My Dying Bride
The Dreadful Hours
~reviewed by Matthew

This review may be a bit biased, as this band has been my all time favourite band for almost eight years, so in my mind they can do no wrong.  “The Dreadful Hours” is the band’s seventh full-length release and seventh testament to quality gloom.  After the band received some criticism for 1998’s “34.7888% Complete” release, they followed suit with the now legendary release “The Light At The End Of The World” which brought the band back to form, including the resurrection of guttural death vocals that the Aaron had abandoned after their canonical “Turn Loose The Swans” release.  “The Dreadful Hours” picks up where the last album left off, continuing to juxtapose extreme melancholia with metallic horror.

While some may be apt to criticize MDB for ‘recycling’ their sound and ideas, hardcore fans are genuinely appreciative that the band continues to perfect their sound and retain the characteristics that they have come to be known for.  Unlike bands like Theatre Of Tragedy, Anathema, Katatonia, and so many other acts that were once contemporaries of MDB, My Dying Bride continue to give their fans what they want while the aforementioned bands’ recent output is barely recognizable as Gothic, Doom, or even Metal, or thanks to the influence of trends and labels, not even DARK.

My Dying Bride continues to be the salvation of the bleak hearted dark music fan.  They can pull this off because they are excellent and unrivaled at what they do, and being that the inspiration for the music originates within the souls of these musicians, and remains unfiltered by trends, the music will continue to be effective, powerful, fresh and undeniably 100% My Dying Bride for as long as they continue to release material.

This album is without a doubt, a welcomed addition to my collection.  I cannot say that I was at all disappointed with it.  There were admittedly some things that were different than I expected, but the surprises on the disc were more pleasant than disappointing. The band has always been remarkably good at kicking their CDs off with a strong opening track.  (The piano/violin duet and crestfallen narration of “Sear Me MCMXCIII” for “Turn Loose The Swans” and the cascading drums and dreary feedback of “Cry Of Mankind” for “The Angel & The Dark River” are their most memorable and best loved intros) The title track that opens “The Dreadful Hours” is easily my favourite prelude they have done yet.  The sound of rain falling while a lethargically plucked watery guitar plays and then BAM perhaps one of the most depressive and SAD riffs the band has ever composed explodes through your speakers, with Aaron’s wistful and unsteady voice pleading above it all.  But just as you are ready to slash your wrists, the band takes a sudden turn down memory lane and tears through a galloping death march of thick guitars, pummeling drums and Aaron’s monstrous death growls.  The chorus dances at the edge of melodic black metal, with raspy shrieks, cold swelling synths, and double bass pedal blasts.  A stunning juxtaposition of theme and mood that foreshadows the emotionally manic album that follows.

“The Raven & The Rose” kicks in next with a very crunchy beginning, a pretty straightforward old school sounding MDB song, that concludes with a solo piano interlude that segues into another collage of gorgeous moody guitar riffs.

“Le Figlie Della Tempesta” was one of the pleasant surprises. An extremely long and dreary song, with an inarguably dense Gothic Rock feel throughout the verses, somewhat like a thicker Fields Of The Nephilim or early “Catastrophe Ballet” era Christian Death.  Nice cascading drums, a lulling bass line and layers of ghostly synth effects in the background.  The gloom of the song is broken by a more aggressive and metallic chorus, but overall the song is one of the most unique I think the band has ever done and easily one of my favourites.  A bit too long for club play (and admittedly a bit repetitive) but that hasn’t stopped me now on at least two occasions!

“Black Heart Romance” simply rules, with a sludgy, dare I say, sexy down tempo intro, very dark and swayable with an awesome watery guitar break between the first few verses, and then a return to sludge.  The song breaks for an eerie cadence of strange guitar fret noises and murky synth effects, then charges into a mid paced, mischievous Sabbath-inspired groove to carry the song to a close.  Another perfect example of how the band still sounds 100% like themselves but introduce some new and subtle twists to the mix.

The first half of the album has more of the aggressive elements, while the latter half is predominantly more melodic tracks with Romantic lyrics. “A Cruel Taste Of Winter” begins with sentimental courtly imagery in the lyrics (in their usual macabre sense) that eventually acquires more metallic muscle and crunch in the middle, when Aaron turns his voice from woeful contemplation to his beloved growl.

The Romantic sentiment continues for the extremely touching and moving “My Hope The Destroyer” with a decidedly upbeat gallop, however containing some of the albums most heart-rending and beautiful melodies in both the guitars and the synths.  The keyboard work in this song recalls the bands earlier days, when the passion was intensified by the presence of a live violin.  Though not as organic, the sense of orchestral drama in the track succeeds on several levels.  This is also perhaps one of the most accessible tracks on the album, featuring only a light shading of death vocals that in no way disrupts the forlorn fluidity of the song.  This is the song that fans should attempt to introduce the band to fans of traditional Gothic or ethereal music.

The big finale of the album commences with a long-awaited re-recording of the song “The Return Of The Beautiful” from the band’s debut release “As The Flower Withers.”  Rumous have been abound for years that MDB had planned on re-recording some of their earlier material, and christening it with a warmer and fuller production, as well seasoning it with some of the band’s newer vocal elements.  While I very much like the new version, now dubbed “The Return TO the Beautiful,” I don’t think it holds a candle to the funereal claustrophobia and unsettling drama of the original (which was partially due to the poorer production, not to mention the presence of a live violin).  The main thing that disappointed me about the new version of the song was the vocals.  The original song was growled all the way through. Though true to the starkly erotic and slightly necrophilic themes of the song, I envisioned clean vocals for some of the more dreary parts, which would have better expressed the gloom and regret of the lyrics (which in part deal with the death of beautiful woman, spoken through her widowed lover).  Instead, Aaron brings a more ‘black metal’ rasp to his voice, making the vocals sound suitably daemonic, which is great but there are no clear vocals save for the very last verse.  Where they were originally.   Though the production is better, the song is not that much different and I have to reluctantly question if it was worth the re-recording since it is not that considerably different.   This is the only time that I think the band were capable of being more innovative.

The song will still scare the living hell out of people, but it’s not nearly as effective as the original.  Overall, I was quite pleased with “The Dreadful Hours.”  It continues to forge ahead for the band, finding them dabbling with some different production techniques and studio effects, but remains loyal to the elements that made them absolute heroes and masters of the Gothic Metal genre.  One of the year’s best releases without any shadow of a doubt.

Track List:
1.) The Dreadful Hours
2.) The Raven & The Rose
3.) Le Figlie Della Tempesta
4.) Black Heart Romance
5.) Cruel Taste Of Winter
6.) My Hope The Destroyer
7.) The Deepest Of All Hearts
8.) Return To The Beautiful

My Dying Bride is:
Aaron Stainthorpe– vocals
Andrew Craighan - guitars
Ade Jackson – bass
Hamish Glencross – guitars
Shaun Steels – drums
Yasmine Ahmid – keyboards

My Dying Bride – Official Site:

Peaceville Records:

The Mission
~reviewed by Jezabel

They are back. After years of touring and touring the same songs, Wayne sat down and decided to create new pieces of music. Would they become part of the goth history as his other albums have done? Does the Mission still have the magic that made them the icons of the goth rock world, the epitome that every band in gothic rock is compared to (justifiably or not)?

The answer is yes. And no.

To go over the history of The Mission would be an insult to the reader. Wayne Hussey left Sisters, he formed The Mission. To me, the Mission have always been the alter ego of Sisters. This is the kinder, gentler, melodic sister, with the better turn of the word, more ability to turn a note off a guitar into a poignant wail or a soft whisper.

And much to the distress of many a gothic rock band – they are to what everyone is compared to. No one can eclipse them, but so many bands are ruined because they are either too Mission or not Mission enough. It’s a touch cross to bear for poor Wayne, but he does it well.

This album is good. It’s damn good. Solid, straightforward Mission sound. What Wayne does best. But is it an evolution? No. Dragonfly is just a retinkering with Butterfly on the Wheel, perhaps with an alternative version of Tower of Strength lyrics.

