~reviewed by Jezebel

I find this an interesting CD. There are hints of everything from Faith and Disease to Curve and strange, you read the notes supplied by the band and they say that at least one of what I hear has been said before of them.

I don't get the All About Eve reference, as the nothing within what I hear resembles AAE. The vocal of Natasha Blanco-Dominguez lacks the strength and depth of Julianne Regan and in fact, all of those lead female singers of the bands listed above. There is something interesting about her voice, although that not necessarily means talented. I am not saying that this is a bad voice, it's an interesting voice and I think moulded and with right training could be a good voice. It's got a quality….that is the way to put it. It has the ability, with the right amount of reverb, to be very haunting and very touching. But, as a huge fan of voices that carry something, that have more levels within them than a skyscraper, it's not my thing.

Staying on the subject of voices, Paul Broome should leave that to Natasha. It's flat and without any kind of life to it. It's the voice that you would hear at the civilized karaoke night at some really quiet pub where everyone is respectful of the guy going up there to do his stuff. It lacks the star quality that is necessary in a vocal performance and unfortunately, I don't hear training being something that will change that.

So the music…it is, as it says on the tin, recorded with  "the full array of tools and techniques that modern home recording allows (and a bunch of strong samples)."  This sounds like a home recording. This sounds like they are playing with the new found toys that Q-base etc can give to a developing musician. The production level is basic, not decent, and basic and takes away from the listenability of the music. I know what you can get from a home studio, I have one (unfortunately) in my home. I know what you can do with them. There are dozens of albums that I know of that were created in home studios that have the same production quality as if in million dollar, thousands by the hour studios. And I strongly feel that if you cannot put something out that is professional quality, you should wait until you can. It tarnishes the reputation of the band and can lose fans. The worst of the poor production values occurs in track 6, Cry Baby, when the synths drag. Like when the tape is extended on a regualr cassette and you get that whiny sound. Intended? I hope not. Because it just sounds like poor production and that would be a safer and more saving face reason.

The sad part about the music is that it is interesting. Why is that sad? Because with the production value as it is, you really need to work at being continually interested in something that is interesting. That makes it tedious. The string samples are lovely, and again, I can't give real credit to the musicians on this album for that. Manipulation of something already created is not creating music to me. The best usage though of the samples, I think is in track 7, "Judas", which has lovely sound and flow and where Natasha really gets to utilize her voice. It's the strong track from the CD and unquestionably, if produced well and professionally has the most probability of being played in clubs.

Perhaps also an offering up would be track 5, "Coming to Get You", but again poor production values makes this track too thin and without the "umph" that you need to be really a "dark pop" offering as the band describes it or a danceable track and it is so crying to be made into.

So I am walking away from this album disappointed. I think the band has talent, but put out an album too soon. They need to go back, get someone else to produce an album for them or learn how to use the tools better. I think they are a band to watch with the right people (i.e. a producer) behind them. The ingredients are there….they just need a better chef.

Pihr is:
Natasha Blanco-Dominguez: vocals/synth/lyrics
Paul Broome: guitars/synth/vocals/music

Track LIst
1) Adventurous
2) Broken Promises
3) dark Winter
4) Empty Paper
5) Coming to Get You
6) Cry Baby
7) Judas
8) Dandelions
9) Bandwagon
Bonus Track: Playfellows

Website: http://www.pihr.co.uk

E-mail: pihr@pihr.co.uk

Steve Roach/vidnaObmana
~reviewed by Kevin Filan

In a typical CD review, the critic judges the competence, commercial viability and artistic adventurousness of the music.  He suggests areas for improvement, or keys for interpretation.  It's a highly cerebral, left-brained approach.  And it's damned near useless when you're dealing with New Age music.

InnerZone, the latest collaboration between composer, producer, synthesist and multi–instrumentalist Steve Roach and Belgian ambient musician VidnaObmana, is music for contemplation, not music that you contemplate.  At first listen songs like "At the Edge of Everything" and "Cloud Space" are dreamy, airy, pleasant and forgettable.  "They don't really go anywhere" the critic complains.

And then the Zen master smiles and asks "Where do you think they should go?"

In most musical genres, the fourth wall is a given.  The listener hears the performance; he is not part of it.  InnerZone is a participatory experience.  Much as jazz uses standard melodies as a framework for improvisation and flights of fantasy, InnerZone is a framework for meditation and hypnogogic states.

From that viewpoint, InnerZone succeeds admirably.  The droning of Obmana's Fujara (a Slovak flute which produces overtones reminiscent of Tibetan throat-singing) at various times evokes cicadas, oceans and barren desert landscapes.  Roach's electronic improvisations provide grounding in "Encounter Passage" and eerie staccato emphasis on "Isolation." There are many interesting time signatures and exotic drumbeats (particularly on "Strands" and "Isolation"), and enough dissonance to keep things from sliding into the dreaded "Yanni With Eyeliner" category.   The music is unobtrusive; it is never unsubstantial.

Most of the bands on Projekt's roster have an immediately identifiable sound: tuneful, smooth, commercially friendly and intelligent if not groundbreaking.  Roach's ambient/New Age stylings fit well within this niche, while at the same time expanding its borders.  There's a fine line between developing a distinctive sound and becoming a cliche.  (Imagine a couple of guys with acoustic guitars singing badly about Aleister Crowley and the Illuminati.  I'll bet you know exactly what label released their latest CD... )  Roach's InnerZone shows that Projekt's management is still on the right side of that line.

at the edge of everything 6:08
strands 8:39
cloud space 6:18
encounter passage 2:13
isolation 14:04
spires 10:39
InnerZone 25:23

Steve Roach Official Website

The Contemporary Harmonic (Official Vidna Obmana Site)

Projekt Website

Steve Roach / Steve Lazur
Time of the Earth DVD
~reviewed by Michael Otley

One of ambient music's most prolific and intuitively talented artists, Steve Roach, present's his first DVD by transforming his music into a soundtrack for the visual works of collaborator Steve Lazur.  While almost all of Steve Roach's soundtrack material for the DVD was previously released on various CD works and compilations, Steve Lazur's video photography of "the American West" gives the music new context.

The vast majority of the film is composed of desolate desert shots. Various angels, locations, and film speeds show the desert at all times of the day, but particularly under a blazing sun.  The screen is filled with a sun-beaten lifeless dirt-brown - relieved by shots of clouds rolling by through an infinite sky with the occasional sunrise or sunset and set appropriately with the music of course.  A break from the brown rock and pale blues sky comes with "Begins Looking Skyward", early morning dark purples and dark blues or pale purples coloring dried grasses.

With "Sound of Stone", the only track previously unreleased on CD, we hear manipulated drones and echoing rocks, followed quickly by the shimmering beauty of "This Life".  At first "This Life" reminds me of the most atmospheric moments of a Stay Frightened song, until the slow walking bass enters.  The bass caught me off guard, as it is atypical of Steve Roach to have such a structured bass progression, but it works here.

During "The Holy Dirt", the camera travels, generally forward through rock formations.  This gives the impression of one traveling through the desert, which takes away from the removed and deserted feel predominant until now.  The music itself is also more sympathetic and less desolate with almost upbeat pitched kettle-like drums as the bass of the piece. With "Merciful Eyes" returns the more desolate and more emotionally moving shots of desert and sky.  A mostly still camera captures large hills, a partial eclipse, and the wind through the movements of clouds and bushes.  The music becomes much more floating and stretched with the low-end removed.

