5 More Dead
To Teach The World A Lesson
~reviewed by Blu

I've said it a million times. Sometimes I wish I was an A&R Rep (although I'd probably get ill with the politics and quit within a week). I know I could do a better job at bringing talent to the plate. Watching the parade of so called non deserving bands waddle on Mtv and through the radio waves,  you have to wonder just what in the hell these guys are thinking when they flood the market with sound-alike, non-creative, non-original bands? I read somewhere recently that even Korn has gotten sick of the Nu-Metal copy-cat underlings that have oozed out of no where. There's been numerous articles in the media lately and even Mtv will speculate on the drab culture they're helping to create as if they were completely innocent of any wrong-doing. While high paid makeup artists develop Slipknot's knew "look" all the while trying desperately not to make them appear as clowns with a bad hair day; I listen to old CDs by Soundgarden and Alice In Chains and wonder when the game changed - where did labels lose their insight?

And what's the point of this rant? Well, its because bands like 5 More Dead have been out there, for years, playing original music harder, better and with more talent than anything the label reps are bringing in and I just don't get it. I just don't get why if you were a label, you'd find a mediocre band - or put one together from scratch for that matter, and hire all these people to give them a look and a style and all this fake bunch of bullshit in hopes of selling the kids on it when there's real live rock gods out there ripe for the picking.  Lead singer BaryOnyx of 5 More Dead has more creative energy in the dirt under the nail of his pinky finger than most of the bands on Mtv these days.

So bands need a look? A style? Done. Three years ago when I met Bary in Atlanta I was instantly captivated with his then green neon-colored dreds and his now famous beaded goatee. His mic stand was column of human skulls and from one concert to the next you never knew if he'd be wearing a ripped up dress or a circus announcers jacket. His black and white stripped socks and makeup often reminded me of BeetleJuice - only zombiefied. His hair  color has changed from year to year - I think I saw it bleached white/blonde once and now its black, but either way, he still looks like a fantastic freak. This isn't a show or a facade to make all the kiddies stare... no no, BaryOnyx is every bit the creative soul he looks like he is onstage and off. Besides being a musician he's also an artist - he creates giant 3-D sculptures, usually monsters and has been in a few B-type horror flicks - one of them - Dumpster Babies was released by Troma.

So yeah, they've got a look... but what about the music you say? Well consider this - between all the musicians in the band, they've got over a decade's worth of experience and 5 More Dead itself has existed since 1999. In those 3 years they've toured extensively in the South East. Check out their tour dates here and see for yourself. In 2001 they played at least 28 shows along side bands like The Genitorturers and mdfmk/kmfdm. When they voluntarily played a benefit show for me a couple years ago in Atlanta,  I stood there afterwards, chin on the floor and exclaimed, "you do not belong here playing small gigs like this. You're better than that." And they are. Live they're as tight, on target and as professional as any band I've seen play pounding out powerful beats and earth shattering breaks everything timed and nailed to the tenth of a second. They should be commanding stadiums. You kids who've seen them play for a mere $5 in a 100 person capacity venue should thank your lucky stars.

Socially conscious and ripe with troubled lyrics, their CD To Teach The World A Lesson is a pretty good indicator of their live sound and the force that propels them. There's a plethora of mixed tempos and styles and you'll hear stuff that may remind you of such heavy weights as Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden and (to me especially) Alice In Chains. Other reviews have mentioned 5 More Dead being a modern day Black Sabbath and certainly, at points you can certainly hear an Ozzy-like voice in some of the choruses.

The song "Gray Matter" slinks in on heavy beats and crunching guitars, BaryOnyx's menacing whispers slither through the speakers before exploding in a group powered chorus. Need aggression and angst? He'll serve it up to you on a hardcore platter:

Future years paint us older
And all plastic soldiers
Play follow the leader in time
But fuck you, I don't want to
Judgment for all you lay eyes on
You may criticize wrong
This world's gone
My heart's torn open wide
Track two, "Ash" is quite possibly my favorite track on this CD. It opens with a bouncy bass line that's simply addictive and launches into a punchy chorus. Vocally I can certainly hear the Black Sabbath reference. There's a tempo change  that brings it down heavier until that bass lines picks it up again. Nice song and 100% radio-worthy.  Listening to this for the umpteenth time, I cannot believe someone hasn't heard this at some label and not shit their pants in excitement.

Track three, "Vindictive Wish" is a dynamic thing. Its heavy and hard as hell to start out with (mosh pits are breaking out everywhere within the sound range of my CD player right now) but half way through it, they pull a surprise punch on you and it gets all jelly-like and psychedelic. It's a bit like "3 Days" by Jane's Addiction at that point. The drumming remains incredibly powerful and confident though and the ease with which they flow through the tempo changes is impressive.

"Anonymous" is dark and filled with gritty, dirty guitar chords and lots of precisely timed breaks. Its a complex song with several different parts to it.  Silence plays a big part of this song and is one of the impressive things about seeing them play live - watching the whole band freeze in mid-motion before continuing their audio assault. One slip of a drum stick or one false start and it could be ruined.... but no, not these guys, they deliver every single time. At the end they venture off in a bit more psychedelic direction again - very atmospheric and even soothing.

"Maybe Tomorrow" is my favorite song as far as lyrics go. Underneath all the aggression and anger there's a hint here of the down to earth musician I've come to know and a bit of sympathizing about the self-doubt that consumes us all sometimes. Melodic and mellow, this is a clear shift in feel and tempo for the band but one I'm sure their fans consume with eager hearts.

My friends
Invitations I turn away
God, that sounds like fun
And I wish I could run
Through the crowded streets today
Well maybe I could make it all go away
If I take another pill
Or through the power of will
Or drink it all away
I don't want to be the one
Who spends less life every day
Man I want to be the one
To seize the day
"Coat Tails" returns to their heavier side - the lyrics as harsh and biting as the rumbling bass lines that propels the chorus....
You're insincere
Comments are so clear
You're arrogant
Shallow and I fear
That you my dear
Walk in others footsteps
Their names put you
Where you are
And if I recall correctly, the last track, "Thingy" was a crowd favorite live. The vocals are delivered in a playful, taunting manner and the grooving bass lines propel listeners between some great break-beat work.

All in all, To Teach The World A Lesson is a great independent CD release from a band who, if the world is at all fair, will one day have their spot in the lime light. Pray that A&R reps get a clue. I do hear from the 5 More Dead camp that things are a brewing ... they were just confirmed to do a track on an upcoming tribute CD to B-Movie Horror great Fulchi that will have songs based on his films and there has been some nibbles by some small independent labels. Bary keeps teasing me saying he might have some big news soon - let's hope. In the meantime, check out their webpage (which is in the midst of remodeling) and if you're more curious, they have quite a fan club growing on Yahoo Groups (see link below) that includes lots of live shots and more of Bary's artwork in the photo section. (You can see a couple live shots I took here.)

Keep fighting the good fight boys  - I'll be here in your corner. Perhaps you can teach the music industry a lessen, eh?

