Seven Days From Now
7.) Karen Said
9.) Susan Slept Here
10.) A Turner Sky
12.) The Spiral Of Silence
13.) Left To Right
14.) Every Seventh Wave
15.) Angel Of The Odd
16.) My Friend
17.) The Holy Dance
POWER JUSTICE (1985/1986)
3.) No City Fun
4.) Next Year In Jerusalem
5.) Summer Dress
6.) Your Evening At Home
7.) The Sense Of An Ending
8.) Believe Me
9.) Our Town
10.) Everything At Once
11.) The Sense Of An Ending (4-track version)
12.) In Between (demo version)
13.) Summer Dress (4-track version)
14.) Radio Now (demo version)
15.) Hollywood (promise version)
16.) Cool As Christ
Arms Of Someone New is:
Mel Eberle – bass, guitar, vocals
Steve Jones – piano, organ, guitar, vocals
Nick Rudd – guitar, vocals
Arms Of Someone New – Official Site:
~review by Matthew
Formed by the ex-vocalist of the Finish dark metal act Sentenced, the Black League are an interesting combination of traditional metal, dark alternative, intellectual mythology and tinges of literary Gothic.
Soundling like a hybrid between Danzig and Fields Of The Nephilim, the Black League definitely at least in my humble opinion, hit the ‘dark’ mark much more than Sentenced ever have or will. Taneli Jarva made a wise choice (or had the choice made for him?) when he departed Sentenced and began to construct this outfit.
Though The Black League are certainly not the crème de la crème of goth or dark metal, they do add a nice traditional rock twist to it that definitely sets them apart from others. The guitar work on this disc totally reminds me of a slightly more aggressive John Christ of Danzig, like when he thrashed out on the “How The Gods Kill” album primarily. Throw in dashes of watery guitars and groove oriented doom all fronted by varying vocal styles, ranging from gruff sand paper rasps to power metal bravados and there you have it.
The highlight of this entire album for me was without a doubt the magnificent and faithful interpretation of “Ozymandias” which most of you ought to recognize as a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. This song was great, as the sharp synths and wah-pedal/treated guitars helped capture the exotic middle-eastern desert setting of the original poem. The explosive chorus perfectly illustrates the speaker’s ironic fate, the intensity of the chorus is still dwarfed by the despair of mankind’s impermanence that leaks throughout the quieter parts of the song: Exactly how Shelley would have wanted it. Further literary inspiration appears in the track “Goin’ To Hell” which is based on “Macbeth” and also a reference to Mark Twain in “One Colour Black.” Though not as powerful or effective as “Ozymandias” I still appreciate their effort.
The packaging is gorgeous and well designed with artistic photography and avant-garde layouts. It is apparent that The Black League take themselves and their art very seriously. Though it is not as brooding a music as I enjoy the most, the metallic energy and upbeat nature of the band will definitely appeal to the traditional, rhythmic metal scene. This is definitely a unique act. If you are looking for something different, and you have roots in Danzig, Sentenced, Cathedral, or the Sisters Of Mercy and the Nephilim (as fun metal bands), The Black League is totally for you.
2.) One Colour Black
3.) Deep Waters
4.) Goin’ To Hell
6.) We Die Alone
7.) The Everlasting Pt. II
9.) Blood Of The Gods
10.) Bunker King
11.) Winter Winds Sing
12.) Ecce Homo!
13.) Night On Earth
Black League Is:
Taneli Jarva: voice, additional instruments
Maike Valanne: guitars
Alexi Ranta: guitars
Sir Luttinen: drums, percussion, keyboards
Black League - Official Site:
~review by Aaron Garland
After recently hearing Therion's amazing "opera metal" opus "Deggial", I anticipated good things from this Finnish outfit on the Nuclear Blast roster. Perhaps on the crest of "dark wave" metal for the new millennium, The Black League bring forth guitar-driven discussions of the all-too-human tenets of existence with thoughtful and well-written lyrical odes to the likes of Freidrich Nietzsche ,19th century poet P.B. Shelley and William Shakespeare. Some highlighted verses include: 'Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair/Like all things that lurk within me' (Goin' to Hell); 'Blest are those who cannot see reality in all its ruthless misery/ For what doesn't kill you ought to make you stronger/ Yet the more you endure, the pain lasts longer and longer' (Ecce Homo); and a magnificent passage from the final track "Night on Earth" - 'Is this the new age? / Or are these the dark ages? / In the white town of the north/ Meeting…stranger faces and long-abandoned places/Past the ruins and through the wreckage/ Where our souls and spirits lie.' Needless to say, Ichor treads lyrical terrain well beyond a run-of-the-mill metal act.
Musically, "Ichor" could loosely fit into the "doom metal" sub-category but I've heard other outfits who are much slower, heavier and lyrically far more depressing. Actually, half the songs on this record contain fast to mid-tempo grooves and the gruff, phlegm-filled vocals you would expect courtesy of Taneli Jarva. However, some of the slower and more etheral numbers such as the acoustic-guitar laden instrumental "The Everlasting - Pt. II" demonstrate The Black League's musical prowess most effectively. Hopefully, this is a direction the Finnish quintet may explore more thoroughly with their next release. In any case, "Ichor" does a good job scratching the surface of what could happen in the future.
- One Colour Black
- Deep Waters
- Goin' to Hell
- We Die Alone
- The Everlasting - Pt. II
- Blood of the Gods
- Bunker King
- Winter Winds Sing
- Ecce Homo
- Night On Earth
P.O. Box 43618
Philadelphia, PA 19106
~reviewed by Matthew
Rarely do I have the chance to review a CD quite like this. “Fading Daydreams” is a lengthy piano driven work by composer Benjamin Stauffer. Despite being released on the recently formed Chicago indie rock label Somnimage Records, this CD is a straightforward neo-classical work of art. Utterly romantic and soothing, the CD ghosts its way through lush piano instrumentals, thickened by subtle new age synth backdrops. Stauffer dedicates the entire work to his late grandfather, and there is a heartbreaking beauty and passion in every key that is struck.
There is a dense reverberation and haunting production, which adds a slight ethereal edge to the contemporary classical style. It is indeed a very relaxing CD, but rather than being just background music, it is very arresting and you find yourself drawn into the music, stopping whatever you are doing to appreciate it rather than mindlessly allowing it to play. “Fading Daydreams” has the power to capture and hold your attention, and will animate the mind with suitably pensive images.
Granted, you have to have an appreciation for this kind of music. This is not Gothic, Alternative, Metal, or Electronic music, and it could not at all be considered Gothic Ethereal. However the consistent melancholy and grayness of Stauffer’s music would definitely appeal to dark music fans that have an appreciation for traditional classical music as well. The closing track “Yet Another Tragic Love Affair” has a tasteful use of church bells accentuating the left-hand bass chords of the song, and there is a gloomy film score element pervading the song, which was quite cool.
I highly recommend this CD for those cold winter evenings ahead or the rainy Sunday afternoons when lethargy hits and the stress of the proceeding week desperately needs to be dissolved.
1.) Karmic Law
2.) Distance Relationship
3.) Return Period
5.) Fading Daydreams
7.) She’s Asleep In My Arms
8.) March Of Leaves
10.) Thoughts Of Grandfather
11.) Yet Another Tragic Love Affair
All music written and executed by Benjamin Stauffer
~reviewed by Kevin
Atlanta band The Changelings have, at various times, been described as "experimental post rock," "Celto-Byzantine," "neoclassical" and "akin to a religious experience." I'd call them the most intelligent and creative combination of world music sounds and synthesizers this side of Peter Gabriel's Passion. The readers of Atlanta's Creative Loafing have awarded them "Best World/Traditional Band" four years running, and with good reason. Their music is invariably literate, thoughtful, and breathtakingly beautiful. (Any band who does a song based on William Gibson's "Neuromancer" automatically gains 50 Cool Points in my book...)
Their latest CD, "Epicycles" is atypical in several respects. It consists of tracks from two different projects. Tracks 1-4 were composed for the upcoming computer game "Noble Armada," while tracks 5 and 6 were commissioned for Netherworld haunted house. (Given that one reviewer said their music "should echo through a deserted castle whose inhabitants have fallen asleep for a hundred years," they were an excellent choice for this project).
These tracks do not feature Regeana Morris's magnificent voice so prominently as earlier Changelings releases did. While Morris contributes many gorgeous vocalisations, they are used primarily as another sound effect amidst the sea of melody, not as the . Nor are these songs structured in the traditional "verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus" format of most pop tunes. In that regard they are more similar to Brian Eno's "Ambient" work -- or to the best of Philip Glass's minimalist compositions -- than to most "darkwave/ethereal" music.
"Red Shift", the CD opener, begins with a series of synthesized blips and sequences from keyboard player Nick Pagan; soon Morris joins in with some astonishing Gregorian-esque chants, followed by Chandler Rentz's percussion. (Rentz does a splendid job throughout this CD. His drumming keeps the music going, and helps avoid the tedium and masturbatory noodling which pervades much minimalist/ambient work... i.e. the worst of Philip Glass).
Throughout this CD The Changelings use some incredibly creative instrumentation. "Eclipse" combines a musical saw (!) with a synthesizer and tablas; the effect is something like Middle Eastern-meets-Blade Runner. "Tannhauser Gate" picks up the pace, while "Dulcinea" showcases Damon Young's guitar skills with some absolutely gorgeous classical guitar riffs and a lovely violin line from Paul Mercer.
final two tracks, "The Young Merlins" and "Dreams in the Witch House" are
equally excellent. "Dreams..." is a particular favorite of mine (not
least because it's named after one of my favorite H.P. Lovecraft tales).
Again Damon Young's guitar skills are featured with an atonal phrase that
reminds me of Schoenberg fluttering in and out of a whooshing
synthesizer base, along with Rentz's drumming and some other less describable sounds (as old H.P. might have said... ).
If there were any justice in this world, The Changelings would have full-time jobs writing film scores. However, since this is not a just world, they're likely to be coming to your town at some point, playing their unique music. Don't miss them when they arrive!
1) Red Shift
3) Tannhauser Gate
5) The Young Merlins
6) Dreams in the Witch House
Paul Mercer: Violin, Viola
Regeana Morris: Voice, Hammered Dulcimer, Musical Saw
Nick Pagan: Keyboards
Chandler Rentz: Percussion
Damon Young: Guitars, Door
The Changelings on MP3 (features free downloads)
Follow the Reaper
~reviewed by Michael
On May 6, 1960, two 15-year-old girls and two 18-year-old guys went camping on the shores of Lake Bodom in southern Finland. Their excursion was cut short, however, by the arrival of a maniac. The killer butchered three of the campers and only one survives to this day. The killer was never caught. This mass murder has bred many urban legends, and now, the band called Children of Bodom.
The band was formed in 1993 under a different name, Inearthed, in Espoo, Finland. After a few demos and afew gigs, they went through numerous lineup changes and changed their name to Children of Bodom. Their third full-length release, Follow the Reaper, is now ready to hit the streets.
Children of Bodom are not your standard dose of Scandinavian metal. The guitar work throughout Followthe Reaper is absolutely dizzying. Influenced by Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Randy Rhodes, Jake E. Lee, and countless others, lead axe man Alexi “WildChild” Laiho has already attained guitar hero status.
instrument on this CD flies along and remains tight throughout, delivering
their blows as precisely as the knife of the killer on that night in 1960.
“Follow the Reaper” is an awesome opener and lays out all the cards for
what’s in store. “Children of Decadence” is the longest song on the
album at five and a half minutes and is one of the best songs the
band has written. “Hate Me!” was the title of their last single and rightfully so as it is my favorite on the album. At times, though, I hear Manowar’s classic “Violence & Bloodshed” mixed into the chorus but this in no way affects the punch CoB intended to deliver. And, as a bonus to the 1000 lucky people who get the limited edition, a cover of WASP’s “Hellion”, has also been provided for your listening pleasure. If you don’t get the limited edition, you can get the song on the Hate Me single as well. Act quickly on this single if you want it because the singles Children of Bodom and Downfall are completely sold out and out ofproduction.
A horror type theme is delivered subtly throughout the album with short keyboard compositions that start a few of the songs such as “Mask of Sanity”, “Taste of My Scythe”, and “Hate Me!” and the seamless entry into the main body of each song further proves the production prowess of Peter Tagtgren.
only beef with Children of Bodom at this point is the seeming lack of progression.
The elements and structures of the songs are all the same as they have
ever written. The melodies on Follow the Reaper are definitely stronger,
but this album holds no surprises. One thing that is new is the gang
yells. While some might see this as regression, it does throw
a new element into the mix and they are used so sparingly that you will not get sick of them. This band is saturated with talent and their rising record sales show it, as the Hate Me single went platinum.
If you have not heard Children of Bodom before, I would advise that you do start out with this one, as it is not as chaotic as the first two albums. If you are already a fan, this will definitely collect little dust from sitting unused in the rack.
of Bodom is:
Alexi Laiho – guitars, vocals
Henkka T Blacksmith – bass
Janne Warman – keyboards
Alexander Kuoppala – guitars
Jaska Raatikainen – drums
Website: www.cobhc.com (official site)
Janne - email@example.com
Jaska - firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexander - email@example.com
Henkka - firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexi - email@example.com
~reviewed by BlackOrpheus
If you're anything like me, you probably shy away from investing in, let alone listening to live albums. This makes it twice the pleasure to declare that Clan of XYMOX's long awaited LIVE album is a triumph. The album material presented here is culled from their recent South and Central American tours. Quality is stamped all over this outstanding album. Congratulations to Ronny Mooring on the remixing, and to the sound crew. Their work is immaculate. It consists of nineteen tracks, and two videos. The songs are taken from perrenial favorites like the debut that started it all - Clan of Xymox, Hidden Faces, Creatures, Medusa, Twist of Shadows, and one from their B-sides collection. My great challenge is to choose just a couple from this trove to spotlight. Because the quality is so consistent, it really comes down to personal preference. The following are mine.
