Various Artists
12 Tales
~reviewed by Blu

So as I am checking out my new surroundings in Southern California, I found myself wandering into a Virgin Mega Store which was, ultimately, a bit of a disappointment as it's so mainstream (even its magazines) that I found it quite boring. The Tower Records down the street had a much better selection. Anyway, as I was walking through Virgin, the cover art of a Various Artists compilation caught my eye (here's to you Col for the argument that sometimes a cover sells a CD!). As you can see above, its a lavendar-colored cover depicting a beautiful fairy. Hmm...I thought to myself, wonder what kind of illogical grouping of mainstream bands we'll find on I picked one up and flipped it over. To my surprise, it wasn't mainstream at all but a very luscious combination of artists like Rasputina, Future Bible Heroes, Cranes, The Creatures, and of all things - Legendary Pink Dots.

Purchase made, probably the only one I'll make at that store, and off I went to the car to rip open the packaging of my new find. The gorgeous artwork of Amy Brown as seen on the cover, is  continued inside as there's a little booklet with an illustration and story for each song (hence the title - 12 tales). As a bonus, it tells us that each "tale" was written by Melora Creager of Rasputina. How yummy is that? It's not often that I find myself willingly enveloped in ethereal music but the exotic tones of this hit just the right spot as I drove home in my own little fantasy world.

Track one is "Hunter's Kiss" by Rasputina which starts out with their signature mournful cello and quickly descends into a quirky Victorian-themed tale. Melora sings of desperate love affairs backed by operatic choruses, punctuated by charismatic strings and a quite danceable beat. Even their use of distortion on her voice at the end is a welcomed surprise. Next up is "O! What a Dream It Was" from Future Bible Heroes - piano melody and atmospheric operatic female vocals before the male lead comes in with "I know I'll never be beautiful, but you kissed me once in the sun. I know I'll never be lovable, but you made me think I was wrong...and you say it doesn't matter, but I want to scream, it does." At some point some exotic percussive elements invade and bring along some strange, forest-spirits with it as things squeak and snort and buzz in a otherworldly, fantastical sort of way.

Track 3, "Lick" by The Flir is one of my favorites propelled by a danceable beat and strummed acoustic guitar (one of my weaknesses), female vocals soar childlike and mystical. I would love to hear a DJ spin this. This is the kind of ethereal music I almost forgot about - the kind that propelled graceful, swirling beings under changing lights on the dance floors. And of course "Flute Song" by Cranes is as haunting and as lovely as you'd come to expect from anything they do -- a down tempo lounge like beat is contrasted against their memorizing vocals backed by synths. "Impossible Gardens" by Bitstream Dream is an exotic track characterized by spoken word female vocals over an atmospheric world created by keyboards and percussive elements. The Creatures, always a delight no matter what they do, add strength to this CD with their track "Slipping Away". Siouxsie rules the roost with her dynamic and powerful voice - no one would ever expect anything less.

If you haven't heard of Violet Indiana yet, you'll no doubt recognize some of the names behind it: Robin Guthrie and Siobhan De Maré; carried on Simon Raymonde's Bella Union Records. Slow tempo with almost a Western lounge twist to it, Robin mournfully relates a sad tale to us in "Purr La Perla" as only the best song birds could do - a completely beautiful and mesmerizing track. Devilishly spooky as always, Miranda Sex Garden delivers "Ardera Sempre" like some silver encased nightmare fresh out of the deeply haunted forest of your mind. Driving tempos flank operatic female vocals and wicked string work. Soft and delicate, yet still with a tinge of spookiness, Russell Mills creeps and drifts his way through "Room of Sixteen Shimmers" in a semi-psychedellic haze.

More alternative sounding in nature, Livid Kittens contributes an exotic flavored popish tune called "Flying" (sounding a bit like Blondie) while another band on the Bella Union label, The Devices, slows it way down with a mournful "You Could Walk Forever." And finally, Legendary Pink Dots gives us a short, strange string highlighted "The War  of Silence" clocking in at just over a minute. I'm not sure why LPD is on this comp unless it was a favor from/to a friend or to strictly drive up the value of this CD with their name alone; but this track is so odd that it doesn't really fit the theme or flow very well. It sticks out like a sore thumb - undoubtedly why they put it at the end instead of somewhere else. So beyond that one little quirk, I think its an excellent V/A comp - definitely something you can put on and enjoy during a day out driving or in a bubble bath for that matter. The artwork and packaging alone speak volumes.

1. "Hunter's Kiss" -  Rasputina
2. "O! What A Dream It Was" - Future Bible Heroes
3. "Lick" - The Flir
4.  "Flute Song" - Cranes
5. " Impossible Gardens" - Bitstream Dream
6.  "Slipping Away" - The Creatures
7.  "Purr La Perla" - Violet Indiana
8.  "Ardera Sempre" - Miranda Sex Garden
9.  "Room of Sixteen Shimmers" - Russell Mills / Undark
10. " Flying" - Livid Kittens
11.  "You Could Walk Forever" - The Devices
12.  " The War of Silence" - The Legendary Pink Dots

Listen to Sound samples of ALL tracks here:

Instinct Records:

Illustrations by Amy Brown

Acid Ice Flows
Dol Guldur
~reviewed by Matthew

Hailing from Washington, Acid Ice Flows is a dark synth pop project spun from the entrails of a single multi-faceted musician.   And while there are recognizable elements of talent prevailing on this disc, there are a few major shortcomings I could not get passed.

I despise writing negative reviews, especially of struggling, new, independent artists.  But for whatever reason, I feel a pang of confidence in this particular musician.  I believe Monsieur Gollum has a remarkable ear for melody, for his manipulations of electronics invoke a sincere feeling of melancholy.  The production on his debut release is crisp, clear, and extremely professional, despite a slight ‘thinness’ that is sort of characteristic at the DYI stage of this kind of music.  Musically, Acid Ice Flows recalls the mid-paced orchestral Depeche Mode-isms of Soil & Eclipse and the cult darkwave act SubVersion.   There are also elements comparable to the more atmospheric and moody moments of Bella Morte.  Hell, I am not really all that keen on samples, and there is a really well placed sample of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” and his infamous “Here’s Johnny!” quip.  All is well thus far.

For me, the problem is that the vocals are a dominant weakness. If there is anything I hate in the world of Goth and synth pop it is the prevalence of vocalists that are drenched in strained self-pity, exasperated drama, and a lack of conviction.  So many vocalists invoke the sublime terror of Valencourt, the pathetic chevalier ‘hero’ in Ann Radcliffe’s “Mysteries Of Udolpho” springing from the mildewed pages to take up a singing career.

Though I don’t find Gollum’s vocals to be nearly as grating as some other bands that I have been exposed to, nonetheless, his voice drifts sterilely - whining, nasal, and monotonous.  There is little to no variety or emotional expression to be found in the vocals on this disc, and it is truly a shame considering the delightful musical backdrop, and it makes this CD all the more tragic a listen.  His voice has a steady quality to it, but he needs to shed the pretense a bit and just let the words flow. Deepen his voice a bit, throw some angst in there, and frankly, he just needs to toughen up.  Or perhaps, with all due respect to this man’s artistic vision, he needs to find a session vocalist to work with while he can play the role of maestro, conducting and arranging a voice to compliment the cinematic musical accompaniment.

With a synth pop revival in full sway, the keyboard work here is perfectly executed and well timed for rabid public consumption.  The bleeps and the wire synths are artfully balanced with sweeping, airy synthetic strings.  The earnest mood of sadness conveyed in the music is perfect: it is not too light to be dismissed as sappy, and nor is the mood to dense to alienate.  What more, is that the percussive elements are not steady harsh 4/4 thuds, but rather the drums are swayable, dynamic rhythms culled from vintage new wave and mid ‘90s darkwave. The final track even features some creepy watery guitar passages that worked nicely with the synthetic backdrop, so variety can be found musically where it lacks vocally.

Overall then, I hear and sense such a magnificent amount of potential, but vocal performances often make or break a release.  While I am sure that there quite a few dark music fans that are not as particular as I am, perhaps because they are more accustomed to, used to, and just genuinely respond more openly to this kind of music.  So I would say that there is a great chance that fans of the polished sound courtesy of De/Vision, The Crüxshadows, and Wolfsheim will have no problem with the vocals on this disc.