Track List:
1. Gray Matter
2. Ash
3. Vindictive Wish
4. Anonymous
5. Maybe Tomorrow
6. Coat Tails
7. Thingy

Official Web Page

5 More Dead Yahoo Fan Club

Going to the Theatre
~reviewed by Blu

If you thought you knew what Audra sounded like, think again.

Going to the Theatre is Audra's second full length CD release on Projekt and with this - we are ushered into a different world than the one they left us with at the conclusion of their first CD. And although their self-titled CD was dark and brooding, this is quite different in an intense way. All too often sophmore efforts too closely echo their debut and with that the intrigue and mystery of a band is quickly lost. But this - this will make people stop and take notice. The strength and variety of this second album, the growth shown in all areas from song writing to production, should be an indicator that Audra has huge creative potential and staying power. Don't underestimate them --  wonderful things will come from these boys - just sit back and hold on for the ride.

The first thing anyone will notice, if they thought they knew what Audra sounded like before, is how much heavier and grittier they've gotten with some of their songs. They've definitely ventured out and explored new territory. Infact, I almost bet that if I played tracks one or two to a group of random listeners, they might have trouble identifying the band at all.  "Midnight Moon Swing" opens with guitars that could belong to a doom metal band - heavy with just the right amount of distortion; ever so slow and Bret's voice to match the mood as he sings/threatens/enchants --  "I'll keep my mouth shut  if you close your eyes."

"There Are No Snakes In Heaven" is a song that's even been getting played at Deathrock club nights and that's no small feat to have crossed genres so easily. It has a fabulous rumbling bass line that would make any punk band proud, driving percurssion and Bret's super stylized vocals - deep but smoothly calm, velvety, completely in charge and some of the best atmospheric goth rock guitar playing I've heard in a long, long time. As if the music alone weren't enough, the descriptive lyrics are brilliant and set a dark tone for the rest to follow by. Verses like this are bound to become classics:

Not as you are
Looking up towards the sky
Your cigarette in motion
My almost best friend
The flowers were exquisite
The odor of death and flowers
No one noticed me
Sitting in the back
The title track, "Going To The Theatre" highlights Audra's gift for telling stories musically. I remember hearing them perform this song live and it was so memorable I had most of the lyrics down after one listening. Bittersweet and nostalgic, it takes you on a childhood romp and then taints it with hints of hard adult lessens that are around the corner. These innocent events are punctuated by weighty concerns:
No fun in sitting alone reading a book
No fun in watching some broads in a show
No fun in sitting doing some work
No fun in watching them fight

I'm going to the theatre on a Saturday night
And I'm gonna catch some great disease
I'm going to the theatre on a Saturday night
And I'm gonna become a great disgrace

And then they give us some release. The tone changes, the mood lifts a bit as the key changes to indulge us in a few moments of suspended reality:
I hope tonight never ends
I hope tomorrow never comes
I hope tonight never ends
So long as I got my black cape on tonight
I hope tonight never ends
I hope tonight never ends
The pointed sentiment in "All Ghosts Spend Their Time Alone" is propelled by a steady beat and Bret's contemplative vocals -- "But you were always different, You gave me hope". With its repetitive "21 candles..." through out the chorus, "In A Dark Room..." was also a song I remember them playing live. The guitars are heavy again here - even more gritty with equally as heavy drum beats  pushing the urgency in this song into a climax ... "I found myself along the way, I found between then and now..."

Track 6 is the slower and pensive -  "Face Go Red" - (whose lyrics are mysteriously missing from the CD sleeve) is followed by the march-like "A Walk In The Woods" filled with vivid imagery. But truly, the superstar track of this CD is "Fearless 'Peaches' " whose acoustic guitar seems light hearted on the surface but upon listening to the lyrics you're sure to end up with a sentimental tear or two in your eyes because if you are not like this character than you surely know and love someone who is. This is Audra at its most brilliant - from superb miminalistic music to their talent at conveying the most sentimental feelings subltely through their story telling. The climax of the story, and the part that gets to me every single time is the part about snagging a record from a store and...

He races home and puts on the phonograph
God how he loves the sound of the crackle
God how he loves the sound of the pop
God how he loves the sound of the crackle
God woud have said, "That's Iggy Pop"
Truly a nod to one of the greats.

Track 9, "Cabaret Fortune Teller" has been popping up on playlists too I've noticed. It's a fairly fast paced song that has distorted vocals and the chorus packs a hook with quirky keyboard sounds. And finally, "Don't End This Time" finishes up the CD on a quieter note - undoubtedly a bit about their experiences on the road. Sweet acoustic guitars take us home...

Again, if you heard Audra before and think you had their sound pegged, don't be so sure. Spanning a wide range of styles, this new CD is completely different from what they've done in the past. The maturity in their lyrics and the confidence in their delivery speaks volumes about where they're headed. Audra is one of those bands who has "it"  - that magical element that can captivate and spell bind audiences.

1. Midnight Moon Swing
2. There Are No Snakes In Heaven
3. Going To The Theatre
4. All Ghosts Spend Their Time Alone
5. In A Dark Room...
6. Face Go Red
7. A Walk In The Woods
8. Fearless "Peaches"
9. Cabaret Fortune Teller
10. Don't End This Time



Body Armour
No More Lies
~reviewed by Shannon W. Hennessy

I've heard too many people - strike that - too many UNINFORMED people state that EBM/Electronic-based music is elementary and, in some cases, nothing more than glorified karaoke. For someone who very much enjoys many different outfits that can be classified (in some manner or other) as "EBM" or "Electronica," I find myself biting my tongue more often than not. I roger that with enough dedication and technical know-how, pretty much anyone can learn or be taught to make structured noise from the circuitry of their sequencer, keyboard or other means of electronic manipulation, feed it into a DAT and then play it back for the world to hear.

If you assemble a room of 10,000 mandrills and 10,000 typewriters, give them an infinite amount of time, ink ribbons and free reign, eventually you will get the complete works of Shakespeare. This is not the case with music. Just because you CAN do something, or can LEARN to technically accomplish something, doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD, nor does it make the end result of your labor "good."

Such is the case with Body Armour.

This outfit is not part of the solution, but part of the problem where the stigma attached to EBM/Electronica is concerned. There is absolutely no melody to be found within the eight tracks of No More Lies; to be certain, all you will hear are a few chords - none of which are in any way interesting or, for that matter, any different than those that may be produced by a child's toy. The lyrics, which accompany the depressingly mundane and repetitive chords, are, in a word, inane. When you can hear or understand what Dolldelerium is actually saying, it's only going to bore you:

Tears (Demonkiss)
Evil smile
Demon kiss
Don’t fear these tears
Demon kiss
So sick
All night
There's really not a whole lot else to say about Body Armour. If it were 1982, and there was a completely different backup for the vocals, I might waste the time and make the effort to draw comparisons between Body Armour and early Missing Persons or Romeo Void... but both of those acts had talent and were supported by talented musicians.

Reverb is good in small doses, but cannot pray to "fix" bad music. There is far too much of BOTH of those things contained within No More Lies.