In "The Eternal Expanse" we see water for the first time.  After following a trail though dried canyons, snow-capped mountains in the distance foreshadow the terrific cascading and crushing waterfalls following only moments later.  "The Return" (from Steve Roach's landmark Dream Time Return album) closes the quest at an ocean's beach.  The final moments of the disc fade into enveloping and crashing ocean waves at sunset.

The DVD fits comfortably into the 'new age' category, as well as comfortably fitting into 'new age' homes and others.  While some will sit and view this work like a wordless documentary of the American West Landscape set to the desert sounds of Steve Roach's music, others will use the DVD as background, for which it also works well.  For those, 77 minutes at once might be taxing, but many will be drawn to the screen minutes at a time, especially with the more varied scenes toward the end of the disc.

Steve Roach - Music
Steve Lazur - Photography


4-song sampler
~reviewed by Kevin Filan

Montreal bassist/songwriter/engineer Santino Coco created The Syntax Cabal as a "personal playground for discovering and developing new music."  This four-song sampler from his 2002 MP3.com CD is more experimental -- and, frankly, more interesting -- than his more conventional rock project, Fly Amanita.  Coco's dark ambient stylings are always interesting and frequently haunting, and show real musical talent and promise.

Like many another bassist/composer, Coco's music tends to develop along rhythmic rather than harmonic lines.  Songs like "The Sleeping Itch" are driven by fast drum machine lines, broken at off intervals by dissonant piano spikes, and waves of industrial noise.  In "Slice of the Sky" digideroo and acoustic guitar sounds clash at first with a slow bass line, only to join together in a jittery sound sculpture punctuated by jagged piano lines.

Taking his cue from the minimalists, Coco holds his songs together via a few simple phrases, repeated to form a background atop which he lays other riffs and counterpoints.  "Bubbles from China" combines zither melodies with a tape loop of running water to create an Industrial zen koan that reminded me of vintage Coil.

The real standout track on this CD, "Celexa" also has a World Music feel.  Named after an antidepressant, it is the most melodic track here.  Slow mournful rhythms weave dark and funereal against each other.  Behind them a tape loop bubbles softly; as the song continues it grows louder, until finally the melodies themselves are swallowed in a dark, atonal noise which attains to its own transcendent beauty as it too dies.  It's an eerie and unsettling moment, possibly the most intelligent and most chilling I've heard yet on a dark ambient CD.

Coco is obviously a developing musician (one could hope that ALL musicians are developing musicians, but that's another story.... ).  He certainly has an interesting ear and a unique way of putting material together.  I'd like to hear more of his work within this milieu: I'd also like to hear him record some more danceable songs.  A few moments within "The Sleeping Itch" hinted at danceability, but the groove, alas, never arrived.  Still, this is a smart, creative and accessible CD.

Composed, performed and recorded by Santino Coco

1) Slice of the Sky
2) The Sleeping Itch
3) Bubbles from China
4) Celexa


Satellite Dub
Sessions # 1: Volume Is Necessary
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola

Craig Brown, a.k.a. Satellite Dub is among the growing trend of electronic artists who simply absorb the world around them and transmute it into sound. Having been raised in Grangemouth, the same small Scottish town which was former home to The Cocteau Twins, Liz Frazer, Brown demonstrates that modernism can in fact be entrenched in even the quietest of hamlets.  Presently located in Wattston, about 15 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland, Satellite Dub is on a mission to enmesh the electronic world with the iconography of our popular culture.

Sessions # 1 is a crisp sounding homage to everything from the dangers of religious fanaticism to warped out chemical induced mental experiences. Despite the subject matter not being a new frontier, as nothing in music is really new any longer, Brown takes the same ideations of the past, turns up the volume and with an exponential sequencing, manages to capture our attention. His artistry also caught the attention of  the electronics giant, Phillips, who selected his track "No Questions" for their demo Mp3 CD that was shipped worldwide to consumers of their Mp3 player.

The short "Decks N Dialogue" is a rush of electronic energy meant to sound as though light and resonance have come to the forefront. A little scratching and clicking along with the vocal recitation of turning on the body instructs the listener to basically plug in. The ominous scream gives rise to the potential of the man and machine ideation where the interrelationship may be a painful transition where we give up more than we bargained for.

"Jesusfreak Part 1" follows with dark electronic music with a bit of a funky industrial tweak. The vocal is a sampled sermon by some fanatical televangelist. Though it may not be comfortable for many club playlists, except the more daring, this track emphasizes the schizoid behavior and brainwashing techniques of these false prophets pushing “faith” down the throats of the gullible for a real meaning of “prophet =profit.”

"Chemical Intervention" bubbles, percolates and clangs in a rather symbiotic tonal description of how chemistry within the body may actually sound. Initially this track was too confusing to decipher, but repeated listens simply opened up a code of beats and rhythm similar to the biological processes of the human body.

"No Questions" is clearly the hit of the Cd because of its more fluid and commercial viability. It is a languid track that blends essences of psychedelia, new age, rock and trip hop in a beautiful cadence that one doesn’t simply want to leave. It remains progressively approachable for even the most anti-commercial music fan, but still resonates with a timbre that makes one feel as though they have climbed through a surrealistic painting. Despite its serenity, the lyrics are rather blunt, giving rise to the essence of world that can view the most inhuman tragedy while remaining a careless passenger.

"Juxtapose" takes on a morose electronic intro that veers into a science fiction style recitation that begs the listener to trust their own judgment.  Hard core electronic fans will enjoy this track simply for the creative ways white noise was bent, reshaped, carved and otherwise splattered across the sonic landscape.

"Already Forgotten Your Face" is another cerebral/surrealistic piece that tweaks the electronics like a voice in the middle of a city on the edge of the ocean. The dynamic principle of utilizing sound to create archetypes of the psyche to punctuate the lyrical effectiveness is evident. This element is not so blatant that it would distance fans of the electronic medium who are not so willing to extrapolate all the nuances, but for those looking for music to provide this discourse, this track is a great marker for discussion.

"Cubed Shark Buddha" bends Eastern sound to a dark level and then fulminates with a bevy of beats and wind percussion. Interpretation of this track seems to have been created with enough ambiguity to let the listener carry the flow of the music to wherever the sound has brought them in their cogitation thus far.

"Reflecting Skin" once again bends sound and pushes it through a hypnotic percussive beat. If the film Metropolis were being made today, this track would be perfect for the scene where the robot is being charged up.

Satellite Dub didn’t create a work that would fall into any one genre. Calling it electronic is a start, but by no means is it the end all. Brown admits to never using the same sound twice in any recording, which must send him on the wildest hunt for new and creative endeavors all the time.

The music is much more like an electronic painting than an actual album full of songs. It ranks in the domain of musical art because it dares to defy the parameters of the accepted limitations of the genres, while sending the message that the dehumanization of man is imminent if we don’t challenge our own belief systems.

While this work may appeal to many industrial music fans, most probably won’t hear much of this work in a club due to the nature that so many “progressive” clubs have seemed to have disenfranchised themselves from the new and abstract in favor of the more underground commercial viability.

Satellite Dub has thankfully been untainted by the “rules” since his work is created in his home studio. Like a bird on a wire, he scans the surrounding area of life and simply finds a sound to emanate a mental image for the listener. This talent is usually seen in the creation of much of the new age music on the market, so it is quite interesting to hear a young talent take this same essence of construction and put an industrial Krautrock style spin on it.