Lyrically,this is one of the most honest and non-poetic of the Mission albums. It lacks some of the imagery and poetry of earlier albums and takes it straight to you. It is obvious there were some very raw and some amazingly overwhelming emotions going on with him while he was writing this album and to put them all together makes for an interesting story:

“I wanna feel again the thrill of the first kiss.” (Mesmerised)
“She’s versed and practised well in the art of discipline and she’s cursed as a Jezabel” (Evangeline) ( huh, me? Cursed?)
“Just because I understand doesn’t mean I care” (Lay Your hands on Me)
“First I’m gonna fuck you and then we’ll make love” (Slave to) Lust)
“I know you understand the child that lies within a man.” (Happy)
“The worst crime of all is the crime of regret” (Trophy/It Never Rains)

We are with Wayne in Barcelona when he meets a woman for an intense night of sex and ecstasy. We are taken on an emotional roller coaster of a relationship that seems to have changed Wayne’s style of writing lyrics.

There is a second CD which includes another version of Mesmerising, a couple of videos, some photos, screensavers and an interview with Wayne….I don’t think it was necessary and really didn’t enhance the whole package much. But it is good to note the packaging itself is lovely, coming in a cardboard box, well designed, the insert has amazingly interesting and hard to read set up for the lyrics,and great photos of the band members

But the question is if this is an evolution, has Mission moved forward. And sadly, I don’t think they have. This is a great Mission album, but it isn’t the jump forward that will create new challenges to new gothic rock bands. The guitars are amazing, Wayne’s voice is still earthy and strong and can pull you in, the work is professional and clean…but except for To Die by your Hand, which does have an industrial edge , it seems like Wayne kept the formula that would work and stayed with it. You won’t be disappointed with the album, but you won’t be inspired by it either.

Track Listing:
ShineLike the Stars
(Slave to) Lust
The Light That Pours From You
To Die By Your Hand
Trophy\It Never Rains...
Lay Your Hands On Me
In Denial

The Mission


~reviewed By Psionic

~Alot of people will dismiss a clone outright. And, for the most part, so will I. But there are rare moments when a clone is so good, and so unintentionally patterned after that which came first that it overcomes the usual sort of "Been there, done that" feeling that a standard clone will elicit. Monstrare is just such a project. Sounding virtually identical to earlier Lustmord works (Say, 'Heresy' and 'Monstrous Soul'-era Lustmord), Monstrare nevertheless is a majestic behemoth of dark ambient dronescapes and textures. Formed in the early to mid-90's by one John Barns and rounded out by the inclusion of Cordell Klier (Vedisni), Monstrare has since been forcibly reduced to a solo project following the death of John Barns. What effect that will have on the future sound of Monstrare only time will tell, but for the moment we're examining 'Isfet', in the here-and-now.

I am certain there will be some of you reading this who don't know what Lustmord sounds like... To you I say "Bah!!" and wave my paw dismissively. But I guess I can't just cop out...

'Isfet' is not a release to be casually listened to. That is a mark of good Dark Ambient. You can't ignore it, you must pay attention. The sound of 'Isfet' is roughly comparable to what the subconscious thrum of blood in the veins as one walks through the still flaming wreckage of society would sound like. To be trite, this is soundtrack-to-apocalypse music. That's such a cliché these days, but what can you do? Deep drones, torturous samples of anti-happiness, and a pervasive tapestry of mysticism, all assembled in a stark white package... I have been playing this cd quite alot since I got it, I find it easier to listen to than Vedisni's 'Architects And Murderers' (It's not all that often that feel -that- much like killing someone.. Wait... That's not quite true.. But I digress...) and I give it my personal seal of approval. That would be the "GO AND GET THIS NOW" seal of approval, versus the "Yeah, it's ok.." seal of approval. There is a difference. Lustmord comparisons aside, Monstrare is a brilliantly constructed work, and I fervently hope for Cordell Kliers' continued work to pay off in spades. He deserves it.

1. Ma At
2. Lurtin
3. Ovilix
4. Na Ba
5. Pykissa
6. Isfet
7. Yuinoqe

DragonFlight Records website:

The Mirror Reveals
~reviewed by Matthew

I had been more than anxious to hear The Mirror Reveals, one of the predominant artists distributed by and signed to Middle Pillar records.  I had initially been drawn to this NYC outfit due to their use of Art Nouveau master Alphonse Mucha’s paintings for their CD covers and promotional flyers.   You often see bands turning to Gustave Doré, Waterhouse, and the Pre-Raphaelites for artwork, but I had never seen anyone use Mucha before.  The music of The Mirror Reveals is accurately mirrored by Mucha’s art, as the same sensual eloquence and post-Romantic beauty graces these soothing compositions.

Another few points of interest to some may be that Kit Messick, who had previously worked with Unto Ashes on the “Moon Oppose Moon” CD, performs the lead female vocals on this EP.  Also, Joanna Dalin, formerly of Backworld, contributes some tasteful and well-placed violin passages.  All this combined with the lush acoustic as well as processed guitar work of James Babbo, and you indeed have a winning combination.

One of the first things about The Mirror Reveals that won me over was that they are without question responsible for truly beautiful and moving music.  A lot of bands claim to be soothing and Romantic, and try desperately to appear that way.  But few bands are as genuine and convincing as The Mirror Reveals, and it seems as though this mastering of emotion comes naturally and rather easily for the band.  For a lack of a better description, this music is very sweet and just nice, and rarely do I find that to be a virtue in a band.  I am always seeking excessively dark and dreary music, and it is rare that I enjoy ‘lighter’ and more pleasant music.  But this is exceptional, and has the ability to hold the attention and calm the senses all the same.

There are four tracks total on this EP, the follow up to the band’s debut full-length “Frames Of Teknicolor.”  Each of the tracks seems to reflect a different side of the band, yet there is an obvious continuity and flow to the disc.  The title track immediately grasps the listener’s attention, for as soon as you press play, Kit’s vocals appear, accompanied at first only by soft strains of flanged, reverberated guitars before subtle electronics work their way in to keep the rhythm and the song plunges into multiple layers of peaceful yet arresting romance.  Lyrically inspired by Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” “Divinity” illustrates the popular 19th century readings of the epic poem, where Lucifer is seen as the forsaken hero and struggles with his jealous envy of God and Heaven.

“Divinity’s out of your hands/when all you have has been taken/and no one else can see you as you are/…while everything else falls down”

“Forsaken By Sky” brings us ‘de profundis’ for a lighter, jangling track that recalls some of the B-side ballads on the mid-eighties Cocteau Twins singles.  A simple and delightful song, which contrasts well with the more pensive tracks that surround it.

“Julia” is probably my favourite track on the album, a haunting acoustic driven ballad featuring the brooding vocals of James in place of Kit’s feathered alto.   The song seems to skate upon the edge of an obsession, a slightly threatening bridge that sinks into a darker key but before the darkness is entirely indulged, the chorus pleads with an earnest sweetness and morose romanticism.  This track will definitely appeal to fans of apocalyptic folk like Backworld, Death In June, and such, if not also to early 4AD fans.  I heard a tinge of “The Jeweler” from This Mortal Coil in the heavily reverberated vocal delivery.

This EP closes with a wistful instrumental, relying heavily upon the band’s characteristic ethereal appeal, but there is also an underlying sense of psychedelia to it.  Whatever the case, it is a beautiful track and when the subdued synths and melancholic violins fade and the final guitar chord rings out, you definitely find yourself wanting more.

The “Divinity” EP did much more than simply wet my appetite to hear more of The Mirror Reveals; instead it made me ravenous and twice as anxious to pick up the debut.  If you are a fan of swirling, romantic ethereal music and female fronted outfits like Love Spirals Downwards and the earlier work by the Cocteaus, don’t delay any longer in checking out this starkly charming band.

Track List:
1.) Divinity
2.) Forsaken By Sky
3.) Julia
4.) In This Heaven Once More

The Mirror Reveals is:
Kit Messick – vocals
Joanna Dalin – violin
James Babbo – vocals, guitar, keys
Kristin Fayne-Mulroy - bass

Middle Pillar Records:

Mirror Reveals – Info:

November’s Doom
Amid It’s Hallowed Mirth
~review by Mathew

This is easily, without question my favourite November’s Doom album ever.   “Amid It’s Hallowed Mirth” was the band’s debut 1995 release, which earlier this year was re-released and repackaged for Dark Symphonies records.

This is Gothic Doom in its purest sense; the tradition forged earlier by My Dying Bride, Anathema, and Paradise Lost in the early nineties, and still carried on by Thorns Of The Carrion and Necare, and to an even greater degree, Evoken.  But this is it: frigid and truly creepy riffing, choking walls of uncompromising crunch, plodding drum dirges, and monstrous, tormented death growls.