"Stranger" is an excellent song off the first Clan of Xymox album, and it was the first song on the first disk. It opens with chants of "Xymox." Amidst the furor, the opening strains of " Stranger" begin to filter in and establish the mood. From here, the song soars and lunges, and soars again. I was moved, as I've always been by the vulnerability displayed in the reluctance of really talking face to face. This was sublime.
Story Ends" is off the Hidden Faces album. Interestingly enough,
it is also a great companion piece to "Stranger." This isn't a story
of avoidance, but one of confrontation. It opens with a snowfall
of synth, guitars, and bass. When Ronny sings "When silence comes
in , and creeps underneath the skin, If the lost word is lost and the spent
word is spent, This is the time, this is the place where the story ends,"
he sings it with such poignant dread, that you cannot help but
personalize the experience of rupture.
This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the two QuickTime videos included on disk2. The first is track nine "Jasmine & Rose." It's a video of the band playing a an outdoor show somewhere. It pans out across the crowd, and focuses upon the band, and individual band members. I really enjoyed it, it made the song that much more effective. The second - Well, I'll leave something for you to discover. This is even better.
It's troubling to contemplate the experiences that may have escaped me. I've had a general misconception that live albums were less than worthy of my time or investment. The Clan of XYMOX - Live album may be a phenomenon. In my experience of live albums it is. If you've had the opportunity to experience a live show, or wish you could, this is as near the realization of that experience as you can hope for, short of being there. Find, listen, feel and experience it. It is singular.
2. Cry in the Wild
3. This World
4. Jasmine & Rose
5. A Day
8. Back Door
9. Out of the Rain
10. Taste of Medicine
11. Going Round '97
2. Muscoviet Mosquito
6. Agonized By Love
8. The Story Ends
9. Jasmine & Rose (Video Data)
10. Stranger (Video Data)
of Xymox are:
Ronny Moorings - voice, guitar
Mojca Zugna - bass, voice, keys
Rui Ramos - drums
Nina Simic - keys
Site: Metropolis Records
- Clan of Xymox
Reviewed by: BlackOrpheus
Quick on the heels of their new Live release, comes Clan of Xymox with a new single " Liberty." The two are set for release on Halloween, and are more treat than trick. This is the kind of track that has made the band a legend in the community. There are two other tracks , as well as a remix by Greg Rule. Below are my impressions of "Liberty" and the accompanying tracks.
"Liberty" is a song that could be interpreted different ways. " I guess it's gonna be, a question of my sanity - I guess it's gonna be against the heart of liberty." The things that lie at the " heart of liberty " are the things that keep us sane. They are our freedoms, however we define them. There is such an erosion of personal freedom throughout our life, that it leads to real desperation, a sickness of the soul. We might very well " warm to the thought of being through." Eternity still remains a veiled promise. Are we truly willing to pay the ultimate price for a glamourized final release? Will it be the release we believe it to be, when we've left all we ever knew or loved behind us? The new single beautifully illustrates the dilemma, in its brief industrial tinged intro and the shimmering effect achieved by the guitar work. The bass kept it all earthbound. This single was consistent with the quality we've come to expect from this band. If it's a prelude to a full length, we really have something to look forward to.
" Number1" I really didn't care for. It was a gothic power ballad. It was chuck full of the kind of hackneyed cliches you'd usually encounter in the music of certain 80's metal bands. This is not the band's best writing. The music was a bit uptempo for my tastes as well, although it had its moments. This was no fit companion piece to a classic like " Liberty."
"At Your Mercy" was a better song musically than Number1 for a certainty. The writing was definitely better, although trying to write within a rhyming scheme is a contrivance frought with limitation and liability. "Liberty" was a stronger song for the absence of this. Overall though, there's little here to offend. The music makes this song. For me, this was a near great. It had moments that brought to mind vintage Cure, and I could hardly fault it for that. I'd recommend this track.
" Liberty-the Greg Rule remix," is a puzzle. The following is a quote from an interview Ronny Moorings did with MelodyMaker in 1989.
PJ : A lot of bands are doing remixes these days. What is your opinion on that ?
R : I don't like remixes at all. When a song is good for me I see no reason to let someone make a remix of it. It is a hype of the record labels and food for the DJ's. Furthermore, I don't know a lot of peopel who buy a CD with 24 remixes of the same song and really listen to it.
Granted, it has been ten years. But, I think Ronny made some very valid points. This song is a prime example. This is a great song, without this remix. I don't think it enhances, or contributes to making it more striking than it is. If anything, it detracts from it. Who will this remix appeal to? I doubt in all honesty, it'll appeal to the average fan. I thought it might appeal to djs. But I don't think I'd ever hear it played at any club I frequent. I could see it emptying dance floors around this part of the country. It struck me as Euro dance fodder, perhaps. The style of this remix is entirely inappropriate, and ill suited to the style of the music. In my opinion, it was a disaster.
In conclusion, I heartily endorse the new single " Liberty." It is well executed, and does not disappoint. On any single release, there are bound to be a dud or two on the b-side. This release is no exception. That shouldn't prohibit you from revelling in the sublime, that is "Liberty" and "At Your Mercy." This is only one man's opinion, we must all judge for ourselves in the end. Bright Blessings.
2. Number 1
3. At Your Mercy
4. Liberty (Greg Rule Remix)
of Xymox are:
Ronny Moorings - voice, guitar
Mojca Zugna - bass, voice, keys
Rui Ramos - drums
Nina Simic - keys
Site: Metropolis Records
- Clan of Xymox
~reviewed by Michael
In Bible History, Midian was where Moses spent the 40 years between the time that he fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian who had been beating a Hebrew. Midian was also the scene where one of the best-known incidents of The Bible occurred - The Lord's appearance in the burning bush. In fiction, Midian is a mythological dwelling place for fallen angels, nightcrawlers, and people that have been outcast by society.
It is here that Cradle Of Filth takes us in their fifth full-length album appropriately titled Midian. After a whirlwind of lineup changes, Dani Filth has once again surrounded himself with immeasurable talent. Paul Allender has joined on guitars, Martin Powell (ex My Dying Bride) adds a wonderful ethereal element to the music on keyboards, and Adrian Erlandsson (ex At The Gates), who is very capable of keeping the pace no matter how fast Dani decides to drive his dark chariot, completes the new lineup on drums.
At first listen, one of the first things you notice is how much more, dare I say, catchy the songs are. Loaded with power metal chords and time changes galore, Midian is sure to go down as one of the best Cradle Of Filth albums to date. This album is seamless, sewn together with angelic entrails and hardened by the salty sweat of a band that refuses to compromise. It’s amazing how well the songs flow into one another and in many cases; you barely pick out the beginning of the next song.
As always, the music is packed with gothic interludes and female vocals performed by Sarah Jezebel Deva. Sarah’s vocals reach a range higher than on any other album and in a few places, Mika Lindberg, who adds some male choral parts, joins her. The choral parts are well placed and are definitely a welcome addition to the music.
The lyrics are an excellent read, causing you pause as you try to figure out what Dani has just sung. In “Lord Abortion”, the lyrics are some of the darkest Dani has ever written and, not just due to the lyrics, this song stands out as my favorite on the album. It swells to the point you think the CD will explode out of the player and then retreats into a sinister interlude, where you enter the mind of this madman, and find indeed that it is a frightening place to be. Would you expect anything else?
A few of the other tracks that stand out are “Saffron’s Curse”, which starts out with an interlude that will stick to your brain for days to come. “Amor E Morte” features more of the male/female choral vocal styles, as does “Tearing The Veil From Grace”. This new addition to the music takes a little getting used to but after only a couple spins, you welcome it as you would the Devil’s promise.
Cradle Of Filth open wide the gates of Midian and kicks you through them with the closing track “Tortured Soul Asylum”. It is here we hear the horror legend Doug Bradley deliver his intro speech, and his voice couldn’t be more fitting. Cradle has an ear for perfect closing songs and is almost always one of the best tracks on the album. No exception here.
The production on this album is better than Cruelty, having deepened the drums and given he album a more powerful feel. Aside from that, the usual studio slickness is present and a perfect balance of all elements resides.
For those of you who were hoping to see the more “commercialized” Cradle Of Filth, this album is not for you. Cradle is as they are and will not be swayed by hopeful fans wanting to hear the latest remix played at their local clubs. This is black metal as black metal was supposed to be played. Constant variation, a huge variety of vocal styles, dark, complex lyrics, and above all, the speed and power of the music are what the fans wanted to hear and, riding nightmares, Cradle Of Filth has most certainly delivered.
Of Filth is:
Dani Filth – Serpent Tongue
Paul Allender – Despondent Night Chords
Robin Graves – Nocturnal Pulse
Martin Powell – Ouija Boards/Cobwebbed Organ
Gian Pyres – Blade
Adrian Erlandsson – Vampire Battery
Official Web page: http://www.theorderofthedragon.com/
New York, NY 10003
~reviewed by Matthew
Now this, this is a CD that is hard to review, as it was very difficult for me to adjust to such a radical shift in mood and style. This is not your typical dark music, and that fact is reason alone to encourage bit of digging and research.
Colortone is the solo project of a Chicago native by the name of Dickie Chapin, and his music is dominated by syrupy children’s lullabies fused with quirky 80’s synth pop (a la old bouncing Depeche Mode and Erasure songs). A very soft, pleading voice that makes Billy Corgan, Michael Stipe, or Morrissey sound tough drifts atop the music with a lilting and heartbreaking vulnerability.
But that is the point. This is really an interesting and very stark concept. Similar to the Cranes, the mismatching of painful lyrical themes delivered with a perky youthful innocence has a poignant and thought-provoking result and indeed, the concept and idea of Mr. Chapin works brilliantly. The lyrics are hopeless laments examining lost love, growing up to face the ‘real’ world, the escape offered by dreams, and the blissful naiveté of youth. But the music and melodies paradoxically are far from bitter or pensive but are instead overtly sweet. Sometimes injected with a slight psychedelia (“Safe Heaven”) ethereal ambience (“Silent Film” and “Eternal Reverse”) and often Big Band inspired arrangements sneak in throughout the course of the CD. And yes, if you glance down at the track list, you will see “I’m In The Mood For Love,” which is indeed the same famous ballad of yesteryear.
I particularly enjoyed the song, “Movie Girl” which was Mr. Chapin’s ode to period-film actress Kate Winslet. I too share an admirable obsession for the curvy British vixen, so I was with him in spirit for this particular track. However, the project of Colortone as a whole is something I could rarely find myself listening to. While exceptionally well arranged and musically flawless, I had a hard time with the style of the music, as I tend to gravitate toward much more straightforward dark music.
But this CD is definitely something fans of 80’s synth projects, quirky Goth rock, and tongue-in-cheek alternative would really appreciate. The lyrics are not to be taken lightly, and it is there where a considerable gush of genuine emotion and inspiration bursts forth. The lightness of the music is an escape; the same way dark music is a cathartic and cleansing outlet for most bands. But here, a more optimistic world and atmosphere is created, in hopes to spirit away the pain of the lyrics and strip the emphasis from the negative. I hope desperately that Colortone are discovered by an appreciative audience, as this is not something that belongs to slip into obscurity.
1.) Paint By Numbers
2.) Paper Airplanes
5.) Safe Haven
6.) Silent Films
7.) An Optimistic Sense Of Smell
8.) The Ex-Pretty Tragical Vampire
10.) Trinity Danced
11.) Fantastically Sleeping
12.) The Devil Is A Woman
14.) Impossible Wishes
15.) I’m In The Mood For Love
16.) Eternal Reverse
Colortone is Dickie Chapin
Pistols At Dawn
-Review by Sonia Leonard
Here is a new band with a retro sound. VERY reminiscent of the 80’s. Cauda Pavonis’ Pistols at Dawn is a great cd to have if you’ve grown tired of music like Metro by Berlin, and are looking for something slightly different and fresh. This bands first cd INITIATION is limited to 500 copies and the song Wardance(off Pistols At Dawn) is featured in the compilation KALEIDOSCOPE with such names as Faith and the Muse, Complicity and My Ruin. Another cd is in the works and should be released in the near future.
With the deep Rocky Horror vocals of Su Farr and the keyboard work of Dave Wainwright you can’t help but be transported back in time. Soon you’ll be thinking back to when goths were called D-Rockers and you hated sweating because it messed up your pancake make-up. (Wait...the make-up hasn’t changed that much...:0 ) There are great dark lyrics like in the 9th track Addiction where Daves’ lamenting vocals are spoken quite clearly. They hail themselves as a “ Dark Romantic Band” and originate in Britain. Priding themselves in producing high quality products at their own cost, this band has made it clear that they do not use CDR’s but their music was, in fact, produced onto “glass-mastered Cd’s with picture disc and full colour sleeves.”