Expect even more remarkable endeavors from Satellite Dub as he simply continues to live life, examining ideas and concepts that are translated into a musical canvas.

Decks N Dialogue
Jesusfreak Part 1
Chemical Intervention
No Questions
Already Forgotten Your Face
Cubed Shark Buddha
Reflecting Skin

Website: www.satellitedub.com
Email: info@satellitedub.com

Satellite Dub is Craig Brown: synths, samplers, beats, vocals and guitar

Sounds of Mass Production (SMP)
~reviewed by Shannon W. Hennessy

SMP.  What is there to say about SMP...?

Their first album Stalemate definitely showed promise, in my opinion, and showcased the outfit's ability to meet any neo-industrial act on any level necessary and beat for heart-pounding beat. Coupled with unconventional, politically aware lyrics and the balls to infuse the industrial genre with a specialized, hybrid "Grunge meets Hip-Hop" attention to rhythm, soul, malign and discontent, SMP continued to impress with their follow-up release, Ultimatum. One of the few, truly talented novelty acts to rise from under the abyssmally "dark days" of industrial music known as the mid/late-nineties, Bazinet and Ivy were well on their way to claiming what appeared to be their rightful place at the top of the ruins of the established and accepted order of the existing industrial genre. With the loss of Skinny Puppy (effectively) in 1995, SMP filled a depressed void in industrial music, and they brought something with them that many of us had been hoping for; something completely different, sounds that kept our mourning to a respectful minimum.

Eventually, established outfits such as Crocodile Shop and Collide sought Bazinet and Ivy's ears and talent for what eventually bore the fruit of unbelievably competent remixes, and it seemed at least for a time that SMP were well on their way to inventing their own, specialized genre of music while re-drawing and blurring the lines that separate one type of music from another.

Things have changed for SMP in the here and now. Ivy, for example, has left the outfit and taken something with him that I cannot quite put my finger on. It is most certainly not the act's heart; if Sean Ivy was the mastermind of the SMP "body," then Jason Bazinet is most certainly the blackened heart that pumps icewater through that same body's veins. There seems, however, to be a sort of softening around the edges. Trance-like, hydraulic-powered rhythms that once sliced through bone like a ginsu do not seem quite as sharp these days, but that might possibly be due to the fact that the long-anticipated Hacked is not, in my personal opinion, a very fair representation of what SMP has produced in the past.

While most definitely a must-have for any DJ worth the oil it would take to fry him or her in hell, Hacked boasts a total of sixteen tracks. Eleven of the sixteen are re-mixes of a few tracks found on Terminal in their original state ("Chemicals", "September" and "Megaton"). "September", while not the best track on Terminal, is treated with six - count 'em, six - separate re-mixes. "Militia Love", "Topside" and "Born of Science" are given their due (from the Ultimatum CD, originally), and in my opinion these tracks reflect a much more powerful incarnation of SMP's "unstoppable force" attitude. Truth be told, the two most impressive re-mixes contained within Hacked are Spinefolder's treatment of "Topside" and Idiot Stare's mix of "Militia Love." The New Mind work on "Born of Science" is one of those revampings that actually makes the remix RIVAL the original track. This being the case, Hacked could have shaved away a lot of the overall redundancy of tracks if focus had been placed on their more powerful, past works rather than the more recent offerings found on Terminal.

This CD is excellent, make no mistake, but I guess it could have been better with more of the band's freshman and sophomore tracks included.

The end result of Hacked is a set of very interesting interperetations of SMP's work, an homage to an outfit that has yet to reach its "golden ring" as far as its personal, musical evolution is concerned. I have a feeling that SMP has an unfathomable amount of fight left in it. If Hacked is any indication of the overall effect that SMP has had on some of the hungrier carnivores of the Industrial and Electronic music genres, then it is only a matter of time before the scene itself is re-invented wholesale in accordance with Bazinet's vision. My only hope is that the spark of aggression and trademark, Seattle angst return to hone the blade wielded by SMP in the days which are to follow.

1. Chemicals (Mindless Faith Mix)
2. September (Jihad Style Mix)
3. Topside (Spinefolder Mix)
4. Megaton (Doll Factory Mix)
5. September (Urania Mix)
6. Chemicals (Doll Factory Mix)
7. September (Stromkern's WI Bass Machine Mix)
8. Megaton (Thine Eyes Mix)
9. September (Med Lab Mix)
10. Born of Science (Hybrid Mix)
11. September (Dataphantastiq Mix)
12. Megaton (Codec Mix)
13. September (Cali-Code 285 Mix)
14. Militia Love (Idiot Stare Mix)
15. Intensity (Cold Mix)
16. Born of Science (Datura Mix)

Sounds of Mass Production is:
Jason Bazinet

Official Artist URL: http://www.smphq.com/
Label: Invisible Records

Season Of Mourning
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

It seemed like forever in the making, but Philadelphia based Goth Metal band Season Of Mourning have finally unleashed their debut full-length release.  After generating some buzz via live performances, mp3.com, and their demo release featuring memorable tracks like “Blood Like Wine” and “Kristeen,” the band has returned with an even more impressive and mature collection of new songs.

While Season Of Mourning share similarities with specific eras of bands like Paradise Lost, Theatre Of Tragedy and even the classic Doom of Black Sabbath and Candlemass, Season Of Mourning stand their ground with their own unique spin on the fusion of atmosphere and dark metal as they had already foreshadowed on their demo release.   When compared to some of their contemporaries, Season Of Mourning is a bit more accessible to fans of varied genres of music.  Bands that use a great deal of guttural death metal vocals and extremely slow and dense rhythms are usually a bit much for the average dark music fan (no matter how hard I try!)   Season Of Mourning on the other hand are more melodic, their arrangements and musical ideas easier to digest, and more than 95% of music on this release is capped by clean male vocals and a good dose of female vocals.     That other five percent of the vocal work is made up of some sparse aggressive back up vocals, which appear for what seems like good measure.  I personally don’t think that the ‘gruff’ vocals work with the band’s new music.  It dates it, limits it, and the pseudo-growls sound out of place with the clean and epic melodic metal the band has perfected.  They shouldn’t do them in the future. Metal heads won’t miss them and Goths won’t find anything to complain about.  Luckily, these passages are few and far between and only appear very briefly in the first two tracks.

With the one miniscule drawback about this band out of the way, we can move on.  The production and sound quality of the entire album is somewhere between a crisp professional sound to having a raw, independent vibe to it’s mix.  As a result the heavier guitars and drums sound crunchy, dirty, and gigantic while the synths, watery guitars, and vocals are mixed clearer and sound fluid and smooth.

The band have a penchant for longer songs, as some of the best tracks on this release clock in near seven minutes.  But it is usually a fast seven minutes, as the songs are enjoyable and capture the attention and hardly seem to go on too much (with a few tiny exceptions here and there).  I put the CD on earlier today while I was doing some chores around the house, hoping to just refresh my memory on the CD before I wrote the review, and three songs flew by before I knew it before I even had a chance to stand up.

