It has been a good century so far for metal. Plenty of creative and worthwhile releases have come out already, and for once I'm seriously questioning what our old friend mediocrity is up to. Perhaps on vacation, gearing up for a 5-6 year run upon its return? It's difficult to say with certainty, but I'm going to enjoy all the quality metal for as long as it keeps coming out. And even with the current level of odd metal bands permeating the scene, before hearing Alchemist I didn't know metal could sound like this.
Alchemist at its most basic level is clearly metal. The vocalist mainly shouts at a mid-tempo pace, and between the slower shouting and spoken sections you can even make out what he has to say. Occasionally he'll launch into some anguished screams. Talk about human torment - yeesh, this guy could inspire Hannibal Lecter to feel mercy. And thankfully, the screams are used as tastefully as possible for something so non-musical and generally horrible to listen to. The fact that they're used so sparingly makes their effect even stronger, and they are bound to keep the listener awake.
While the vocals provide the "extreme" aspect to Alchemist's metal sound, the guitars and bass tend to do whatever seems right at a particular moment. There are fast and heavy riffs, but also many rock-oriented riffs with a groove or a real sense of power. The variation in the rhythm guitar work ensures the songs won't blend together, and the lead guitar is no different in that regard. Every solo is interesting in its own way and very rarely does it sound "metal." The drums are another aspect to the sound that can be heavy and fast where necessary - but they're also there to add some very interesting rhythms to weirder songs. The production renders the drumming a bit sterile, unfortuantely, though repeated listens reveal the attention to detail and obvious passion that they are played with. The exotic rhythms on "Eclectic" are an example of the thoroughly non-metal sound the drums achieve.
The keyboards are the most seemingly out of place element in Alchemist's sound. I've never heard metal along these lines use keyboards to an extent like this. Synthesized sounds drift into the soundscape periodically only to fade out soon after. I often have to listen specifically for the keyboards to hear them because otherwise they are almost too subtle to pick up on. However, subtle or not, they do contribute to the overall organic and multi-layered sound Alchemist creates. Often, if I'm unable to pinpoint what makes a particular track seem so expressive or engaging, I just have to feel around a bit to locate the synths.
Alchemist proves that it is possible to build on a metal sound and contribute unexpected elements to it. Instead of growing more accustomed to the sounds on "Organasm" with each successive listen, I get a little more weirded out because I uncover new layers of non-metal sounds. The CD is balanced exceptionally well also. After kicking things off with a respectably heavy first track, Alchemist plays through their "Evolution Trilogy." These songs are lyrically based on the processes of (you guessed it!) evolution, and the writing is above average for metal. The depth of these tracks contrasts well with the ending three tracks, which are a lot nicer to listen to (and even - dare I say - occasionally melodic and non-anguished).
Obviously not all metal fans are going to be into this kind of sound. But there's enough "metal" here to get the attention of anyone who likes other bands on Relapse Records, and there's enough creativity to appeal to fans of Arcturus, Solefald, Source of Tide, or any other bands that aren't afraid to experiment. If this is your kind of music, make it a point to give Alchemist a listen.
1.) Austral Spectrum
2.) The Bio Approach (Part 1)
3.) Rampant Macro Life (Part 2)
4.) Warring Tribes - Eventual Demise (Part 3)
7.) New Beginning
8.) Tide In, Mind Out
10.) Escape from the Black Hole
Rodney Holder - Drums
Adam Agius - Vocals, guitar, keyboard
Roy Torkington - Guitar
John Bray - Bass, keyboard
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
My first introduction to Apocalyptica came via their debut album, which was made up entirely of Metallica covers. Headbanging to Metallica makes sense - but never in my life did I think I'd end up moshing in my room to four acoustic cellos interpreting 80's thrash metal classics. Sadly, the CD did get old rather quick, as I'd already heard the original songs hundreds of times. This was through no fault of the band, and no one can claim they were in any way misleading. After all, the CD was titled Plays Metallica By Four Cellos. Apocalyptica's second album was an improvement, but still not engaging enough to hold my attention for long. Since they do have such a unique sound I thought I'd put aside my misgivings about their earlier work and pick up Cult. Apocalyptica does not disappoint this time around.