Here are the tracks;
4. Wardance (album version)
6. She’s the Cure
7. Fin De Siecle (Pistols at Dawn)
11. Houses of the Holy
12. Queen of Air and Darkness
Hit their website @
Get in touch with Su and
Dave by e-mail;
Snail Mail more your style?
~reviewed by Matthew
As respected leaders in the Gothic metal scene, I have always tried to ‘believe’ in Crematory. Where as they are one of the more internationally recognized bands in this genre, I have always had a hard time placing them on so high a level.
This is the band’s eighth album, and while an artistic progression is obvious, I still sense the same weaknesses that have pervaded the bands music since I was first introduced to them by way of their 1997 release, “Awake.” Which, for those of you who may be interested, included a very well done and ‘fun’ interpretation of “Temple Of Love” by the Sisters Of Mercy, complete with death metal vocals.
Alas, back to the matter at hand. My biggest problem with Crematory on this release and their prior two is that the guitar work relies way to heavily on crunchy power chords alone. Rarely are there any catchy riff heavy rhythms or melodic guitar breaks, but rather, most of the guitar work is just typical power chords and chugga-chugga rhythmic gallops. I very much like this sound, but I want to hear them do more. It’s just not as technically or emotionally complex as I would like.
Crematory do in fact have several stronger points, else they would never have earned the popularity they have so far. For one, they are much more upbeat and mid-paced compared to most artists in this genre. They are quite heavy with some nice ‘almost’ fast parts, but they never really get too aggressive as atmosphere is their primary concern. Though very typical, the band is fronted by a strong growling vocalist, who despite the guttural nature of his voice, he is still easily intelligible. Clear male vocals appear to break up the monotony, and these too, though typical are very well delivered.
The keyboards on this release are by far the best the band has sported yet. They are much more airy, reverberated, and add a warm ethereal tone to the bands sound. In fact, the keyboards are the band’s heart, as they supply the lead melodies that the guitars crunch and ring out behind. They are very basic, mainly just Romantic pianos, orchestral strings, ghostly synths, and choir settings, but they create a wonderful and absorbing atmosphere.
The latter half of the CD houses the strongest material, and with the seventh track “Eternal” and the eighth “Unspoken” my attention was highly peaked and it was there that I really began to give Crematory the benefit of the doubt. “Caroline,” besides having a slightly sappy chorus, has some strong rhythms in the verses and is one of the better and more memorable tracks on the CD. “The Curse” begins with a melodic guitar RIFF and thankfully, the band carry the melody through the first half of the song. The clean acoustics and swirling synths through the verses of “Why” remind a bit me of Tiamat’s “Clouds” and “Wildhoney” era material, with a powerful chorus that sounds a bit like the hey day of Paradise Lost. “Why” is probably my favourite track off of this CD, as it is the most emotional and well-structured of them all, with the haunting piano-aura of “Unspoken.”
Personally, I would like to hear Crematory’s guitar arrangements become more in-depth and integrate a greater complexity. I think their music is a bit too simplistic for most fans of this music, but others may appreciate it for the very same reasons that I do not. The bottom line is that Crematory has a great deal of potential. But after eight albums, I wonder when they are going to have their ‘breakthrough.’ Admittedly though, this particular release is definitely making a dent in that surface.
1.) Redemption Of Faith
3.) The Fallen
5.) Act Seven
6.) Time For Tears
10.) The Curse
12.) Perils Of The Wind
Felix Stass – vocals
Matthian Hechler - guitars
Katrin Goger – keyboards
Harold Heine – bass
Markus Jullich – drums
Crematory: Official Site
Dark Treasures: A Gothic Tribute To The Cocteau Twins
~reviewed by Matthew
Tribute albums are a dangerous thing. Over the years, their novelty has worn off considerably. But despite a somewhat weak start and a few other gaps in the solid flow of the disc, this Cleopatra collection pays a respectable and worthy tribute to one of dark music’s most unique and influential bands: the Cocteau Twins.
Rhea’s Obsession kicks the CD off with a guitar heavy and rhythmic, middle eastern take on “Cicely.” I was amazed at how faithful Sue’s voice was to Liz Frasier. A very successful and energetic way to start the CD. Mephisto Walz follows, with a surprisingly perky track, “Iceblink Luck.” It’s a cute song, similar to the feel good, bubble gum vibe of the original. It was just slightly out of character to hear such cheerful sounds emerging from Mephisto Walz.
The offering of the Blue Bell Knoll track “Athol-Brose” from Inertia left me cold, as did Jennifer Hope’s “Seekers Who Are Lovers” The music of the latter is not bad, however it is too slow. The vocals drag and lose the fluid playfulness of the original. It just sounded very wrong to me.
Trance To The Sun refresh the mood of the CD with the stark creepiness of “The Thinner The Air,” which originally appeared on the Victorialand album. A good job showing how foreboding and enveloping the sound of the Cocteaus can be and how it influenced so many other darkwave bands.
Andrea Lane’s “Violane” was just plain annoying. The drum programs sounded cheap and the breathy vocals were over done and trying too damn hard. I could have done without this track. Thankfully, this was the last ‘disruption’ of its kind to the flow of the CD.
Absinthee brave the waters and record one of the darkest Cocteau songs ever, “Shallow Then Halo” from the post-punk debut Garlands. An excellent and faithful job, an interesting new dimension was added to the song by grating violins paired with eerie processed guitars to invoke a blissful discordance. Like the original version with Robin Guthrie’s molestation of his guitar, this caused my hairs to stand on end as well. Faith & Disease’s “Amelia” is a lulling, warm track with distant ghostly vocals and shimmering, echoed guitars. A characteristic and beautiful offering from a band that never seems to fail with their compilation appearances or cover song attempts.
The Machine in the Garden kick ass with a brooding, climactic cover of “Need Fire” which segues perfectly into the brilliant assault of “Garlands” by the Autumns. It was at first sort of odd to hear male vocals singing a Cocteau track, but this was just way too cool. An effective blend of abrasive guitars, swinging drums, and angst-ridden vocals help create an intense and driving rendition of this track. For trivia points, it was produced by Simon Raymonde.
Diva Destruction’s “Persephone” is about 50/50 in my opinion. It has an awesome hard hitting drum beat and the guitars are much harsher than the original, with an overwhelming swelling of distortion and keyboard work at the chorus. It started out sounding like a strong song, then the classic bass line that served as the backbone of this song is synthesized. That crushed me. I loved that bass line, and I could have gotten over that little glitch but sadder still, the weakest aspect of the song is that vocals are slightly out of key, and there is just no way around that.
Fear of Dolls follow and turn “Wax & Wane” into a ritualistic, plodding death march. With slow tribal drums, unnerving guitars, and icy female vocals, I was very impressed by the sheer gloom of this track. A blatant death rock delivery of a definitive death rock track. Godbox pump up “Blood Bitch” with a guitar driven, synth pop bounce. The guitars are awesome, and a live drummer is fused with electronics. Nice watery guitars blend in for atmosphere and somehow, this band just seemed to find a perfect balance of gothic mood and electronic energy. Another excellent and timeless song interpreted respectfully.
Oneiroid Psychosis summon Azoic siren Kristy Venrick to front a calming, ambient take on “Treasure Hiding.” Another out of character track, as both Nilaihah records bands are known for more claustrophobic darkwave styles, but this track is almost ‘pretty’ and slightly psychedelic in some ways. It was a nice change and a sweetly melodic song to start wrapping up the CD.
Stare brings the disc to a close with the only track from the Head Over Heals album, the punkish “In Our Angelhood.” Their take on the song is well done with dense bass lines, fast post rock drum patterns, buzzing chorus and phasored guitar washes, and of course Michelle’s deep voice perfectly crowns the music.
Overall, this is one of the better tribute CDs to come from Cleopatra in sometime. I am a big fan of the Cocteau Twins and might have been slightly pickier with some of these tracks than the average fan or listener will be. Though some tracks are obviously stronger than others (as all compilations prove) all these bands came together to honour all the many eras of one of the most diversified and talented bands of the past two decades. Definitely pick this up if you are a Cocteau Twins fan.
1.) RHEA’S OBSESSION – Cicely
2.) MEPHISTO WALZ – Iceblink Luck
3.) INERTIA – Athol-Brose
4.) JENNIFER HOPE – Seekers Who Are Lovers
5.) TRANCE TO THE SUN – The Thinner The Air
6.) ANDREA LANE – Violaine
7.) ABSINTHEE – Shallow Then Halo
8.) FAITH & DISEASE – Amelia
9.) THE MACHINE IN THE GARDEN – Need Fire
10.) THE AUTUMNS – Garlands
11.) DIVA DESTRUCTION – Persephone
12.) FEAR OF DOLLS – Wax & Wane
13.) GODBOX – Blood Bitch
14.) ONEIROID PSYCHOSIS w/ KRISTY VENRICK: Treasure Hiding
15.) STARE – In Our Angelhood
Trance to the Sun
The Machine in the Garden
Fear of Dolls
~reviewed by Matthew
Freshly emerged from Austria and the next leading act for Napalm Records, Darkwell continue to propagate the longevity of melodic Gothic metal. Similar to though more reserved than label mates Tristania or The Sins Of Thy Beloved, this female fronted act deliver a related style of upbeat, power metal tinged Goth metal carried by symphonic keyboards, entwining guitar harmonies, and an angelic female alto. The voice of Alexandra Pittracher is sweetly timid in its expression, rather than a charging bombast of glass shattering operatic wails (which are, in my humble opinion, welcome as well if done with passionate conviction). Her style works well with the power chord crunch of the band, and the delightful phrases of classical piano, sweeping orchestral torrents and the occasional bounce of Baroque harpsichord. Being Austrian, her English is occasionally flawed but it is almost charming in a way, and her accent is one of the many distinguishable aspects to her voice. It is easy to forgive the honest grammatical errors simply because her voice is just so damned cute!
Seriously, ‘cute’ may be an inappropriate word but Darkwell may be draped in melancholy and Romantic lyrical concepts, there is a definite upbeat and catchy flavour to the band. The occasional interludes of double-bass and galloping guitar riffing also strengthen the impact and driving nature of the band. I think Darkwell also, being barren of death or black metal vocals, would easily cross over to traditional Gothic audiences, in the same manner that bands such as The Gathering have recently. On the other side of the coin, Darkwell are most likely not heavy enough for fans of darker, death or black metal tinged atmospheric bands.
But being enamoured by both styles of harsh and softer metal, I very much like this CD. All the familiar elements are wed together wonderfully. The metallic mischievousness and wintry landscapes are paired suitingly with the tender melodicism of a female voice. Though it’s been done many times before, this is Darkwell’s take on it, therefore introducing the unique vision and creativity of five more musicians.
I would however, like to see the band decrease the use of male vocals, especially if they will be continually used in the manner of this debut. Not necessarily because they were outright bad, as Christian Flipp’s voice has the dark tonality and brooding mystique of many well-reputed gothic and dark metal vocalists. No, the drawback is that the most clichéd lyrical moments were delivered by the male vocals, such as in “The Rejuvination” where the first verse is:
“You’re welcome, children of the night, to my world of chaos.
Sanity is just a weird form of madness.”
I think there should be a rule for ALL bands to follow: do not under any circumstances use the phrase ‘children of the night,’ as it has been beaten to death, and has long since become highly laughable. Leave Bela Lugosi undead, if I can coin Bauhaus’ immortal classic for the sake of pun.
However, do not lower your expectations for Darkwell or their lyrical abilities for that matter alone. Barring a few weaker spots, the stronger moments are in greater number, especially for a band that speak English as a second language.
The best material appears toward the latter half of the CD, as the title track is probably my favourite track, with a beautiful climactic chorus where the male vocals appear in a more favourable light and the female vocals employ gorgeous soprano techniques. Equally powerful is “Realm Of Darkness,” where the pleasing qualities of Alexandra’s voice are at their most expressive, and the backdrop of melancholy power chords and icy keyboards wrap an eloquent velvet bow about a truly valuable musical package. The closing track opens with very cool distorted arpeggios floating above loose, swayable drums that gradually tighten into lurching double bass fills. The song is then pushed along for Alexandra’s cherubic voice and the silvery synths to add the final touches for a dramatic and fulfilling close to a highly listenable, enjoyable, and fresh Gothic metal release. Keep an eye out for this band, and drop them a line after visiting their Mp3 page to hear a sample of what they have to offer.
1.) Pictures Of Strife
3.) Lady’s Choice
4.) Path To Salvation:
Two Souls Creature Trilogy
5.) The Beginning
6.) The Salvation
7.) The Rejuvination
9.) Realm Of Darkness
Alexandra Pittracher – vocals
Roman Wienicke – guitars
Roland Wurzer – bass
Christian Flipp – keyboards, backing vocals
Moritz Neuner – drums
Darkwell Official Site:
Darkwell Mp3 Site:
~reviewed by Matthew
Again, I admire a city I have been to three times. The Detroit Electronica Coalition (yeah that’s right, they have one of those) has put together this mammoth CD showcasing some of the leading electronic/industrial projects in the Michigan area. It seems that the electonic scene in the Motor City is very tight knit, or at least it is attempting to be, and I think other cities could learn from this type of interconnection and support. This CD and what it represents is very encouraging, to say the least.
There is a little bit for every type of rivet head and remix-aholic on this CD. You have driving guitar driven cuts from Glitch, Aether Ground, Hypodermic as well as more darkwave/synth popish stuff from CEOXiME, Ickytrip, Chiasm, and Man X The Motor. There is also a wealth of ambient ‘light’ techno found in the offerings by Jason C Slaughter, Elemental Groove and Crash Site 68.