Whatever this case, I hope that Acid Ice Flows continues to refine its vocal approach and remains faithful to the successful and beautifully melancholic song structure that is firmly secured.  According to the artist’s website, a new release entitled “Angbad” will be released this year, and it will feature a cover of The Cure’s classic depressive slice of perfection “All Cats Are Grey.”   Stay tuned, contact this lonesome soul, give his work a listen, and give him a chance…this very well could get interesting.

Track list:
1.) Deception
2.) Pierce
3.) The Pain Subsides
4.) Fear
5.) Acid Ice Flows
6.) Surrounded
7.) Eternity
8.) Wind
9.) Lord Of The Flies
10.) Rho Ophiuchi

Acid Ice Flows is Gollum

Acid Ice Flows - Official Site:

Ampcast Site:

Mp3 Site:

The Final War Approaching
~reviewed by Michael Johnson

I started listening to black metal way too late. Without the resources of the Internet, I was confined to only albums that I could special order or could find on the shelf.  There wasn’t much there and this caused me to miss an essential era in the development of the black metal scene.  Bands like Mayhem, Old Funeral, Emperor, and Darkthrone stormed the scene spitting blasphemy and stroking the hellfires contained within us.  Some are not finished with this era.

Had this CD not been dated, I would have never guessed that it was relatively new.  Armagedda has managed to hang on to the sound and production quality of these early pioneers and create an album completely stripped down of all the glamorous special effect and studio tricks that have caused the scene to blossom, flourish, and eventually become saturated.  This is the sound I think of when I hear about “true” black metal.

The Final War Approaching has an extremely raw production that somehow remains clear, offering feeling of nostalgia rather than the headaches sometimes caused by muddy production.  The vocals of Graav lie somewhere between Abbath (Immortal) and Satyr (Satyricon) and, although the Swedish accent is thick, are surprisingly understandable.  The music is straightforward black metal and it’s not hard to pick up Bathory as one of their influences (think Under The Sign… or the debut release).  The rawness is further enhanced between tracks, as the clicking of the master tape being turned on and off for the recording can be plainly heard but somehow it does not deter from the quality of the recording.

All in all, Armagedda have created a very solid recording.  Normally I would find fault in production quality but I felt as if I was listening to something from years ago and rather enjoyed it the way it is.  Those into this very raw sound as well as the older albums from the bands mentioned above would do well to purchase this album.

Armagedda Is:
Graav – Guitars and vocals
Phycon – Drums
A – Guitars
Mord - Bass


Wide Awake EP
~review by Jezebel

From the voice of Dorit Karstedt and the instruments of Matthias Dopp (ex-New Days Delay) comes this new offering, Avaritia. Their debut EP has been produced by Justin Stephens of Passion Play who offers up background vocals.

So I admit I go into this blind. I know I ~know~ a song or two by New Days Delay, but please don’t ask me what they are. I don’t know. I have met Justin in the past, but have yet to hear a Passion Play song knowingly. So – I am objective, aren’t I?

For anyone who says that EBM will take over, has to the see the number of good guitar, real instrument playing band CDs I get in the mail. EBM may have a moment in the sun, but there are bands out there that are pulling it back down by its cyber-y, fluorescent, plastic dread. Avaritia has the possibility to be another one of these.

Listed in Matthias’ credits is programming, which means these drums are out of a keyboard (not a computer as he has contended on a newsgroup). Fine, but I think that is one of the first things I have found lacking. I want a real drummer there and I can sense in the sound, especially when spotlighted in the first track, "Pleasure & Pain", being just a bit missing of depth. Oh – get Belle of Killing Miranda, perhaps Simon of NFD, or Jeremy long ago of Sunshine Blind. They would bring a deeper dimension to the drums.

Is there any thing else I have found lacking? Not in the music. It is strong and powerful, reminiscent of both guitar based gothic and ethereal gothic. It may just appeal to both sides of the fence and get the swirly girlies out to the dance floor with one song, "A Tiny Glance", and the harder rockers out with Bars.

Dorit’s vocals remind me a bit of Candia from Inkubus Sukkubus, but without her strength. And although beautiful and definitely filled with talent, that is what Dorit’s voice is missing, a depth/strength that would be able to equal the music. In "Bars", Justin’s vocal completely eclipses Dorit’s and is no longer the background or additional vocal, but takes over and throws Dorit backward in the listening hierarchy. (Actually I didn’t know Justin’s voice was this lovely and I plan to run out for a Passion Play CD as soon as possible). In "Fragile", it gets lost inside the guitar of Matthias. Perhaps it was a production choice.

There is so much possibility within this two-some. I wonder who they will enlist to play their live shows with. Matthias on guitar of course, but who for bass? Keyboards? Drums? I would love to hear Dorit’s voice after some more power has been instilled in it. Let it rip, belt a bit more, find the power from within to equal the music.

A short review…well, it is only five songs.

Bottom line. This is a great beginning for this band. It’s solid, it has possibilities, and it has a running start with its line-up already. All it needs now is to deepen their strengths.

pleasure & pain
a tiny glance

Avaritia are:
Matthias Dopp: guitars, bass, programming
Dorit Karstedt: Vocals
Additional vocals by Justin Stephens



Black Tape For A Blue Girl
The Scavenger Bride
~review by Matthew

Projekt Records has undergone a flurry of activity over the past few years.  New signings, new artists, new releases, new distribution – label head Sam Rosenthal has had quite a bit weighing on his shoulders, constantly promoting the label and the roster of bands that make it up.  But thankfully, he was finally able to set aside time to devote to his own musical project, Black Tape For A Blue Girl.  It has been almost four years since the last CD “As One Aflame Laid Bare By Desire” was released, perhaps one of my own personal favourites.  The last three Black Tape albums (“Lush Garden Within,” “Remnants Of A Deeper Purity,” and “As One Aflame…) were monumental Ethereal/neo-Classical releases, thus, there was a lot of expectation for Rosenthal’s follow up release.

With that in mind, I think Sam took a much different approach to this release, and “The Scavenger Bride” is definitely one of the most unique and dare I say ‘experimental’ additions to the Black Tape discography. The neo-Classical elements are still to be found in Vicki Richards’ eastern violin talents, Lisa Feuer’s delicate flute playing, and Elysabeth Grant’s striking range of beautiful vocal delivery.  This time around, the instrumentation has expanded into even broader realms, touching on exotic and more rhythmically ‘slinky’ songs, best exemplified in the wonderfully refreshing tracks “All My Lovers” and “The Whipper.”   You rarely think of Black Tape as the kind of band to receive club play, save for the darkwave classic “Across A Thousand Blades.”   There is a similar feel to the aforementioned songs, though they have an even more appealing sense of organic flow, due to collaborations with Michael Laird of Unto Ashes fame.

One of the most interesting aspects of “The Scavenger Bride” that differs from other Black Tape albums is that besides the additional percussive and period instrument performances by Laird, Sam invited several other musicians aboard to contribute to the CD.  Martin Bowes (Attrition), Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch), and Brett Helm (Audra) contribute vocals throughout the disc, and Judith’s Christopher David dropped by to record a few subtle guitar lines for “A Livery Of Bachelors.”  The exciting result is comparable to This Mortal Coil, a kind of 4AD ‘super group’ that was comprised of members from Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Modern English, etc.

The music and atmosphere of Black Tape has always had a feeling of nostalgia to it, having the ability to transport the listener to early, more poetic times.  The bands past work always invoked a feeling of the 19th Century to me personally and that was part of the appeal for me as a listener.  “The Scavenger Bride” has a much more ‘modern’ kind of mood about it, in that lyrical concept of the CD is set in early 20th Century Prague.  In fact, “The Scavenger Bride” is the first proper ‘concept album’ Sam has ever purposely done.  Whereas the prior albums, though obviously sharing thematic links, were just expressions of similar lovelorn (and often) autobiographical feelings.  This album is still shaded by those signature feelings of deep romance fans have come to expect, drawing it’s influences this time around from artistic figures like Klaus Kinski, Marcel Duchamp, and Franz Kafka.  And the ‘tale’ of the album itself is especially intriguing as it is chronicles the inner struggles of a young bride’s emotional breakdown, and the discarded bachelors she has rejected.   These are the roles played by the guest vocalists sprinkled throughout the album.