Cult opens with a heavy song that appears to be built for radio play. It features vocalist Sandra Nasic of the Guano Apes, and there is even a music video for this track stored on the CD-ROM. An undeniable catchiness underlies the tune, both in the music itself and in the video. The video has headbanging celloists and a kind of dancing/twitching Sandra Nasic - really, it doesn't get much more entertaining than that. "Path Vol. 2" is the only song with any vocals, so if you aren't into the Guano Apes, it's easy enough to hit your skip button.
The rest of the CD has a hearty mix of both upbeat and metal-ish heavy songs with slower and more classicaly oriented arrangements. The varied use of percussion keeps the constant sound of 4 cellos from getting old, which was a problem on earlier releases. As you can imagine, when you listen to four people playing the same instrument for an hour, things can start sounding the same. The thoughtful and original compositions on Cult cleverly evade any such trappings.
"Pray!" is even epic in nature. It shows what a difference percussion can make in adding variety to a song. If you haven't actually heard Apocalyptica, it's important to note that the four cellos aren't playing the same things. There is usually one cello playing some sort of metal sounding "riff," another playing lead, and then two that add in anything ranging from a sort of bass-y percussive rhythm and some interesting sounds that may have been touched up some in the studio. This mix of sounds and the skill Apocalyptica plays with should invite interest from anyone who values high class musicanmanship.
After the first 10 tracks there are some bonus songs. "Hall of the Mountain King" is a memorable classical theme that pops up all over the world of music and movies. Apocalyptica makes a raging and almost inhumanly fast rendition of it that is maddeningly chaotic at times. When four virtuoso celloists decide to go all out you can guess the result is going to be loud and scary. That it is, folks. Amazingly enough, the Metallica cover "Fight Fire With Fire" provides an even faster rhythm section. You can bet it's a heck of a lot easier to play that kind of riff on an electric guitar, so Apocalyptica deserves credit for moving that rapidly on unwieldy cellos.
My main issues with Apocalyptica in the past have been the abundance of cover songs on their albums. For whatever reason, this is the first time they've shown us they are quite capable of writing their own material. The passion, virtuosity, and expressiveness the band plays with is enough to make their compositions something special. But the relatively catchy songwriting and variation among tracks in terms of tempo and feeling have made this enjoyable across many listens. Metal fans of any sort are encouraged to check this out, along with anyone else who enjoys the musical side of metal and can do without the vocals.
1.) Path Vol. 2 (feat. Sandra Nasic)
5.) In Memoriam
7.) Beyond Time
11.) Hall of the Mountain King
12.) Until it Sleeps
13.) Fight Fire With Fire
Eicca Toppinen - Cello, double bass, percussion
Paavo Lotjonen - Cello
Perttu Kivilaakso - Cello
Max Lilja - Cello
Hiili Hiilsmaa - Percussion
Schatten aus der Alexander Welt
~reviewed by Matthew
Germany's Bethlehem is infamously known for their anguished, haunting, and suicidal "dark metal" music. What is it about Germany, man? They are all so pissed! After four outstanding releases of purely creepy, angst-ridden, and monstrously gloomy releases, the band unleashes their fifth and most mature release to date, in the way of the double album Schatten aus der Alexander Welt.
In their early years, you would be hard pressed to find a metal band as dark, as eerie, or haunting - their shrill guitars are embellished by a frigid reverb, the vocals ranging from vamypric grumblings to guttural death growls to frenzied shrieking - all of course twice the more exotic and pissed off sounding having poured from the mouths of a few mentally off-balance though brilliant German musicians. Throughout the course of their discography, the band has developed a sound entirely their own, with nods not only to Black, Death or Doom metal but atmospheric Gothic Rock and frenzied Punk as well.