Themes of doomed love suffocated by feelings of inexplicable terror and celebrated in mischievous and anguished horror, an absolutely desolate stage set for a bleak and bitter aural tragedy.   Ah, so overdramatic, but I can never express my gratitude to these musicians that continuously bring my melancholic and drear fantasies to light so perfectly.

There are few records in this genre as listenable and addictive as this one; and though the album predates the band’s critically acclaimed second and third efforts, this album to me is just so much easier to digest.  This is much more straightforward DOOM, and less avant-garde and arty melancholia.  Though I love the direction the band evolved into, and the distinct sound they developed over the years, but this style and the way November’s Doom originally delivered it pierces me to the blackest core.   The music doesn’t sound dated (well, unless you consider how perfectly it evokes 18th century horror) and the remastered production is exquisite.  I didn’t expect the album to sound so full and well produced for coming out so long ago.  But indeed, this just utterly makes me cackle in frenzied and maniacal despair.

The album as a whole possesses a solid and consistent unity, maintaining an impenetrable atmosphere of gloom, wintry darkness, and unabashed grinding heaviness.  Though as accustomed within this genre, there are elements of murky Romantic beauty that briefly make their way to the surface, like a rotten, mildewed memory rising from a musky, enveloping grave.

One of the most impressive elements to note on this album is the meticulous and tasteful use of female vocals.  The manner in which Cathy Jo Hejna’s preternatural voice perfectly exemplifies the original idea behind juxtaposing female and male vocals in death/doom metal music in its most effective sense.  Her vocals are there for a purpose and they compliment the lyrical content.   They are used rarely, appearing like a spectre and then vanishing just as the listener is properly enchanted.  Cathy Jo, in particular, has an otherworldly and icy quality to her voice; it truly does represent something sublime and seemingly unearthly, the very Ideal, unapproachable, unattainable, the very object of the expression of longing in the bestial vocals .  He cannot grasp Her, she forever eludes him, whether it be by the impenetrable veil of death or a more earthly indifference on her part, She appears as a ghostly vision only to haunt him and they can never be united.

It truly has a mystical and theatrical element to it, the way it is supposed to, and over time this ingenious and novel idea has been utterly bastardized over time.  At the very least, if you are not as analytical or as imaginative as I have been trained to be, you will recognize the fact that Cathy Jo is an exceptional and properly trained soprano vocalist, suited for operatic arias more so than ‘lowly’ doom.  If the music doesn’t crush your soul into oblivion, her voice will.The mere fact that such a talented and powerful voice makes an appearance on this disc makes it even more special, timeless, and effective.  This is the real deal.

I thought I had heard most of the ‘major’ doom releases, and I am sure there are many more hidden treasures lurking around for me to unearth.  But this is indeed one of the finest Gothic Doom releases ever.  When one considers the amount of fluff that is circulating in the scene now, and the empty, hollow music that is definitely musically challenging but barren of emotion, this is a classic in its simplicity, in its atmosphere, in its raw passionate agony and dreary disconsolation that nary a Doom fan cannot be utterly satisfied.   The oncoming season is the ideal time to experience this music, and I doubt I could be any more insistent about the value and necessity of this album to fans of truly morose and abysmally Gothic (capital G, by literal definition) music.

“I rest my head upon your stone
And caress engravings of thought
All that’s left is remembrance of life
Is it too late to say goodbye?”

Track List:
1.) Aurora’s Garden
2.) Amour Of The Harp
3.) Tears Of The Beautiful
4.) My Agony, My Ecstasy
5.) Bestow My Desire
6.) Chorus Of Jasmine
7.) Dance Of The Leaves
8.) Sadness Rains
9.) A Dirge Of Sorrow
10.) Nothing Earthly Save The Thrill
11.) Seasons Of Frost

Novemeber’s Doom were for these recordings:
Paul Kuhr – vocals
Steve Nicholson – guitar and bass
Cathy Jo Hejna – vocals
Joe Hernandez – drums

Mike Lagger – bass / upright bass (tracks 8 & 9)
Jim Dobleski – drums (tracks 8 & 9)
Jim Brenahan – second guitar (tracks 10 & 11)
Brian Whited – bass (tracks 10 & 11)
Emmett Hall – drums (tracks 10 & 11)

November’s Doom – Official Site:

November’s Doom – Mp3 Site:

Dark Symphonies Records:

The Best Of…Volume One: The Hades Years
~reviewed by Matthew

Nosferatu was the first Gothic rock band I had ever heard, and it was all by accident, as I found their “Rise” CD in the metal section at Camelot music when I was thirteen or fourteen years old.  Therefore, I have always had a very special place in my heart for them, despite the fact that somewhere along the line, it became ‘hip’ to disregard the band as cheesy.   To this day, it irks me to no end when people denounce the band, simply because their lyrics focus on vampires and they sound quite a bit like the Sisters. This simply reinforces my views that as the years go by, the ‘scene’ becomes more and more detached from the very things that it once celebrated.  I get a bit irritated with people that take the vampire thing too far myself, but Nosferatu are one of the best Gothic Rock bands to have emerged in the 1990s.  So what if they write about succubi and vampires? It’s GOTHIC rock!

I was admittedly mistaken in the fact that I quit following the band after their 1995 release “Prince Of Darkness,” which I felt was a good release, but it paled dramatically when compared to “Rise,” “Prophecy,” or the “Legend” collection.  There were a few releases after this one, still through Cleopatra in the US but also through the band’s very own label Hades Records in the UK.  I foolishly didn’t pay attention to these releases, even though former Damned skinsman Rat Scabies sat in on the records.  Thankfully, Dancing Ferret has seen fit to release this compilation of the latter chapters of Nosferatu’s underrated career, chronicling “Prince Of Darkness,” “Lord Of The Flies” and the “Revamped” remix collection.  I was beyond pleased, surprised, and totally ecstatic to find that Nosferatu has still been kicking some serious ass, managing to remain faithful to their late 80’s influenced style. Listening to this was such an uplifting and exciting breath of fresh air, providing a much-needed respite from the synth-drenched electronica that now passes for Goth.

The opening track “Witching Hour” moves breathlessly along with loud snapping drumming, fast paced guitar riffs, haunting pianos, and the signature icy synth choirs that characterized the band’s earlier sound.   Dominic LeVey’s voice is fantastic, smooth and commanding at the helm of the band’s rhythmic post punk punch.   “Torturous,” which some may recognize from Cleopatra’s Goth Bible, is an addictive and irresistible track, with the band’s characteristic interplay between piano runs and guitar riffs.  “The Night Is Young” features some of Scabies’ most Damned-like drumming, kicking off with tribal tom-tom cascades and then ripping into fast-paced, cymbal crashing punk rock, chalk full of frantic, slick fills.  There have been few Goth songs released in the past ten years that have anywhere near this caliber of punk rock energy.  The guitars, the vocals, the drums, everything work together perfectly, and the ghostly synths are the icing on this black and plaid cake.

“Lucifer Rising” pushes the album ahead with the same solid momentum, as does “Darkness Brings,” despite it being one of the few tracks on the album without Scabies on drums.   But as on the band’s early releases, the drum programming is about as organic as one can get from a machine, and Nosferatu still sound like a genuine rock band, especially during the climactic chorus.

“Uninvited Guest (No Other Medicine)” is a remix, and quite a shift in pace compared to the rest of the album.  However, the jagged break beats and heavy phase effects on the guitar riffs compliment and take the song to a whole new level of sonic grandeur.  I usually am not too fond of remixes of bands like this, but damn, this was a very pleasant surprise.  Definitely not a typical 4/4 time so it may crash on the dance floor the first few times, but regardless, this is a solid and brilliant remix.

The “Demon Seed Mix” of “The Gauntlet” is not quite as energetic and interesting as “Uninvited Guest,” but it still is not that bad of a song.  It doesn’t sound as if it would be that much different than the original, perhaps some different vocal effects and additional electronics.  Worthwhile, but not one of the album’s more valuable treasures.  “Graveyard Shift” I remember from the “Prince Of Darkness” album.  The chorus always cracked me up:

“Don’t go inside…of the grave yard shift…tonight!”