“The Scavenger Bride” then, has quite a bit going on, a lot of exciting new elements have been incorporated into the realm of Black Tape, and the characteristic emotions, moods, and lyrical concepts have never been so painstakingly crafted.   Though an ambitious release, after several listens, I have to admit that I have mixed feelings of both distinctive praise and light disappointment.

My main problem with the disc is a minute one.  There are several very short tracks, as well as a few epic lengthened songs.  The shorter songs have some wonderful ideas, such as the remarkably touching “Floats In The Updrafts.”   Athan’s soothing vocal melody is fantastic in this song.  But the song sort of ends somewhat abruptly.  This same complaint holds true for tracks like “The Doorkeeper” and “The Whipper,” both of which are under the two-minute mark.  While the album is meant to be listened to as a whole, and these tracks to be transitional, simple songs – I felt there were very strong melodies and lyrical ideas going on here that could have been a lot further developed into longer, more intricate songs.

Another ‘surprise’ offered by this album is an unexpected cover of Sonic Youth’s “Shadow Of A Doubt,” one of the more sensuous and atmospheric tracks to appear on the band’s seminal 1986 masterpiece “Evol.”  The song easily fits into the conceptual ideas presented by Black Tape, as the song is about a woman who ‘met a stranger on a train’ and centers around the dark, erotic fantasies of infidelity prompted by such an encounter.   The lush, subdued music perfectly translated to Rosenthal’s manipulation of dark electronics, reverberated pianos, and warm moody synths.  The musical translation of the song from Sonic Youth to Black Tape’s style was easy for me to envision, but it was even cooler than I ever expected.  However, I feel the song features Elysabeth’s weakest vocal moments.  Granted, who the hell can compare to Kim Gordon?  However, I felt Elysabeth’s voice possessed too much clarity and energy, where as the original was more of a jaded, dejected whisper.  She just sounded a little too animated, and the finalé of vocal layers is a bit too melodramatic.  A minor complaint, for the song is still a favourite of mine due to the faithful and embellished musical backdrop.

The instrumental tracks are very engrossing, a difference for me than on past Black Tape albums, as the instrumentals usually drone on far too long for my impatient tastes.  The title track and “Das Liselottenbett” were both especially cool and powerfully hypnotic.  The many vocal appearances on the album obviously add quite a bit of diverse colour, but I definitely think that Brett Helm’s vocal contributions stand out the most.  Extremely passionate, stark, clear, and exceptionally moving – I think he actually sounded better on this album than his own impressive work in Audra.   Of course, Martin Bowes dusky sepulchral narration of “The Scavenger’s Daughter” is chilling and well worth the price of admission, Bret Helm out creeps the master in the gritty claustrophobia of “Like A Dog.”   This track  recalls some the hair-raising anguish of past songs like “Decomposed By The  Fires Of The Firmament” and “For You Will Burn Your Wings Upon The Sun.”

There are of course, a lot of lighter, more traditionally beautiful passages, the best probably being the album’s closer “Bastille Day, 1961” with Elysabeth’s vocal strengths are at their peak and Sam’s familiar murky pianos stamp the final seal of gorgeous gloom on a very well-packaged and visionary record.

While parts of the CD sound a little rushed and unfinished, the memorable greatly outweighs the forgettable.  While “The Scavenger Bride” does not evoke as dense or heart wrenchingly depressive an atmosphere as the band’s prior work, it is obvious that a great deal of passion and vision went into crafting this release.  And though that passion is more detached than in the past, Sam weaves a finely wrought tale of erotic intrigue amidst an exotic and mysterious backdrop.  Surely fans will be relieved to have the opportunity to set their minds and hearts adrift to a new Black Tape For A Blue Girl release, and as a longtime fan, I quickly adjusted to this new guise of elegance offered by “The Scavenger Bride.”

Track List:
1.) The Scavenger Bride
2.) Kinski
3.) All My Lovers
4.) Shadow Of A Doubt
5.) The Doorkeeper
6.) Floats In The Updrafts
7.) A Livery Of Bachelors
8.) Das Liselottenbett
9.) The Lie Which Refuses To Die
10.) The Scavenger’s Daughter
11.) Like A Dog / Letter To Brod
12.) The Whipper
13.) Bastille Day, 1961

Black Tape For A Blue Girl is:
Sam Rosenthal – electronics
Elysabeth Grant – vocals and viola
Lisa Feuer – flute
Julia Kent – cello
Vicki Richards – violin

Additional appearances by:
Michael Laird (Unto Ashes) – percussion, dulcimer, mandolin, backing vocals
Bret Helm (Audra) – vocals, acoustic guitar, doumbek
Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch) – vocals
Christopher David (Judith) – electric guitar
Martin Bowes (Attrition) – vocals
Steve Roach – sound processing

Black Tape For A Blue Girl – Official Site:

The Scavenger Bride –CD Info Site:

Black Tape For A Blue Girl – Mp3 Site:

Projekt Records:

Butterfly Messiah
~reviewed by Matthew

Tampa’s Butterfly Messiah is one of the few select ‘new’ bands that have riveted my attention.  Since I first heard the band on and received a copy of their debut EP, I have considered them, to coin a phrase from Scary Lady Sarah, among those that offer a ‘hope for a dark future.’   While the darkwave genre seems to be eclipsed by up tempo and light hearted synth pop, which is designed to fill floors rather than spook the mind, Butterfly Messiah manage to brilliantly utilize the machinery of contemporary synth pop and the fleeting spirit of classic darkwave.  Tempered with pagan and occult themes, the band avoids masking itself in faux aggression or annoying objectivity.  Seriously, the gloomy Goth is becoming more and more alienated with each passing day, and that is a fine example as why we are twice as misanthropic lately.  Butterfly Messiah provides a much-welcomed respite from the norm and a return to the dark danceable atmospheres that Die Form and Attrition alone have continued to deliver.

The band will be appearing along with Judith, Gossamer, and Thou Shalt Not (among others) at this year’s GothCon in New Orleans at the end of this month.  I am hoping their live appearance generates some more interest in the band and they begin to receive more club play, as they certainly deserve.

“Priestess” is the band’s first official full-length release.   Besides the album’s fantastic brooding opener “Land Beneath The Waves,” the CD consists of all new material, exhibiting an even stronger catchiness and dance appeal.   “The Wicked” is a mysterious and ambient track, while “Introspections” kicks things into high gear.  This track and a good bit of the early half of the album has a very noticeable eighties appeal, embodied in the quirky keyboards and near vintage drum tracks. It recalls Attrition’s “Smiling At The Hypogonder Club” in some respects, especially with Robert’s post punk vocal monotone that delivers the verses of the song.  Iced with chilling synths and ghostly female vocals at the chorus, the more contemporary darkwave effects provide the balance to the song.  The undeniable dance appeal, paired with the stark mood assures “Introspections” as ideal for club play and I hope more DJs catch on.

“Serpentine” keeps the tempo up, with Shannon providing the vocals.  Her lead vocals could be described here as an almost sardonic chant, while layers of spooky sopranos pan out in the backdrop.  This edgy track also sticks out as tailored made for Gothic dance floors.   “Visitor” slows things back down for a bit, for a more mischievous and plodding feel.  Dark, creepy, and seductive – with both Robert and Shannon contributing striking vocal performances.

“Ring The Bells” is Butterfly Messiah’s ‘rock’ song.  Though I am glad the band attempted to bring guitars into the mix, especially guitars processed to have an obvious old school sound.  However, the song is one of my least favourite on the album.  It doesn’t have quite as much punch as I think the band hoped for.  This is a result I think of the production more than anything.  The song comes across somewhat flat and tinny, and needs to be thickened a bit, more layers of drums, guitars, bass, synths, etc.  Something is just missing, but I hope that in the future the band is more successful at throwing in a traditional kind of Goth rock song.

“Eternal Undone” is similar in feel to “Land Beneath The Waves,” and the material found on the band’s first EP.  A lengthy and mid-paced track, strong in atmosphere and rhythmic drive and showcasing all the elements that are characteristic of the band.  I think this track will be a fan favourite. Not so much on the dance floor, but just a cool track to listen to and get creeped out in the dark.

“When Autumn To Winter Resigns” is a short acapella intro to “Reverie,” the album’s ethereal finale and homage to ‘the old ways.’  Centered around stark synthesized harps and sweeping orchestral strings, Shannon’s delightful voice turns the ingredients “Hawthorn, rose, elecampane, angelica, mandrake, ivy and oak” into one of the best, persistent, and addictive choruses since “The Girl From Eponyma!”  Not to mention the image of the ‘midnight cat on a never ending run for the star mice.’  A nice accomplished finale to an album I sincerely wished never ended.