With this latest release, the band merges their varied influences together in a way that is astounding. For the most part, Schatten aus der Alexander Welt is a very starkly beautiful album, with a stronger sense of melody and much less aggression and angst-ridden tangents. Instead, the band's reverberated guitars opt for fluid, murky arpeggios and sad twin guitar harmonies. Rhythmically, these guys are almost crossing over into the Darkwave category, as a drum machine provides most of the drumming on the album. And it is actually pretty danceable! There are parts on this album that remind me of Wolfsheim, as a result of the swayable dance rhythms and the clean German vocals. There is very little screaming or growling on this album at all; instead the vocals opt for a very melodic, smooth, and clear style, giving the world it's first "accessible" Bethlehem release. Still the music is unquestionably dark, gloomy, and troubled, but delivered in a way that highlights the band's superb sense of melody, harmony, and eloquent atmosphere.
Between the songs, bizarre samples and dialogue weave their way into the mix, all of them are very short, no more than 30 or so seconds. The track listing is rather confusing, as there are 66 tracks, but only 9 of them are listed. The weird experimental bits obviously have no title, and the final song is hidden. There is also an entire 2nd CD, which is mostly experimental noise and strange electronic music. Since I got the promotional version from Red Stream, it is a basically a track listing mess and I have no idea what track is what. But they are all good! Ranging from Rammstein like Industrial/Metal explosions to somber, melancholic grace to trip hoppish danceability, the album is all over the place. Sometimes showcasing all of these aforementioned styles in one smoothly flowing track!
There is really something for everyone here - from fans of Das Ich to fansof Type O Negative to fans of darker synth pop. It is somewhat difficult to recommend this album, as there are so many different aspects to it. But honestly, it is a much more Gothic album than a Metal one - the metallic climaxes are limited and rare, with a much more obvious emphasis on melodyand atmosphere. While Bethlehem have definitely taken a bit of a departure from previous material, the sound is still easily identifiable as Bethlehem - those same shadowy guitars and bass lines that worked their way between the band's harsher moments of the past make up the entirety of this CD.
In many ways, it is sad if not a bit frustrating that the people that would probably enjoy this most will mistake Bethlehem as a Black Metal band as a result of their reputation. But I was as shocked as you will be. I was expecting something much heavier, scarier, and intense - instead I was surprised with a dreary, romantic Darkwave masterpiece. I totally love this album - both from the perspective of a fan of the band's early and more foreboding work, and as a Gothic DJ and fan of dark melodic dance music. This is a fantastic album well worth looking into, and if you have yet to hear the band's early work and yearn to be frightened beyond all belief, you can't go wrong with their debut Dark Metal or Dictius Te Necare and S.U.I.Z.I.D.
2.) Somnabulismus In Maschinezimmer 30
3.) Mein Kuss erstickt im Imperativ
4.) Mary Samaels NFB 418
5.) Dunkle, kalte Materie
6.) Das 4. Tier a¦Â den Mutterwitz
7.) Roast, Wahn & tote Gleise
8.) Tod einer Dieselkatze
9.) Aus dunkler Ritze fruchtig¡¯ Wahn
TWO features 11 tracks of experimental/electronic ambient music
performed by various members of the band.
2.) Bis Bald
3.) Rote Lampe
9.) (H & G) Saltatrix
Guido Meyer de Volatire ¨C vocals
Olaf Eckerdt ¨C guitars
J¨¹rgen Bartz ¨C bass
Steve Wolz ¨C drums
Reiner Tiedemann ¨C keyboards
Marcus Johannsen ¨C electronics
- Official Site:
¨C Unofficial Fan Site: (MORE INFO)
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
As of late, there has been a lot of internet board noise that there simply isn’t any good goth bands around. This is quite laughable simply because if one really wanted to find this work, all that is required is a few web searches for magazines which post any number of music reviews on a monthly basis.
That being said, Butterfly Messiah unleashed Priestess to the world during March 2002, which also coincided with their appearance at GothCon in New Orleans. Before we even get to the music, one has to comment on the glorious artwork created for this CD, which is worth the purchase price alone.