I would highly suggest that fans of electronic music contact the DEC and obtain a copy of this compilation. When I say fans, I say people that prefer the art of this craft rather than the novelty of the music. This CD is not a collection of songs that are to be judged for how many bodies run out to the dance-floor but rather the strengths rely on the creativity used to assemble the numerous artists and diverse styles found on this low priced compilation.
1.) GLITCH – Y2k
2.) JASON C SLAUGHTER – Rouge River Sunrise
3.) CEOXIME – Innocence (Crazy Mix)
4.) ELEMENTAL GROOVE – What Are Those
5.) AETHER GROUND – All Victims
6.) 4FR – Flying Triangles
7.) ESION – You Are Hear
8.) <ERE.K> - India’s Fruit
9.) CHIASM – Bouncing Baby Clones
10.) ICKYTRIP – Beyond This Today (Nif)
11.) HYPODERMIC – Trade
12.) CRASH SITE 68 – Glyph
13.) MAN X THE MOTOR – You Can’t Stop The Future
14.) SPACESCAPE – Musik Elektronik
Detroit Electronica Coalition
P.O. Box 2541
Dearborn, MI 48123
Glitch – http://members.aol.com/Glitch68/GHP.html
Jason C. Slaughter – http://www.umd/umich.edu~jasoncsl/music.htm
CEOXiME – http://www.cryogen.com/ceoxime
Elemental Groove – http://www.elementalgroove.com
AetherGround – http://www.tripphornsolution.com/synpage.htm
4FR – http://www/zun.com/4FR.html
Esion – http://members.tripod.com/esion
Chiasm – http://listen.to/chiasm
Hypodermic – http://www.thepurplegang.com
Crash Site 68 – http://members.aol.com/GLITCHuser/cs68.html
Man x The Motor – http://my.voyager.net/manxthemotor
SpaceScape – http://www.electronikpalette.com/spacescape
~reviewed by Cyberina Flux
If Throbbing Gristle is the Grandfather of Industrial Music, the French duo Die Form wins the crown of the Grandmother role. While the British were releasing recordings of old-man Burroughs talking about schools, showers, and swimming pools, Die Form was spreading the sounds of the warm and sensual side of Industrial music from their home in a provincial French town.
Just as their early genre peers, Die Form did not stop their creativity at just at a few good tunes. Although, instead of teaching the world about this new culture through film as did their British counterparts, Die Form’s Philippe Fichot is a painter and a photographer producing works that rival some of the greatest underground artists of the 20th century. A comprehensive directory of cover art pieces is available on their web site at http://dieform.assimilation.org/
This year, Die Form releases Extremum, appropriately in the 23rd year since their formation and their first full-length original album since Duality in 1998. Keeping with Die Form tradition, this album is bedecked in some amazing photography. It contains their signature discordant and rhythmic programming, old school distorted vocals provided by Philippe, ethereal swarms of operatic female voices provided by Elaine, and lyrics jam-packed with delicious tales of eroticism.
This is NOT a CD of a washed-up old act trying to drain the last remaining dollars from what’s left of their name. This IS an incredible work of art from seasoned masters. A definite must for all Industrial music history fiends, DJs, fans, and doms. I’ve even had trouble picking out the best tracks to talk about because its all just so intoxicating!
We can only hope that
Die Form continues giving us the gift of music for more years to come.
1. Resonant Magnetic SourceDie Form is:
2. Deep Inside
5. Animal Magnetism
6. Operating Theater
7. Electronic Brainpan
8. Itopsia Atropos
10. Transgressions I
11. O.T.E.D. [Oral Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction]
12. Transvocal Mutations
14. Radiomorphism 2
Die Form Official Web Site - http://dieform.assimilation.org
Post Office Box 54307
Philadelphia, PA 19105
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
I find it difficult to believe that there would be anyone reading this review that doesn't have any previous knowledge whatsoever about the sordid(?) history of Download or it's progenitor, Cevin Key. So I'm not going to go into detail there, eschewing the redundant in favour of the meat. In a nutshell, this is a (very) good release. 'Effector' is the 5th full-length release by Download, and continues where 'III' left off. What that means is that if you really didn't like the direction Mr.Key was heading with 'III', then you probably won't care too much for this release either. On the other hand, if you really dug that groove, Daddy-O, then you'll love where this disc goes. With 'Effector', Download have gone the audio surrealist route, and crafted a stack of sounds that will continue to offer something new after many listens. Time signatures are abused to the extreme, and 4/4 is apparently regarded as evil... (Take that, VNV Nation) The cd's introductory track, 'Carrier Tone' is a morass of bleeps, chirps, whirrs, and beats, with off-key synths lines thrown in to offset the whole thing. Just when it seems like you're totally lost, it sucks you back in with it's catchy hooks. The effect continues throughout the whole cd, let me assure you. There is humour thrown in for good measure, with Track 3 ('Vagator'.. Any ideas on how to pronounce that? I still can't figure it out..), and some funk-tastic beats via Track 6, 'Chrysanthemum' (Say it real fast 10 times, then spell it). Overall, I am reminded of later works by the Orb, only far more consistent. Like many others, I too lament the loss of Skinny Puppy.. But I am just as pleased watching the progression of this new creature rising from the ashes. Congratuations, Mr.Key sir, for entertaining us all yet again. Now quit reading this and go buy the disc.
1: Carrier Tone
4: Ego Dissolve
5: The Guide
8: Two Worlds Collide
Download are Cevin Key and
Nettwerk Records: www.nettwerk.com
~reviewed by Rev. A. Strangerz 23.3
Coming straight out of the gate with a feel very similar to Dead Voices on Air's Piss Frond album (Mark Spyby is an ex-alumni of Download) Carrier Tone gives equal relief to those who were wanting another Download 3, and those wanting to see some return to the noisier past. With all the "piss-frond"ness aside (I know that is not a real word, just stick with me here.) Effector is not a one pass album. Even on headphones, many things can just slide right through you as if they were ambient particles, or pieces of memory. These tracks if separated, grow on you in their own ways.
Different from the last Download album, which seemed to be a whole piece, and not easy to distinguish the separate tracks, or even remember the titles of some. No, this one has various similarities to all things Download while at the same time being an entity in and of itself. Having relocated to the "Sunshine" State. The inside cover displays a variety of "tabs" (virgin I am sure) associated with the LSD era of the 90's. So are we to assume that the 'Effector' is in some way psychedelic in nature. I would not suggest doing anything illegal so maybe we'll answer that question by listening again after the third day of flights, shows, reviews, and no sleep. (Or maybe I'll just take some of this Robotussin for my *cough* cold.)
At any rate the overall style of this release really settles in by the time Vagator kicks in. An intro sample of a "Deamon" calling a radio talk show, and the host asking 'him/it' to talk normal, reminds you that these are the people who used to sample any and all demented radio/tv/alien frequencies to give texture and life to the concepts they were about to brap against. Still many may find tracks and sample styles to still be a bit too 'up'. Possibly a bit house and techno-e. If you found 'Download" via the release before this one, and thought these were more baggy pants wearing, ball cap side cocked-style techno kiddies from some burbs. Well the cracks in the paint of that facade are almost big enough to see their "Skinny Puppy" past. Rhythmic downbeats, more real-time drumming from cEVIN Key, and the haunting echo of noises you can almost put your brain upon. Defiantly echo with respect from the past, and may just build a bridge to a new electronic future (yes, again...) Ego Dissolve, gives you more clues that they may be playing with California Sunshine, (the trip strays from good to bad throughout the whole song though.) The Guide takes you to another "Plateau" (no pun intended, yet Westerns influence is very apparent all over this release, and especially this track.) I am most certain by the time of this writing that Chrysanthemum is already a classic in many people's book. DJ's daring to test this one on the dancefloor, may find themselves wanting to remix ol' school hip hop versions of "Assimilate". Still a very catchy way of bringing you to the center of the song. Sneaking in the DUB, and rounding it out with a clicky backwards sample. Once again the identities of the individual tracks are easier to hold on to. Proof of this is the way two worlds collide , really seems to live up to it's name. I would have to give this release my P.O.M seal, just due to the fact that with so many expectations, the bridge between psychedelic rhythms, and post-industrial bliss, is still being built by these masterful releases. Passing all test, and giving a being a good companion to Crystal Mass by The Teargarden. If you have not experienced 'Download" yet. Don't be afraid. It's not as scary as your first ACID trip. Yet be warned, continual use may effect your standards of techno/industrial cross-over releases.
1: Carrier Tone
4: Ego Dissolve
5: The Guide
8: Two Worlds Collide
Download are Cevin Key and
Nettwerk Records: www.nettwerk.com
-review by Sonia Leonard
Eric Alexandrakis’ new album “I.V. Catatonia” is the second self composed, arranged, produced and engineered work of the musician. The first being “9 Demos on a 4 Track.” (Former Duran Duran Bass player and co-founder John Taylor has placed Erics’ first cd on his official website. http://www.TRUSTTHEPROCESS.com)
I.V. Catatonia’s conception began in 1998 when Eric was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. The medical theme is a predominate motif throughout the album and it’s cover. Creating the music in his home on a four track machine, the finished product includes sounds from traditional instruments such as guitars, drums and keyboards and interestingly enough not so conventional instruments like “a popcorn canister banged by a tambourine and run through a flange pedal.” Erics’ influential range extends from classical to pop and he holds a degree in music business. This twenty-two track cd is filled with innovative sounds and split into two clever parts. Treatments 1-6 and Treatments 7-12.
I found the cd to be at times very relaxing and other times eye opening. The vocals reminded me, at points, of Pink Floyd. The music seems to mix late 60’s English rollers and metal. The sound pieces (like in The Big Crunch Theory) are very well put together and not a little bit surreal. Some songs are evily happy like #10 Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. Others are almost dreamy and still others have a touch of punk to them.
There is no shortage of sound on this ingeniously creative cd. Proving, yet again, you don’t have to have much to create a memorable lot...While I can appreciate his efforts and definitely his creativity I unfortunately cannot share his enthusiasm in listening to the finished product. I say this only because it does not speak to me as it might someone else and that I do not want to mislead anyone by including the facts and not my musical opinion as a reviewer. I personally like music that is more involving, in beat and lyrics and not so much a cacophony of sounds stringed together with a loose melody. Interesting yes, satisfying no.
By all means though, check out his cd at MP3.com and judge for yourself.
1. And Now A Word From Our Chairman
2. I.V. Catatonia
3. The Bells of Irony
4. Selenium, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, B-12, Vitamin C, Cat’s Claw and
Muliti Vitamin & Mineral Supplement
7. Always So Far Away (From Me)
8. The Big Crunch Theory
9. Beware the IDES of March
10. Sir Gawain and The Green Knight
11. Drowning Spock
12. Hooligan Hotline (You Walk Away)
13. Daylight Daylight
16. The Carnival is All Around
17. Cyrano Debegerac
18. Smurd S’niawag Ris
19. Hunting Venus
20. Good Riddance
21. Spaceport Cabaret
Visit Eric Alexandrakis on
his website ;
Listen to the album at;
Contact Eric through e-mail;
Contact Y&T Records;
Contact Eric through snail
6705 SW. 147th Ct.
Miami, FL 33193
Various Artists; Projekt
Excelsis Vol. 2: A Winter's Song
~reviewed by Blu
Its that time of year kids. Forget Thanksgiving and skip right on over to the Christmas selection at your local department store. And, lucky for us, the elves at Projekt Records have constructed an exceptional offering of silvery, sparkling Christmas music for even the gothiest of hearts. Excelsis Vol2: A Winter's Song is indeed the second such compilation from Projekt. Never one to disappoint, Projekt delivers another mouth-watering, beautiful collection of traditional and not so traditional songs as well as original compositions this year from a variety of your favorite bands. Congrats to Lisa for gathering such a fine group of musicians - the line up is impressive. This indeed is must have - for even the gloomiest of souls will have to smile at these amazing sounds. If you're gonna participate in Christmas cheer, why not do it with exceptional style and beauty?
El Duende starts off the CD with "Gaudete, Gaudete" which simply is the most beautiful, elegant arrangement I've heard in a long time. It's a 16th Century, Swedish tune whose creator has long since been lost in the hands of history. Oscar Herrara lends his commanding but gentle vocals to keyboards and programmed tracks by Juan Carlos Rodriguez, which include some vocal samples from "Symphony of Voices" by Spectrasonics. The CD is worth getting for this track alone. It's a mixture of classical, march, and renaissance infused with ethereal passages and operatic climaxes. Its timeless quality makes it worthy of becoming a more prominent traditional holiday song.
Rhea's Obsession does "We Three Kings" with the help of Athan Maroulis and then adds "Huron Indian Carol" later on in the CD. Their version of "We Three Kings" is an exotic piece full of gypsy orient mysteries in the form of plucked strings and harmonious vocals. "Huron Indian Carol" is another exotic soundscape - this time with a beautiful Native American theme complete with tribal drumming and chanting. Both songs are done in the delicate, haunting manner that Rhea's Obsession has become known for and are definitely something fans will want to have in their possession. Infact, because its beyond the traditional holiday sound, "Huron Indian Carol" is very much a candidate for year-round play lists.
London After Midnight contributes "The Christmas Song" which is a special treat because its an original composition. Sean and company give us a goth-rock, holiday bottle full of cheer, love and hopefulness complete with well blended guitars, keyboards, sparkling chimes and beautiful lyrics.