Butterfly Messiah are an up and coming band, with a promise that I cannot truly stress the importance of.   If you are a fan of dark, moody, danceable music, you simply must check out this fabulous band.

Track List:
1.) Land Beneath The Waves
2.) The Wicked
3.) Introspections
4.) Serpentine
5.) Visitor
6.) Ring The Bells
7.) Eternal Undone
8.) When Autumn To Winter Resigns
9.) Reverie

Butterfly Messiah is:
Shannon Garson – vocals, keyboards
Robert Nightshade – vocals, percussion, programming
Josh Harrington – keyboards
Steve Francois – keyboards (live)

Butterfly Messiah – Official Site:

Butterfly Messiah – Mp3 Site:

Fossil Dungeon Records:

Lullabies For The Dead
~reviewed by Michael Johnson

Cat As Trophy  (the name sounds mysteriously familiar to a creation by Piers Anthony in one of his Xanth novels) is one of the more intriguing bands I have heard in a long time.  A metal band at face, the music wears too many different hats to be confined to only one genre.  The rough metallic exterior is a blend of rapid fire death/black metal guitar riffing and rhythmic chugging similar to KMFDM.  A maelstrom of technicality, these styles mutate from one song to the next, creating a schizophrenic fell throughout the course of the album.

The vocals are equally chaotic, ranging from deep, evil rumblings, clean baritone, black metal raspings, and Skinny Puppy style whispers.  Added to this mix are the samples, synth, and programmed drums, which absolutely fly out of control at some points.

Amid this chaotic mixture, there is structure and some damn good song writing.  “Skinny Little Bitch”, “Beyond The Flesh”, and “Momento Te Esse Mortalum” are my early favorite tracks although almost every track on here has at least one good hook in it.  On some songs, Valak even manages to sound like Fernando Ribeiro from Moonspell.  I’m actually quite astounded at the range of vocal styles he pulls off on this CD.  If someone were to put a gun to my head and tell me to compare this band to one other, I would be a dead man.  I can say with confidence that they have taken elements from many of my favorite bands and melted them into one solid release.  The Kovenant, Skinny Puppy, Rammstein, Moonspell, KMFDM, Morgul, Sisters of Mercy, and NIN.  They’re all here in one form or another.  Although because of such a varied mix, the album doesn’t always flow smoothly, each song stands strong on its own.  I could not, in good faith, slam this album in any way.  It’s well executed, evil, and fun at the same time.  Fans of the above listed bands would be doing themselves a disservice in passing this one up.

Cat As Trophy Is:
Valak – Metrical Decomposition & Blasphemies
Porno Boy – 6 & 7 String Orgies & Pelvic Thrusts
Lady Die – Keys & Psychotic Menstrual Slayings
Medivh – Sublevel Mass Murder & Meathooks

Website: (currently not working)
Email: page:

Cesium 137
~reviewed by Catherinna

"Cesium: 137 n: 1. The 137th element of the periodic table. 2. An exceptionally strong and extremely poisonous mind altering substance. 3. An Industrial band in Philadelphia (Tonedeaf Records).
Overall I would say this CD is a good production. Musically, there is a lot happening in this CD, which is pleasant and appeasing to the ear for a change, as well as unexpected. I reviewed the single "The Fall EP" late last year as a prelude to this review. The EP consisted of two individual tracks (w/ several rmx's of one). I enjoyed the single overall, but was more impressed with a few of the remixes. I was also of mind that the follow up full length would be similar in nature, sticking to a new, yet, older breed of Industrial based music.

In regard to Advanced/decay, I was most satisfied in terms of the style of music taking on so many different roles in one production. Many of the variations in style aren't exactly my personal music preference, however, the more I listen to it, the more fascinated I become in their direction and focus. There are some things that I felt could be different or altered to enhance this CD overall. These items are denoted in my comments next to each song.

Advance and Decay is Cesium 137's first full-length album. Currently, it holds the number 9 slot in Metropolis's Top 10 CD's in current sales. I would recommend this CD to anyone who appreciates, Industrial, Trance Techno, and Experimental Noise. You can listen to several of their new releases on their website at:

Track Listing and Overall Impression of Each

Track 1: The Fall
'The Fall' is an excellent opening track for this CD production. It's Industrial based in terms of the lyrics and beat formula. Excellent dance song for an Industrial/EBM based club. This track is high energy, with a hint of trancy electro elements. Overall: Techno/Electro Industrial. -Harsh vocal effects.

Track 2: End Game
Samples, another strong beat, high hats drum beat, not the strongest song on the CD, but similar in energy to track 1 and still maintains good production.

Track 3: Regrets
The beginning melody layered over the drums, etc draws/captivates the listener from the get go. This song in particular is in my personal favorite. It has a rich, deep, underlying bass, beat, drums intertwined with distorted vocals w/ different effects added throughout the track. It has an industrial cohesiveness in sound, very tight and is well produced.

Track 4: Darkest Dream
This track is instrumental. The underlying metal hammering effect is nice, but there is too much high hat throughout the song. Good overall beat, but could benefit from some lightening the high hat. It also has a nice old style, analog, synth chorus that reminds me of a sci -fi/ fantasy movie soundtrack song from the 80's. There is lot's happening in this song synth wise, layered and very minimal samples. This song intrigues me.

Track 5: Last Days
Distorted crunchy effects on vocals, extremely light but fast beat, fade ins and outs of beats, varying brassy high hat beats, trance chorus. The vocal chorus has less effect on the vocals, which adds a nice variation in the layers. I think this song could be a strong song in this production. Unfortunately, the parts of the song that I feel make it deep and powerful aren't pronounced enough throughout the song, and there feels like there is to be too much emphasis on the high hat, brassy, techno electro phrases.

Track 6: Placebo
This track is where this production starts getting more experimental. This song is more Noise based~ totals 00:43 seconds in length and very crunchy.

Track 7: Effigy
This song is somewhat robotic sounding at points throughout the track. It's upbeat and kind of poppy in a playful way. Lot's of non -traditional electronic sounds can be heard in this song. This version is instrumental. There are some prolonged breaks in this song, which can be distracting to the beat of this song.

Track 8: Failure
This song is more noise based. It's sort of reminiscent of early Einsturzende Neubauten in that it has a raw metal hammer sound (and other layered raw sounds), as it's main beat/drum beats.  There are also many electronic sounds to counter that thought. Each phrase is pretty repetitive layered along w/ various Noise natured phrases as well. There are no vocals on this track.

Track 9: Effigy (Caltrops Mix)
This mix definitely has a more electro/techno feel to it than the rest of the CD and other mixes of this song.

Track 10: Effigy (Crematory Mix) by Lost Signal
This Mix pretty much kicks ass. It is mellower and softer in comparison to the other tracks, but it has just the right amount of elements of Cesium's varying musical styles to make it work this way. The vocals are also softened more than in other songs, which gives this song in particular a more oozing, melting, sinister feeling.

Cesium 137 is:
Isaac Glendening - Programming +Sound Design +Vocals + Lyrics + Synths + Sampler
Vince Guzzardo - Programming + Percussionist + arrangements

Band website:
General Info:

In Ancient Beliefs
~reviewed by Michael Johnson

Death metal has never really been my thing.  I dabbled in it while searching for my own tastes and back then I didn’t believe in genres and if it was metal, I bought it.  Cannibal Corpse, Entombed, and Bolt Thrower set my standards, and as my tastes began to mature, death metal slowly slid from my map.  The sometimes-silly competitions between bands to see who could be the most grotesque and lewd calloused me and I became immune to any of the shock value.  This being said, I haven’t kept up with the scene and with the market as saturated as it is now, I’m frightened to try the waters again.  I hold tight to a few personal favorites and I’m content.

Deteriorot newest release, In Ancient Beliefs, wastes no time in tipping its hand.  Immediately noticeable are the ungodly evil vocals that howl like a fingernail-rent chalkboard with an advanced case of lung cancer.  Oh yeah, I like them.  A lot.