The stunning and award winning photography by Janet Fox-Garson is housed in a full booklet with lyrics and graphics, designed by the highly skillful and talented label owner, Michael Riddick [of The Soil Bleeds Black fame]. Fox-Garson’s work is also featured on the cover of this luscious and solemn feast of dark beauty. It is important to give “kudos” for the packaging because it clearly demarcates that this pressing is a labor of love as are all Fossil Dungeon releases. These are far more than just recorded works slapped together, they are entities of art given life via the medium of sound.
Shannon Garson and Robert Nightshade began Butterfly Messiah in 1998, hailing from an unlikely goth region of Tampa, Florida. Over time, they have added the additional members of Josh Harrington and Steve Francois to their lineup in order to round out their sound to be inclusive of the Ethereal, Darkwave, Synthpop, Industrial Dance / EBM genres, particularly in a live setting. Their inspiration comes from a wellspring derived by nature in all its divine aspects, making their work a favorite among Wiccans as well.
As a whole entity, Butterfly Messiah does not seek out crass sounds to hit you over the head, but instead gently guides you with haunting siren like vocals which wrap around darkwave ambience. Even with their more progressive beat driven tracks, an element of powerful mysticism, passion and poetry is interspersed with male chants under Garson’s faery like crooning. Lyrically, each track flows like an other worldly sonnet set afloat on the timeless chasm between slumber and wakefulness.
"Land Beneath The Waves" opens with what can best be described as a walk through the dark woods. The percolation picks up, creating a rather good cut for the many clubs across the globe. If you heard this track on Mp3, please understand that though that format is convenient, it seldom does justice to a recorded work. Nightshade vocally delivers this track in a style reminiscent of some of today’s industrial bands, while Garson adds the gentle ethereal sweetness and hidden whispers.
"The Wicked" cascades with a moodiness that could best be described as the unfolding of a poison flower. There is a gentle wave of percussion underneath, however it doesn’t overpower Garson’s haunted and profound delivery. Nightshade adds a touch of malevolence with his whispered and spoken recitation of the lyrics.
"Introspection" crosses into an EBM/synthpop style with the macabre essence perfectly intact, making this yet another track for clubs to consider for rotation. Nightshade provides the main vocals with Garson weaving once again with her operatic cadences that seem to stretch beyond otherworldly parameters.
"Serpentine" drifts into EBM/Industrial elements, while again keeping the prerequisite morbid tones layered underneath. Garson takes on a more tauntingly wicked tone as she almost demands personal introspection as outlined within the lyrical content. Her harsher delivery is quite the antithesis of the sweet chorals most have come to know. This was a splendid delivery of working both aspects of her vocals into this track with self harmony.
"Visitor" is a midtempo tune of love and ponderance which questions who is really in control of the fate of one’s affection. Garson delivers this track like a love struck ingénue right from a Charlotte Bronte novel, while Nightshade delivers the dark smoldering embodiment of the tormented male lover caught between passionate vice and sadistic control. Gothic romance novels or films never delivered this much steam even in the best of times! The added thunderstorms that are interspersed as sound effect only enhance this sentiment even more.
"Ring The Bells" delves into the realm of traditional gothic rock fused with New Wave touches. Nightshade gives the swaggering vocals of the disaffected punk rock poet while Garson adds her own sense of disembodied ennui . This is made even more profound with Garson’s weaving of her ethereal style throughout the verses.
"Eternal Undone" can best be described as a foray into shadowy electronics. The ominous tones smolder, giving Nightshade yet another chance to delve into a murky character. The chanting of Garson and Nightshade add even more chilling intonations. In an odd way, this comes across as a track from a horror film where the real and the malevolently surreal collide. Odder still, is that the midtempo beat of this track would also make this a club favorite.
"When Autumn To Winter Resigns" is an acappella rendition not unlike Pagan chants and rounds that are prominent in covens around the globe. This is actually one of my favorite tracks to play around the winter holiday’s because it’s quiet introspection and timeless harmony simply set the tone for the shortened daylight hours during the slumber of the verdant landscapes around us.
"Reverie" flows like musical water. It starts as a lovely ambient track and homage to the Goddess element. Just as you get wrapped up in the dreamy atmosphere, the pace is picked up to have a more dance feel to it, though the washing elements are maintained in the background.