It’s like the perfect 80’s chorus – it even as the obligatory TOO- NYYYY-EYYYTE!  But it’s still a fun track and a perfect testament to what “Floodland” and “Vision Thing” can do to its most rabid musical admirers.  “Invocation” brings this delicious collection to a regrettable close, a more mid paced track with the same feel of “Graveyard Shift” and the “Prince Of Darkness” release.

This is an absolutely stellar release.  I never could have imagined how much I would have liked it.  Perhaps it’s that I rarely stumble across ‘new’ music like this, and certainly there is not exactly a wealth of straight up Gothic Rock coming out these days.  This is definitely for nostalgic fans that miss the old school and who are fed up with the seemingly undying thuds, blips, and pops driving away the gloom at dark clubs the country over.   If you were a fan of Nosferatu and gave up on them, you, like me made a grave mistake and this compilation proves it beyond any doubt.   And if you have never given them a chance and you dig Gothic rock music then you absolutely must own this.  Hopefully, Dancing Ferret will release a second volume that will chronicle the band’s early, formative and perhaps darker years.

Track List:
1.) Witching Hour
2.) Torturous
3.) The Night Is Young (Manic Mix)
4.) Lucifer Rising (Part 2)
5.) Darkness Brings
6.) Ascension
7.) Uninvited Guest (No Other Medicine)
8.) The Gauntlet (Demon Seed Mix)
9.) Graveyard Shift
10.) Invocations
Bonus Video Track: The Haunting

Nosferatu is:
Damien DeVille – lead & rhythm guitars
Dominic LeVey – vocals
Rat Scabies – drums (all tracks except 5, 7, 9, 10)
Stefan Diablo – bass (tracks 3 & 8)
Doc Milton – bass (tracks 1, 2, 5, & 6)
Dante Savarelle – bass (tracks 7, 9, & 10)

Official Sites:

Hades Records:

Dancing Ferret Records:

Illumination [self-released CD-R]
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
(live photos courtesy/property of Pat Hawkes-Reed & Uncle Nemesis)

Psychophile are one of the encouragingly varied crop of bands which populate today's UK scene. They're a two-piece: Mat Hook on guitar and assorted electronics, Lucy Janes on vocals. This kind of line-up has been seen before, of course - The background boffin who assembles the music, the diva up front who supplies the voice (and, to a great extent, the identity) of the band. Fortunately, Psychophile are much more than the sum of their logistics. They're glorious mavericks, gleefully barrelling up the one-way streets of Gothville UK in the direction *they* want to go, and that in itself is enough to make me love 'em.

'Illumination', billed by the band as their new album, is in fact a home-produced CD-R, the latest of several the band have brought out over the last couple of years. Theoretically, the album should be getting a proper release at some point via the Wasp Factory label, but Psychophile have decided to sell home-made CD-R versions in advance. A slightly bizarre move, for surely this amounts to a 'spoiler' that can only dilute the impact and depress sales of the real thing? OK, Psychophile get instant cash in their pockets from selling the CD-Rs, and I suspect that's the reason behind this strategy. But in the longer term, I can't see the advantage. How successful will the official label-release be, if everyone's already bought the band's own bootleg?

But enough fretting over formats. Let's listen. Psychophile's musical brew mashes up chunky drum-machine beats with synthesized piano (unusual to hear a recognisable piano sound, however it's generated, from any band these days), squelchy analogue electronix, and buzzsaw guitar. That cold-blooded description cannot, of course, give you the heady rush of rumbustious noise that tumbles forth when Psychophile hit their stride, but tumble it definitely does. The band's secret weapon is Lucy's voice. She can swoop and holler and caterwaul and roar, and then bring it all down to the most delicate whisper - all this quite often in the space of one song. A synthpop Nina Hagen, a new wave Kate Bush. With, perhaps, a little bit of the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Frazer (early stuff only, mind, before the Cocteaus went coffee-table and dull). All shot through with a healthy dose of good ol' Punk Attitude - for Lucy is no hippy-dippy diva, all wafty dresses and hello trees, hello flowers. No way. Not with *those* boots.

All this would count for nothing if Psychophile couldn't come up with good songs....but fortunately they can. It has to be said that not every Psychophile song *entirely* hits the target: for example, 'Vice Girl', the opening track here, is a little 'Psychophile by numbers' - a kind of generic piece which almost could've been assembled as a quick-access showcase of all the main elements in the band's sound. It's not until the second track, 'Visions, Images, and Dreams' that Psychophile work their real magic. Here the band show how effortlessly they can command tension and resolution, hooklines and choruses, the essential dynamics of a song. There's also one of those wonderful 'Kapow!' moments, when the delicate little intro is suddenly swept away as *everything* kicks in. 'Intense' and 'Darklight' are similarly bang on the bullseye: driving, insistent numbers which pull you in. There's also the song 'Illumination' itself: an other-worldly ballad with sparse synthesized backing. Restrained and effective. Oh, and 'Never Had A Face', a slowie punctuated by synth-stabs which bizarrely remind me of Duran Duran's 'View To A Kill'. If you're looking for a quick introduction to Psychophile's world, there's enough of the band's outstanding stuff here to demonstrate what all the fuss is about.

However, it's worth re-stating that, in spite of all the spiel about the 'new album', this *is* a CD-R. In truth, therefore, it's only one step up from the traditional demo tape. Anyone expecting a fully-realised, professionally-produced album may be a little taken aback by the shamelessly 'home-made' feel of this product. The inlay looks like it's been bashed out on a gruesomely lo-rez pc printer, and the music production is similarly 'home studio'. Sounds which should slice into your ears are oddly muffled (perhaps over-compressed?) and the drum sound is often a frustratingly lo-fi 'tish-tosh' in the background, instead of the heavy-duty stomp and crack it *should* be. The production on 'Visions, Images and Dreams' in particular seems a little odd: the verses seem to be mixed low...then, every time the chorus comes round, the overall volume takes a leap up. It's as if the chorus was dropped in from another take, and nobody bothered to align the levels. Perhaps all this will be fixed when the album gets its proper realease - I certainly hope so. Psychophile wouldn't be daft enough to fluff their first 'real' CD release by skimping on the production.....would they? Until that release appears, this digital demo will do just fine, but a band as good as Psychophile shouldn't be short-changing themselves with poor production and presentation. Even diamonds need a polish...

1. Vice Girl
2. Visions, Images, and Dreams
3. Never Had A Face
4. Sciagraphy
5. For Her
6. Illumination
7. Darklight
8. Mirrors
9. Intense

Psychophile website:
Psychophile mp3s at:
Wasp Factory website [Psychophile's future label]:

~reviewed by Kevin Filan

At its worst commercial music is soulless prolefood for the Great Unwashed, inoffensive but ultimately forgettable.  At its best commercial music is successful because its genius transcends boundaries and appeals to everybody.  The latest crap from Brittany Spears has sold millions of copies; so has Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, the Clash's London Calling and Mozart's Requiem.  Sabrina's debut CD, Euphoria is an unabashedly commercial release.  Songs like "I'm Alive" and "Tell Me" would fit comfortably into most AOR/Adult Contemporary playlists.  The arrangements are standard Studio Rock (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, drum machines), and the vocals are invariably silky smooth.  But there's strength below the sweetness, and emotional depth beneath the hummable tunes.

"Bring Me Down" features backing strings.  Backing strings can often send perfectly innocent songs into territory best reserved for Lawrence Welk's ghost; thankfully, not this time.  Sabrina's sad timbre, and her letter-perfect enunciations, remind me here of Joan Baez or Judy Collins.  The finger-picking acoustic guitar work on "Find Another" and "Star" recalls country-ballad rock.  (I'd love to hear Sabrina cover Firefall's "Strange Way" on her next release).

Sabrina's gift for singing is matched by her gift for choosing talented producers and backing musicians.  Spyro Karagiannis and Keith Pires (who share guitar and bass duties) are top-notch artists who know how to play a supporting role.  Their arrangements showcase Sabrina's voice and are always tasteful but never mannered.  The instrumentals, like the singing, always sound like the performers really care, not like they're trying to comply with a marketing format.

Many Stalinist critics hated the music of Dmitri Shostakovich, calling it "bourgeois" and "commercial." Today people hail Shostakovich as one of the 20th century's greatest composers; nobody remembers his detractors.  Don't be a Stalinist: get a copy of Sabrina's "Euphoria" today.  This is popular music which matters.