Music-wise, Deteriorot guitar sound reminds me a lot of Clandestine-era Entombed but this is played with an almost sludgy precision.  Even when the drumming picks up tempo, the guitars feel like they’re being pulled through quicksand.  It’s an ominous, powerful sound that feels more authentic and gives this album a much heavier vibe than if it had slick production.  All in all, this is a good album simply based on just how damn heavy it actually is.  Speed does not equal heavy and vise versa.  This album won’t punch me back into buying a bunch of death metal, but it does compliment my small collection and proudly stands alongside the few kings I have chosen.

Deteriorot Is:
Paul Zavaleta – Guitars & Vocals
Jon Brody – Drums
Will Kuberski – Lead Guitar
Jim Hoffman – Bass


WWIII Records:

From The Hands of Lilith
~review by Kevin Filan

There's nothing more difficult to review than a CD which almost succeeds.  There are lots of adjectives to describe the outstanding; there are even more to describe the Truly Awful.  But what do you say about a CD which is good but which should have been great? Dalet-Yod's "From the Hands of Lilith" is a good CD, at times an exceptional CD, but one which never quite reaches greatness.  It's an B+ effort from an A+ band; not the breakthrough it could have been, but still solid, entertaining and worthwhile.

Vocalist Michala Kazda and multinistrumentalist Steve Piscione are both top-notch musicians.  More important, they have excellent chemistry and support each other well.  It's obvious that they've been playing together for some time and work well as a unit, particularly as a songwriting unit.  This is something which only comes with long hours of practice and performance.  They aren't just talented individuals; they are comfortable playing together and have learned how to complement the other's strengths and weaknesses.

All too often Shoegazer tunes degenerate into a muddy mess: songs like "Spindle" and "Captive" move along briskly thanks to tight percussion and excellent bass work from Piscione and Joel Hickman.  I was especially impressed by "Divination," a song which shows how well they work as a band.  Michala's vocals shimmer atop a wash of blurred guitars, the whole thing underpinned by a snare and an intricate but unobtrusive bass line.

Dalet-Yod began as an acoustic duo; even now their acoustic guitar work stands out.  The sweet bottleneck work on "Trees" and the finger-picking on "Rendevous" were among the CD's highlights.  I'd really enjoy seeing Dalet-Yod live, especially in an intimate setting.  (If the Elizabethan-esque "John Stewart" is any indication, they might even be fun at a Renfaire).

Dalet-Yod's music is always tuneful and occasionally breathtaking.  With its acoustic piano and haunting vocalise, "Siren" is one of the most absolutely gorgeous songs I've heard this year.  Along with "Glimmer" and "Juggler" (a more upbeat song which reminded me of the Cranberries), it shows real potential for Bigger Things.

And yet, in the end, I felt like I wanted Something More.  This CD felt like a few musicians who were comfortable with each other and with their music; it didn't feel like they were exploring their limits, or looking for anything new.  The moody instrumental "321" gave a few nods to dissonance; everything else was tasteful and pretty.  I would like to see Dalet-Yod stretch out a bit more.  They certainly have the chops and the chemistry.

1) The Calling
2) Juggler
3) 321
4) Siren
5) Divination
6) Glimmer
7) Spindle
8) Rendevous
9) Trees
10) Jack Stewart
11) Captive

Michala Kazda: Vocals
Steve Piscione: Guitars, Bass, Baritone Guitar,
Mandolin, Bohdran, Percussion and Programming
Joel Hickman: Bass, Guitars and Keyboards
Rich Maier: Keyboards and Programming

Additional Artists:
Missy Laukas: Bells (321)
Johnny Avila: Guitar (Trees)
Michael Verzani: Trees, Rendevous

Produced by Dalet-Yod
Mixed by Jimmy Circle and Dalet-Yod
Mastered by Sanford Parker
All Songs Written by Michala Kazda and Steve Piscione

Dalet-Yod Homepage

Morning Star
~reviewed by Matthew

It has been years since I heard Entombed, one of the most influential and most important acts in the traditional Death Metal scene, responsible for the seminal releases “Clandestine” and “Left Hand Path.”  Though I enjoyed their earlier work, I didn’t follow them throughout the years after “Wolverine Blues.”  There is really no spiteful reason in particular why I lost track of the band, as I liked their albums.  I suppose my attention was turned toward the development of other dark metal genres, and though a fan of death metal, Entombed never appealed to me personally as much as say, Carcass, Deicide, or Morbid Angel did. I suppose I missed the band’s progression throughout the past eight years and four albums.

Of course, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that there really was much of a progression.  Which is a good thing to, dare I refer to them as conservative, fans of death metal.  So many bands have been veering off into alternate directions over the years, to the point where they betray their roots so drastically and no longer even sound like the same band.  For fans that do not fall for all the marketing and the derailed train of imitation, there needs to be bands that consistently provide solid ground.  And for that, despite whatever else I may state in this review, I commend Entombed whole-heartedly for sticking to their guns.

Judging by this latest release from Sweden’s gritty merchants of the macabre, Entombed have a firm stance upon the rotten soils out of which they sprung over a decade ago.   Traditional Death Metal fans will revel in morbid glee at the old school edge, the signature buzz saw guitar sound and sloppily graceful vocals – I don’t think Entombed has ever sounded this confident and that just totally rocks.

And while “Morning Star” kicks off with the wonderfully dark “Chief Rebel Angel” there were few songs that stood out in a positive way for me.  The opening track employs some truly spooky and well-placed piano passages juxtaposed against a dense atmosphere of mischievous Doom.  When this song first oozed from my speakers, I was sure I was in for a pleasant treat, and that an unexpectedly unique, fresh, and modern Death Metal record was about to uncoil before me over the next forty some minutes.  But as the album progressed, I grew more and more distracted, and lost interest rapidly.  While there are definitely some highlights in the well-executed rhythmic grooves and sparse moments of atmosphere provided by very brief and eerie acoustic interludes, the album just seemed to get more and more generic as it went along.

I suggest readers take my views with a grain of salt, as I have been feeling overly critical lately when it comes to metal music.  Nothing is exciting me; nothing seems to be dark enough for my sapped tastes.  And though this showed promise, it lost its novelty quickly.  Despite a concentrated variety in the pace of the songs, some characteristically sludgy and heavy, others thrashy, others underscored with a vague nod to punk, it all seemed way too familiar.

It all culminated in the unforgivably stupid track “When It Hits Home.”  This song is just so low brow, adolescent, cheesy, and plain worthless.  The lyrics aren’t even worth repeating, but to illustrate my point:

“you fist-fuck the planet in style/and lick your fingers clean”
“your dick is sore and you’re all alone/hurts like hell when it hits home.”
“now listen!/prepare to suck cock in hell/it’s really not all that bad/once you get past the smell.”

After reading this, perhaps Marilyn Manson is comparable to freakin’ Poet Laureate!

Songs like this are why metal skeptics constantly refer to and dismiss this music as a clichéd genre that appeals only to Neanderthal alcoholics.  As long as bands of high stature continue to churn out trash like this and people buy it, the scene will never completely progress and the lack of respect and recognition the genre gets will continue to be limited and laughable.   While Entombed do manage to come up with some lyrics that are relatively witty and express a sardonic form of social satire, (rather than teenage interpretations of Satanism that would cause poor Anton to roll over in his grave) I personally find no excuse for the band’s juvenile attempt to be shocking and hard assed in “When It Hits Home.”

Nothing shocks me anymore.  It just irritates me and disappoints me.  I constantly defend the integrity of metal not only for this zine, but also to friends, narrow-minded Gothic club kids, colleagues, and basically anyone that will listen to me.  Things like this make it hard for me to perform the duty I have forsworn to uphold <grin>

After hearing this song, it took a lot to remain objective.  Overall, I think this CD is half way descent.  There are quite a few high points for the old school death metal fan, but truthfully, “Mourning Star” is sort of like a monochromatic painting placed in an opulent frame.   The album’s opening track and the final track “Mental Twin” provide the most exciting and ear-stimulating moments on the disc.  The closing track manages to sound eerie and foreboding as well as sincere.    The musicianship throughout the disc, as raw and purposely unrefined as it is meant to be, is definitely admirable.  The band is still tight, riding along brusquely on the sound they pioneered.  And like fellow comrades Obituary and Napalm Death, L.G. Petrov’s voice still sours practically every note he sings in the way Metal fans love.   However, the vocals on this release lie atop the music in a much more complimentary way when compared to the band’s early days.