The album opens with “My Obsession,” a strong and solid track and one of the best the band has ever done.  The beginning of the song is somewhat deceiving, as it begins with sweeping guitar arpeggios and haunting violin work atop a steady mid paced rhythm with nice melodic vocals – it could have been a number of well known straight forward Gothic rock bands, and then the crunch rears its head, the vocal melodies drop into a sinister monotone co-ed duet and the synths frantically swirl along creating a tense claustrophobia.  The song meanders along, snaking through several different mini movements, showcasing early on, the multi-faceted moods and talents of Season Of Mourning at their best.  Couldn’t have started off on a better note.

Other highlights include the track “Dying Mind,” a tune that had appeared previously on Mp3.com and did pretty well.  With its sweetly melodic female vocals and pining male vocals, the climactic interplay between the guitars and violins help to solidify the song as one of the band’s finest.   The slightly unorthodox “Forbidden” is the album’s most ambitious track, as it unfolds from a mellow intro toward a manic crunch fest seasoned with cascades of funhouse piano, eerie violin accents, progressive jagged rhythms, and anxious guitar riffing.   “The Misery Within” is a slow, somber track dominated by subdued guitars, soft vocals, and distant violin passages soaked in subtle effects, giving the violin a convincing vintage, warped vinyl kind of tone.  “Fossil Flower” is a brief raw, acoustic interlude that segues into “In Praise Of The Dark,” a track that starts off a bit awkward (the band sounds a little too loose) but develops into another smoldering slab of driving, rhythmic Doom.  “…Of A Lesser God” brings the album to a fulfilling close, ending on a very high and promising note with another of the band’s strongest songs, with great riffing, awesome drum work, and enveloping orchestral synths.

Season Of Mourning is without question one of the better Gothic Metal bands active today – with seven talented members meshing their musical visions in unison, the material is noteworthy and is delivered by a competent ensemble of musicians.  While not as emotionally poignant as some of their contemporaries, (I don’t necessarily find the band’s music to be that dark or depressive as much as just downright enjoyable), this may be an asset to the band, in that their appeal is not limited to dark metal or doom fans alone.  However, despite their seeming accessibility they do not at all betray the musical style and provide much more genuine and sincere music than the hosts of clones riding on the Gothic metal bandwagon.   It should be interesting to see where these guys go, and whom they take with them.  Definitely recommended.

Track List:
1.) My Obsession
2.) In Shadows, Forever Fallen
3.) Dying Mind
4.) Forbidden
5.) The Misery Within
6.) Fossil Flower
7.) In Praise Of The Dark
8.) …Of A Lesser God
9.) Fall

Season Of Mourning is:
Czar - vocals
Billy – guitar/vocals/classical guitar
Bobby – guitar
Bob – bass
Erica – violin/vocals
Hugh – keyboards
Jesse – drums/percussion

Season Of Mourning – Official Site:

Season Of Mourning – Mp3 Site:

~reviewed by Dibrom

With the majority of the members of Susperia hailing from an illustrious blackmetal background, the group has had somewhat of a difficult time separating themselves from their individual band members' past.  Often times their music has been analyzed as blackmetal created by another "super group" in the vein of Covenant, Dimmu Borgir, or others.  Neither the band's repeated objection to this categorization, nor the fact that their actual music really has little relation to true blackmetal have had as much of an effect as they should have in voicing that Susperia aims to be something different.  With "Vindication", the band has set out to further their own style and once and for all to set the record straight about their intentions.  I dare say that they have been quite successful in this endeavor...

The presentation of the sound on Vindication is more diversified and dispersed than that of Predominence.  Gone are many of the more subtle influences from other more prevalent extreme metal sub-genres.  In their stead we have something overall heavier, more thrashy and rock influenced, more concise, and at the same time, more original.  You won't find the commonplace satanic blackmetal themes or the gore oriented death metal themes on this album.  Most of the tracks are based more on real life situations and stories, akin more to old school thrash than anything else.  Overall, Vindication is much more focused and listenable, though perhaps not quite as technical as their previous release.  According to the band, however, they have been able to come much closer to their original ideas on this release.  Resultantly, categorization of this sound is more difficult, as it should be, and the experience presented is quite a new and refreshing spin on the metal coming out of Norway these days.

As for the production, this album has quite a bit of good stuff in store.  The quality of the production on Vindication has increased quite a bit over Predominance.  This is apparently due to a more in depth involvement of the band with Peter and Lars at Abyss Studio.  It just so happens that Vindication is one of the very last albums to ever to be mastered at this now legendary studio and according to Athera, you can be sure that this album was given quite the special treatment to end out such a great era of metal production.  The drums are presented with supreme clarity, not too overpowering, but punchy on the double bass and exceptionally precise on the cymbals.  The soundstage presented by this is quite spatial and encompasing.  The guitars and bass permeate the field with an almost symbiotic relation, blending perfectly and providing a backbone to the music, but again, not overpowering anything.  Finally, the vocals seem to rise out of the depth and add the final bit of necessary emphasis to complete this powerful presentation of the sound.

The vocals, being surprisingly more varied compared to the last release, actually deserve some special mention.  While the album was being recorded in Norway, the vocalist Athera was off in Sweden apparently working with a special vocal producer to help create a more unique and powerful vocal performance.  He wanted to create something different from the typical Blackmetal screams and rasps.  In their stead we are now treated to a higher dosage of clean vocals, vocals with more of a direct emotional appeal, a cleaner and more forceful presentations of the lyrics, and a style that just overall compliments the music much more and takes a more active role in shaping the outcome of the songs.  Judging by the final product in regards to the new vocals, it seems this increased effort has paid off quite nicely and one can only hope that this approach is continued for future releases.

Bottom line is that Vindication is quite a solid new release from this group.  It offers stunning production, a clear progression over Predominance, and provides something new and original from the blackmetal-laden realm of Norway.  Check this one out, chances are you won't be disappointed.

Track List:
1.)Cage of Remembrance
2.)The Bitter Man
3.)Anguished Scream (For Vengance)
5.)The Bounty Hunter
8.)Dead Man`s World
9.)Cast Life Into Fire
10.)Bleed Yourself

Susperia is:
Tjodalv - Drums
Cyrus - Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Memnock - Bass
Athera - Vocals
Elvorn - Rhythm Guitar

Susperia Official Website:

Nuclear Blast Records:

Terminal Bliss
Conspiracy Of Silence
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

I think even die hard EBM/Synth Pop and electronic enthusiasts are starting to grow tired of the rehashing and clone attacks happening in the current club scene.  Slowly but surely, some more interesting and diverse acts are appearing and though they don’t get the immediate attention they may deserve, they will hopefully be waiting in the wings when the monsters unwittingly created by ApB / VNV disappear and the center of the dance floor collapses.

Terminal Bliss is a Chicago based act, led by Daniel Cain.  He describes his work as ‘dark Synth Pop.’  But right there, skeptics may say ‘oh no, please, no more!’  In my personal opinion, this is more akin to Darkwave than what is considered Synth Pop today, and is less dance floor oriented and more atmospheric and quite refreshing.  In many ways, it recalls the Synth Pop of the days of yore – Depeche Mode, New Order, Flock Of Seagulls, etc, who’s darker strains are an obvious and admitted influence upon Terminal Bliss. Upon my first listen, I was nearly paralyzed by how much Daniel Cain’s vocals resembled David Gahan.  Even the music had the same dark, laid back and moody vibe of some of DM’s best tracks.  However, upon successive and repeated listens, Terminal Bliss has really come to grow on me and has transcended my initial comparisons to Depeche Mode to develop into a kind of dark electronic pop music that holds its own and offers something that hasn’t been stressed in so long a time.  The music of Terminal Bliss is more concerned with weaving atmosphere and delivering a message through the well-written and thought-provoking lyrics.  Topics dealing with physical and mental abuse, unrequited love, sex, and realistic frustrations merge with the hypnotic and catchy musical hooks to provide an album that is accessible as well as emotionally complex if one chooses to probe at the surface to get more out of it.