1) I'm Alive
2) Euphoria
3) Tell Me
4) Without a Trace
5) Bring Me Down
6) Angels Cry
7) Nowhere Girl
8) Find Another
9) Star (acoustic)

Sabrina Website

The Immortality Murder
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

If I had to come up with a single word to describe this album, I'm pretty sure I'd choose "whoa." Not just any 'whoa,' though, it'd be of the patented Keanu Reeves sort. And I think most anyone who can listen to this album without passing out or running away would feel the same. For those of you not familiar with Scholomance, they play some incredibly complex and chaotic metal that is both unique, enjoyable, and perplexing all at the same time.

You really have to hear it to believe it, but I'll do my best to describe it. The lead and rhythm guitarist is Scott Crinklaw (who we interviewed in this issue), and he handles both challenging rhythm guitar sections and some unbelievable solos with seeming ease. The technical aspect can be disorienting when you first listen to it, but after a while it's not so hard to get into the groove, if it can be called such. Chaotic and highly syncopated programmed drumming blasts ride right along side it all. And if all that wasn't enough to get your attention, the album is filled with speedy bass fills and raspy, aggressive black metal vocals.

Did you think all that was enough? Oh no... you're not getting off that easy. There are also very technical keyboards layered over it all. The keyboards and piano cover haunting passages, faster but still atmospheric sounds, and 'shredding' solos. These just fly along with everything else and are played brilliantly.

Now with all of this going on (at the same time, no less), you might expect Scholomance isn't the most listenable band. And I'm sure for a lot of people, the way Scholomance redefines chaotic complexity is sure to scare them off. But for the adventurous among you and those used to keeping up with even the craziest moments in metal history (Cynic, for instance), you'll find that Scholomance does more than play well. The songs are imbued with a strong sense of atmosphere and feeling. Even the programmed drumming manages to add to the sound, and normally I'd prefer a live drummer.

The first disc of this album also has some ambitious lyrics that deal with life and religion. The speaker is struggling with a number of ideas, and consequently the music fits with it perfectly. I think the best example of Scholomance's sound working stongly is in the track "The Next Step." Coincidentally, you can grab that track off of The End Records' mp3 page (there's a link below). The song mixes acoustic guitars and some more exotic sounding percussion sessions with the other unique aspects of the band's sound.

The second disc of the album is also quite interesting, though in an unexpected way. There are no vocals on it, for one thing, and about half of the songs on it are instrumental versions of the first four tracks from the first CD. The rest of the songs are improvised piano pieces. Most of them have a similar mood (which is dark and creepy), though they're all enjoyable.

Like I said at the beginning of this review, you really need to hear it to believe it. I still don't know what you'd even classify Scholomance as. Maybe technical symphonic black metal from Missouri. That could work, though I'm not sure if it'd catch on or not. 'The Immortality Murder' is one of the most interesting and thoroughly satisfying albums to come out in a long time. I can guarantee you that you haven't heard anything like it. It's also rare to find something this exceptionally technical that is still played with feeling and doesn't come across as useless showing off. You may have to be nuts to enjoy really chaotic music, but if you're a metal fan, chances are you're halfway there already! Check out the MP3 link below and grab some Scholomance tracks.

Track list:
Disc 1
1.) Part I: Absence/Contorted Porcelain-faced bitch
2.) Part II: Childless one.../The Body as Sulfur Stench
3.) Part III: Matriarch
4.) Part IV: Her Inquity Uncovered/The Eastern Trinity Unexplained
5.) Virus (The Theft of Knowledge)
6.) Companionship and Philosophical Fire (The Third)
7.) Bedevilment and Bewilderment (Reality Greets the Moral Whore)
8.) The Next Step (For the Sake of the Greater Whole)

Disc 2
1.) Replacement...
2.) The Next Step (For the Sake of the Greater Whole)
3.) Nothing is For, or About You...
4.) Part I: Absence/Contorted Porcelain-faced bitch
5.) As if I Were Beautiful
6.) Part II: Childless one.../The Body as Sulfur Stench
7.) And Yet We Were Dead...
8.) Part III: Matriarch
9.) How Familiar I am...
10.) A Riddle...
11.) Part IV: Her Inquity Uncovered/The Eastern Trinity Unexplained

Scholomance is:
Scott Crinklaw - Guitars, piano, keyboards, percussion
Jimmy Pitts - Vocals, piano, keyboards
Jerry Twyford - Bass

Scholomance - Official Website:

The End Records:

Winds Blow Higher
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

If you're familiar with Maudlin of the Well, you'll know that they make music you can escape into. It is more than just entertainment, and the sound becomes a kind of organic existence that you visit when you listen to it. It's like an entire world just begging for exploration. Sleepless creates their own world in a similar sort of way, and although you could roughly liken the sound to Maudlin of the Well's mellower moments, 'Winds Blow Higher' is a very novel experience. I'm not sure you can fully describe it in concrete terms. It has elements of progressive rock, gothic, and even metal mixed into the sound, but it doesn't fit into any single genre (not even loosely).

So the easiest way to understand the CD is to view it from a more conceptual standpoint. 'Winds Blow Higher' is a self-contained journey, and you're just along for the ride. Throughout the album, all kinds of sounds and instruments work their way into the strong atmosphere. Saxophone playing, ambient guitars and pianos, rich and fluid bass lines, and of course, the vocals. The vocal sound is incredibly varied. Maor Appelbaum does an excellent job of enhancing the mood during the darker moments. No matter how quiet or ambient the music may get at times, his darker vocals give it an edge that should keep even heavy music fans attentive. To contrast that, Dave Bendayan contributes more melodic vocals. His clean singing gives the album a very emotional (and often sad) feel.

The mix of emotions and atmospheres is what helps make this album so interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. At any given moment you can't be sure what instrument might pop in next, or where it's going to take you. It's best to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. The sort of dreamy and surreal quality to the songs make them perfect for listening to in the dark before going to sleep. Preferrably in that state of mind where sleep and wake begin to blur. 'Winds Blow Higher' is a great soundtrack for that experience.

'Solitude' is one of my favorite tracks here, and the flutes used on it make it feel very personal somehow. It brings a kind of familiar feel to the sound that works very well. Although the CD is pretty consistently mellow throughout, it doesn't just wander without direction or lack any sort of punch. For Sleepless, they express melancholy and dark moments with a different sort of intensity than you'd hear in their more metal counterparts. And because of the feeling here, it reminds me most of other not-exactly-metal acts like Maudlin of the Well and Ulver.

Seeing as this is the band's debut album, I'm pretty certain they'll only continue to grow. I'm not sure I can recommend this album to any particular group or scene. Pretty much anybody into atmospheric and creative music should download some mp3s and see what they think (you can get them on the label web page or their official site, links below). Since this is their first album, I don't have any frame of reference for their earlier work. Their demo CD did receive very positive reviews (we've got a review of it in our January '01 issue), though I haven't heard it myself. In any case, go get those mp3s!

Track List:
1.) Lying in Wait
2.) Winds Blow Higher
3.) Sands of Time
4.) Solitude
5.) Change
6.) Strings
7.) Rain (instrumental)
8.) Moments
9.) Do You Remember?

Sleepless is:
Dave Bendayan - Vocals, samples, pianos, synths, drums
Maor Appelbaum - Vocals, bass, guitars, noise and effects

Sleepless - Official Web Site:

The End Records:

Pills Against The Ageless Ills
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

"There is lust in all repentance, and remorse in all desire." So begins the tale of two ill-fated brothers - Pornographer Cain and Philosopher Fuck. You see, these two haven't had much in the way of luck over the last few years. Or for that matter, their entire lives. Solefald's third release, "Pills Against The Ageless Ills," takes a look at the lives of the lustful pornographer and the remorseful philosopher. If you're curious as to why - the answer is none too easy to procure. Possibly their story exists just to entertain. We get a kick out of the suffering of others, after all. Or maybe there is some sort of hidden moral to the story. Could Cornelius, the Solefald lyricist and soon to be published poet, be a modern day Aesop?

"Pills Against The Ageless Ills" implicitly asks a number of these questions just by it's lyrically bizarre nature. I'm not sure Cornelius and Lazare necessarily intended the work to be "weird" or "abstract." They have always created their visions as they saw fit, without worrying about making sure it'd meet any of the usual blueprints for "metal." This tends to produce some pretty challenging material, both musically and lyrically. Yet a certain symbiosis exists between the written words and the aural representations. You can enjoy the album without reading the lyrics, sure, and you could learn something from the lyrics without hearing the album - but it's the combination, the way the material is presented and recited, that creates this unique and amazing experience.