In a game dominated by players like Covenant, Icon of Coil, et al, Body Armor does not even come close to qualifying as a legitimate EBM/Electronica outfit. There's just not a whole lot of room for mediocrity in the EBM genre right now, and absolutely NO ROOM for sonic clutter, as it tends to get sprayed into the gutter by even the mediocre stuff.

1. Tears (Demonkiss)
2. Not Forever a Dream
3. Soul
4. No More Lies
5. Energy
6. Drama Queen
7. Trance
8. Seven Moons

Body Armour is:
Dolldelerium (aka Laura Friday) & Soundhunter (aka Piotr Kostka)

Official Artist URL: http://www.bodyarmour.uk.com/

~reviewed by Dibrom

After a 4 year hiatus, Bola has finally returned with a new full length album.  Bola originally sparked much interest with Soup (Yes... that's Bola - Soup) released on Skam records in 1998.  The release, which is fairly difficult to obtain now, contained an interesting and original take on the IDM genre.  Instead of the more glitchy and minimal yet chaotic sound that many were used to, Bola instead excelled at sweeping organic ambient soundscapes replete with fluid-like chirps and pops and the wane and inundations of softened drones and pulse-like sounds.  The community received a more stop-gap fix with the release of the Mauver EP in recent times which hinted at some new influences in Bola's sound, but as of yet there has not been a true followup to Soup.  Until now, that is..

In some ways, Fyuti is a continuation of the style originally introduced on Soup, though on the other hand it's also a move towards a slightly different feel or theme than before.  To clarify, there are many similar aspects in the sound between the two albums.  The great ambient and organic sounding environments are still there to a large extent.  So are the various textures and sound effects that were on Soup.  At the same time, there's a much more evolved and minimalistic, and in some ways mechanical feel to certain aspects of the sound.  Things feel more organized this time around and perhaps a bit moodier as well -- it sweeps from being exploratory to that of longing and of being forlorn.  The emphasis, however, appears to be more on the edgier side of the thematics this time around.  The music on Fyuti is more engaging, and in some places such as within the track "Pae Paoe" there are even vocals present.  This would lead one to feel as if the message being presented by the music is also more forceful and ever present than before.

I feel as if the production on this new release has increased dramatically over that of Soup, and to some extent MauverFyuti truly offers a candy feast for the ears so to speak.  Everything feels mixed in at just the right levels, all the details are clear and unencumbered, each sound feels as if it has been tweaked and modified to perfection just that much more than on previous releases.  It's quite possible to really get into this album and simply be carried off into the sound when played back on a nice stereo system or good pair of headphones.  The dark and complex melodies flow from the cd effortlessly, as do all of the electronic textures and subtle compositional details contained within the sound and it's really just impossible not to be impressed with the quality overall.

All in all, Fyuti is an amazing release, just as powerful and unique in the IDM scene as Soup was in it's day.  This time around though, we get an even more evolved and polished release than before and are treated to a more complex composition with elements new to Bola's sound.  Fyuti is truly a step forward for Bola and is worth picking up for any true fan of this style of music.

Track List:
3.)Pae Paoe
4.)Tibular Vader
5.)Veronex Cypher

Bola is:
Darryl Fitton

Skam Records:

Cry for Me
~reviewed by Jezebel

I like surprises. (remember that around November 18th…hint..hint). I must say the last few lots of happy bundles from Blu have yielded up very few surprises. And actually very few good bands. Breather is a good band and possibly a very good band.

Influenced by bands such as Slowdive, Cranes, Suede, Curve, and Depeche Mode, they have definitely melded these individual bands into a different and unique sound. There are a few more influences ringing around there…(and a few steals as well, i.e. the sighing of Jessica in the opening track….Toni would have been proud of the imitation).

Scott Goverman and Alicia Skala do an excellent job on the guitar giving varied approaches to each of the three songs (there are seven listed, but we will get to that later). Both seem to have a great flow to their playing and a great feel for timing and expression. I hear so many nice sounds from the guitars, electric and acoustic that I wonder who is playing which.

The bass of Alicia Skala is subtle and, as I feel the job of bass is, carries the songs along as the foundation of the songs. Softly and without ever being overwhelming, the bass is absolutely lovely.

The vocals of Jessica Cook are gorgeous and evoke not just a more melodic Toni from Curve, but perhaps sounds of Lydia from The Shroud and even, if she approached her music from another angle, Julianne Regan from All About Eve.

Simple and evocative, this is sexy music that is the perfect backdrop to conversation, glasses of wine, and dinner with friends. The band feels they are "collectors of moods" and I think that could be true, as they start to really explore what they as a band came do together. Cry for Me is only their second EP since forming in 1998. A full length CD should be in the works for them, as I think, is the only way for the band to truly explore and fulfil what they are capable of.

Now to the "other" songs on the CD. Remixes….remixes. I am not a won over fan of remixes. They need to be done right to work. Take Faith and the Muse's recent release filled with, what I believe, were horrific mixes of their most loved works. Perhaps bands want to approach a piece with a fresh idea, come at it backwards and turn it inside out. Perhaps. But in most cases, such as this one, it just doesn't work.

The songs are absolutely beautiful, "Cry for Me", the title track, lovely and sexy and gritty in such a very sensual and temptuous way. And then the remix throwing in your face all the anger and emotion of it. Suddenly the feeling from the original is destroyed.

And honestly, these are not good remixes. There is the Ross (a la Friends) quality going on. The "oh let's see what this button does" kind of sound that diminishes what, up to the remixes beginning, was a rather tight and professional sounding EP. Yes, I know EP is supposed to stand for "extended play"….but not when it compromises the original. You lose something.

I think this is an excellent band-to-be. Give them the time and the space to grow and really experience and explore their abilities and their craft and I think this could be one of those knock out bands that take people by storm with simplicity and sexiness.

Track Listing:
1) Cry for Me
2) Paramour
3) Catharsis
4) Catharsis (then i'll take you)
5) All the Beauty (purple dogs on plute mix)
6) Cry For Me (bleeding heart mix)
7) Gone (pulsar ambient mix)

Breather are:
Jessica Cook - vocals
Alicia Skala - guitar/bass/vocals/sequencing
Scott Gockerman - guitars/sequencing

Website: http://www.breaker.com

Email: info@breather.com

Das Ich
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

Das Ich is one of the few popular Industrial bands left that are thankfully not afraid to show their vintage roots.  With Antichrist, the band’s latest album, there are no disappointing surprises – fans can count on the same apocalyptic atmospheres, mischievous angst, and jagged rhythmic variation that has defined the band for well over a decade.

Thematically, the album deals with Biblical visions of the Apocalypse or Milton’s “Paradise Lost” – either way there is a plethora of devilish references that could teach even Black Metal bands a thing or two.  This is actually creepy and the sinisterly aggressive Industrial dance vibe that Das Ich has always been known for is perfectly suited for conveying such fiendish imagery.   The devil’s dance music if I may be so corny.