Butterfly Messiah; the imagery alone is rather profound. A caterpillar undergoes a period of enmeshment and darkness within the confines of a cocoon. After a point of time, in unfurls itself from the encasement to emerge as a butterfly, heralding the oncoming Spring and growth to come. This is not unlike what the band has created here. We were brought down many avenues of introspection and emotional archetypes as a means of peering into ourselves, questioning what we are and what we choose to become. It is no accident then that the CD tray is also of a reflective silver. Could it be that the intention was to really envelope the listener to strive for greater self awareness, brought to fruition upon seeing one’s face reflected in the case as the CD is slipped back into its holding shell?
The work presented certainly cannot be pigeonholed to any one genre because the band was flawlessly all over the underground musical map. Having heard some of the band’s work previously, this full release has done them much justice by bringing out all the nuances and creativity in every subtle note, refrain and intonation. Some of the songs were previously featured on Mp3 and quite frankly they take on a whole new life with the proper recording and tweaking that is too limited in the MP3 medium.
The CD itself can be utilized in a club setting, but is not so overpowering that it would not add to a quiet reverie as well. Unpredictably, the band shot for the middle of the bell curve by offering a little of everything for everyone without having to distance themselves from the lyrical poetry set to sound. Since this is a limited pressing, folks interested in this work should seek it before it is sold out.
Shannon Garson ~ vocals, keyboards
Robert Nightshade ~ vocals, percussion & programming
Josh Harrington ~ keyboards
1. Land Beneath The Waves
2. The Wicked
6. Ring The Bells
7. Eternal Undone
8. When Autumn To Winter Resigns
The Fossil Dungeon (www.erols.com/tsbb/fdungeon)
Distributed in USA by Middle Pillar (www.middlepillar.com)
Distributed in Europe by Dark Vinyl
Spiderwebs (demo) 98/99
Synthesis EP (MP3, demo) 2000- no longer available
Unquiet Grave III - 2001(Cleopatra Records compilation)
Priestess (Fossil Dungeon) 2002
Butterfly Messiah will be appearing on another Cleopatra Records compilation focusing on Tampa goth bands entitled "Black Sunshine" to be out sometime this Summer.
Sound Samples: www.mp3.com/butterflymessiah
If You Dance
~reviewed by Kevin Filan
Once upon a time there was Arena Rock. And it did fill many venues and sell many albums, until it became a sad and bloated parody of itself. And the people looked upon pretentious 15-minute guitar solos and hair mousse and they did not find them good. And so New Wave -- faster, leaner and above all danceable -- arose, and it did banish Arena Rock once and for all to the barren lands of Lite FM.
Today, there is Synthpop. And it has filled many venues and sold many CDs, but it too has become sad and bloated. And some have looked upon the whooshing synthesizers and the hands permanently stapled to foreheads, and they do not find them good. Which brings us to The Brides, and their debut EP, If You Dance.
From the first verse of the eponymous opening track, the Brides show their roots. Today everyone wants to sound like A Flock of Seagulls or Men Without Hats. D.W Friend's strong, steady 4/4 timekeeping, Gregjaw's slap-and-tickle bass lines, Julia Ghoulia's rollicking organ and Corey Gorey's spiky guitar chords and nasal sung/sneered vocals all come straight from the Elvis Costello/Rockpile school of pub rock. Songs like "My, My, My!" and "Drunk Dreams" wouldn't be out of place on Costello's Armed Forces or Graham Parker's Squeezing Out Sparks. (Looking even further back, the farfisa riffs in "Scalpels and Screws" or "They Can't Keep Their Damn Clothes On" evoke Question Mark & the Mysterians, the Kingsmen, and other great mid-60s pop bands).