The lyrics take a look at the lives of Pornographer Cain and Philosopher Fuck through a number of creative ways. Cain's cell phone transcriptions compiled by intelligence agencies make up one song, while letters written by Fuck are pieced together to make up another. Not just is the story interesting on a literal level, but quite a few issues are brought up because of the situations they are put into it. The lyrics touch on everything from the supernatural to consumerism to the death of freedom.

Cornelius and Lazare share vocal duties, alternating pretty frequently. Whether rasping, speaking, whispering, shouting, or just plain singing, their intertwining voices give "Pills Against The Ageless Ills" a sort of unsettled quality. The story never officially begins, and nor does it have any real sort of conclusion. To further enhance this, key parts of the lyrics or sometimes all of the lyrics in a given song will be repeated in multiple ways. Cornelius will angrily rasp a line the first time through, and then the song will change and the lyrics will all be repeated. The second time around, Lazare may pour all of his emotion into the same vocal line to present it again with a new twist.

Every aspect of the music has this unsettling, ever-shifting quality. Just when you think Lazare has calmed down on the drums to keep a steady beat, he'll continue changing up the double bass drumming under the steady surface beat. His drumming is really impressive this time around. It actually greatly enhances the feel and mood of the album and is just one of the many examples of Solefald going the extra distance to put out a good album. There's a great attention to detail in that regard, they never once let things get dull or let the listener feel at ease.

The guitars here provide some surprisingly catchy and listenable riffs, and run the gamut of black metal and several other variants on metal and rock very effectively. Black metal sounding arrangements can abruptly switch into slower pieces accompanied by some violin or upbeat keyboard/piano sections. Even then, the songs are usually unfinished, as Cornelius may toss in a thrashy sounding head banging riff to cap things off.

Another outstanding aspect of the CD is the crazy organ music courtesy of Lazare's keyboard playing. The organ sounds are present in most tracks and provide an eerie, uneasy quality that hovers around the music and dances about over the heavier riffs. Occasionally you may not even notice it's there without listening a few times, but the way it affects the music is very profound. "Hate Yourself," which would otherwise be a fairly standard angry metal track, provides a new element of extremity to tried and true metal methods with the fast organ playing. The aggressive swirling sound that the organ creates really draws the listener up into the tornado-like rage of Fuck's anger as he lambastes his brother with harsh words.

Although "Pills Against The Ageless Ills" sounds a bit more traditionally "metal" than past Solefald releases, the creativity and ingenuity of the band has never been stronger. They've put all their focus into devising strong tracks that do a damn fine job of relating Cain and Fuck's story.

I can't stress enough that this is a must have release for fans of creative metal. Few bands provide lyrics of this depth and social worth. Not only is the album a joy to listen to, but all of the additional touches and depth in it have vaulted it to the hallowed "Eric's Favorite CD List" text file. Sure, that's not, say, a Grammy, but it still means you ought to check this out (and anyone interested can grab the official mp3 of track one from the link below).

Track List:
1.) Hyperhuman
2.) Pornographer Cain
3.) Charge of Total Affect
4.) Hate Yourself
5.) Fuck Talks
6.) The Death of Father
7.) The USA Don't Exist
8.) Anti-City Strategy
9.) Hierarch

Solefald is:
Cornelius - Vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar
Lazare - Vocals, synthesizers, drums

Solefald - Official Web site:

Century Media Records:

Solefald Mp3 Courtesy of Century Media:

Steve Roach
streams & currents
~reviewed by Michael Otley

My first experience with Steve Roach was from the From Across This GrayLand No. 3 (1993) compilation with his piece "Three Reptiles Wait at the Opening to the Underworld".  I hadn't really heard much music with this approach before, and it quite intrigued me.  I loved the feeling it gave me, and the visuals as well.  That piece is so tangible, and it really opened up Steve Roach's world for me.

My experiences with the music of Steve Roach since have varied a great deal.  In 1996 I saw him open for the Projekt Fest (both nights); I was amazed at the depth and overwhelming presence of his music there.  And to have it come alive in front of me, even improvised, wow.  And as for his recordings, I've fallen in love with many of his releases, from his most eventful works like KIVA (his collaboration with Michael Stearns and Ron Sunsinger) to his darkest and deepest like *Well of Souls* (his first collaboration with Vidna Obmana).  And there's a plethora of solo works as well, though I tend to favor the collaborations.  One of the things I like best about streams & currents is that it's not a repeat of one of the numerous recordings from Steve Roach, but a new approach to his own style.

steams & currents is probably the lightest Steve Roach recording I've ever hear.  That's not to say it doesn't have depth, because it does; Steve Roach reaches further and further.  But it's not such a heavy depth here.  Something about this release reminds me of the Dreamtime Returns release, but steams & currents is even more open and spacious.  Curiously other than a mantra beat on the second track, the album is entirely created on guitars, improvised and looped live.  Steve Roach mentions developing the intuitive performance, and that helps keep it very fresh.

While the recordings were created with guitars, you wouldn't know it by listening.  These could be bits of his stretched and manipulated synths he's worked with so long.  The knowledge that these are guitar creations makes it a bit more interesting, and the psychology of the creation that much more enjoyable.  While it's often not important to understand the process undertaken by a band or musician, it's very interesting to reflect on Steve Roach's process for these recordings.  It's almost therapeutic to envision him in a room with two guitars and the lights of his processing equipment going at it with ebow in hand.

And as for the music itself.  It moves very slowly, very sweeping, very open.  The album lets you move and breathe, and it lets you sleep if you need.  While it's not particularly eventful, it doesn't fall in the boring category at all.  I also wouldn't call it particularly depressive, happy, or even necessarily introspective.  I think this is music for the body, the way you might either relax or swim in a pool or river and they're very effective for either activity. steams & currents is not necessarily the best place to start if you've never heard Steve Roach, but if you know Steve Roach's work, I think this is a very interesting release.

85th Day (Sub-rosa)
~reviewed by Jezabel

I need to listen to my friends more often….they know what they are talking about.

A few months ago, my boyfriend was doing the sound for a show at The Devonshire Arms here in London, a couple of bands, in the corner of the place. As the last offers up by the Dev had been more than lame, and it was getting late, I left him to it and went home.

When he did come home hours later (that’s another story) he was gushing about the second band on the bill…a band named Subrosa.

“They played three encores! They had to reply songs because they had run out of stuff! They are amazing”.

“Okay, lovely, I will get the CD. Now turn the freaking light off.”

But there was no CD. I have been sitting and waiting and waiting for a CD to make itself available. And lo and behold, Christmas prayers have been answered and I have been handed their 4-song EP.

Well, they did merit those encores, I can tell you that – just from the raw power and talent evident on this CD. The engineering is not the greatest, there seems to be a bit fine tuning necessary to make it a polished EP, but who cares. We have strong vocals, amazing guitar rifts, a strong bass and what’s more…power. Raw, sexy and engulfing power.

Reminiscent of Filter and to a degree, Linkin Park, this is stuff to bowl you over. The first track, "Different World", screams Filter to me. But that’s fine. This is not just idle aping of sound. This is taking it and making it part of the music. "Only Love" begins slow and dangerously, you wonder from where the knife will come out from to kill. Or perhaps it is the music heard as a death occurs in a film. You can hear the sadness, the emptiness through the simple keyboard….and quietly you hear the guitars begin and Paul Goldsmith’s almost boy-like voice start to mould the lyrics out into a musical sculpture. It’s soft, endearing, and hypnotic. It continues to wrap and entwine you even as it gets heavier and more filled with melody and harmony.

We are then led into "Bird", yet another massage of ears, as Paul wishes “I was able to fly away.” Hope not Paul – you and your band are pretty damn good.

The final offering is "Saccharin(live)" which is again, a strong track.

I want a whole album. I want a whole album. I feel teased, cheated….not fair at all.

As the conversation between many in the gothic world has continued if techno will usurp gothic rock and traditional gothic music….I serve up Sub-rosa. No – they are not gothic in the literal sense of the world, but they appeal to gothics who remember the necessity and the thrill of live guitars and bass. Rhythms that change develop and evolve and well….um change.