The refreshing and consistent appeal of Das Ich is they are rhythmically complex, atmospherically dense, and present a nice variety of dark emotion.  They are light on the monotony of smooth techno ‘thuds’ but heavy on the rough and stomp laden clangs, bangs, and clashes that used to be part and parcel to ‘Industrial’ music.   Even the steady, upbeat “Krieg Im Paradies” and the remix of “Keimzeit,” both of which use a moderate ‘thud’ for the songs’ rhythmic cores, still manage to sound more like Skinny Puppy than And One, resulting from the other layers of electronics and the slower pace of the beats.   Stefan’s gritty vocals are as ghoulish and raspy as ever, his Deutsche accent skyrockets the band’s angst level light years beyond the whiny excuses for vocals that crown most bands filling dance floors these days.

“Garten Eden” is another stand out track – a sludgy, haunting song, still rhythmically challenging but shaded by orchestral synths, eerie chimes and a moodier vibe.  Darkwave fans will be all over this one.

“Der Achte Tag” is also noteworthy and stands out amidst the rest of the album.  A sprawling seventeen-minute experimental soundscape, first as a spooky narrative reminiscent of the band Will, accented by synthesized cellos, pianos, and pizzicato string plucks and as the song climaxes with the addition of orchestral percussion, it slowly bleeds into a swirling nightmarish layer of voices and odd sound effects.

Nearly every song on this CD could be club play worthy – and fans of more challenging and atmospheric aggressive Industrial should definitely check this out.  Still bearing the stamp of the vintage stylings Das Ich has long been known for, but updated with a thick and hard hitting production. This is highly recommended.

Track List:
1.) Engel
2.) Keimzeit
3.) Grund Der Seele
4.) Vater
5.) Krieg Im Paradies
6.) Tor Fur Hölle
7.) Garten Eden
8.) Das Dunfle Land
9.) Sodom Und Gomorra
10.) Der Achte Tag
11.) Keimzeit (rmx)

Das Ich is:
Stefan Ackermann
Bruno Kramm

Das Ich – Official Site:

Danse Macabre Records:

Metropolis Records:

Damage Effect
Level 1
~reviewed by Shannon W. Hennessy

I own video games for the PS/2 that possess soundtracks vastly more inspired, and hence, inspiring than what has been encoded onto Damage Effect's Level 1.

Web sites such as MP3.com are a double-edged sword. While the sites usually offer fairly inexpensive means by which a musician can make some modicum of a return on their artwork and avoid a lot of the distribution nightmares that can accompany affiliation with smaller labels with little or no industry stroke, the sames sites are, by and large, absolutely swamped with noise pollution and unimaginative garbage. This being said, Level 1 has been released by Damage Effect with the "get what you pay for" assistance of MP3.com.

Amidst mind-numbingly repetitive drum and sample loops, Damage Effect has attempted to create what I'm assuming is a stab at Industrial/EBM fusion. The end result, however, is a redundant and tired eleven tracks worth of overused movie samples, vox distortion and reverb. If you have the knowledge and means to rip sound bytes from DVDs or old, heavy metal vinyl, then there's absolutely no reason why you couldn't do exactly what Panix has done with Level 1. While no particular talent or ability is necessarily required where music is concerned other than having an ear for making two similar sounds or notes "go together," I would, however, suggest a copy of "Macs for Dummies."

There are many, many acts out and about in the world of music struggling to make rent, ends meet and to feed themselves. In many cases, these starving acts are extraordinarily talented. Many, unfortunately, have been signed to "farm-club" labels that take more pleasure in playing with the would-be careers of said acts than actually investing time, effort and money into balls-to-the-wall promotion of the acts under their flags. I sincerely wish that, rather than spending hard-earned money towards the burning of "on-demand, no talent required" CD-Rs, acts like Damage Effect would sit back, relax, support the aformentioned musicians, and take some solid notes.

Rome was not built in a day, and it seems to me that the instant gratification recently made available by sites like MP3.com to anyone with a keyboard and a movie collection is more of a hindrance than a help to new and obviously impressionable acts such as Damage Effect.

1. Fun, Until the Hangover
2. Comatose Lullaby
3. Hit
4. Memento
5. Cleaner
6. Skyscraper Man
7. Deviant
8. Quicksand
9. Music To A Film By David Lynch
10. From Below
11. Menace

Damage Effect is:

Official Artist URL: http://www.mp3.com/damageeffect

Wonderful Life
~reviewed by Shannon W. Hennessy

In 1994, an obscure yet brazen outfit under the moniker of Marilyn Manson released their first, full-length, professionally produced CD under the label of Nothing Records. The disc was entitled Portrait of an American Family, and while it met with criticism from both the "moral majority" as well as the conventionally banal "music industry" proper, it propelled one of the most controversial acts of the mid-nineties into virtually overnight stardom. Financially, and in the opinion of many, musically the release was an almost unprecedented success.

Given the choice between Marilyn Manson's Portrait of an American Family and Deadfilmstar's Wonderful Life, your money is better spent on the sure thing. Close to ten years behind the power curve, Deadfilmstar has attempted to adopt Brian Warner's trademarked shtick, vocal style, angst and attitude in what can only be described by this reviewer as something less than mediocre failure.

There is nothing at all original about Deadfilmstar. Falling just short of earning the label "rip-off," Deadfilmstar has filled a self-produced CD with unoriginal lyrics (spiced appropriately with shakes of Manson-esque vulgarities for good measure), uninspiring music, and not even the slightest hint of what could be considered clever innovation on a dead-horse where the "shock glam" scene, or what have you, is concerned.

Deadfilmstar is, for all intents and purposes, a sub-standard Marilyn Manson cover band that would more than likely offend the alumni of Marilyn Manson rather than flatter with their obtuse, aural impersonations.

When the harder-hitting Top Forty Mainstream bleeds into the subcultures with acts like Korn or Mudvayne, there's little room for an act that can't hold water... and Deadfilmstar can't.

1. Hello, Cruel World
2. Mommies Little F**ked Up Star
3. Still In Caliper (Who Killed The Radio Star?)
4. Looks Like the Flowers Are Dead
5. Soiled, Spoilt And Somewhat Flawed
6. A Wonderful Life
7. Retort
8. The Star is Born
9. Soiled, Spoilt And Somewhat Flawed (The Great Big Flaw Mix)

Deadfilmstar is:
Mr. Filmstar
Esther 'Jane'

Official Artist URL: http://www.geocities.com/dead_filmstar/

Cadaveric Necrogrind
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

As if there weren’t enough CDs by run of the mill Death Metal bands and Cannibal Corpse clones for angry metal heads to filter through, Mercenary Musik has seen fit to pillage the archival tomb of the LA band Entety.  I guess there is another unholy Death Metal machine of a band that have already claimed this moniker and spell it correctly?  Cadeveric Necrogrind is a release of some of this band’s long lost demo material.  My initial question is WHY?  What for?  With all due respect to the genre, I don’t see why it is necessarily to let this music see the light of day?  I have never heard of the band, and as far as I know, there are no ‘celebrities’ in the line up.  There is nothing noteworthy or unique about this really, just the same old unintelligible Cookie Monster vocals, blast beats, rehashed riffs, laughable ‘evil’ titles (these people are just never going to catch on) and poor, muffled production.  The press release claims the CD is remastered, but you could have fooled me – it sounds terrible.  Entety are obviously good at what they do, the music is tight and brutal, but I can’t help but wonder what the point is?  It seems like a financial disaster for the label, being that there is already a wealth of current material that sounds like this, and has better, clearer, warmer production and is just as brutal that fans of this genre are smart enough to prefer to this.  To me, it feels like the label is trying to take advantage of Death Metal fans by trying to market this as some lost ‘cult classic?’  If you are desperate for some boring rehashed Grindcore Death Metal, plop down selected retail price of $16 for this short seven-song release.  Otherwise, avoid this and forget about it.