To sum up “Morning Star” I will turn to a few lines from the track “City Of Ghosts.”  For fans of traditional Death Metal looking for something safe, ‘fun,’ and true to form, look no further.  You will dig this.  No wanky attempts to be avant-garde, melodic, or Gothic that result in sappy sentiment that have the impact of ballads by Skid Row will be found here.

But on the other side of the coin, to condescending jaded bastards like myself, you will find “the same old bullshit/the same old song…familiar patterns/familiar hosts/the city’s [CD’s] crowded with the sideshow ghosts.”

Track List:
1.) Chief Rebel Angel
2.) I For An Eye
3.) Bringer Of Light
4.) Ensemble Of The Restless
5.) Out Of Heaven
6.) Young Man Nihilist
7.) Year One Now
8.) Fractures
9.) When It Hits Home
10.) City Of Ghosts
11.) About To Die
12.) Mental Twin

Entombed is:
L.G. Petrov – vocals
Alex Hellid – guitars
Uffe Cederlund – guitars
Jörgen Sandström – bass
Peter Stjärnvind - drums

Entombed - Official Site:

KOCH Records:

Music For Nations:

~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

Enslaved is a band that is as meaningful musically as it is spiritually. While there aren't a lot of bands you can say that about, there are even fewer viking metal bands that fit that description. There are, however, quite a few fun loving Scandinavian viking metal bands. Some of them like to dress up in viking gear, pose for photos around heavy oak tables, and wield big weapons to look extra scary during the photo shoot. Enslaved did take pictures in viking gear at one point during their career, but the end result wasn't a dressed up parody of their viking heritage. They have always taken their Norse beliefs seriously, and if last year's release Mardraum didn't prove that to you, Monumension certainly should. They have now entirely ditched any surface similarities to "viking metal."

Monumension is an experimental black metal album in many regards. If you were to hear a song or two off of it, you may just think it was above average or creative black metal. If you know anything about Enslaved and you hear this in its entirety - you'll know there's more than the obvious musical surface value. Enslaved have always sought to connect with vikings on a spiritual level, and now more than ever they have left behind any outright "viking" sound in their music (excluding the extra track, I'll get to that later). Monumension instead focuses on exploration of sound textures and the mind itself. Exploration was always an important part of viking culture.

Each of the first eight tracks represents a rune used in a ritual I'm not even going to try to explain because I'd no doubt mess it up and give you the wrong impression. You'll just have to visit the band's website (link below) if you'd like to learn more. What I can tell you is that the relationship between the tracks and the flow of the album is intimately tied to the runes that each track represents. "Hollow Inside" has a vastly different sound than the other tracks on the album, and that is because it loosely represents a deconstruction of the self. The first three tracks provide a mostly instrumental sound that is similar to last year's Mardraum, using a variety of metal vocal styles where appropriate. There are some very rocking riffs and solos along with very thoughtful compositions. When "Hollow Inside" kicks in after those, you can see how well it fits in with the idea of deconstruction. It is not an aggressive song at all, it is in fact very peaceful and reminscent of 70's progressive rock. But it effectvely tears down the sound presented on the first half of the album, making way for track five, which is reconstruction. Track five builds a different sound than you heard before, and keeps this CD thoroughly engaging and interesting.

The relationship between the tracks to each other, the tracks to the album as a whole, and the lyrics/symbolism makes Monumension a deep and involving release that takes a lot of time to understand. The music side of things more than keeps up with the ambitious concepts, and if something in the sound throws you off or sounds out of place, there's very likely a clear reason for it. As with some past Enslaved songs, vocals can sometimes be used sparsely. Enslaved's vocalist has added a new trick to his set of skills this time around also, making the vocals even more interesting when they are used. The band covers their distinct aggressive rasping, clean chants, death metal growls, and now a lighter singing that reminds me more of Pink Floyd than anything else.

The last song is in stark contrast to the first nine tracks (track nine is a conclusion to the concept portion of Monumension). "Sigmundskbadet," which I may be spelling wrong because of the obscure font it was printed in, is a representation of traditional viking music. It is based on a simple but hypnotic melody and rhythm, and has a guest musician performing traditional viking singing. This old style of vocal expression is not something you typically hear in metal, the only other time you may have heard something similar was on Finntroll's Jaktens Tid. Enslaved isn't out to have the same kind of fun that Finntroll did, though, and "Sigmundskbadet" ends up being a fitting conclusion to an amazing album. Enslaved has managed to stand out among the black metal pack by giving themselves a distinctive sound. And more specifically by redefining that sound with each new album. And even more specifically by writing songs that are unique and individualized. And (you knew I had to add another and), you can even break things down further to the consistently interesting and varied instrumental and vocal work.

If Enslaved is a band you haven't looked into yet, definitely give them a try. Monumension is the sixth full length release of a band that has managed to outdo themselves with every new CD. I can't wait to see what they'll do next, but for now, Monumension is a superb addition to an impressive discography.

Track List:
1.) Convoys to Nothingness
2.) The Voices
3.) Vision: Sphere of the Elements - A Monument Part II
4.) Hollow Inside
5.) The Cromlech Gate
6.) Enemy I
7.) Smirr
8.) The Sleep: Floating Diversity - A Monument Part III
9.) Self - Zero
HOV Featuring Trygbe Mathiesen Presents:
10.) Sigmundskbadet

Enslaved is:
Dirge Rep - Percussion and effects
Ivar Bjornson - Guitars, synths, hammond, piano and effects
R. Kronheim - Rhythm and lead guitars, vocals and effects
Grutle Kjellson - Vocals and bass

Enslaved Official Website:

Osmose Productions:

Etoile Noire
Sleeping Black Eyes
~reviewed by Jezebel

I was recently accused of writing only “nice” reviews. And that I don’t actually review CDs that I don’t like. That isn’t true. Up until this point, I haven’t received a CD that I didn’t like. Up to this point.

Then I received this. It’s on the way back to you Blu. I just can’t have it in my house.

Supposedly a CD where “different musical styles mix,” three of the four members list AMOK as a credit, two were in Anima in Fiamme and three were in Argine. So how they can have different musical styles and all seem to be in the same bands is the first question.

They “propose a language of its own, a gothic rock which could harmonically conciliate the obscure feelings of dark, the hypnotic force of desert rock, the power of metal.” Well, let’s look at that. There are definitely two different sounding singers here. One must be Pasquale Scotti and I think that is the one that could not find a harmony if given a map. No – really. It’s a voice that lacks character and depth, but he seems to want to make up for that with screeching, growling and yelling. It’s not pleasant. It’s not listenable. I am still trying to figure out what “obscure feelings of dark” are.  I have never heard of desert rock, but if this is trying to hypnotize me, the noise that is created just won’t do it. The power of metal? Yes….Yes!!! Redeeming feature. The music is powerful. In fact, some of the music isn’t horrible. It’s just not, um, well, good, or original. It’s all been done before and better.

The absolute saddest song for me is the third track, "Eyelids Covering Mirrors". Why? Because for the majority of the song I thought there was a possibility of hope. A beautiful violin opening by Alfredo Notarloberti, followed by a beautiful, gorgeous, soft, caressing voice. Is it Pasquale Scotti? I don’t really know as Roberto Toderico is also listed, but as background voice. But this is lovely, acoustic 12 string guitar, the violin interspersed. Oh there is a Projekt feel here. The violin playing could even be compared to Paul’s from The Changelings. And then it happened. Some rather ordinary guitar solo and THAT VOICE came back, the painful one from before! Screeching and straining and groaning and just sounding like it was dying. The song ruined.

So there you go…Pasquale – if you are the person who began the song and ended the song, then stick to the technique you used in the beginning of it. It shows talent. The other – well…’s just horrible.

This is one of the shortest reviews I have ever written. Why? Because I can’t find anything really constructive about the band. And you know what your mother says…….”If you don’t have anything good to say……”

Track Listing:
1. Ascension
2. Sleeping Black Eyes
3. Eyelids Covering Mirrors
4. Melt
5. Point of No Return

Etoile Noire are:
Pasquale Scotti: voice, 12 string acoustice guitar, samplers
Augusto Maiolini: electric guitar
Ferruccio Milanesi: electric and acoustic bass, samplers
Alessio Sica: drums
With Alfredo Notarloberti: violin
Roberto Toderico from Sulphur: background voice



Snail Mail:
Ferruccio Milanesi
Via G. Jannelli 45/D
80131 Naples, Italy

Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects
Sol Niger Within Version 3.33
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

Surely, by now, you've heard a reviewer use the words "you've never heard this before." And granted, you can't entirely argue a point like that because there are differences between any two recordings if you want to look hard enough. But I think we can agree that there are definite similarities between most bands.