Track Listing:
1) Different Window
2) Only Love
3) Bird
4) Saccharin (Live)

line up....
Paul Goldsmith - Vocals
Jules Hodgson - Guitar
Paul Stone - Drums
Justin Stone - Bass

A Predator's Portrait
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

While some bands in the Swedish melodic death metal genre have grown complacent, and are content making the same album over and over (say, In Flames), Soilwork is ready to bring something a little more innovative to the table. Sure, they've got all the necessary elements of the style: twin guitar leads, minimalist keyboards, strong melodies, and harsh sounding vocals, but they're willing to go the extra mile to put out albums that manage to sound fresh.

One of the most notable differences between a Predator's Portrait and Soilwork's first two albums are the use of clean vocals. While Björn "Speed" Strid can pull off a pretty convincing imitation of Thomas Lindberg (At The Gates), he's also capable of some excellent cleaner sounding vocals. The harsher vocals are certainly fitting, but they usually convey a grand total of one emotion: rage. Thankfully, the clean singing adds a whole new layer of feeling to the music and makes sure "A Predator's Portrait" has plenty of replay value.

The keyboards tend to hover in the background throughout this CD, but their presence actually adds a lot to the overall sound. I don't think it's possible to accidentally layer keyboards over frenzied and energetic riffing the way Soilwork has, so I'm inclined to believe they've put a lot of thought and emotion into the compositions. It's this attention to detail that is going to keep them one step ahead of their competitors.

Although Soilwork can be more aggressive than their catchier counterparts such as In Flames, make no mistake - they know how to inject melody into the fury. Their two guitarists take turns soloing all throughout the CD giving it a much deeper feel than you'd get from straightforward aggressive material. In fact, the two guitarists in Soilwork are very underrated. Not only are they more than competent musicians, but they manage to write a wide variety of great riffs and solos (there are over 20 solos on this album, and not one is uninteresting or feels like it was tossed in to show off). Through the use of such an expressive guitar style, keyboard playing and clean vocals, Soilwork provide a deeper sort of feel to the NWOSDM genre. Opeth's vocalist even makes a brief appearance on the title track, though oddly enough he is virtually indistinguishable from Strid on this song.

Soilwork's drummer accompanies the guitars perfectly, and has a keen sense of when to throw in some neat drum fills or complex beats, but also when to step back and take a more supportive role. The production on the drumming and the rest of the CD is very clear. Soilwork isn't the biggest name in the scene, but they've got production that can fit in with even the biggest metal bands (this album was produced and mixed at the same studio as Dimmu Borgir's Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia). Yet as is the case with many contemporary metal albums, you really have to dig to make out the bass.

The musicians in Soilwork play with such conviction and energy that you can't help but feel they're really enjoying what they do. If they can produce equally entertaining and fresh sounding future releases, you can bet I'll continue to buy their CDs. This is an excellent album and worth the time of anyone who enjoys the style. In a genre where mediocrity continues to reign, it's a rare thing to find a band who can tread familiar territory but make their music worthwhile.

Track List:
1.) Bastard Chain
2.) Like The Average Stalker
3.) Needlefeast
4.) Neurotica Rampage
5.) The Analyst
6.) Grand Failure Anthem
7.) Structure Divine
8.) Shadowchild
9.) Final Fatal Force
10.) A Predator's Portrait

Soilwork is:
Peter Wichers - Lead & rhythm guitars
Björn "Speed" Strid - All vocals
Henry Ranta - Drums
Ola Frenning - Lead & Rhythm guitars
Ola Flink - Bass guitar
Carlos Holmberg - Keyboards

Soilwork - Official Web Site:

Nuclear Blast:

Turn Pale
May Last Until Winter/Implicate (single)
~reviewed by Matthew

Consider this a warning: A bit of foreshadowing, or a heads up to our readers, if you will.  If this two-track mini-CD is any inkling as to what is to come from this outfit, I am beyond ecstatic.   I really miss old school Goth.  I keep searching for more old school bands that I haven’t heard, but most of the stuff I don’t have is extremely difficult to find.  And finding good new ‘Goth’ these days is extremely trying.

So along comes Turn Pale, a relatively normal looking bunch from Indiana, claiming influences like the Birthday Party and Joy Division. Oh yeah, and they formed the band last year!  A bit skeptical at first, I was pleasantly surprised that they indeed reflect these influences to the very tee.  On the ‘A side’ if I may be so nostalgic, we have “May Last Until Winter,” a violently catchy jam, heralding the beloved fusion of post punk aesthetic and the psychedelic swing of the Munster’s TV theme.  The vocals are layered, with a clean vocal similar to an angstier Ian Curtis and a slightly overdriven voice underneath.  A four-track production and a few off key screams here and there only accentuate the raw edge of the music and the nostalgic early 80s feeling it evokes.

The ‘B Side,’ “Implicate” is a plodding minimalist dirge, and what it lacks in the energy of “…Winter” it makes up for in sheer mischief and spo0kiness. The bass line meanders sluggishly along, the guitarist resurrects the long dead ghosts of fuzzy distortion, artificial harmonics and bat wing scratches a la uncle Danny Ash. The vocalist seems to be in his own phantasmagoric world, wailing and thrashing confusedly about, but with the manic angst of a young Nick Cave and also the tree Simon Hue Jones, as opposed to the reserved pretty boy self-pity of far too many lead vocalists.

Turn Pale might be the saving grace of Goth.  Probably only a handful of us will care, but hopefully the band has much more to offer and still have a wealth of material up their sleeves.  In the meantime, I anxiously await to hear more and hope that fans of vintage Gothic rock will do their best to seek these guys out and keep an eye on them.

1.) May Last Until Winter
2.) Implicate

Turn Pale is:
Michael A – vocals
Nick Q – guitars
Pete S – bass
Marty S - drums

Official Site:

Timescape Zero
Total War
~ reviewed by J

It seems to me that Florida has been churning out so many similar metal bands over the past fifteen years that they must have a factory producing them down there.  Timescape Zero sounds like they tried to pattern themselves after late '80s Slayer but were unable to find a lead guitarist. And the drumming is a bit more punk than Dave Lombardo's, but you get the general idea:  hard, loud songs with some guy yelling about some sort of vaguely-defined conflict and oppression.  Hes got "crosses to bear" and complains that he can't feel his head.

That being said, the CD is very well recorded and nicely mixed, except for the vocals, which are a bit buried in the mix.  All ten songs on the CD blur together; there aren't really any features that make one stand out from any of the others.  The band is tight and can worth through minor tempo changes within songs, but they¹re almost always playing at a moderately fast tempo. The only break from this is an occasional spoken or shouted intro.  It's certainly neither groundbreaking nor terribly interesting, but if you're feeling nostalgic for the days of metal as a pure genre instead ofhybridized with rap and whatnot, this might be worth a listen.

Track listing:
All Roads Lead to Heaven
Suicide Mission
Do Not Resist Us (We Are Your Friends)
Unhealed Scars
East of Eden
Only Begotten Son
Hammurabi¹s Code
Might is Right

Silence Teaches You How To Sing ep
Silence The Singing ep
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a Garm fan. Whether it's his singing in Borknagar from the Olden days, or his work in Arcturus, I've dutifully followed what he's done and enjoyed every minute of it. Those bands were outlets for his ability to sing and take part in composing metal-based material. Ulver, however, is almost entirely his own, and he's not afraid to go against norms. Having left behind metal entirely with the Metamorphosis ep, and then somehow departed even further with Perdition City, it's really hard to say just what kind of band Ulver is. Regardless of what you may categorize them as, the two Silence eps that have been released are nice follow ups to Perdition City and provide Ulver fans with even more unique material.

Musically, the soundscape Ulver creates on these releases isn't too far off from the distorted photos of buildings in the CD booklets. The focus here is mainly on ambient passages that could very easily be layered over a walk down the street in a big city to provide you with a new interpretation of your surroundings. Occasional bits of instrumentation and traditionally musical moments do pop up, but usually with breaks in between. On the first of the two eps (Silence Teaches You How To Sing) there are some really emotive piano interludes as well as interesting electronic moments. The ep consists of a single 24 minute track, and moves at a leisurely walking pace through ambience to electronic experimentation and all the way over to the piano playing. There are even a few sparse vocal arrangements courtesy of Garm. There is no real percussion to speak of here, except towards the middle of the CD when some exotic sounding drums back up Garm's "ahhhs" and "ohhhs."