Track List:
1.) Hideous Malformation
2.) Carnage of Massacred
3.) Fraudulent Funeral Mortician (LOL! HAHHA!)
4.) Exsanguination
5.) Into The Desolate (…the desolate what?  That word is an adjective
6.) Carcinogenic Carrion
7.) Grievous Epitaph

Entety is:
Memo Mora - Guitars
Richard Gonzales - Guitars
James Grijalva - Drums
Robert Cardenas - Bass
Joe Perez - Vocals

Entety Info Page:

WWIII / Mercenary Musik:

Time Of Despair
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

Over the past year or so, Century Media has released a pretty successful string of noteworthy Gothic / Metal crossover hits – Lacuna Coil, Moonspell, Flowing Tears, and Tiamat have all been pretty good releases and received  unanimously good press.  It seems the label has the same high hopes for the success of their latest potential crossover act in the shape of Finland’s Entwine.

After attempting to absorb this album, my initial feelings of dismissal and disappointment have not been swayed.  The music is not that bad, despite being somewhat sugar coated and a bit too uplifting to be at all associated with the Gothic scene.  The music aside, I found the vocals to be dreadful, whiny, and weak and couldn’t get passed them no matter how hard I tried.

The vocals are definitely heartfelt, pleading, and seem to grasp for a fleeting feeling of denied contentment.  But paired with the music, I am reminded of the commercial hard rock/pop ballads of the days of yore – a mistake many labels and bands seem to be making as of late.  Image alone does not make a band Goth – and besides, these guys look more like the offspring of Orgy and Enuff Z Enuff.  Furthermore, having pessimistic or depressive song titles, keyboards, lead or background female vocals, and reveling in sappy emotion are not the magic or secret ingredients to creating good Gothic music, especially that of Gothic Metal.  It just takes one listen to bands like My Dying Bride and early Anathema and one will notice that what is missing from a lot of these ‘Gothic Metal’ upstarts is not only heaviness, but most importantly, DARKNESS.  These guys are as dark as the set at a shoot for a Bon Jovi video.

I am a longtime Century Media advocated and enthusiast, most of their releases, both Goth and non-Goth related, I find to be noteworthy.  There are some exceptions – bands like the overrated and inarguably ‘un-Goth’ Sentenced spring to mind, with whom Entwine definitely share some similarities.  Whatever the case, with Entwine, I was let down.  “Time of Despair?” This album sufficiently lacked the ‘despair’ it promised in the title, and the only ‘time’ it had was the time I wasted listening to it.  Sorry guys, you have struck out with this one.

Track List:
1.) Stream Of Life
2.) The Pit
3.) Nothing Left To Say
4.) Safe In A Dream
5.) Burden
6.) Falling Apart
7.) Until The End
8.) Learn To Let Go
9.) Time Of Despair

Entwine is:

Mika Tauriainen - Vocals
Tom Mikkola – Guitar
Jaani - Guitar
Joni Miettinen - Bass
Riitta Heikkonen - Keyboards
Aksu Hanttu – Drums

Entwine – Official Site:

Century Media Records:

The Poet's Adoration
~reviewed by Kevin Filan

Once upon a time classical music was the backdrop for everyday life.  Opera companies entertained cowboys on the American frontier, and barroom piano players were wont to throw in Chopin waltzes between Irving Berlin ditties and Scott Joplin rags.  Today "classical" has become synonymous with ivory tower intellectualism, stuff that's incredibly difficult to play and even harder to hear... or with blue-haired ladies clapping politely after yet another soporific rendition of The Old Cliches.

Fredrik Klingwall's music is unquestionably rooted in the classics.  He draws on Rachmaninoff's lyrical melodicism and Ralph Vaughan Williams' epic grandeur, yet remains as accessible as "popular" composers like Tchaikovsky, Morricone or John Williams.  Klingwall is also an artist who shows both patience and dedication.  Many graphic artists who take up music believe that "creative vision" -- or computer wizardry -- will make up for technical shortcomings.  Klingwall trained himself on a piano, later taking performance, theory and composition classes.  Instead of emulating the latest Synthcheese trend, he went straight to the wellspring; big, loud and romantic classical music.

After the academics took over modern classical music, many composers turned to film scores.  Yr. Snooty Music Ph.D. might scorn things like emotional impact and catchy melody... but movie directors knew a good thing when they heard one.  Klingwall's music has that cinematic flair; it's evocative and dramatic, but also pithy.  None of the four tracks on this CD-R are longer than 3'30", yet each establishes and sustains a mood.

The slow infernal march which closes things wouldn't be out of place in a war film, with its martial bass drum conjoined with horns and a dissonant violin backing, while the breathtaking strings and Eastern European flair of track 3 might even have rescued Coppola's *Dracula*.   (Klingwall has a real flair for string arrangements; I was particularly impressed by the mournful cello threnody on track 2).  Throughout the mood is "All Stops Pulled."  Klingwall is an unabashed romantic, whose music is filled with soaring passages and symphonic chords.

If you're getting bored with your current CD collection and want to expand your listening frontiers, why not give classical music another listen? Klingwall's work, which is complex enough to be rewarding yet listenable as a Dead Can Dance release, is a great bridge between the two worlds, and would make for an excellent introduction to this foreboding and oft-maligned genre.

Fredrik Klingwall on MP3

The Great Deceiver
A Venom Well Designed
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

Tomas Lindberg made his mark on the metal scene as the angry lunatic singer for At The Gates, and now he is the singer/frontman for The Great Deceiver. Of course, I use the word "singer" in a very loose sense. Lindberg screeches, rasps, and yells his way through everything I've heard him do (including ATG, Lockup, and The Crown). His near incomprehensible vocalizations are as raw as they come. I'm still waiting for the day Lindberg is going to cough up that hairball he's been working at for years and show us what he really sounds like. I mean, no one can screech like that all the time without something crammed down his throat, can he? It's a serious question for sure, and one I have often pondered along with musings of trees falling in forests and the potential return of Jonathan Jackson to General Hospital (that other guy just doesn't cut it).