Enter Fredrik Thordendal's solo work. And let met tell ya - you've never heard anything like it. The only similarity this has to any other music is the obvious kinship to Meshuggah. Thordendal has a patented guitar style that he has developed in Meshuggah, and on his solo work he uses some of the disorienting and syncopated rhythmic riffs that you have heard before in his other work. Aside from that, this is one of the hands down most unique things I have ever heard. I'm at a loss as to what to call it. It sure isn't metal, it's not your average solo guitar work. It's just... different.

Sol Niger Within is essentially one long song, broken into 28 sub indexes for your, um, convenience. I think that's what it is for. Either that, or Thordendal wanted to exercise his creativity further by naming every one to two minutes music you find here. Throughout the album you'll hear a very eclectic range of sounds. Some distinctly Meshuggah sounding riffs are here, but when vocals are used they are either spoken or rhythmically vomited by a man I sure don't want to meet. There are some songs that feature various tortured cries and screams that won't help you sleep any easier at night. During one part in particular the screaming gets so bad you'll really begin to wish it would stop - and then suddenly it does. A while later it comes back into the mix, but it's distorted and accompanying a heavy riff. Maybe that's Thordendal's own way of handling foreshadowing, I really can't say. But it'll leave all but the most hardened fans of experimental music disturbed.

If I sound a little lost during this review, it's because thinking about music like this in some kind of organized and rational way is impossible. It is operating on a non-human level and it will leave you wondering if Thordendal is from the same planet we are. Amidst the random chaos and violence he has songs with much more peaceful sections also. He covers a spacey and subtle ambience with sparse bits of melody, and he even throws in some guitar solos. Most of which are quite good. I believe he's listed jazz/fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth as an influence, and that sounds about right. Thordendal's style of soloing here ranges from short, blippy staccato notes to a more fluid style of jazz playing. His ability to syncopate so many blips and notes is amazing, and distinguishes him from any other guitar player you'll ever hear. Complimenting the jazz influence on this work is some saxophone playing. The saxophone sounds distorted in some way, though I'm not sure how those sounds were created. In any case, it's more aural stimulation you haven't heard before, and it truly is otherworldly.

Still other tracks focus on various spoken parts and samples about alien abduction. At times they nearly border on parody, but in a clearly intentional sort of way. If you've ever seen the movie "Event Horizon," Sol Niger Within is really kind of like that. It can have the most gratuitous and disturbingly violent scenes you've ever seen in a movie, but it also mixes calmer moments with good performances and other sections that are bound to elicit nervous laughter. Once you start in on this ride, you'll take what normal and human sounds you can - and you may very well chuckle at some of the odd discussions on alien abductions.

If this at all sounds like something you're interested in, it's worth a look. I have no idea who to recommend this to. If you've ever dreamed about being launched into space and finding disturbing sights and sounds that will permanently alter your
mental well-being, then this is for you. You may also appreciate the music if you like Buckethead. Thordendal's style isn't similar to Buckethead's, but those are about the only two experimental guitarists I've ever heard. If you're crazy enough to like one, you just may appreciate the other. Meshuggah fans looking for more Meshuggah material are going to be disappointed, because that aspect of Thordendal's sound plays a minor role on the CD, popping up only occasionally to jar the listener out of the more ambient sections. But if you do like experimental music and otherworldly sounds, be sure to look this up. Also, this release isn't arbitrarily named "Version 3.33;" there actually are several versions of it out. This one has a couple of extra tracks and I believe is remixed for better sound. You should check which version you're getting before buying it, but I'm sure they're all fairly similar.

Track list:
1.) the beginning of the end of extraction (evolutional slow down)
2.) the executive furies of the robot lord of death
3.) descent to the netherworld
4.) ...och stjarnans namn var malort
5.) dante's wild inferno
6.) i, galactus
7.) skeletonization
8.) sickness and demoniacal dreaming
9.) UFOria
10.) zeta 1 - reticuli
11.) transmigration of souls
12.) in reality all is void
13.) krapp's last tape
14.) through fear we are unconscious
15.) death at both ends
16.) bouncing in a bottomless pit
17.) the sun door
18.) vitamin k experience (a homage to the scientist/john lilly)
19.) sensorium dei
20.) zeta 2 - reticuli
21.) de profundis
22.) existence out of joint
23.) on a crater's verge
24.) solarization
25.) the end of the beginning of contraction (involutional speed up/preparation for the big crunch)
26.) tathgata
27.) missing time
28.) ooo baby baby

Find Sol Niger Within information at the Official Meshuggah site:

Relapse Records:

Great Industrial Love Affairs
~reviewed by: Mike Ventarola

When this project was initially underway, Victoria Lloyd sent me some of the demo tracks and I knew immediately that this was going to be a classic among EBM/Industrial dance fans.  The enigmatic Daniel Meyer worked with members of Claire Voyant on some of the songs as well as a few other notable music figures in the underground, in order to tweak some of the best performances out of the combined group.

Although this is a slight change of pace of Meyer’s previous works, it nonetheless creates a new benchmark for the artist to demonstrate that it is possible to skirt with various genres while still remaining loyal to fans from other work and genres.

“Initiation” simply brings us into the fold of oddly placed sounds, layered under fulminating beats that progress in delightful segues. We are thrust into a futuristic chasm of machine and man, where one ends and the other meets becomes a contention that is simply up to the listener.

“Wanted” drives with intensive beats that beautifully accompany Lloyd’s vocals in a dreamy wanderlust fashion. Some may recall that a previous remix project of Claire Voyant’s work was met with raves across the globe. Here, Meyer brings out the dance diva from Lloyd’s vocals which will only prove to garner both artists even more fans.

“This Fire” actually has a few remixes online, so grab them while they are still available! This particular track was one of the first that Ms. Lloyd had me hear during the project construction that simply had me and the Hidden Sanctuary street team screaming, “It’s a HIT!” Despite the dance beats behind the electronica, the song still maintains a semblance of delirious and delicious darkness. Lloyd takes on a more seductive and dark siren intonation like black velvet cotton candy. At this point, one wonders if there is any style this young lady can’t tackle with her phenomenal vocal range.

“Night Vision” was not given any vocal credits, so at best, one can assume it is maestro Meyer himself.
The track opens with a bit of static and white noise with undulating bass beats that show no mercy for swaying hips. The darkness is evident in the low, evoked spoken and sung lyric delivery as well as the high treble background sound that adds just the right touches of the morose.  This is not only a great dance song, but a great accompaniment for the bedroom!

“Everything” opens with electro-pulsations that tick off metronomically like a futuristic count down to some isolated Armageddon.  Lloyd emerges from the cavernous walls of darkness to paint a tortured electro diva in the throes of some ghostly re-enactment. Meyer tosses in some excellent goth spookiness, demonstrating that one can utilize a synthesizer and still be very goth friendly while coddling the industrial/ebm sounds of today.

“Siren” vocally joins Vanessa Briggs and Daniel Meyer. The track is simply out of the halls of any VNV/Apoptygma Berserk construct , however the vocals here are more conclusively seductive. Briggs’ contribution is more as a backup vocalist which helps to shade the resonation of the track.

“In The Beginning” saunters like a soundtrack to a Twilight Zone type of nightmare. The lyrics are done sotto voce by Lloyd, which adds an extra level of eeriness to this Dylan Thomas piece. Despite the barren landscape which is musically painted, the beats and rhythms are still conducive to floor usage, in a similar vein to Xorcist’s Nomad CD.

“Falling Stars” seems to open like a ride through space. Pounding notes that sound like slamming bullets or meteors segue into a high intensity BPM that is aggro-industrial that simply crosses the genre categories.  Dennis from In Strict Confidence lent his vocals for this song and infused his own style of malevolence. Meyer tweaks the vocals in such a way to give Dennis a computer-gone-mad type of sound. The track is simply irresistible.

“Impulse” once again utilizes sounds like something from a soundtrack of realism coupled with a future apocalyptic world. The bubbling percussion accompanies the eerie background sounds in a unique marriage. Lloyd’s vocals caress the harsh wall of sound, imbibing and melding into a barrage of exotic layers, making it a balanced rendition between the dark and light.