Particular tracks that stand out are “For A Moment,” with its mock lyrical confidence: “we fucked so hard we broke the bed.”  At first I thought that line somewhat arrogant and distasteful, but then I remembered what single life was like, and the mind games people enjoy or are forced to play on each other, it began to make sense. It’s the kind of defense mechanisms we might use in denying the truth of certain situations, perhaps? The core of the lyrics give a clearer idea what is going on: “For a moment/ I am lost in this song/ I forget anything ever went wrong/for a moment/the clouds part, the skies clear/ I almost forget you were ever here.”

“The Way Things Go” has been my DJ pick of choice – it is still mellow, but has a nice steady hip hoppish beat to it, with Daniel’s mournful pleading vocals, and simple catchy electronics.  “Last Dance,” with its somber ghostly pianos and painful vocal melodies, is a moving and very sad song.  Probably my true favourite on the disc, I especially liked the manner in which two drum loops, one slower, the other a kind of faster break beat, are juxtaposed and layered atop each other for a rather interesting effect.  Is this song fast?  Is this song slow?  What’s the BPM?  Who cares…it is an emotionally effective and memorable song.  People can dance slowly.  And who cares if they dance at all?

Even though the homage to DM fades to the background once the listener gets used to it, “Down” resurrects them in full force.  Daniel sounds exactly David Gahan in this track, and the overall mood of the song would fit comfortably within the most shadowy recesses of Violator or Songs Of Faith & Devotion.   Though the DM influence is there, Terminal Bliss is anything but a cheap knock off or anything of the sort.  Instead, the band carries the torch while David Gahan and Martin Gore are off growing old and are in an anything but ‘exciting’ lounge mode.

The middle of the CD in my opinion houses the best and most memorable tracks.  That is not to say that the rest of the CD is not as interesting, as the sedate and swayable “Searching For The Cure” is apparently a local fan favourite.   The whole CD is fluid, unified, and well put together, all songs 100% devoted to atmosphere and vision, and very promising.  I have in fact listened to the whole thing straight through on a number of occasions over the past few weeks and have yet to be bored with it.  Perhaps my only complaint about the CD, is a lot of the time, the production is almost too quiet and somewhat thin.  I would like to hear a thicker, harder sound in the percussion and a more enveloping sound with the synths.  While stark and appropriately minimalist, some more punch and warmth in the production would definitely aid the overall appeal of the music.  Otherwise, the production is top-notch, clear, and smooth.  The vocals are moving, the ideas interesting, and Terminal Bliss is above all a refreshing new voice in the darkwave and Synth Pop scene.   The music may not immediately fill dance floors or generate the next national club anthem, but it is perfect for grooving along at home on a dark, rainy night of melancholic reflection.  And isn’t that what Goth is all about? <smirk>

Track List:
1.) Stop The Rain
2.) Shame
3.) For A Moment
4.) The Way Things Go
5.) Last Dance
6.) Forget
7.) Down
8.) Wish You Dead
9.) Is This What You Wanted?
10.) Searching For The Cure
11.) Used To Be
12.) River Runs Wide
13.) Worlds Away

Terminal Bliss is:
Daniel Cain

Daniel Cain – vocals/keyboards
Shaun Barrett – bass
Tim Lydon – drums
Rich Sandrok – keyboards

Terminal Bliss – Official Site:

Terminal Bliss – Mp3 Site:

Email Contact:

Terminal Bliss
Conspiracy of Silence
~reviewed by Jezebel

Simply put, without any fanfare or description, firstly, this is a good album. This is sexy, relaxing, emotive and complex music that somehow sounds simple and straightforward. Confused?

So was I as I read what Daniel Cain's one-man band (he dos have a live band for shows) has been compared to. Nine Inch Nails seems to be repeatedly offered by reviewers as a comparison. Although I can see that in the sense that Daniel Cain is doing it all himself as Trent Reznor did for Pretty Hate Machine, what I don't see is the anger, the driving anger that propelled that album. So aside from the above mentioned and yes, interesting usage of synths, etc, I am leaving and walking away from the NIN comparison.

Depeche Mode is also a comparison. Yes, that is where we are going. This is very similar to Depeche Mode in their more languid, moaning days. Daniel Cain's voice is Dave Cahan-influenced, coming forth like honey and molasses, slipping by you in slow motion, tapping you seductively on the shoulder with sound and emotion. Saying that, I think there is more within his voice and would love to see him branch out and explore the range of his voice.

Each and every song runs well. And its seamless production level is professional and gorgeous. But this again poses a problem; it runs seamless between the songs in such a way that you don't actually really separate the songs. They are not the same, but similar enough to not jolt you or really change where you are.

"Down" is an excellent song ready, completely up and ready for a strong dance remix for the clubs. Hmmmm. Trent Reznor does come back here. I would love to hear what he would do with this song, which lyrically has the strength and anger of Pretty Hate Machine but that is not picked up in the presentation.

I'll be there to kick you when you're down
Kick you when you're down
Kick you when you're down
Perfect lyrics for some very strong emotion to come out vocally and for the music to really pick up on the hate, the anger, the vengeance, but they don't. They stay very stable, very simple, well, bland in respect to the emotions that are evident lyrically.

I want to reiterate one thing. I like this album. Really I do. But I don't think that Daniel Cain is living up to the potential of his obvious talent. In an interview, he spoke about bringing in his live musicians for future work. I think that would be an excellent idea. He needs more input from others to really push him further not only musically, but also vocally.

As usual, I went right to and through the lyrics. Daniel wanted to deal with abuse on this album and I think he did so masterfully, never letting it take over, but being an underlying theme. Ironically, it's a "conspiracy of silence" that he never forces the words associated with abuse right onto the listener/reader. Talking around the subject, yet we all know what he is talking about. An interesting approach.

I think we are going to hear better and bigger things from Daniel if he allows the input from other musicians, which will allow him to explore deeper, and with different approaches.

Terminal Bliss is:
Daniel Cain

Track Listing
1) Stop the Rain
2) Shame
3) For a Moment
4) The Way Things Go
5) Last Dance
6) Forget
7) Down
8) Wish you Dead
9) Is this what you Wanted?
10) Searching for the Cure
11) Used to Be
12) River Runs Wide
13) Worlds Away

Website: http://www.Terminalbliss.net

Email: info@terminalbliss.net

Throes Of Dawn
Binding Of The Spirit
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

Haven’t been digging on the melodic Black Metal much.  I am still recovering from 1999 – 2000 when I was utterly consumed by the stuff.  It has been a long time since this kind of music actually moved me, as most of it sounds rehashed these days and it inevitably fails to stir my emotions.  Every once in awhile though, there will be some gem that will be brought to my attention, and this latest release from Finland’s Throes Of Dawn is definitely one of those gems.