You might be thinking you know what to expect from The Great Deceiver's (TGD) sound just because of Lindberg's presence, but luckily, you can't predict anything more than the sound of the vocals. TGD has an honestly unique sound, for better and worse. There really is no solid comparison to other groups; TGD is a mix of styles and original elements that isn't easily likened to any of their peers. The guitars have an almost grunge quality, and the muddy production only enhances this effect.  They have that low distorted and dirty sound that isn't used to beat you into submission, but to hook you in with catchy rock-ish riffs that are good for light head banging on a Sunday afternoon.

At least, they would be, if not for Lindberg's hardcore inspired vocals. He does manage to slow down and speak now and then, but for the most part you get his typically extreme screams. Needless to say, they aren't so suited to a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon. The combination of his ravings and the rockin' riffs is actually quite cool at times, as with the two opening tracks. There are even some keyboards and electronics used for background atmospherics that make TGD's work more distinctive. The main complaint I have about the band is the sound doesn't vary to any great extent across "A Venom Well Designed." Each song is solid and consistent, but very few stand out from the rest.

Also, the muddy production keeps the drums from doing much more than providing a distant backbeat for the guitars, vocals, and keyboards. The production is a disappointment overall because it is difficult to clearly make out any of the instruments.  Even Lindberg's vocals are muffled to some extent. I'm fairly certain the band did this on purpose to create a groovy grunge sort of sound, but while it gives TGD a unique flavor in the extreme metal scene - ultimately I'm not too pleased with it.

A Venom Well Designed is a neat but flawed release that I can't quite get into. The band set out to express aggression in a new way, and they have done it. But as with anything experimental, there's a good chance people aren't going to get into it. If not for the repetitive nature of the sound across the CD, I'd like it a whole lot more. They only break the mold on a few songs. "Arsenic Dreams," for example, has a much slower tempo than most of the songs and even has some melodic guitar bits. Hopefully this type of sound will be further developed on future releases. I get the impression that the band felt limited in terms of how far they could go with their new style. My message to the band is that they should refine it even more and let go of any limiting factors like how they think the production should be for this type of music or how static the vocals should be across songs. On that note, the "socially concious" lyrics aren't exactly new either.

What does the future hold in store for The Great Deceiver? I have no idea, but I'd like to think they're on the verge of putting out some destined-to-be-classic albums. I suspect their live performance is awesome, and "A Venom Well Designed" is a solid and mostly enjoyable CD. If you have any interest in what I've just described, be sure to visit Peaceville Records' website to hear an mp3 of TGD. Their sound isn't for everyone, and perhaps it's not even for me, but these veteran musicians have crafted something a lot of metal fans will appreciate.

Track List:
1.) Pierced
2.) The Living End
3.) Poisoned Chalice
4.) After the Flood
5.) Enter the Martyrs
6.) The Demons Lair
7.) Arsenic Dreams
8.) Strychnine
9.) The Blade
10.) Leave it all Behind
11.) Destroy - Adore

The Great Deceiver is:
Tomas Lindberg - vocals
Kristian Wahlin - guitar
Hans Nilsson - drums
Johan Osterberg - guitar
Matti Lundell - bass

Peaceville Records:

In These Days Of Merriment
~reviewed by Dibrom

In These Days Of Merriment - the album title itself gushes forth with irony and gloom, already building the context for the sounds presented within.  In These Days... is the third release and first full length album from Hollydrift.

Quoting Mathias Anderson, the man behind Hollydrift, "My creations depart for lands unknown and arrive on the other side.  I offer my music for your own interpretation.  I cannot explain it any better".  Having spent a fair amount of time with this album, I can certainly attest to this aspect.  Hollydrift is a complex sonic construction and attempting to pin its message to any one particular facet or ideology would be doing the release a great injustice.  Each time I listen to this release, the emotional outcome always seems to be slightly different than the previous.  The setting in which the music is listened to, any preconceived notions at the time, and various activities one may be engaged in while listening - all have an impact on what the music represents at that particular point in time.  I'd go so far as to say that "In These Days Of Merriment", instead of simply offering it's own discrete message, has the effect of manipulating your own message, or your own thoughts, and recombining them in Hollydrift-like fashion.  However, the one theme in this music which is all encompassing and ever present throughout the various tracks is that of darkness and depression.  The title obviously captures this element first and foremost, but the artwork on the front cover contributes to this feeling quite significantly as well.  The notion of a broadcast tower engulfed in overcast and gloomy storm-like skies, almost faded from view (and perhaps existence?) and presumably sending out its message across the lands, somehow seems very symbolic in relation to the sound of the album.

The technical presentation of the tracks on this release is quite enjoyable.  Mentioned multiple times on the cd case, this release was recorded in true analog tape format -- something which is becoming increasingly rare.  As such, the sound has a nice warm and somewhat softened feel to it which adds significantly to the subtlety of the details presented and the listen-ability of the entire album.  Patches of noise fade in and out of the mix every so slightly. Clicks, beeps and rumblings -- usually processed sound samples of some real occurence, a la Musique Concrete -- permeate the soundstage, reverberating from side to side but never with a harsh connotation.  Samples of voice and conversation take on an old radio-like quality which seems to add to the distance somehow and makes it all the more unusual sounding.  Combined in its entirety, the sound is very presentful yet at the same time dampened, gloomy, abstract, and even disturbing all at once.

With the release of In These Days Of Merriment, I've been very pleasantly surprised.  At only $8, the release is quite a steal.  If you're into this style of ambient, yet thought provoking music, then you should definitely check this release out.

Track List:
2.)Donner Pass
3.)Rattle In The Sky
4.)Floating On The Bellcross
5.)As The World Rolls Back
6.)Wizard Of The Dell
7.)One Year Later

Hollydrift is:
Mathias Anderson

Hollydrift Official Website:

Hate Theory
Hate Theory
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

The press release of this WWIII/Mercenary Musik CD, as usual, started off on a bad and irritating note.  Hate Theory hail from Ohio, “a place where nothing good ever seems to come from. Think: Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, and Maynard James Keenen”

First, I don’t think that a label should go out of their way to dis’ bands that have little to nothing to do with the material at hand.  Second, they can rip on Manson all they want, but Reznor is a fantastic musician and composer that also happens to know how to sell his product, and Maynard James Keenan?  For Christ’s sake, I didn’t even think he was from Ohio, and that man is a musical genius and has more talent in his pinky finger than the combined force of the entire WWIII/Mercenary Musik roster.

So now that we have gotten off on a bad foot, I will give some advice to this label: quit leaving such a bad taste in our mouths and just promote your product.  Save the insults, and the corny Death Metal lingo and provide more facts about your bands (web links? Line up? Etc).