The Cruxshadows, with their ever-increasing popularity, saw fit to cover rock icon John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)." It starts out with a chilling violin playing the melody and then lunges into the poppy dance beat they're known for along with Rogue's unique vocals. The violin continues in contrasting counter-melody to Rogue throughout the song which makes for a dynamic appeal. This is definitely danceable music whether it be in a club or through your living room around your tree.
"Lord of the Dance" is the fifth track performed by Unto Ashes. The song itself is composed of traditional Shaker lyrics set to soft acoustic guitar, the angelic voice of Melody Henry and backed by a mix of percussion and a cello. This is a dainty, peaceful song that seems to fill in the hole left by those quiet winter moments.
"Coventry Carol" is another traditional but not well-known song arranged and performed for us by The Machine in the Garden. This haunting song inspires reverence and reflection with its soaring vocals and harmonies.
Taken from the 1964 TV special, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "Silver and Gold" was recorded at the Tea Room in Seattle by Faith and Disease. Quiet but playful, Dara's vocals add a nice touch of femininity in contrast to the original song. She's backed by Eric on guitar and bass guitar, Charlotte on flute and Devin on keyboards.
Lynn Canfield gives us another original with "True Present." Her innocent, almost child-like voice is showcased against a theatrical piano that reminds me much of doing winter plays in school. I can almost see the snow falling in front of the stage lights as dancers from Swan Lake twirl around in the background.
"Nerotai Hazarurim (Little Candles)" is another traditional song that's re-done beautifully and sensitively by Sofia Run with Rich F. helping on keyboards. The sacredness of time-worn tradition translates through this piece like an heirloom.
Siddal brings us "In the Bleak Midwinter" which is a melodic original. It's slow and pensive and despite the gloomy title, is not so melancholy that it wouldn't be welcomed around a warm fire.
Thanatos does its version of "Silent Night" with Padraic Ogl on vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica and William Tucker on electric guitars. Padraic's strong vocals (surprisingly akin to those of Voltaire's) and guitar strumming conjure images of people gathered around him during an impromptu concert. Everyone sing along!
Another well-known traditional song, "What Child is This?" is performed and arranged by Julia Kent. Although not specified in the sleeve, I do believe the melody is carried off by a cello with backing strings for accompaniment. This piece, being entirely an instrumental, sets itself apart from the other tracks on this comp for its attention to musical composition and tradition.
Lycia adds a special twist to "O Little Town of Bethlehem." With Tara VanFlower's mesmerizing vocals laid against bell chimes and what sounds like some electronic wizardry going on in the background, the piece becomes magical.
Finally, none other than Human Drama wrap up this CD with "I Believe in Father Christmas." Johnny Indovina's emotional vocals are enough to make *me* weep and I try hard not to buy into mushy Christmas stuff (wink). The string sections of this song are exquisitely done with light bells accenting in just the right places.
If you buy any Christmas
music this year, make this be the one. Heck, if you didn't plan to, re-think
that decision. This is a CD you'll not only get mileage out of for many
Christmases to come, but some songs on here, as I mentioned, will do well
all year round. Truly, the talent and quality amassed on this CD is amazing.
Again, bravo to Projekt for bringing us another beautiful CD!
El Duende firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhea's Obsession email@example.com
London After Midnight www.londonaftermidnight.com PO Box 1377 Hollywood, Ca 90078-1377
The Cruxshadows http://members.tripod.com/~Darkage98firstname.lastname@example.org
Unto Ashes www.UntoAshes.com
The Machine in The Garden email@example.com
Faith and Disease PO Box 2721 Seattle, Wa 98111 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynn Canfield PO Box 305 Urbana, IL 61803 Canrain1@aol.com
Sofia Run PO Box 656625 Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
Thanatos POBox 146636 Chicago, IL 60614 email@example.com
Julia Kent firstname.lastname@example.org
Human Drama email@example.com
Projekt PO Box 166155 Chicago, IL 60616 www.projekt.com
Special Holiday Twin
Pack Offers from Projekt!
Excelsis holiday Twin-Pak
(featuring both of our Excelsis holiday cds, for the low low price of $19.98.
Ambient Twin-Pak featuring
Forrest Fang's "Gongland" and Jeff Greinke's "Over Ruins" . . . only $19.98
And the ethereal Twin-Pak
featuring Faith & Disease's "Beneath the trees" and Unto Ashes' "MOON
oppose MOON" . . . only $19.98
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
Ahh, Flesh Field... Not too long ago, this virtually-unknown project came blasting out of nowhere, pounding us all into sweaty, whimpering submission...and oh, how we ate it up. The energy and passion of 'Viral Extinction' was beyond compare, being the freshest Industrial-Dance music release in years. Written by Ian Ross, with vocals delivered by both Ian and 'lady-o-sexiness' Rian Miller, Flesh Field were, and are, such a glorious fusion of angry, stompy beats and arrpeggiated basslines. Wicked-Slick, shivers down my spine. So to tide over the drooling fanboys, Flesh Field gives us this remix EP, 'Redemption'.
...And no, they did _not_ put any nekkid pix of Rian anywhere in the liner notes...you'll just have to cope. They did however concoct an impressive array of remixers. Pain Station, Negative Format, Covenant, Gridlock, Railgun, Aghast View, Arzt+Pfusch, Sabotage, and Dubok. Nothing to sneeze at, Billy.
Too bad just about all the remixers kind of missed the point, hey? This happens all too often with remix cd's.. The remixers aren't on the same/right wavelength, and inevitably something is lost in the translation. The big one here is most of the remixers somehow managed to remove the most vital element to the Flesh Field sound...the energy. This release doesn't keep me floating on an adrenaline rush like 'Viral Extinction' did. Oh sure, there are a few moments of furious kinetic energy...but overall this release is more tweaky than powerful. This is broken by the 4 new tracks Flesh Field included... Maybe it's just a chemistry thing? Ian and Rian have a good thing going. Now, if you're the type who really enjoys complete reinterpretations, you'll find this cd to be a 'blast from the Orgazmoraytor'. 'Cause while the remixers generally missed the energy boat, there is no shortage of creative reworking. There isn't a single mix on here that doesn't have something pretty cool to offer... My personal favorites being the Covenant and Arzt+Pfusch remixes. Tasty. Mmmnn... I preferred 'Viral Extinction', but this cd is still a blast. And if the bonus tracks are any indication, the next Flesh Field release will pick up and beat me so senseless as to beg forgiveness for my transgressions. So it's all good.
1: Redemption (The Rage)
2: Inside (Outside) remix by Railgun
3: Silicon Skies (RRGA) remix by Pain Station
4: The Plague (Club) remix by Aghast View
6: Cyberchrist (Horse Hammer) remix by Arzt+Pfusch
7: Where Angels Go To Die (Sabotaged) remix by Sabotage
8: Fallen Angel (Absolution) remix by Negative Format
9: Compulsive Betrayal
10: My Savior (GLX-08) remix by Gridlock
11: Inside (Insides out) remix by Covenant
12: Overload/Numb (Man Of LaMancha) remix by Dubok
13: Redemption (The Aftermath)
Flesh Field are:
Flesh Field: http://www.inception-records.com/fleshfield
Inception Records: http://www.inception-records.com
Where Dreams Turn To Dust
~reviewed by Matthew
The lone word that springs to mind after hearing this band is “Wow!” Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, Forest of Shadows is a two piece band that deliver an unrivaled cornucopia of epic Doom, Gothic, and Power metal, all gathered into one bleak and emotionally devastating package.
Sounding like a head on collision between Opeth, old My Dying Bride and Katatonia, Forest Of Shadows take those popular styles and blend them ingeniously to cross over and appeal to fans of multiple dark music genres. Obviously their music has touched many as they have been reigning atop the Mp3 Gothic Metal charts for the past month and a half with their tracks “Under The Dying Sun” and “The Silent Cry” with three other tracks close on their tails.
Forest Of Shadows formed
as a duo, with both members handling multiple instruments for recording
and a handful of session players. But the core of the band is founder
Niclas Frohagen and dedicated contributor Micce Andersson. The band
released a promotional EP entitled “The Silent Cry” in early 1998, and
quickly followed up with the fine-tuned three track offering “Where Dreams
Turn To Dust.” Forest Of Shadows is a very complex and ambitious band,
songs often nearing or exceeding ten minutes in length. With multiple passages of acoustic guitar serenades, and haunting flute, piano, and violin solos, the band exhibit both a penchant for classical inspired doom with more upbeat, double-bass driven parts that gallop full-steam ahead into the realm of power metal.
But most importantly, the two musicians have a knack for composing striking melodies, as the twin guitars resonate with grief and sorrowful feeling, topped by agonized death metal growls and gorgeous clean vocal harmonies, best exemplified in an astounding melodic break in the song “Wish.” With lush male choir vocals drifting atop a charging metallic backdrop, the band contributes an immortal moment in this genre that will be appreciated by many. It’s a truly remarkable passage; long enough to captivate yet brief enough not to be monotonous.
Another memorable track is “Of Sorrow Blue,” which is literally a maze of changes and shifts in mood, clocking in at over eleven minutes. A brooding tone is set immediately in the strong opening as a sludgy drum/power chord backbone is wed to a sweet, haunting riff. Gothic male vocals appear for the early verses as the melody carries to reach a short acoustic break, then to venture off into several different darker and heavier moments, where the guttural vocals take center stage. The song enfolds the listener within a suffocating mood that reaches its final destintation with a somber acoustic outro punctuated by a solo violin.
The band’s latest release is the fifteen-minute opus “Under The Dying Sun” which appears by itself on a new DAM CD single at Mp3.com. This track is very well done, with all the band’s atmospheric and metallic elements perfectly brought together, and with better production than the original 1998 recording of the song.
Forest Of Shadows are an
amazing band with a wealth of talent, and their sound is so vast and encompassing
in its grandiosity that it will not be hard for fans of dark progressive
metal, goth metal, or death metal to fall head over heals in love with
Track List: The Silent Cry
1.) The Silent Cry
2.) Under The Dying
3.) Moments in Solitude
4.) A November Dream
Track List: Where Dreams
Turn To Dust (1999)
1.) Eternal Autumn
3.) Of Sorrow Blue
Track List: Under The Dying
1.) Under The Dying Sun
Forest Of Shadows Is:
Niclas Frohagen: Vocals, guitar, piano, synth
Micce Andersson: Bass, guitar, piano, synth, violin
Martin Olsson: Bass
Martin Pettersson: Bass
Anna Ekblad: Flute
Forest Of Shadows – Official
Forest Of Shadows – Mp3 Site:
~reviewed by Michael
I have long been an advocate of going into a record store and buying a band that I had never heard of. Sometimes I get burned, but more often than not, I like what I buy. Garden of Shadows is one of those I was glad I took the chance on.
Hailing from Gaithersburg, Maryland, this album stands as their official debut, having released a demo titled Heart of the Corona and a MCD also titled Heart of the Corona but remastered and with extra tracks. Their first release on Wicked World, a subsidiary of Earache, Oracle Moon shows the promise this fledgling band has to offer.
Oracle Moon starts out with a guitar riff reminiscent of an old power metal band and when I first heard it, I thought that is what I had purchased. Very quickly, however, the growls, rhythm guitar, and double bass drum kicked in, and I knew I was in for a treat. Calling themselves “Mystical Epic Death Metal”, Garden of Shadows starts with the title track, and they are definitely just that. Extremely catchy and prominent guitar riffs set the pace for the gurgling vocals while the drums furtively keep pace with a dizzying array of time changes. Keyboards add an ethereal element and float drifting tendrils of an atmosphere not quite our own across the nether senses. The second guitarist, Mary, adds some harshly whispered undertones to the track, which fit nicely alongside the deeper growls. Fading out with a wonderful riff coupled with Chad’s howls, Oracle Moon stands out as my favorite track on the CD.
“Citadel Of Dreams” keeps pace with the first track, delivering well-timed pauses of atmosphere and then forging onward into more lunar fantasy. “Into Infinity” turned out to be a very short instrumental that gave birth to “Dissolution of the Forms”, a multi-paced epic that pulses on, unstoppable, for over eight minutes. ”Continuum” and “Desert Shadows” flow effortlessly through the last half of the CD, offering more of the same time changes and slow breaks that make this so easy to listen to. “Twilight Odyssey” is where we first song we hear Mary sing for the first time on the CD and it caught me off guard when I heard it. Her voice rang out like church bells on doomsday, and offered a sudden and beautiful spurt of melancholy in this otherwise chaotic recording. After hearing her sing and knowing the CD was coming to a close, I was left wishing she would have sang more, and I sincerely hope she does on their next one.
I have one very minor complaint with this CD, though. Chad’s vocals rarely change pitch and often times seem to plod along to a point where I wasn’t actually listening to them. Although they fit very nicely with the music, a few more variations in the singing and the music will be elevated even higher than it is.
We’re at a time now where American bands have taken note of much of the talent coming from across the seas. Bands like Garden of Shadows, Rain Fell Within, and Somnus add a refreshing breath of air to the scene I had considered stagnant not long ago. I highly recommend each of these bands if you have considered the American metal scene to be nothing more than a pile of hip hop wanna-be’s clogging up their air waves with their repetitive songs and ripped up wife beater t-shirts.