The execution of the band’s music is delivered with maturity and finesse, and is backed by strong rhythms and majestic, epic melodies, enveloping orchestral synths that are doing much more than just filling space, and the standard intense vocal rasps are broken by tranquil periods of soothing clean vocal harmonies.  Definitely quality Dark/Melodic Metal.  Granted, there is not much new going on here, but it has been awhile since I have heard a band do this well and in earnest.  The song titles are more imaginative than usual and are definitely not your typical empty homage to Satan and his leather-clad hordes.  The quality is consistent throughout, refined and technically precise as well as atmospheric.  Much like one of my favourite melodic Black Metal acts, Graveworm, the tone of Throes of Despair is a misty gray, shaded with an appropriate balance of melancholia and off set tastefully by bits of well-placed aggression.

The opening track, “The Last Rainbow Warrior Is Dead” showcases the band’s integrity, putting their concerns for mid-paced and well-developed songs over gratuitous speed for speed’s sake.   “The War Prophet’s Dream” opens with acoustic arpeggios and soft synths, intending to invoke the weather beaten roads to Medieval imagery that the genre is often criticized for, however, here I find the idea to be effective.  It works well throughout, especially when the motif returns for a whispered ambient interlude toward the middle of the song.

The album’s title track and “The Hermit” continues along in the same manner as above, on the borderline of getting a bit tiresome, but then along comes “Master’s Garden,” which houses a fusion of watery guitars, snare rim shots, and feathered synths that instantly reminded me of Fields Of The Nephilm’s later, dreamier years on the “Elysium” release.  “The Wanderer” picks up the pace again, a descent though not stellar song that is saved by some more fantastic guitar melodies in the interlude.  “On Broken Wings Of Despair” is the final full length track on the CD, and though today such titles are usually an empty promise, the lush, moody orchestration and chilling ghostly vocal harmonies instantly caught my attention and sunk my heart – the song definitely lived up to the title.  Easily the album’s highlight, reminding me of a creative fusion of My Dying Bride, Lacrimas Profundere, and Dark Tranquility in their most beautiful and melancholy moments.

The obligatory synthetic orchestral epilogue brings the CD to a close, and I for one was feeling pretty satisfied.  Throes Of Dawn shook a part of my musical tastes awake that had been lying dormant for some time.  This is an excellent release, and I highly recommend it to dark metal enthusiasts.

Track List:
1.) The Last Rainbow Warrior Is Dead
2.) The War Prophet’s Dreams
3.) Binding The Spirit Onto Earth
4.) The Hermit
5.) Master’s Garden
6.) The Wanderer
7.) On Broken Wings Of Despair
8.) Star Destroyer

Throes Of Dawn is:
Henri Kaamos-Vocals
Jani Heinola-Guitars
Toni Jokinen-Lead Guitar
Matti Suomela-Bass
Teemu Jokinen-Drums

Throes Of Dawn – Official Site:

WWIII / Mercenary Musik:

Turn Pale
Chance (Single)
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

This Indiana outfit caught my attention a few months back with their debut single “May Last Until Winter.”  A recently formed plain-clothes group of  musicians that coin a style reminiscent of The Birthday Party and Joy  Division, I was psyched to hear something so raw and genuinely inspired by  the old school produced from a new band.

This is just a quick update on the band, as they have released a new 7”  single entitled “Chance” and I would love to see more DJs and fans catch on  to this band.  This time around, Turn Pale coins a mood that is reminiscent  of early ‘groovy’ Sonic Youth for the short two and a half minute track,  primarily due to the vocals, which due to the inflection in Michael’s voice,  sound quite a bit like a youthful Thurston Moore.  The song is catchy, has a  raw, echoing production and invokes a vintage post punk/death rock sound.

Sooner or later, Turn Pale will hopefully have a full length CD out for  consumption, but until then, check out the material the band currently has  released.  Definitely recommended to fans of old school stuff and to DJs  that keep the torch burning.

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

Official Site:

Alone in a Fairground
~reviewed by Jezebel

The opening track starts out with great promise, I hear the instruments of great bands of the past, that which you don't hear much anymore in this world of bleepy and computer generated music.

But then, something shifts and we get more of a pop music sound that is good, very good, but not exactly gothic, or alternative. Nor is it really of this time. The sound is rather dated, very much more the sound of the 80's with an alto-tenor on vocals and that driving bubbly-gum fake metal/hard sound that was prevalent. Think Survivor on this first track…think…um…gosh, just not goth…

But then the second track offers hope, the keyboards giving that morose, horror film quality that could easily be construed as gothic music. And this does have promise, as it is less pop-like. Yet, this is approachable gothic music, which is safe for playing out to those not in the scene. You won't be afraid for your mom to listen to this music. It takes no musical risks nor really reaches or stretches the boundaries. That is not to say that it isn't good music. It's just not risky or adventurous.

I find that I don't get what "is on the tin" so to speak. As I read through their press kit, I find reviews by other publications which speak of their "prog/goth aspired epic rock", "sharing a full sweeping sound and a resemblence to dark Gothic rock, in particular Fields of the Nephilim and Disintergration-era Cure." Um. No. Those reviews were about one of their EPs, Ceremony. And something serious must have happened since then.

Track three, "The Gift", is nothing more than something a younger Rick Springfield would have recorded and if Carl McCoy heard something like this being compared to "Moonchild", he might just kill someone.

Ceremony may have been the dark and moody EP, but Alone in a Fairground is not.
There are smidgeons, moments, flashes of what Ceremony must be. "Hanging By a Thread", starts out absolutely lovely, sexy, the usage of keyboards and layering of sound seamless. The voice of John Mason well presented in a sexy whisper. His voice could be heard as very Ian Curtis in a cleaned down version. It is not the Morrissey sound that their press kit mentions. Yes, it's moody, but it's safe.

But no one is saying it's not good. For what it is, mainstream, middle of the road, pop, gothic-ish, 80's like music, it's well done, well produced and well presented. The guitars are clean, crisp and layered well. The vocals are crisp and never failing. What is does lack in gothic, dark, moody etc., it makes up, within its own genre, with energy and professionalism.

Winterland is:
John Mason: vocals
Mike Caulfield: keyboards, sampler, programming
Track Listing:
1) Hiding Underground
2) Black Wheel
3) The Gift
4) Hanging by a Thread
5) Soulsearcher
6) Do Not Believe
7) Memory of You
8) Farewell
9) Alone in a Fairground
10) Twilight


Cryptology (The Best of Wreckage 1988-2001)
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola

Carpe Mortem released a bevy of intoxicating dark music, that is a MUST have CD for underground music fans, particularly the elder goth crowds who REMEMBER when it was all real

The Best Of Wreckage is what the scene was all about.  Once upon a time, punk music veered towards a darker sound from bands who had something to say and did so without having to complicate it with synthesizers for the whiney pampered disco dollies. There weren’t fancy studios and state of the art tweaking machinery as it was done with passion, from the heart and guts of the artists and laid down on recording for posterity.  Sadly far too many ecstasy-swallowing folks have infiltrated the ranks, gradually penetrating the purity of the Goth movement. Change is expected in anything, but there is always something troubling about a group of darkly clad folks twirling glow-sticks in their hand, claiming they are goth who haven’t a clue about any goth bands, past or present.

Getting off the soapbox, Wreckage has had a lengthy career that wasn’t nearly given the amount of attention and respect they so rightly deserved. Tony Lestat, vocalist and compiler for this gem of a CD, amassed the best tracks from the many changing moods and faces of the band over the last 13 years, while Dusty Jones expertly mastered the tracks. This had to have been a daunting task, considering the scope of time and the amount of music that was created over time. Here, we can find early Goth, punk tinged New Wave and even touches of Deathrock. An added gem here is "Wait For The Blackout", a track which boasts the guitar work of William Faith and was only available in Germany until now.