What’s funny is that the opening riff of this album SOUNDS like Tool, and what is more unfortunate is that I actually liked this CD.  It’s damn good actually and caught me by surprise - Angry, bottom heavy stuff falling somewhere in the realm of Hardcore and good Death Metal.  The music is dark, and has a plethora of strong guitar riffs happening, excellent crunching guitars and even quite a bit of melody happening.  The vocals scream along, growl along and every once in awhile for good measure they throw in some mournful clean vocals and even some subtle clean guitars.  The album’s fourth track “From Scabs To Scars” is fantastic, jamming along all melodic at first and then tearing the hell out of the listener for the remainder of the song.  While there is not too much stylistic variation going on, the latter half of the album reveals some nice surprises. The sludge worthy “Crawl Alone” stands out high above the rest of the album, almost Godflesh like in tone.  “Lightbulb” comes out of left field, a lengthy dark acoustic ballad – rather odd and unexpected, clean vocals (sounds like Tool again!) and apparently, the song is being marketed to Alternative radio.  Good luck guys, it could happen.  I’d rather turn on the radio and hear “Crawl Alone” though <winks>

Despite these stylistic forays, the harsh mood and quality of Hate Theory is divinely consistent.  The label seems to try to put them in the same league as Slipknot and other Nu-Metal bands, but I beg to differ.  This is much better, more sincere and certainly geared more toward the underground in my opinion.  Sometimes they sound a bit like Pantera in their few better moments, but the macho testosterone bullshit is not as in your face.  This is straightforward, no holds barred brutal heaviness. I can’t imagine many Starvox readers’s digging on this, but you never know.  Hate Theory still managed to win me over despite the insulting and stupid ass press release, next time things may not have as happy an ending.  Pick this up if you want to fuck some shit up, yo.

Track List:
1.) Whore
2.) Vent
3.) All This Flesh
4.) From Scabs To Scars
5.) A Couple Hundred
6.) Rage Implant
7.) So You Think
8.) Days In Here
9.) Crawl Alone
10.) Lightbulb
11.) Wish
12.) Freezing (Demo)

Hate Theory is:
Jeff Fahl - Lead Vocal
Jason Stone - Lead Guitar
Mike Carlton - Rhythm Guitar
Jason Lamtman - Drums
Dave Tinlin - Bass, Back-up Vocals

Hate Theory – Official Site:

WWIII / Mercenary Musik:

~reviewed by Mike Ventarola

The initial appearance of this CD will make one think they are in for a mass of heavy industrial style sounds.  Instead, we are given a collection of emotional songs wrapped up in intense EBM synth beats bordering at times to the industrial roots.  The album cover makes no apology for the utilization of machinery, dark sensuality and graphic titillating photo’s. The center of the cover is somewhat made to look like a cross between an eyeball and a woman’s breast, thereby delivering the message that some of the contents are sexual in nature.

"Flesh Menagerie" managed to create a highly danceable yet sordid song, which depicts the wolf-like stalking and mating that often takes place within the confines of a club.

"Hopeless" is a mournful track that wrestles with the realization of loneliness and past mistakes within the confines of a former relationship. The lyrics are simplistic, but run through the gamut of emotions from despair to cynicism.

"Perfect Stranger" emphasizes the momentary thrill of nighttime physical conquest that often leaves one feeling emotionally barren after the fact. It examines the inner conceptualization that it is all part of the “game,” yet the passions seem to overrule logic with attempting to find a meaningful relationship.

"Physical Education" seems to border on the quest of going over the edge with one’s desires at the hands of someone more skilled, most likely a dominatrix. The lyrics dance around the subjects without actually hitting us over the head, but still maintain enough expression to deliver the imagery.

"Over" is that point immediately after a relationship is over. We are confronted with fear, anger, uncertainty, denial remorse and regret all within the span of a moment.

"Built For Pleasure" explores the adoration and admiration for one who fulfills the ideal of perfect physical fantasy. Again, there is a nod towards a dominatrix type of imagery without actually coming out and broadly painting it as such.

"A Matter Of Time" brings us again to that moment in life when we discover that the image and embodiment of our “perfect” love is actually within our line of sight. It is that longing ache of hoping for something to develop, coupled with the hesitancy to make the first move.

"Oblivion" is a mechanized love song of sorts, depicting the need for passion before life and all its precious moments escape us.

"96 Degrees" is explicit auditory imagery, where one is a voyeur to amorous couplings in the twilight hours. The track uses interesting sound depth to seemingly paint an almost ominous atmosphere, as though behind a peepshow  window.

The Negative Format remix of "Perfect Strangers" adds another emphasis on an already good dance track. The Stromkern remix of "Physical Education" seems to deliver a bit more plodding, as though in a rut.

When all is said and done, Informatik created an album that is likely to be cherished by all those in the underground scene currently enduring difficult relationships. Rather that resorting to poetic verbiage, the lyrics simply connote the ever-mounting difficulties between love and lust.  To some degree, this is the soundtrack to love, life and sex in the post AIDS days, where love on the one hand can emotionally bankrupt you, while anonymous sex could kill you physically as well as emotionally. Instead of being a purveyor of wanton lust, this CD delivers a bit more of a cyber voyeurism that allows the free form flow of eroticism, while maintaining a safe physical distance from anything dangerous.

Band Lineup:
Da5id Din
Tyler Newman
Matthew Crofoot

1. Flesh Menagerie (136 BPM)
2. Hopeless (131 BPM)
3. Perfect Stranger (138 BPM)
4. Physical Education (110 BPM)
5. Over (133 BPM)
6. Built For Pleasure (140 BPM)
7. A Matter Of Time (133 BPM)
8. Oblivion (128 BPM)
9. 96 Degrees
10. Perfect Stranger (Robot Mix by Negative Format 138 BPM)
11. Physical Education (Day Job Mix by Stromkern 110 BPM)

Webpage: http://www.nymphomatik.com
Email: informatik@nymphomatik.com

~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

There are a heap of death metal sub-genres these days - and very little old fashioned, straightforward death metal. Many would argue that style of death metal is on its dying legs and long overdue a visit from Mr. Reaper. I used to think that too, before hearing that sound done right. As with Vader, Kaamos provides death metal that is wholly unoriginal... but it kicks the crap out of any so-called "brutal" death metal or any band that has to reference a medical dictionary to come up with song titles (I'm talking to -you-, Disgorge).

A few components make Kaamos' music worthwhile despite the originality factor. These guys have got energy, and lots of it. It's nigh-impossible not to headbang to the fast groovin' riffs on songs like "Circle of Mania." The grooves they get going must make a frenzy of moshpits. The opening riff on "Curse of the Aeons" is another headbanging riff full of energy and anger. Kaamos sticks to a simple songwriting formula, but they're so good at writing these riffs that the CD doesn't grow old.

Truthfully, I wouldn't mind even more bands playing this style instead of the grossly overcrowded brutal and melodic death metal scenes. If more bands could muster the conviction and energy that Kaamos can, I'd find their music a hell of a lot more entertaining. It's that aspect of their sound that most reminds me of Vader, which is another admittedly unoriginal and yet highly enjoyable death metal group.

While I have been focusing on Kaamos' lack of originality, it's mainly to make the point that they play their style really well and make their music worth listening to anyway (Candlelight Records doesn't sign just any band). But to ensure they get their due credit, it's worth pointing out the off-the-wall track "Blood of Chaos." It opens with a man who sounds like he may be on a mountain, we'll call him a mountain man, yelling a lot in what I presume is Swedish. I can't make out what he's saying, but I figure it's no loss. His ravings are frightening enough as it is, thanks to the desperate and urgent sound they convey. I'd swear an avalanche was about to hit the way he's going on. In any case, I can't think of any other death metal bands that have their singer yell a lot with an echo and no instruments, so Kaamos does get some points for that.