“Return” takes a touch of Middle Eastern tones, layers it with a level of sinister atmosphere and militaristic drum beats. For those who thought they had heard every range from Lloyd, need to sit up and take notice. She transcends the medium by working around the Middle Eastern chanting like a Goddess for the whirling dervish. Meyer pulls out all the stops with this remarkable track, simply coasting along the realm of inspiration and midnight inspiration, making this unique and addictive at the same time. Dj’s who don’t have this song in continuous rotation are simply tone deaf.

“Turn To Stone” jumps right in with heavy pulsations. This is the type of track to use at the height of the dance club hour when heavy pounding beats are needed to keep the floor in an ecstatic sweat. The pre-requisite eerie tones are not left behind, but they are suffused into such an amalgamation of heavy grooves, that this track will appeal to goths and industrial fans equally.

“Information” begins with morose notes, simply making the listener wonder where the track is heading. Never fear, because the dance beats are not far behind, utilizing unique clangs, twangs and tinkles to keep the ears fully absorbed and awash with sound that makes you want to move.

“Might Have Been” creates a maelstrom of energy, again showcasing Lloyd’s vocals, combining the sweet as ice cream vocal tones with piercing white noise, deep tones, and heavy percussive beats.  It is simply impossible not to get lost in her singing style and Meyer’s pounding sounds.

“…Revelation” slows down the pace significantly, where Lloyd croons like a chanteuse from some misbegotten era of a nightmarish future, totally bleak and annihilated.  The mid-tempo grooves pick up the pace about a minute and a half through the track. This further demonstrates Lloyd’s vocal range and sheer remarkable ability to turn a phrase or word into an impassioned plea to rival the late Ofra Haza. Having been a long time fan of Claire Voyant, Ms. Lloyd should consider utilizing the Middle Eastern intonations in future recordings simply because she makes them shine in such a way to send chills down the back from their sheer brilliance.

One of the long standing debates in the underground scene has been the contention that Goth music hasn’t evolved or that EBM/Industrial/ Synthpop has taken over too much of the Goth fan’s attention.

HMB did the seemingly impossible. They combined the morose and forlorn emotional tides of gothic music, wrapped it up with frothy electro/industrial pulse beats and skewered it through many vocal intonations. Simply put, this CD is a brilliant piece of work that crossed the genre boundaries, signifying that Goth music and industrial music can in fact have a great marriage when enough forethought is given to its construction.

Daniel Meyer is to be lauded for the accomplishment of delivering a new body of work to his already well known classic works with Haujobb.  Meyer brought out best sounds from the various artists who contributed to this project and simply disproved that Goth music is a static entity, unable to develop or venture beyond its tonal old school qualities from the 1980’s.

Victoria Lloyd has had quite a following from her work with the Claire Voyant, and simply demonstrated that she is not a singular range vocalist. Her sounds can go from smooth as silk to seductively wicked in the span of a breath. Lloyd simply seduces, soothes, caresses and entices vocally, while Meyer is the musical whipping master, driving listeners into a frenzy. Along with other Claire Voyant band mates, Chris Ross and Benn Fargen, the additional evolvement of their abilities is simply brought to an innovative height to a whole new audience through the genius of Meyer.

Do seek out this recording if you like industrial dance music. Also if you are prone to Goth music with a bit more bounce to it, this should become a welcome mélange for your collection.

Track Listing
1. Initiation…
2. Wanted
3. This Fire
4. Night Vision
5. Everything
6. Siren
7. In The Beginning
8. Falling Stars
9. Impulse
10. Return
11. Turn To Stone
12. Information
13. Might Have Been
14. …revelation

Band Line-up:
Daniel Meyer: Synth & Programming
Victoria Lloyd: Vocals & lyrics on tracks 2,3, 5, 7*,9,10,13,14
Vanessa Briggs and Daniel Meyer: Vocals on track 6
Dennis from In Strict Confidence: Vocals on track 8
Chris Ross: Production and Synth on track 3
Benn Fargen: Guitar on track 1, 2
*Lyrics for track 7: Dylan Thomas, from “In The Beginning”

Sound Samples:

Sons of Northern Darkness
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

There are some bands that you either like or don't like - and these are generally bands that find a sound they're comfortable with and stick to it. Immortal has done just that. While fans of the band will note distinct differences across their releases, they all retain a core "Immortal" sound that you probably won't like now if you didn't ten years ago. Even so, the band has showed a steady all around improvement, and I'd say Sons of Northern Darkness is their best release to date.

The most obvious difference between this and every other CD they've made is the production. Immortal has finally got the production they deserve, most likely because they've finally signed to a big label (Nuclear Blast). Everything sounds full and clear, all of the instruments are audible, and Sons of Northern darkness just has a more complete sound than any Immortal record that came before it.

Musically, Sons of Northern Darkness continues where Damned in Black left off. If you've followed Immortal's career since At the Heart of Winter (the first album without Demonaz on board and playing light speed rhythm guitar), then you have an idea what to expect here. This new album combines the general thrashiness and strong, even sad, atmosphere of At the Heart of Winter, and mixes it with the more upfront punchiness and shorter songs on Damned in Black. The end result is a very powerful release with a distinctly Immortal feel. The thing that most amazes me about the band is their ability to consistently write quality material. Every song here is distinct and kicks ass, even though Immortal isn't going out of their way to try new things or do something drastically different from their last couple of albums.

The title track opens with some damned angry drumming. Horgh's blood pressure must be dangerously high to drum this way - he has gotten noticeably angrier with each new release. If more bands had a drum sound this complete, you'd hear people talking about metal drums more often. As it is, you can scarcely find an Immortal critique or even fan that mentions Horgh's always engaging performances. Has has come up with a different drum sound for every Immortal CD he's played on. Abbath's patented singing hasn't changed much, but the production makes it much easier to listen to this time around. His strange sounding narrative style is unusual for a black metal band, where you normally find people growling away with anger. Abbath's style of vocals is a bit more confident and less in your face.

The guitars here sound better than ever. The slower riffs on "Tyrants" create a sense of impending doom, while the offbeat thrash-influenced riffing of "Demonium" will pound you into submission. Abbath's guitar playing is much more thoughtful here than on past releases. For the first time it feels like every single riff has a clear place in each song. There are even occasional solos that are more reminscent of the death metal soloing style than black metal. Iscariah's bass performance is also great, as with his first appearance in the band on Damned in Black. This time around you can hear the bass even easier. It provides this low pounding rumble that makes Immortal sound even heavier than before. Again, something you're more likely to see in death metal than black.

Immortal's sound certainly isn't death metal, and it's hard to explain where they fit into black metal these days. They lost their outright speed when Demonaz suffered an arm injury (from playing guitar at unreasonably fast speeds, no doubt). Abbath can still play with the fastest black metal guitarists, but the speed is now just one element of the sound, and not something that carries otherwise simple composition. The amount of quality riffs per song alone should show Abbath's improvements as a song writer.

Everything about their playing is confident and pummeling, but without that death metal throb that gives me a headache - creating a sound that is simply "Immortal." The much improved production and top-notch songwriting make this one hell of a CD, a must have for Immortal fans.  There are probably others among you who could stand to add sonic battles from the frost-bitten north into your music collection, too. So if you like other recent Nuclear Blast or Century Media releases, give Immortal a listen.

Track list:
1.) One by One
2.) Sons of Northern Darkness
3.) Tyrants
4.) Demonium
5.) Within the Dark Mind
6.) In My Kingdom Cold
7.) Antarctica
8.) Beyond the North Waves

Immortal is:
Abbath - guitars and vocals
Horgh - drums
Iscariah - bass

Immortal Official Website:

Nuclear Blast Records:

No Defect EP
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
(photo credits: Reza by Gothpat and Alexys by Valerie Palmer)

If there was an award for the hardest working band in our corner of showbusiness, Inertia would be a shoo-in.  Formed in 1994, they made an immediate impact by playing heavy duty electronic music at a time when the dominant style in the world of industrial was the quasi-metallic Ministry/Cubanate maximum-guitar thing. They've released 4 albums (with a fifth on the way), formed their own record label, built their own studio, and collaborated with just about everyone who is anyone on the industrial/electro scene.

They've also toured like buggery all over Europe and throughout the USA - in itself a major achievement for a UK band. So many U