Newgrave provided the comic book type of graphics for this CD which harkens to what the “feel” was like back in the day.  At the outset of the movement, youth’s clamored for their favorite horror comics and imported indie style music in all the various underground shops that littered their city in the most out of the way places. At the outset, finding an import 45” recording was a prized possession as were the rare vinyl picture disc records that episodically made an arrival to these shops. If you hadn’t experienced the East Village of NYC circa 1978 through 1988, you simply missed a moment of history that won’t ever be seen again, but only glimpsed through the snapshot of a musical photograph as found on this CD.  Even though the rise of this band came as the greedy land developers and trendy uptown yuppies were dissecting our cities, seeking to capitalize on the trashy chic of the “white ghetto,” the music remained the one form that could not be eradicated.

This image of dark music history is rather approachable to music fans from most backgrounds, even in today’s over saturated music market. Despite the nods towards the retro movement which keeps rearing its head, here we have tracks that are as fresh as when they were initially released. This is the sound of NY after dark, that long walk home after a night of following one band to the next hole in the wall club that featured them. A sound that also depicts the latter part of the evening as on cats around the city streets.

As the band progressed through the years, the synth programming became essential to keep up with the changing tides, yet Wreckage still maintained that dark core element that were found in cities of NY or California.

A couple of the tracks, such as "Devil’s Little Helper" and "Blood Is The Life" have been previously included on other compilations, thereby bringing the band added exposure, particularly to fans of the vampire genre. However, much of this work has remained relatively obscure to the fan and consumer of the music. Each track featured on this CD simply begs for club exposure and no Goth DJ will be worthy of their stripes if this simply is not found making the rotation circuit across the globe.

Like Wreckage
Burning Waters
Subway’s End
Bodycount Jive
Blue Monkey
Phoenix Rising
Falling Mountains
Devil’s Little Helper  (The Lucifer Mix)
Wait For The Blackout
Blood Is The Life
Sister Night
Kitten With A Whip

Band Line Up Today:
Dusty Jones: Guitars/Programming
Everett Thompson: Bass Guitar
Tony Lestat: Vocals

Website: www.wreckageproductions.com

Various Artists
Mutations: A Tribute to Alice Cooper
(Ankhor Records)
~reviewed by Sonya Brown

The full title reads: Mutations – A Tribute to Alice Cooper, King of Shock Rock in which 18 bands pay honor and respect. Therefore, I would also like to pay honor and respect to Alice Cooper, who had a huge influence on my life.  At the age of thirteen, I had the calendar, which came with every KILLER album, hanging on my wall. There was Alice, in full gore, noose around his neck, hanging dead.

At the age of 15, I was at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California for the all-day festival that brought Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome To My Nightmare albums to the stage, in what can only be described as AMAZING.  With a working guillotine, a giant Cyclops, and 2 live boa constrictors, I SWEAR to this day that Alice really DID chop off his head, and then carry his own head around the stage as his severed head sang to the audience!  I will never forget the entire crowd singing along to “School’s Out”on that hot and sultry June night.

I still have the program for that tour, dog-eared and tattered, full of pictures reliving the decadence of the show.  I also still have two very tattered vinyl albums: Welcome To My Nightmare, and that same Killer album (now minus the calendar!)

Alice Cooper was not only the ultimate pioneer of shock rock, but theatrical music and even punk rock as well. Creem magazine readers voted Alice “Punk of the Year” in 1973.  As for Goth… hell, he even wore black eyeliner. Cross-dressing, S&M, glam, grunge? Alice was there first. Bands have often imitated Alice Cooper, but there will only be ONE Vincent Damon Furnier… who (legally) became the artist we now know as Alice Cooper.

As for Alice Cooper’s albums… well, I can still quote almost exactly the narration that Vincent Price voiced for "The Black Widow”.  Every album that Alice Cooper creates is a nightmarish tale of monsters, snakes, spiders, and who can forget the dead babies and necrophilia.  Alice is one sick puppy, and I loved him to death.

So now, having paid my respect, I delve into these 18 bands as they pay their respect to the King of Shock Rock, Alice Cooper…

Bile kicks off Mutations with “Clones (We’re All)” and starts this cd off with a nice nasty kick.  Distorted vocals and a heavy rock-industrial beat set the mood for the entire cd. This first track will get you moving, and Bile is absolutely corrosive.

Heavy kick-ass bass lines prevail in “Billion Dollar Babies”, as Hypoid even has that Alice Cooper vox down. "Baby, I adore ya’!"

Marilyn Manson protégé’s, Godhead, provide track 3, “Hey Stoopid”. The melodic keyboards on this track intermix well with the heavy edged guitars, and the result is an excellent Cooper cover.

“My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult” is “cursing the Bible” in a heavy industrial-electronic rendition of “Hallowed Be My Name”.  Industrial dance-club DJ’s will want to take note of this track.

One of my favorite Cooper tracks is “Under My Wheels”, and there are two versions of this track on Mutations. The first version, Track 5, is performed by Slick Idiot and has a synth-pop sound to it, complete with electronic ringing phone as “the telephone rings again”.

More Machine Than Man brings us “Pain”. A creative electro-industrial with whispers of pain as the song concludes. Nice.

The “Poison” on Mutations is a punked up version provided by Tubring.  Tubring brings visions of that lively bad-boy punk energy to this classic Cooper track.

Parallax1 contributes track 8, “Halo of Flies”.  Parallex1 first caught my attention on the Doppler Effect “A Dark Culture Sampler” entitled “Transcendence”. Their version of Halo of Flies is an industrial version that sounds very little like the Cooper original, yet is quite enjoyable.

Lorin Richards is eighteen… well, he contributes “I’m Eighteen” to the compilation.  Electronic ambience slithers across this track with dark overtones. Very provocative vocals tell this timeless tale of teenage angst.

OK, I have been waiting for track 10. Written In Ashes brings “Cold Ethyl” out from the deep freeze. You can hear the cold mist rise as Kevyn’s sexy vocals defrosts my favorite Alice Cooper track.  Written In Ashes takes an electronic approach to this track, and the result is suggestive vocals wrapped around whirling mists of electronic sound. Cold Ethyl don’t have much to say, but this track says it all – the ultimate macabre decadence of this Alice Cooper fantasy brought back from the dead by Written In Ashes.

Can I describe every track on Mutations as “sexy”???  Chris Connelly is “Hard Hearted Alice”, and the acoustic guitar and sultry vocals are sheer perfection.  Can you see him now, holding a glass of whisky, unshaven, with his handgun lying on the bureau next to that cheap hotel bed?

Acclimate slows things down with an electro-ambient intro to “Is It My Body”, which then kicks into rythmetic trance. Certainly not the lounge-esque crooning Alice that I’m used to hearing, but a nice change.  The original track proof, once again, that Alice was there first, before Rod Stewart EVER thought he was sexy.