It occurs to me that people often assign gender to inanimate objects and ideas. Ships and planes are often referred to as females, and I've decided to refer to straightforward death metal as a man. A mountain man, named Grug The Destoyer. And should anyone ever do a documentary on his ups and downs, surely Kaamos will be mentioned as an important band. Especially in the section titled "How Grug The Destroyer Got His Groove Back." And with that, this review comes to a close, and all death metal fans are hereby encouraged to give Kaamos a listen.

Track List:
1.) Corpus Vermis
2.) Circle of Mania
3.) The Storm of Coming
4.) Khem
5.) Blood of Chaos
6.) Doom of Man
7.) The Chasm
8.) Curse of the Aeons
9.) Cries of the Damned

Kaamos is:
Karl - vocals, bass
Nicklas - guitar
Konstantin - guitar
Chris Piss - drums

Candlelight Records:

Kidney Thieves
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

Kidney Thieves are a scientific marvel. You might think the band is made up of home-grown humans - but they can't fool me. I know the truth. They're a bunch of clones. But before we get to that, let's assess the music. I was torn in terms of how to feel about this CD from the moment I started listening. Kidney Thieves play a so-called "industrial rock" in the vein of Nine Inch Nails and Gravity Kills. It's a familiar sound, but with an angry woman singing instead of an angry man, reminding me of Snake River Conspiracy. The guitars sound very much like early 90's alternative groups (think Soundgarden), except that they're almost too precise to be grunge. And the vocals, while seemingly angry, are often quite melodic and pristine. To top it all off there is mild electronic experimentation that reminds me most of NiN, except without the gritty realism NiN's soundscapes provide. Mix it all into a package with superb production, an attractive female frontwoman, men who shop from the same nu-metal clothing and piercings catalogue Korn puts out monthly - and you've got Kidney Thieves.

Doesn't sound so bad, you say? Zerospace is by no means a horrible album, and I even like bits of it now and then. But what strikes me most is how contrived it all feels. It's difficult to put your finger on it at first because AOL Time Warner has an amazing cloning team, but the signs of immaculate perfection are there if you keep an eye out. How could normal humans have created something like this? As you may have guessed, my theory is that they didn't. I think AOL Time Warner took some DNA from past successful groups like Soundgarden and NiN, then edited it to fit new current trends... namely, nu-metal.

The end result is a work that comes across as profoundly souless and ultimately pointless, but quite trendy and catchy in an undeniably listenable way. I can only guess Kidney Thieves are going to go on to great popularity. Speaking of their name, this is their clever way of mocking their listeners. It's more subtle than "DNA Thieves" or "We Are Clones," but I see through their disguise. Even the album title is questionable. "Zerospace." Free Dominguez, the band's singer, insists it represents balance and that's what the music is seeking. I think it represents the lack of emotional human content.

"Zerospace" really is quite the corporate experiment, and with AOL Time Warner manufacturing and distributing the release, I'll be surprised if it doesn't take off in no time. Assuming the band members in Kidney Thieves are actually human, I hope once they have their success they're willing to try new things and stop putting out by the numbers music. Sadly, their remix album (also reviewed this issue) is much more enjoyable. How often are other bands' interpretation of music significantly better than the originals?

To add further support to my theory, the picture-perfect photos of the band in Outburn magazine are even more immaculate. Starvox writer Michael Johnson puts it best: "And the woman from the Kidney Thieves has ludicrously over-glossy lips. What does she do, drink yacht varnish?"

If you're really into Gravity Kills or Snake River Conspiracy, you may get into Kidney Thieves and discover something in Kidney Thieves' music that I'm just not seeing. But for most of you I suggest proceeding with some caution. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Track List:
1.) Before I'm Dead
2.) Zerospace
3.) Arsenal
4.) Molten
5.) Black Bullet
6.) Dyskrasia
7.) Spank
8.) Glitter Girl
9.) Serene Dream
10.) Amnzero
11.) Crazy
12.) Placebo
13.) Take a Train (Awakening)

Kidney Thieves is:
free dominguez - vocals
bruce somers - guitar
chris schleyer - guitar
christian dorris - bass
sean sellers - drums

Kidney Thieves - Official Website:

Extasy Records International:

Kidney Thieves
Phi in the Sky
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

If you'd like to know more about Kidney Thieves' album Zerospace, be sure to read our review of that from this issue. I'm going to assume you've already read that and avoid long winded descriptions of the original songs being remixed here. Phi in the Sky contains two potential hit singles from Kidney Thieves along with remixes by Terminalhead, Q-Burns Abstract Message, KMFDM, and DJ Merritt. And oddly... the remixes intrigue me far more than the originals.

These remixes put a lot of focus on the electronic aspect of Kidney Thieves sound, and they downplay the grunge oriented guitars and angsty vocals. This works surprisingly well. On "Placebo," the song is stretched out and turned into a danceable robotic version of the original that has many enticing layers, much like those ice cream cakes. The Q-Burns Abstract Message remix of Zerospace is also a fun listen, because it uses the vocals the way samples are usually used. We get a danceable and slightly darker/colder remake of an otherwise cliche song.

KMFDM provides a remix of "Spank" that doesn't sound altogether too different from the album version. It's slightly more interesting, but not much more. Closing "Phi in the Sky" is a trance remix of Zerospace that is one of my favorites on the album. It has a definite trance feel but with a certain darkness and edge that Kidney Thieves never quite captured.

So how is it the remixes are a lot better than the originals? My theory is that it's because the remixes stretch the songs out a bit and let parts of the compositions breathe moreso than they get to in the originals. Kidney Thieves designed radio friendly songs and consequently kept the song lengths within the usual standards. Also, the lack of a constant vocal and guitar presence in the remixes does away with the abundance of unoriginal riffs and vocals that plague nearly every second of the album "Zerospace."

This is the first time I've ever thought remixes of songs were incredibly better than the originals, but it's probably not too surprising. The artists making the remixes took the time to evaluate the songs and put them together in non-conventional ways, which is what often keeps things interesting. Whereas I'm quite sure Kidney Thieves was motivated by label pressures to fit certain sounds and standards. The bottom line? If you have some interest in Kidney Thieves but didn't entirely get into "Zerospace," give this remix album a listen. It's worth popping in the CD player when the mood strikes, though I can't say the same for the originals.

Track List:
1.) Black Bullet (album version)
2.) Placebo (Terminalhead)
3.) Zerospace (album version)
4.) Zerospace (Q-Burns Abstract Message)
5.) Spank (KMFDM)
6.) Zerospace (DJ Merritt)

Kidney Thieves is:
free dominguez - vocals
bruce somers - guitar
chris schleyer - guitar
christian dorris - bass
sean sellers - drums

Kidney Thieves - Official Website:

Extasy Records International:

Little Evil Things
Little Evil Things 5
~reviewed by