It's hard to describe exactly how the music sounds because it is so varied, yet at any given time, so minimalistic. To really be experienced, I suggest listening to it on a portable CD player while walking around in a populated area. Not your typical listening experience, but I guarantee that you'll start to see things in an entirely new light.

Silence The Singing picks up pretty much where the first leaves off, and is at the same time more bizarre and yet more traditional than the other ep. The majority of the three tracks found here are comprised of similar sorts of ambient passages, though there are no vocals to be heard. The music is more abstract than the last ep, but it actually uses more instrumentation. In addition to some occasional piano there is a backing string quartet that Garm manages to sneak into the songs now and then. It is not used in any classical sense, but rather, composed so that it fits Garm's offbeat visions flawlessly. This is my favorite of the two eps, though both work together very well.

In fact, if you sit the two CD covers next to each other with the first on the left and the second on the right, it says "Silence Singing." Maybe just a coincidence, though you do have to wonder why Ulver would leave off the full titles to both albums and opt to include only one word from each on the covers.

I'm no expert when it comes to judging ambient music, and more often than not I find myself falling out of attention when listening to it. For whatever reason, Ulver never comes across that way. There's not a dull or repetitive moment to be found on either CD, and the ambience is punctuated by live instruments just often enough to keep the music grounded. This isn't your everyday listening music, but it's a more than worthy addition to any Ulver fan's collection.

These will inevitably be collector's items more than anything else, as they are limited to 2,000 and 3,000 copies respectively. With the albums in such short supply, you really ought to buy them this minute if you have any interest in owning them. A few record shops still carry them (such as Amoeba in the Bay Area), and The End Records still has some in stock in their online catalogue. And besides... if you don't get them now, you'll just regret it as Garm's visions become more prominent and he eventually gains your support. Why are you looking at me that way? I'm not a fanatic... I just like the music, that's all. Honest.

If you're interested in hearing recent Ulver material, there are links to mp3s in the Jester Records press release section ( There are clips from the two eps, and also a full track off of Perdition City, which was Ulver's last full length studio effort.

Ulver is:
Garm (aka Trickster G., Christophorus G. Rygg, G. Wolf)
Tore Ylwizaker

Silence Teaches You How To Sing
Track List:
1.) Untitled

Silence The Singing
Track List:
1.) Darling didn't we kill you?
2.) Speak dead speaker
3.) Not saved

Ulver - Official Website:

Jester Records:

Virgin Black
Sombre Romantic
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

I've never put much stock into genre titles. Occasionally they give you a general idea of what to expect from the music, but they're usually far from accurate. Now if you're into dark music, you've got a lot of choices as far as genre names go. Industrial, ambient, darkwave, black metal, darker neo-classical, and then several types of goth. It's not uncommon for a band to mix and match elements from these styles, but it's nearly unheard of to take something from each one and make an album out of that. Virgin Black's debut release does just that, and balances it incredibly well. The end result is one of the best 'dark' albums I've ever heard.

If you were to hear the tracks individually or out of order, I'm not sure things would quite make sense. But despite the vast musical variation, there is a distinct flow to this. And really, 'Sombre Romantic' is such a good release that I can see fans of several genres trying to claim ownership.

From the opening moments you can tell you're in for something different. There are no real industrial or metal moments to speak of. The lead male vocalist is singing in a melancholic opera-ish style and the backing music is quiet and symphonic. Right from the begining it's a struggle to pinpoint what you could classify the music as. And then you continue listening...

'Sombre Romantic' takes you through a number of musical styles without sounding typical of any type of genre. You may hear a touch of industrial in "Walk Without Limbs." The band often mixes programmed percussion with live drums to create an effect similar to that. But that's only one aspect to the track. It also features some genuinely creepy whispered vocals, a choir, and it ends on some neat (perhaps frightening) piano playing. The next tracks will do even more to throw you off guard. If you're approaching this from the metal realm, you'll appreciate the heavier guitar oriented tracks that come into play.

Regardless of which genre you listen to, there's likely something here you aren't familiar with to scare the hell out of you. This is definitely what I call ambitious music. On a few tracks there is even some inspired guitar soloing. It almost has a tinge of blues in it, which was wholly unexpected. The lyrics manage to keep up with everything present, and their unusual (terrifying?) nature suits the mood perfectly.

This is one of those albums that you just need to listen to. If you like any form of dark music, there's a good chance that this will appeal to you. And while you may not be as comfortable with the songs that don't normally fit your listening habits, Virgin Black may even get you interested in those other styles. This is a great example of quality music overriding any preconceptions about what a goth band should sound like, or a metal band, or any of the other mentioned genres.

And as if that weren't enough, this version of the album (the US release on The End Records) is coming out in February features their Trance ep on a second disc. There are only three songs on it, but all three are very well put together. Even in the mere 16 minutes it takes for the CD to play out there's plenty of stuff going on. I usually listen through it twice.

I strongly recommend downloading the free mp3 off of this album (look to the links below). Don't pay so much attention to whether or not you like the "style" that you think the music belongs to, because the track you're listening to will only give you musical insight to just that... the track you're listening to. You can't be sure what other songs on this album will sound like based on it. But what you should listen for is the mood and feeling behind the music. And if you can get into that - then you're guaranteed to find some amazing work here.

Track List:
Disc 1:
1.) Opera de Romanci
2.) II Embrace
3.) Walk Without Limbs
4.) Of Your Beauty
5.) Drink The Midnight Hymn
6.) Museum of Iscariot
7.) Lamenting Kiss
8.) Weep for Me
9.) I Sleep with the Emperor
10.) A Poet's Tears of Porcelain

Disc 2:
1.) Opera de Trance
2.) A Saint is Weeping
3.) Whispers of Dead Sisters

Virgin Black is:
Rowan London - Vocals, piano & keyboards
Samantha Escarbe - Lead guitar
Craig Edis - Guitar, vocals
Ian Miller - Bass, vocals
Dino Cielo - Drums

Virgin Black - Official Website:

The End Records:

Vidna Obmana
~reviewed by Psionic

One of the most important things I've always loved about the work of Vidna Obmana is the way in which he constructs ambient music with 100% less airheaded-new-ageiness. I've never felt like a sap whist listening to Vidna Obmana, like I do when listening to say, Enya. (It should be noted however, that it doesn't stop me from listening to Enya from time to time... But I digress.) So it was with no small amount of glee that I leapt at the opportunity to review this latest Vidna Obmana release, Tremor. And lo, it gets better! Not only is it another album from an artist I already feel all warm-n'-fuzzy over, but it's a treatment of darker themes regarding Hell from the aforementioned warm-n'-fuzzy guy to boot!! (Yes, I get giddy over these sorts of things, bollocks to you if you feel that's somehow inappropriate..)
Awww yeah, that's the stuff...

So anyways, it turns out that Mr. Obmana got to reflecting on Dante's Inferno one day, and came up with this idea for a trilogy of albums based on his pontifications of Hell, Dante-style. Tremor is disk one.  Shivers down my spine, rhythmic dark-ambient sublime...

I was expecting something -really- dark, but was off-target. Tremor is darker than say, Echoing Delight or Spiritual bonding, but is a far cry from the wave of gruntingly belligerent dark-ambient coming from DragonFlightRecords or CrowdControlActivities these days. (And no, I don't mean that in a bad way.. Oh no... Mmmnn.... Gruntingly belligerent...) No, Tremors is more cerebral than visceral, and far less droney. Also not a bad thing. Tribal percussions abound, part of the Vidna Obmana trademark sound. ('Tribal' is a term that's being bandied about all too often in an attempt to cash in on some form of post-modern cred, and it gives me no small degree of pleasure to say that Vidna Obmana has been using these elements with far more grace than the pack for longer than the pack. No hopping-on-the-bandwagon here, thank you very much.)

Interlaced within the rythms are a kaleidoscope of ambient textures. Soaring strings, pan flutes (!!!), 3rd Harmonic drones, and Devil's notes, all wrapped up in string. A magnificent album, with only one flaw. Just one. It doesn't make me think of Hell at all.

But really, that's a matter of interpretation, so it can hardly be considered a flaw, now can it? And in that case, that would make this a flaw-LESS album, and as such you (the reader) should click on the links provided below and get this cd. Or go to whatever retailer of music is near you that carries Release Entertainment cd's and get it there. In the meantime, I'm going to turn out the lights, torch up a Nag Champa, and drift through the seas o