2.Citadel of Dreams
4.Dissolution of the Forms
Garden of Shadows is:
Brian – guitars, keys
Mary – guitars, voices
Chad – vocals
Sean – bass
Bret – drums
Band Contact Info
Smail: 14712 Botany Way
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Smail: 2ND FLOOR 43 WEST
NEW YORK CITY - NY10018
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
~review by Matthew
Thrash metal, power metal, and strong lead female vocals collide within this Spanish quintet. On their 1998 self-titled demo (nicely packaged with plates from Dore’s “Paradise Lost” illustrations), the Growing Cells present nine upbeat and emotion fuelled tracks that recall bands such as Trail Of Tears or Within Temptation if they were weaned on small doses of Testament and Iron Maiden.
Despite an awkward, somewhat sloppy start with “Blood Is Life,” Growing Cells quickly sharpen the attack with “Alone Forever,” where the band’s positive energy begins to shine. With the majority of the songs being rhythmically mid-paced and led by driving guitar harmonies, there are quite a few faster flashes of thrash metal and even hints of melodic black metal, such as in peak track “The Princess That Denied Her Throne.” Characterized by surprising blast beat tangents and thrash riffing, as well as raspy male and angelic female vocal duets, the track has probably the most well written lyrics. I particularly appreciated the opening line in the song:
“You’ve brought the nicest colours to my castle
and I fear the returning of the grey age.”
The album closes shortly thereafter with the band’s anthem, where introspective romanticism gives way to political pro-choice themes. Perhaps that will shed some light upon the meaning of the band’s unique moniker.
Though two years old, this is the most recent recording by this outfit, and they have been currently shopping their music on the Internet. There is a lot of promise in what the band is doing, and it is easy to recognize the potential in their talent. Their music is to the point, with the average song usually clocking in at a little over three minutes. The manner in which they gather traditional and past metal elements and pair them with the progressive melodic sensibilities currently in vogue today shows that Growing Cells are working to create a brand of music that does set them apart from hosts of other similar artists. Despite the token lead female vocals, Elena has a distinguishable and pleasantly accented voice. She sings within a comfortable range, not straining to reach operatic heights for the sake of impression. I like the touches of sparse male vocals, but I hope that with future releases, female vocals are steady at the helm.
With some fine tuning in the production, as well as smoothing the slightly imprecise relationship between the frenzied guitars and loose drumming on the faster tracks, Growing Cells could rise to march along the leaders of the power/melodic metal genre. It will be interesting to see what comes of these guys.
1.) Blood Is Life
2.) Alone Forever
3.) Words I Said
4.) The Naturals
5.) On My Back
7.) The Princess That Denied Her Throne
8.) Nostalgia Storms
9.) Growing Cells
Growing Cells is:
Elena: lead vocals
Tesc: guitar & vocals
Growing Cells – Official
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
With their debut release, God Module establish themselves as State-Of-The-Art. Literally. God Module have tweaked to perfection every standard of EBM writing technique known. All the whisper vocals we know and love, all the catchy 80's-pop influenced synthlines, the thumpy 4/4 beats, obscure-ish movie dialogue samples... It's all here, wrapped in tin foil. Cause tin foil is pretty industrial.
Sounds like I think this is a pretty lame release, huh? Nuh-uh.
Music would quickly collapse on itself if pure experimentalism was the only thing anyone ever worked towards. Fact is, we _need_ projects that aspire to making solid music of the type they love and nothing more. The term State-of-the-art would cease to have any meaning without projects such as God Module. This is kind of like a good piece of Belgian Chocolate.. sure, it might just be a piece of chocolate.. But it's fine chocolate, and that can be just as rewarding, if not more so, than a 'wafer-and-nougat-with-8-different-nuts-chocolate-sammich'... Do you see what I'm getting at? Sometimes you just want something that's going to thump along comfortably, something you can put on in virtually any setting, and enjoy without having to think long and hard about why it is that you're enjoying it. And God Module is just such a project. The Inception
Records website says this:
"This group is sure to pack the dancefloors instantly & impress the masses more than they can be prepared for!!"Well, yes...they will. That's the point with music such as God Module's. They follow a formula that works, and they follow it well. (There are few things sadder than a project that attempts to follow a formula and fail miserably.) God Module thankfully craft their material artfully enough so as to not fail and make fools of themselves. If you love the likes of Individual Totem, X-Marks The Pedwalk, Abscess, even Covenant or Assemblage 23...then the odds are that you'll find something to make you feel fuzzy inside with God Module. Like I said... State-of-the-art.
5: Difficult Reflections
6: Where Even The Stars Still Shine
10: Divine Separation
13: Dreams Collide
God Module are:
God Module: http://www.inception-records.com/godmodule
Inception Records: http://www.inception-records.com
Heaven & Hell Compilation
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
A tour de force 2 disc CD compilation managed to unobtrusively sneak into the fray of releases put out this year. This particular item was introduced to me by an associate on the car stereo on our way to a concert one evening. The music which emanated from the speakers was so fresh, new and well done that I had to shop for it at Middle Pillar (www.middlepillar.com) the next day. (Yes, this reviewer buys 90% of the music that is reviewed) My associate fell in love with quite a number of these very same cuts when a club DJ boldly broke from tradition and gave new music a chance instead of relying on the same songs we have heard for the last 10 years all night long.
One disc is entitled Heaven while the other is Hell. Each disc contains 14 songs that are in English and German. After having to endure a number of predictable compilations and even more redundant DJ playlists , it is very refreshing to report that this import needs to be on your next musical shopping list. Despite having absolutely no knowledge of the German language, this in no way detracted from the magnificence or sonic addiction that some of the foreign songs conveyed. The wealth and beauty of the sounds clearly details why Germany remains the top country for underground music.
As much as I would like to highlight the bands who stood out from the crowd, this task is not possible simply because every track is, in my opinion, a stellar performance. The featured bands are the best from both sides of the Atlantic, with American bands fitting snugly alongside the German bands. There is a little of everything to satisfy most dark musical tastes, with many of the cuts already international hits. Luscious ballads are intertwined with goth rock dance tracks and industrial mayhem. Some of the bands here have been on other compilations, however obtaining their full releases can be a bit daunting at times. Luckily for the consumer, there are different cuts from them on these various compilations which will drive the interest for the music a bit further.
Thankfully, some of the more in tune club DJ’s have already put some of these tracks into their nightly rotation, causing quite a commotion on the dance floor from what I have already witnessed. One can only anticipate that others will follow in an effort to bring new life into a stagnating scene.
Do put this CD compilation on your shopping list or Christmas wish list. This CD is bound to become one of the staples in your musical collection with a very long play longevity.
1. Garden Of Delight Agony
2. Samsas Traum Fur Immer
3. Sanguis Et Cinis Die Braut Im Regen ( Fiction 8 Mix)
4. Cinema Strange En Hiver (Winter)
5. The Dust of Basement Words of God 99
6. The Second Sight The Seducer ( Radio Edit)
7. Cosmicity The Envelope
8. The Echoing Green Defender ( The Nine Mix)
9. Perfidious Words Someone To Close The Book
10. Whispers In The Shadow Umbrella Man
11. Piloroi Talking About Wolves
12. Non Compos Mentis Loser’s Lullaby
13. Endraum Und In Der Nahe Antonin Artaud
14. Black Tape for a Blue Girl Given
1. L’ame Immortelle Silver Rain
2. Flesh Field The Plague
3. Generated X-ED Electrofascism
4. Siechtum Agonie
5. Mother Destruction Ride, Rune, Ride…
6. Die Form Rain Of Blood
7. Yendri Inside The Machine
8. Fiction 8 Imperfekt
9. Hexedene Breathe
10. Substanz T Therion
11. Esplendor Geometrico Sinaya
12. Dive Warm Leatherette (Live)
13. Attrition White Men Talk (Morbus Kitahara Mix)
14. CO2 Sad Song
Released by: Trisol Music
64807 Dieburg Germany
Serenity Is The Devil
~reviewed By Psionic Imperator
Wow. High energy, superb production, this is a great fusion of EBM and house-techno with a few dashes of disco for flavoring. Strong songwriting, solid vocal delivery. This cd has all of the required ingredients for a classic album. Too bad it's a note-for-note clone, hey? 'Serenity Is The Devil' is _exactly_ the same as 'Welcome To Earth' by Apoptygma Berzerk. Hailing from the same area of the world as Apop, from what I understand there has been collaborative writing between the two projects for some time. So while this sound is the standard for Icon Of Coil, it was a departure for Apop. The crime is that Icon Of Coil now face being called clones for all of their career, while Apop takes the credit for a sound inspired, if not outright lifted from, Icon Of Coil. Bah.. Who's the clone of who? I'm inclined to believe that Icon Of Coil are the progenitors of this sound, and that Apop have been surfing the accolades of another person's creativity. With that in mind I highly recommend this release. I love this sound, I find it to be very fresh.. It's very 'Chiba city niteclub' sounding. If you haven't heard the latest Apoptygma Berzerk album, then GET THIS FIRST... These guys deserve to be judged on their own merits. If you have heard the latest Apop, please try to remain unbiased when listening to Icon Of Coil. 'Serenity Is The Devil' is, aside from 'Welcome To Earth', a fresh take on the EBM sound, and worth picking up.
3: Shallow Nation
4: Down On Me
5: Former Self
7: Situations Like These
9: You Just Died
Icon of Coil are:
Metropolis Records: http://www.metropolis-records.com/
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
This whole powernoise/rythmic noise movement has been a real slugfest of substandard elitism in my eyes. A glut of projects that overdrive the distortion on the percussion to create what they deem is a new paradigm in industrial... Feh. What happens all too often is repititious tripe, with little to no redeeming value.
"All too often" is the key phrase, however.. Not "Always".
There are exceptions to the
rule.. Winterkalte, consume, even some of the works done by Sonar.. All
are examples of powernoise done right, energetic material with layers of
complexity other noise projects feign having. And so we find 'Idyl', creative
outlet for one Scott Anderson. Idyl was formed originally as a side-project
of 'Conversion Factor', and has since become the prime vehicle for Mr.
Anderson's musical musings. Although 'musical' and musings' are both sort
of misnomers.. The first Idyl release is 'Kef', a four track limited edition
mini-CD-R released on Frozen Empire Media.
Frozen Empire have a good thing going.. Idyl is indicative of the quality of Frozen Empire Media, and as such this CD-R only label has a bright future. The sort of punk-DIY work ethic really shines here.. Unfortuneatly, the print run for 'Kef' has been limited to 40 copies, and it is here that the biggest flaw to 'Kef' can be found. Already sold out, it's creating a louder and louder buzz, and attracting new fans everytime it gets played at clubs or on the radio.. With a growing fanbase, one usually wants to keep the supply/demand balance even.. But I digress. Again.
'Kef' is a nasty work. Angry,
abrasive, abusive.. Sort of the audio equivalent of rubbing a rusty peice
of metal into a sucking chest wound. Not happy family tunes. Although only
4 tracks long, it more than makes up for it's length by cramming in as
much brutality as any full length release. Above and beyond these claims,
Idyl is a multifaceted critter, showcasing a waide array of rythmic layers,
using mechanical rythms for hooks in place of soaring synth lines or arrpeggiated
bass lines. This is the sort of material that keeps me looking towards
the growing rythmic noise genre with interest instead of disdain. In my
heart, a love of fury in music still burns bright, left over from my days
as a hair-farming metalhead.. Idyl appeases that love, and at the same
time appeases my desire to hear something more than an angsty metal-guy
grunting about corpses. The followup to 'Kef' is scheduled to be released
sometime this winter. Entitled 'Halcyon', it too will be a limited print
run. Do yourself a happy thing, and sign on to get a copy. You will SO
not be dissapointed.
3: Blank Disk
Idyl is Scott Anderson
Frozen Empire Media: http://www.frozenempiremedia.com/
~reviewed by Blu
Boise, Idaho -- home of potato fields, an uncanny booming software business and a dark wave band named Lovesick. Snicker if you might at what pictures Boise Idaho brings to mind, but this band is no laughing matter. They're one of the more refreshing things I've heard of in a long long time.
So this CD itself was made in 1997 but none the less, its brilliant and deserves to be talked about. I got it from a friend and co-worker who played a concert with them before (3SKS - plug plug). He plopped this disc down on my desk and said, "You might like this -- I think they're really good." *Like* is an understatement.
The music is light but mellow and polished off by what else but "lovesick" lyrics that really appealing in a masochistic love kind of way. Sort of a Toad the Wet Sprocket approach mixed in with the healthy influence of The Cure. There's bouncing bass lines and undulating guitar riffs tied up neat and sparkling - the perfect soundtrack for a lazy Sunday morning. And although Cure-like in essence, Jeran makes no attempt to impersonate Robert which is a relief. Jeran is himself -- subdued vocals that glide easily and smoothly over the music behind them.
"Flowers" opens the CD with its sweet but not sickening, love song. Its light and danceable and the dreamy guitar chords almost make me wish I hadn't sworn off relationships just to feel that way again. Of course, there's a twist at the end - and you find out he's alone and crying (isn't that always the way?) - my my, its tragically goth after all. "Pretending" is a track that I find irresistible to dance to -- why aren't I hearing this in clubs folks? I'll have to do something about that. "December" is fun and almost reminds me of that good old 80's underground stuff.