Loretta’s Doll appears on Track 13 courtesy of Middle Pillar (and Blu informs me that is Middle Pillar’s own Kevin Dunn on the drums).  Loretta’s Doll brings us the “Ballad of Dwight Fry”.  The real “Dwight Fry” is a character actor who appeared in both “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” in 1931. Alice “became” Dwight Fry during his stage shows. Alice would portray Dwight as an insane asylum patient, and sing this track while wearing a straight jacket.  During the song, Alice would break out of the straightjacket and strangle his nurse.  Loretta’s Doll is a most fitting band to perform this track, with their “psychotic” dark experimental soundscapes.

“For all of the decent citizens you’ve enraged”, the Grim Faeries “Go To Hell” with their contribution. Track 14 features the scary faeries paying electro-industrial homage to that “bad boy that even makes his grandma sick”.  The Grim Faeries portray this classic track as a modern day perspective of today’s society, and all of the beautiful things that the “powerful people” have destroyed.

How Goth is Track 15, “I Love The Dead”? Let Noizfaction spell it out in eclectic synth and quasi-spoken-word fashion.

Track 16 is the second version of “Under My Wheels”, provided by Texylvania, (a Kommunity FK side project). Texylvania sounds as if they are performing live on this track… high energy and distortion prevails.  It sounds as if they might smash their guitars at the end of this track! Definitely a 70’s feel to this one.

Now we come to one of Alice’s most popular songs, “Welcome to My Nightmare”. I remember watching a full-blown production of this album on TV when I was a teen (I even got to stay up late to watch it!) Alice became the young boy, “Steven”, and the audience was plunged into his nightmare, complete with a creepy carousel and a host of creatures.  Victims In Ecstasy now sends us hurtling back into the nightmare for Track 17, capturing the aura of Alice’s horrific dreamscape in true B-Movie fashion.

The final track is also one of the most impressive covers. 4Th Sign of The Apocalypse (featuring Bryin Dall of Loretta’s Doll on vocals) performs “Dead Babies”.  This track is even creepier than the original, complete with hellish disembodied screams in the background.

Well, according to the CD cover “Show’s Over, Folks!” and I have to say that I feel “right at home”.  While no one compilation can completely cover the many years, albums, and personas of Alice Cooper, Mutations did a fine job at bringing together some fantastic underground bands to pay tribute to this legend.

I know... compilation CD's seem to be flooding the scene right now; but for me, Mutations brought back memories of sitting in my basement bedroom, full of Alice Cooper memorabilia, listening to the dark stories of “Steven” and “Dwight” being played out before me each night on the turntable.  While my pre-teen friends were listening to “The Osmonds”, (as I lived in Salt Lake City at the time, and believe me, the Osmonds were HUGE there), my musical personality was being formed by the likes of Alice Cooper.

"Love Him…
Yes We Love Him"!

1.   Bile - "Clones (We're All)"
2.   Hyphoid - "Billion Dollar Babies"
3.   Godhead  - "Hey Stoopid"
4.   My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - "Hallowed Be My Name"
5.   Slick Idiot - "Under My Wheels"
6.   More Machine Than Man - "Pain"
7.   Tubring - "Poison"
8.   Parallax1 - "Halo Of Flies"
9.     Lorin Richards - "I'm Eighteen"
10.   Written In Ashes - "Cold Ethyl"
11.   Chris Connelly -  "Hard Hearted Alice"
12.   Acclimate -  "Is It My Body"
13.   Loretta's Doll -  "Ballad Of Dwight Fry"
14.   Grim Faeries - "Go To Hell"
15.   Noizfaction - "I Love The Dead"
16.   Texylvania - "Under My Wheels"
17.   Victims In Ecstacy - "Welcome To My Nightmare"
18.   4th Sign Of  The Apocalypse - "Dead Babies"

Contact Information:


My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult
Please send any questions or comments to:

Slick Idiot

More Machine Than Man
P.O. Box 390154
Cambridge, MA

P.O. BOX 59032
Schaumburg, IL 60159 - 0302
Email: tubring@usa.net

c/o Antifreeze
P.O. Box 143335
Anchorage, AK 95514

Lorin Richards
104 West 29th St. 4th Floor
NY, NY, 10001

Written In Ashes
PMB#164 4410 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR


Contact Artemis at: Acclimate6@webtv.net
PO Box 262
Flushing, MI 48433



Email: Noizfaction@aol.com


Jim: louvau@hotmail.com
Andy: geroldvie@hotmail.com

email: sufferingclown@aol.com

Doppler Effect Records
P.O. Box 6417
Beaverton, OR 97007-0417

Prokekt 2002.1
Sampler from Projekt Records
~review by Jezebel

I love samplers. I absolutely love them. A great way for labels to get newer artists heard by sneaking them in with the label's established artists, they can really make a future for a newly signed band. But Projekt doesn't do that specifically with this sampler. This is chock filled with their established artists. Perhaps some less known (Soul Whirling Somewhere for me). But I think attempts and succeeds at a sampler's purpose, bringing more people to the label and more sales.

We open with a strong track from the scavenger bride by black tape for a blue girl, the lovely "all my lovers." Away from the grandiosity of its parent, this child holds it own and shines. It is followed by "floats in the updrafts" another track from the album. Spahn Ranch's Athan Maroulis lends his voice for this one, another soft and especially lovely song, the flute work of Lisa Feuer just flowing and taking us over clouds and through valleys.

Audra is next up with "there are no snakes in heaven." A danceable track, it is a typical and well-presented piece of what Audra does and what it represents. These are catchy dark tunes that are danceable and enjoyable. Audra doesn't exactly push that many boundaries musically, but they do push the boundaries of what people perceive the Projekt label as. Including them in the sampler is smart. People will perhaps think twice of writing off Projekt as the label with all the ethereal, soft music bands.

Lycia is up next and their inclusion of "blue heron" is an excellent one. Tara's haunting and evocative voice is lovely and of course gives you the epitomal sound you expect from Projekt.

Dru's strong and powerful voice comes storming out at you with This Ascension's selection of "mysterium". I am not the greatest fan of the band, as I find some of their work a little bland, but this track actually changed my mind. Dru should try to stay more in her range vocally and not go into that head voice of hers which is too fake operatic to be taken seriously, but the music is strong and actually is something I could listen to. Hmmmm. Perhaps this sampler is doing its job?

Soul Whirling Somewhere is up next and I sat waiting the second or two between tracks I realized…hmmm. Okay…this is something new and I don't have it, mind wide open. Good start, almost jazzy effect to it. Very typical Projekt to be sure, but Projekt witht a twist. I find a lot of jazz here…subtly. Although it is lovely and very musically sound. This is the weak song of the album (as invariably albums do). I find it more musak than music. No, that's not right. It is musically sound, it's just not. Deep enough? No, that is not it. Its simplicity is refreshing but I can't seem to sink my teeth in it.

And the final offering is from Steve Roach, "spirit moves" which I think is an absolute lovely and hypnotizing track. I think there is so much movement and mystery in this track that it makes the mind wander and soul travel.

 Don't think though that it was an appropriate track to end the sampler with. It leaves us with an echo, which although can be very intriguing, doesn't really finish a sampler in my eyes. I have always admired the detailed approach of Sam Rosenthal, but this last selection may have been a little off choice.

All in all, a great sampler.

Website: http://www.projekt.com

1  black tape for a blue girl: all my lovers
2  black tape for a blue girl: floats in the updrafts
3  audra: the are no snakes in heaven
4  lycia: blue heron
5  this ascension: mysterium
6  soul whirling somewhere: in on
7  steve roach: spirit moves (excerpt)

All bands can be found via the website