The Brides come with absolutely no redeeming social values whatsoever. There's no urge to change the world, no outrage at <insert injustice of the week>. Instead, there's fun, fun and more fun: this CD has more hooks than your average bait and tackle shop. Yr. Average Goth Band might write reams of poetry dedicated to Ye Easeful Death. Corey Gorey and friends see Death as a place where "They expect you to stay down -- underground/waiting for the funeral party to come around" and Hell as a place where they only sell menthol cigarettes. I'm perfectly fine with this. I live in New York, where waiters all think they are really actors: I can live without another band whose lead singer thinks he's really Andrew Eldritch channeling Edgar Allen Poe.
Deathrock is best heard live; the driving energy and theatrics are difficult to catch in the studio. The production on If You Dance is crisp and clean, with nary a sour note or missed beat to be found. At times it's almost too clean. The recording shows long hours in the rehearsal studio, but at times it loses some of the excitement of a live Brides performance. Perhaps producer Jacques Cohen would consider lending his considerable talents to a live Brides CD: if he could bottle the intensity of a Brides performance, he might very well be able to market it as a substitute for Prozac... maybe even Viagra, depending on how much you like Deathrock.
If You Dance
2. Invitation Only
3. My, My, My!
4. Scalpels and Screws
5. Quit Your Smoking in Heaven
6. Black Florid Death
7. Drunk Dreams
8. They Can't Keep Their Damn Clothes On
On this recording The Brides were: Corey Gorey and D.W. Friend
full line* up now includes:
Corey Gorey: Guitar, Vocals
Julia Ghoulia: Keyboards
D.W. Friend: Drums
(*You can mention that it's just us on the actual recording but only if you insist that WE insist that the band is much better now that Gregjaw and Julia are in the band and that the upcoming "Baby Girls Are Much More Tender" single contains some tracks with everyone performing.~ CG)
by Jacques Cohen, Corey Gorey and D.W. Friend
All songs by Corey Gorey and D.W. Friend
The Tears Of Things
~reviewed by Matthew
Sometimes, all this Gothic and Metal stuff just gets to be too much. About two years ago, I started investigating Classical music. I started bugging all of my cultured friends and some of my college professors: “Recommend some depressive or creepy classical music to me!” I discovered Liszt, Berlioz, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, all those wonderful dead fellows and recent living composers such as Penderecki and Gorecki. Sometimes, Classical hits the spot more than anything released in the past two hundred years.
With that said, I am excited to review this disc from Benjamin Stauffer, a living-dead composer so to speak. The Tears Of Things, Stauffer’s sophomore effort, is a brooding and sullen masterpiece, culling the darkest of piano techniques and weaving them together to create one of the most chilling and somber listening experiences you might have other than going straight to the sources of Liszt or Chopin themselves. Sporadically seasoned with subtle orchestral synths, mournful oboes, Baroque harpsichords, and lugubrious church bells to flesh out an already ghostly atmosphere centered upon immaculate piano work. Drenched in fluid reverb, the tones range from profound sadness to eerie gloom to an optimistic, hopeful melancholy. Sometimes languid, other times sweeping across the keys with a finèsse and tender delicacy, so that a wide range of talent is illustrated.
The music is evocative, conjuring dusky twilight scenes, misty moors, snow dusted forests, monuments collapsed into decay, and other staples of gloom and doom. This is sincere and mature and most likely unintentionally Gothic, but Gothic it is, in its purest sense and form. No vocals are present to distract from the power of the music, no lyrics to tell you what to feel but rather the music leaves it up to you, inspiring your own imagination to fill in the conceptual gaps. The composer inevitably has his own ideas behind the meanings of the songs, and what particular experiences or thoughts they accompany, but even still the meaning is still wide open for your own personal interpretation which helps the CD feel more personal to the listener.
I won’t say this is relaxing or ambient, because it is not boring enough to be considered so. The sense of emotion beckons as well as screams to the listener, riveting their attention throughout the entire duration of the disc. And does an utterly fantastic job. I don’t know whether it was just that this disc stands out so much from the rest of what I review, and is perhaps more allied with what I WANT to hear, but it is simply fabulous and I highly recommend it to collectors of film scores and those of you with Classical music tendencies. Simply put – if you want dark, beautiful music, seek no further than here. The album is available through Somnimage Records as well as through Amazon.com.