All the tracks are worthy of praise but "Never" and "Close Your Eyes" have got to be the most beautiful songs on the CD with their mesmerizing keys, throbbing drums like a funeral march and guitars that sound very much like The Cure's sound on Pornography and Disintegration... lovely and oh so tragic.
Reflection embodies an overall feeling of innocence and vulnerability when it comes to matters of the heart that I have to believe will tap into everyone's own experiences in one way or another. And if not -- if you're of the cold-hearted clan, well... I'm betting you'll like the music anyway. In a time when aggressive music is all that's really being pushed out there, these danceable yet dreamy songs are a refreshing change of pace. I'm curious to see what they'll put out next... I want more.
close your eyes
lovesick on this recording
Jeran Dahlquist - guitars, vocals
Ryan Powers - keyboard
Landon Shaffer - drums
David Schafer - bass
PO Box 6492
Boise, Idaho 83707
Gateways to Annihilation
~reviewed by Michael
Ever since David Vincent left the band in 1996, Morbid Angel had seemed to lack something. The songs were still good, but some of that in-your-face power and presence was missing. With Gateways to Annihilation, they have once again reclaimed their seat by the side of the Ancient Ones. Gateways starts with an instrumental that could have been left off. It’s something that sounds like crickets in a field but this is only temporary, as it flows immediately into “Summoning Redemption” which is a fitting opener. Virtually every song is mid-paced, taking you back to the Domination album akin to “Where The Slime Lives”. With the pace slowed down, the songs have become infinitely more powerful and heavy. “Ageless, Still I Am”, “At One With Nothing”, and Secured Limitations” follow this slower pace while “He Who Sleeps”, “I”, and God of the Forsaken” speed up but yet maintain their power.
I love this album. Morbid Angel has created a masterpiece that can be appreciated by many genres of metal. The lyrics are ever dark and the guitar work is outstanding. I just wish Eric Rutan would have been turned loose a little more on this CD a I loved his work on “Hatework” from the Domination CD. Although I liked Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, Gateways stands head and shoulders above it and is another landmark addition to an already excellent catalog.
Morbid Angel is:
Steve Tucker – Vocals, bass
Trey Azagthoth – Guitars
Eric Rutan – Guitars
Pete Sandoval – Drums
Official Website: www.morbidangel.com
Flowers For Solomon
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
Recently it was reported to me that a large majority of the fans and consumers of gothic music are also students or employees of the medical and legal professions. It should come as no surprise then, that this artist has an extensive medical background, which seems to be the impetus behind much of the avant garde sounds heard on this 3 track EP. As a rule, folks who work in the medical world are the closest to life, death, sanity and insanity on a daily basis which often encompasses the questioning of God and faith in general, especially in light of the many ills that befall mankind. Maenad took many religious talk radio broadcasts and composed layers of sound around them while creating many questions at the same time.
"Levell" opens with sounds of water dripping and a woman declaring her joy and love for the Lord. The sound and tones in the background paints and eerie canvas which depicts that something is not right with all of this. After the women reaches a peak occurrence, she begins to chastise the priest that had he prayed like she prayed, he would have experienced the almost orgasmic joy she had just experienced. Another caller, a 38 year old woman, claims to have been saved for 16 years. She was diagnosed with bipolar, schizoaffective disorder 19 years ago and now refuses to take her medicine. She claims that her family is hurting her by forcing her into the hospital. Her rationale is not totally coherent, but all the televangelist broadcaster wants to do is pray.
Many who work in healthcare know that there is a large percentage of the mentally disturbed with a strangely zealous religious fervor. This track highlights in a rather frightening realm how much of today’s morality and religiosity is being targeted towards the mentally ill via these broadcasts. This leaves more questions open for debate. Why would intelligent people with a healthy sense of spirituality feel the need to channel the mentally ill towards more hysteria and fervent behavior? Are those who channel this energy really rational or are they just as mentally ill only they have the ability to broadcast their messages to the multitude?
"Gray Garden" segues from the first track and weaves spoken televangelist morality between gloomy sounds. Words and sound are also sent through a backward masking, blurring reality, morality and lip service. No matter how bleak, the same recommendation for these folks is to go to the bible and pray. Some Middle Eastern sounds are woven into the musical fabric which slowly take over the body of the work but they too are given the same backward masking and smearing of sound. Deep, dark drones wipe out all other sound by the end of the track. The track again leaves us questioning religion from all spheres, jogging the mind to cogitate if all religion is in question or is it mental illness that is the focus?
"Daughter Of A Strange God" takes a stronger approach with sound effects and masking. This track begins with ominous white noise and clicking while musical spurts are played in reverse. Many voices are also featured that play backwards as well, making it indecipherable for the conscious mind to probe. Given the previous utilization for the late night televangelist radio shows in the last 2 tracks, one can surmise that this too, is more of the same but given an obscure smearing to provide an almost eerie demonic effect.
In essence, it seems as if the artist is questioning the man made version of spirituality via soundbytes which borders on the real evil by placing it in a surrealistic panorama. The essence of religion and spirituality have somehow been warped, much like many of the sounds present, to fit into a created mold for a specific purpose.
Maenad leaves much of this work to be pondered. There is no denying the essence and glimpses of hysterical religious fervency that one could speculate as mental illness, which are woven in the tracks. The real mystery lies in trying to contend the artists full position on these aspects. In many ways, this interpretation has been made with a clinical ear whereby the artist just presents it in an objective manner and leaves the work open for individual subjective interpretation by the listener. The work is not a typical ambient experience, but more a journey to the nightmarish portion of the psyche. The listener is almost forced to listen intently to the dialogue in anticipation of fastening the conscious mind to something mentally solid to grasp on to as a means of begging for comprehension. For all intents and purposes, Flowers For Solomon is a mind puzzle that could create some interesting conversations and conjectures.
2. Gray Garden
3. Daughter Of A Strange God
~reviewed by Aaron Garland
This is one of those outfits
where their name alone should be warning enough to the listener.
Actually, it's not entirely bad. On their debut Cd, Milkbaby eschew
conventional instrumentation to create lengthy forays of experimental sounds.
In other words, this stuff is not catchy or memorable but may captivate
those who crave a darker slice of mood music.
For all the instrumentation listed on the liner notes, most of the tracks however are very sparse, leaving the spotlight on conga rhythms and little else. "poor soul" is an exception which demonstrates some trance-inducing keyboard loops and Tracee Westmoreland's brooding vocals weaving in and out of the mix. The same can be said for "lost, blind" and the grand finale "torch", rounding out the Cd with low-key, mellow and very LONG ambient pieces. It is with this approach that Milkbaby show the most promise, including the fact everything on this Cd was recorded live. More power to them if they can pull this off in front of an audience.
- leaving chrysalis lake
- chrysalis lake part II
- poor soul
- going south
- lost, blind
1539 N Bell
Chicago, IL 60622
Moser, Meyer, Döring
~reviewed by Edwin Somnambulist
This CD has a very different feel than most of the music I hear these days. First of all, it's not a dance oriented CD, but I would classify it as industrial. It lends itself to the older school of industrial: the type that wasn't trying to be marketable to a society oriented towards pop music, the type that wanted to play with new ideas....
The type that tried to push our musical horizons ever outward.
But I wouldn't say it's as schizophrenic as early 80's groups such as Test Department or Einsturzende Neubauten. It's much more mellow, because the world in general is far more mellow than those tumultuous times, but it has a common element with those groups: it's difficult to pigeonhole this work.
How did I come across this CD? Well, here's a story:
My roommate went to Germany
for art school on exchange last year. Of course he frequented the clubs,
and one I received email from him which read "I got this great CD from
a raver friend of mine that you have to hear." Not surprisingly by that
description, my laughter was uncontrollable, until he pointed out that
his 'raver friend' was a steadfast fan of Einsturzende
Neubauten and attended all their shows fifteen years ago. He had obtained a copy of this CD from his friend who had obtained a copy from someone else, and so on, and so on. Now this was becoming intriguing.
So finally he returns from Germany, and after listening to this CD once, I fall in love. A CD that encompasses mellow and melancholy, and everything that makes those hours just before dawn so special. So I quickly made a copy of it as well with the expressed intent of playing it on air and attracting more people to its brilliance.
The big debate lately has been over the copying of music. My personal take on it is that its acceptable in some case, and in others is isn't. For example, in this case, I find copying to have been worthwhile. From the German underground scene, it has now made its way to Canada, and hopefully a global market for the band members' endeavors.
This CD comes with some pretty impressive credentials. To begin with, you might recognize the name Moser as being Rudolf Moser, whose recent works include collaborating as a percussionist with Blixa Bargeld's arts collective, Einsturzende Neubauten, taking up the role that has long been F.M. Einheit's since the inception of the group in 1980.
Moser and Roger Döring have been working together since 1991 under the name "Orchestra Obscur." They were joined by Christian Meyer -- who had been working solo until that point -- in 1998, and proceeded in a number of artistic ventures, including Watermusic, described by Meyer as "A Live-Soundtrackperformance for underwaterpictures projected upon three screens floating in a room," along with a number of soundtracks for movies.
I really enjoyed the way this CD begins. 'Abspann' starts with sounds that resemble an orchestra warming up to perform, with different instruments holding notes, as if they were all being tuned together. After about half a minute, the notes all coalesce into one tone, and a very quiet, moody song begins -- a beautiful order is created from the chaos.
The music on this CD suggests
a theme -- or tells a story -- like a modern version of Peter and the Wolf
or the Four Seasons. Just listening to it, I can almost see pictures dancing
around in my head. Perhaps it's the orchestral part of the music, or perhaps
its the fact that while no two songs are the same, they all carry a common
theme and a very similar
sentiment. Listening to it, I wish I spoke German, so that I could understand what the track titles meant. They seem very minimal in their description of the music, which is consistent with the music: it allows the listener much liberty to make draw their own conclusions.
'Mehr' is an interesting track. Its one of the few tracks with vocals. The vocals are male and are very quiet to the point they are almost whispered at some points. In a very ironic twist, the quietness of the vocals add strength to the music which is also quiet and very minimal. 'Mehr' is one of the tracks that stands out in my mind, perhaps because of the emotions within it.
If you enjoy music that's
different, cutting edge, moody, varied, and intelligent, then you require
this CD. It follows in the tradition of bands like Neubauten, Zoviet France,
and Throbbing Gristle, adds a touch of classical music, and produces an
entirely modern, unique sound. German underground art at its best, this
is the new face of music. I recommend this to anyone, and it can be ordered
by either contacting Christian Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.peoplesound.com/artist/mosermeyerdoring which also has samples of some of the tracks.
Moser, Meyer, Doring is Rudolf
Moser, Roger Döring Christian Meyer
Band Email: email@example.com
Ordering Website with track samples:
~reviewed by Matthew
There is indeed something downright bleak about the eleventh month of the year, and this Chicago outfit live up to the depressive expectations that their moniker would suggest.
I was first introduced to November’s Doom via their three track EP “For Every Leaf That Falls” in late 1997. As expected, a promising release of stark and minimalist dark metal was presented, with an influence that recalled early nineties British Goth/Doom such as Paradise Lost and the gruff vocalled years of My Dying Bride. Since then, the band has released a full-length release entitled “Of Sculptured Stone and Ivy Flowers,” which I have unfortunately never had the pleasure to hear. More recently however, November’s Doom signed to Dark Symphonies Records and this past Halloween marked the release of their third full-length CD, “The Knowing.”
As proven in our feature this month, “The Hand Of Doom,” Doom metal is a thriving genre with several talented contributors and hosts of worthy competitors. Though November’s Doom fit snuggly within the genre and their music is tastefully touched by popular Gothic metal bands, they truly do offer a unique voice and sprout a branch all their own. The music isnot drenched in over zealous keyboard work, but is instead coloured by dense layers of dirty grunge guitar. The techniques employed invoke the same despondent atmosphere of twin lead guitar harmonies, but there is a thicker, impenetrable veil of distorted, polyrhythmic chording that sets the band apart quite a bit. The only band that I can even slightly compare it to would be to the funereal masters Skepticism, yet November’s Doom is much more accessible and melody oriented.
The sonic forgery of guitar is impressively multi-faceted, broken occasionally for murky clean arpeggios and quiet acoustics. The diversified yet universal atmosphere is also aided in countless vocal shifts, from guttural death growls, clean Gothic vocals, spoken word, and a few unexpected and interesting surprises. If the music of November’s Doom doesn’t solidify their reign in the genre, I think some will be delighted to find the lyrics are delivered in a poignant and straightforward way. Despite the respected novelty of archaic and flowery poetic devises in this genre, the band instead opts for a more personal and modern confessional style yielding to a vulnerable rawness.
The profound opening of the CD perfectly prepares the listener for what lies ahead. “Awaken” is a short, somber track that begins with watery guitars and spoken word that builds to a beautiful cascade of harmony. There are several standout tracks, and I can easily site the epic “Last God” as my favourite. An excruciatingly slow intro is accented by distant, morose vocal harmonies that have a ghostly, choir like effect. The overwhelming intro picks up slightly in pace, spiriting the song toward a painful lamentation delivered in grieved death vocals. The beginning of this song is what doom metal is all about. It is the absolute embodiment of desolation in a musical outlet. Utterly perfect, and the remaining movements of the track contain a forlorn passage of clean guitar and layers of female recitation. This song alone makes the album a triumph.
But there are other moments of course, such as the narrative gloom of “Searching The Betrayal,” where bassist Mary Bielich’s (of Mythic fame, for those in the know) vocal talents get their longest spotlight. Her vocals are well-done and eloquently restrained, carrying a simple yet wounding melody, without attempting to overstep into an operatic forum; she just speaks her heart and breaks yours in the meantime.
The surprising “In Memories Past” is a slight experiment for the band I would belief, and easily the album’s most upbeat track. This song is a prime example of the unpredictability of November’s Doom. The song hearkens back to the groove-oriented sound of Sabbath and also stirs in a helping of contemporary stoner metal. Furthermore, there is also a tinge of subtle alternative flavour with the verses of the song, which remind me of guitar driven indie rock acts like Hum or Sunny Day Real Estate. Strange, but I give November’s Doom sincere props for variety, and though these accessible elements are used, they are done so with a craft that does in no way defy the Gothic doom sensibility of the band. I also hope that the melodic male vocal style employed for this song is something to be resurrected in the band’s future.
Finally, another of the band’s stronger songs, the ballad “Silent Tomorrow” appears in two slightly different versions on the first 2000 copies of the CD. Neither mix features death vocals, which might help the band touch into more traditional Gothic realms. The songs differ only at the chorus, where in the original mix, electric guitars provide the climax for the chorus while in the “dark edit,” classical piano replaces the guitars for a more ethereal atmosphere.
November’s Doom is an excellent addition to the doom genre, and has earned a lasting place among the greats. Admittedly, I do not find them as emotionally intense or Romantically draining as some other leading Goth Metal acts, they are without a doubt graced with countless powerful and memorable moments in their music (as heard in the centerpiece of this release, “Last God”) that will inevitably strike fans worldwide.
2.) Harmony Divine
3.) Shadows Of Light
5.) Silent Tomorrow
6.) In Faith
7.) Searching The Betrayal
8.) Last God
9.) In Memories Past
10.) The Day I Return
11.) Aura Blue
12.) Silent Tomorrow (Dark Edit)
November’s Doom is:
Paul Kuhr – Vocals/lyrics
Eric Burnley – Guitar
Larry Roberts – Guitar
Mary Bielich – Bass
Joe Nunez – Drums
Novembers Doom – Official
November’s Doom – Mp3 Site:
Dark Symphonies Records:
~reviewed by Matthew
It is rare that a band can capture so much majesty and portray raw, genuine, and passionate emotion without becoming a cliché. Granted, there have been several bands that have picked up on the idea of fusing dark death/doom metal with literary Gothic or Symphonic elements, but few seem to succeed in creating something original and as powerful as the forefathers that inspired them. However, Virginia’s Necare are literally bursting at the seams with potential and they express a subtle yet imposing grandeur with their music.
Formed by Ryan Henry as a cathartic outlet and fueled by the early work of Anathema and My Dying Bride, this four song EP is a stark exploration of an earnest and loving heart’s lowest points. Love seems to sting those that feel it the most, a notion celebrated by artists, poets, writers, and musicians for centuries. Necare is a modern vessel for those timeless feelings, and the music and lyrics are delivered with a crafty, eloquent beauty reminiscent of the great Romantics.
The CD begins with “Azrael” an invocative dirge of eerie dual guitar riffs, accented by clanging funeral bells and somber unsteady male vocals. The song builds to a slow swinging rhythm, with a pairing of lethargic power chords and a tasteful use of viola. Necare use synthesized orchestration, but don’t go overboard with it, instead letting the multi-tracked harmonized guitars and melodies take center stage, furthering the music into a more organic realm.
Necare’s strength in variant song structure is heard early on, as there are several shifts in pace and styles, as well as several different voices in the first track alone. All three vocal techniques are strong: the spoken word absolutely mournful, the demonic growls foreboding yet still perfectly intelligible, and the few passages of outright singing are beautifully morose and incredibly moving. The lyrics themselves are noteworthy for their pining despair and heartbreaking sincerity. Overall, they are very expressive in creating vivid images and this can be accredited to the fact they were penned by a passionate and well-read soul.
“Letting go she drowns/ her arms drift cruciform on the onyx tapestry”Reoccurring lyrical images of a drowning maiden such as the above quote appear throughout the CD, and recall John Everett Millais classic Pre-Raphaelite painting of “Ophelia” which some may recognize as the original cover of Christian Death’s “Wind Kissed Pictures” album. After visiting the band’s website, it is very obvious that the songwriter is heavily steeped in the Arts.
Without being overtly pretensions, Necare phrases are occasionally used as in the second track “Misericordoriam.” The song opens with quiet clean electric guitar and builds to volley between guitar driven guttural vocalled verses and ambient, symphonic interludes and clear throated singing.
However, in my opinion, the EP’s centerpiece is the third track, “Juliet Confined To Flames Of Woe.” With a stark bass and viola intro, the song explodes into painfully melancholic twin guitar harmonies floating above a slow rock drum beat, but the vocals, my god the vocals! The best example of traditional singing carries through this entire song, utterly vulnerableand riddled with a desperate sadness that just stopped my heart dead in its tracks. The song is wonderfully organized in a standard songwriting formula (verse/ instrumental bridge/chorus and refrain), with the chorus being comprised of a male/female vocal duet. The lyrics are about a love gone sour; therefore the effect of the sweet, harmonious chorus is almost a mockery of that very pain and creates an even more ironic and hopeless twist to the song. I encourage you to check this song out at the band’s Mp3 site.
My words fail to capture its perfection.
The CD closes with the title track, a heavier song broken up fluidly by classical piano interludes, boasting a flirtation between both harsh and calm extremes. The guitar work on this last track sports some serious Maiden-esque arrangements, with the gruff vocals at the forefront. A surprising climax ensues at the end of the song, as an unexpected burst of tremolo down picking, thrashing drums, and one last anguished growl resonates as the frenzied guitars brings the CD to an early close.
For a demo EP, this is beyond impressive. Four tracks that leave you hungry for more as well as a crystal clear production and smooth musicianship. It is an assurance that Necare have a great amount of potential that will pave a steady road to success. Look for the full-length release entitled “Rite Of Shrouds” in early 2001, and continuing coverage of the band here at Starvox.
"Ophelia" is no longer in print or available from the band, but a DAM CD is available through MP3.com! Be sure to check it out!
3.) Juliet Consigned To Flames Of Woe
Ryan Henry: guitar, vocals, bass, piano, keyboards
Greer Cawthon: drums, keyboards
Necare Official Website:
Necare Mp3 Site:
The Criminal Within
~reviewed By Psionic Imperator
This band would have been a favorite of mine in high school. Back then any-and-everything 'metal' was the be-all-end-all of music. Anything that was metal but had cool stuff like synthesizers? Even better...Nerve Factor are a COP International project, 'The Criminal Within' being their debut release. This angry lil' monster from San Francisco is assembled by 2 members, listed in the liner notes only as D.O.Paul and M.O. (A wealth of information, these liner notes..) They also list 2 live musicians, and a menagerie of guest musicians.
I don't know what kind of Ice Cream they like.
Musically, Nerve Factor fit into the coldwave category, leaning towards the heavier side of that sub-genre. A potent brew of industrial-strength guitars and ethereal synth work, it's all here... Thick layers of 'chuggachugga' guitarwork, angryguy distorted vocals, and lots of pretty synthesizer harmonies and such to offset the whole thing. Very well produced, this is a fine debut release that stays cohesive throughout the entire album. Not many bands can lay claim to that. Nerve Factor's cover of 'Fade To Grey' by 'Visage' is a damn catchy tune, too... Not to be outdone by a cover though, the title track, 'The Criminal Within' is just as catchy. Now watch the damn tune get stuck in my head for a week.
...Interesting that Nerve Factor are from San Francisco, that Den of Iniquity that spawned the majority of the Thrash Metal movement way back in the 80's. Ah well, some bands embrace 80's synthpop as a running theme, some choose 80's metal. Whatever works. I'm not as big on Coldwave as I used to be, but I still like to get all metal-nostalgic every now and again... This stuff is good for that. If you like your industrial served up with loads of guitars, a la Ministry before they forgot they were industrial, or Psychopomps before they miserably failed in their attempts to sell out, then pick this cd up. It'll be well worth your pennies.
2: Close Your Mind
3: We Fall Apart
5: Fade To Grey
6: The Criminal Within
8: The Dawn
9: Burn For You
10: Last Call
11: Close your Mind (Radio Edit)
Nerve Factor is:
D. R. Paul
Nerve Factor: http://www.nervefactor.com/
CopInt'l Records: http://www.copint.com
Black Seeds Of Vengeance
~reviewed by Michael
This album simply caused my speakers to spit natron down my throat and turned me into a quivering mass of mummified piss and foam. Luring the listener into the sands with the captivating song of the Arghoul, Nile then begins the sermon, preaching the lore of the gods of Egypt. Black Seeds Of Vengeance is an amazing album. Brutal to the point of insanity, but highly listenable at the same time, Black Seeds is loaded with samples and imagery that do nothing but put you there in the desert praying for mercy to Set as the undead crawl from their tombs.
As in The Catacombs of Nephren-Ka, the Tibetan Monks make another appearance. After hearing what kind of music their voices had been featured in, the monks tried to have the samples removed from the Nephren-Ka sessions. Nile obviously denied them this, to our pleasure.
For those of you who doubt Nile know what they’re talking about, feel free to peruse the three pages in the booklet that are absolutely packed with lore and legend. This is a testament to the band, without a doubt. Granted you will almost need a microscope to read it but once you find a way, you will become enthralled as I did.
Since storming the scene in 1993, Nile has brought new darkness to the death metal scene both musically and lyrically. Their live performances are near legend and this hard working band has earned the recognition they deserve. If you have not heard this band, I insist you go out and purchase this album RIGHT NOW. I may have to again soon, as the copy I currently have is being worn out from so many plays.
Chief Spires - bass, vocals
Karl Sanders - guitars, vocals
Dallas Toler-Wade - guitars, vocals
Pete Hammoura - drums, percussion
Karl Sanders - firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Spires - email@example.com
Dallas Toler-Wade - firstname.lastname@example.org
Pete Hammoura - email@example.com
P.O. Box 6062
PO Box 2060
Upper Darby, PA 19082
Black Seeds Of Vengeance
~reviewed by Matthew
So it took me awhile to brave the catacombs of the infamous Nile, but I wanted to make sure I was prepared. I received the CD, and just for the record, I had a splitting headache so I opted to curl up and relax and check out my new Nile CD. So I put the disc in my CD player and lay down to absorb what was to come. The short intro wasn’t so bad, just some thirty odd seconds of ambiance, but then the blistering title track began. Wincing, I gripped my sheets and took this CD like a man. I knew they were supposed to be heavy, but christ, this was just mind scrambling!
Nile are the new gods. There is not a single band in the death metal scene today that can hold a candle to them. Morbid Angel still reigns as the godfathers of aggressive death metal, but they have long since lost the bite they once were respected for. Slayer? Ha! No comment after their last few efforts. There is no one, even (Insert any death metal band moniker here: _________) cannot come close to matching up with Nile. Not only does their technical and suffocating metallic assault distinguish them in high regard, but the passionate and meticulous inclusion of Egyptian mythology, folklore, and cultic practices into their lyrics is an example of the intellectual esteem that Nile possess that dozens upon dozens of death metal acts neglect to accomplish. These lyrics are as dark, extreme, and violent as others, if not more so, but there is a point to them and a meaning behind them.
There is a wealth of history and mystery to what Nile attempt to blow the dust from and unleash upon their listeners. In fact, I don’t know about you, but I get a little uneasy at the thought of a band using supposed black magick rites in their lyrics. Sure, several bands have tried this or claimed to have done this, but the press release for this CD came with three pages of information on the lyrical content. Nile are very dedicated to what they do and they have done their studying. These ancient, timeless, and unknown rites are adapted from “The Papyrus Of The Undying” and “The Book Of The Dead,” among other sources. Words that may or may not have been uttered in centuries boom from your speakers atop the most bombastic musical battery available.
Do you need any more reason to purchase this CD?
This is dark and astoundingly aggressive. It does not compromise or let up for a moment. The band does intersperse samples of Tibetan chant, ritualistic percussion, choirs, and other eerie Eastern music elements that further support the Egyptian motifs. These whirlwinds of atmosphere do not dilute the bands metallic assaults, but rather increase the tension until the band explodes into another hateful dirge. “To Dream Of Ur,” a majestic nine-minute track, shows Nile at a peak of musical composition, certainly in this arena of music.
This CD is not for the faint of heart. It is a great testament to the power and sincerity of dark music. Granted, they could shorten their song titles a bit and watch the pretense, but never for a moment assume that there is another band on the planet at all like Nile. Do not make the mistake of dismissing them as just another death metal band. This is death metal’s finest hour, truly in a category all it’s own.
1.) Invocation Of The Gate Of Aat-Ankh-Es En-Amenti
2.) Black Seeds Of Vengeance
3.) Defiling The Gates Of Ishtar
4.) The Black Flame
5.) Libation Unto The Shades Who Lurk In The Shadows Of The Temple Of Anhur
6.) Masturbating The War God
7.) Multitude Of Foes
8.) Chapter For Transforming Into A Snake
9.) Nas Akhu Khan She En Asbiu
10.) To Dream Of Ur
11.) The Nameless City Of The Accursed
12.) Khetti Satha Shemsu
Chief Spires: bass, vocals
Karl Sanders: guitar, vocals
Dallas Toler-Wade: guitar, vocals
Pete Hammoura: drums
Nile: Official Site