6.) Still Waiting
7.) Looking Within
8.) 3000 Miles Away
9.) Cold Late April
10.) I’ll Be Fine Without You
12.) The Last Waltz
Stauffer – Mp3 Site:
Why Call It Anything?
~reviewed by Matthew
At the onset of the Victorian era, Thomas Carlyle remarked to his contemporaries: “Close thy Byron, and open thy Goethe.” Perhaps today we should say – “eject thy Bauhaus and crank up thy Chameleons.”
Many of you, myself included, may have first been introduced to this band via Cleopatra compilations. The live version of the band’s first 1981 single “In Shreds” appeared on the Goth Box if I am not mistaken. There is another bunch of us that first heard of the band as a result of Faith & The Muse’s cover of “Soul In Isolation.” After William Faith would playfully condescend his audience before playing the song: “If you don’t know who this is, then you need to learn.” Thus, those of us that weren’t already cool and in the know followed and frustratingly inquired, “Where the hell can we find this stuff?”
Well, used bins, Ebay, imports - the usual. The band formed in 1980-ish, and after only three monumental albums, the band folded. Why do all our older siblings and cousins get all the good bands? But alas, the Chameleons rose up again last year and recorded their first album in fifteen years, the aptly titled Why Call It Anything? The album was released in the UK last year, but us sorry sods in the US are just getting it now. From Cleopatra- yep, the first REAL non-tribute or compilation release, in what, four years? (I jest). Nonetheless, here is a new Chameleons album – a release that will remind how the best Goth is not really Goth.
“Shades” kicks the album off in high form – dense layers of fuzz and echo guitars, energetic and tribal drum cascades, driving bass lines, and smooth English vocals. The ‘punk’ is not as enforced as the ‘post’ in this phase of the band’s career. Though the album is not quite as edgy as their earlier material, it still provides a wealth of dynamic masterpieces. The emotional tones on this album are more diversified, varying from the driving punch of “Shades” to the moving “Music In The Womb;” to the indie groove of “Anyone Alive?” (With it’s ironic political satire - “Bush is back/It’s a matter of fact”) to the manic, ominous waltz “Truth Isn’t Truth Anymore.” Even a bit of a freeform Reggae ‘rap’ appears in the song “Miracles And Wonders” and yields an effect unlike any other. Rasta-gaze? You try to define it. Whatever the case, the unique atmosphere of the song works and works well.
The great thing about the Chameleons is that they indeed are a manic band – they can go from the profoundly sensitive beauty of “Music In The Womb”(“She played me music in the womb/so I could learn to talk in tune”) to the mischievous “Indiana” (“MTV don’t rationalize”). In the process, they still maintain a uniformity of style and approach that every song is likeable to the listener despite how different they may be. The organic and technical drumming, the expressive vocals of Mark Burgess, and the virtual choir of guitar styles gives the album a vast variety of colour but drenches the entire CD in a gorgeous aura of dark alternative magnificence. They succeed in being playful and have a good time, and still remain remarkably sincere. Bands still don’t sound this good, and it is awesome that The Chameleons are back after all these years. Please give them a warm welcome, and check this CD out.
2.) Anyone Alive?
5.) Truth Isn’t Truth Anymore
6.) All Around
7.) Dangerous Land
8.) Music In The Womb
9.) Miracles And Wonders
10.) Are You Still There?
Mark Burgess – bass, vocals
Dave Fielding – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
John Lever – drums, backing vocals
Reg Smithies – guitar, backing vocals
Chameleons – Official Website:
After Everything Now This
~reviewed by Matthew
Would it be presumptuous of me to assume that everyone that has ever heard the song “Under The Milky Way” has adored it? Perhaps, but most of us gloomy Anglophiles have a special place in our heart for that classic song. The Church was a seminal college alternative band in the 1980’s, and their impact on the Gothic scene is perhaps not as well acknowledged, but just as important as the Bunnymen, the Smiths, or the Banshees. It is easy to recognize The Church’s influence on contemporary bands such as Gossamer, Low Sunday, or even Audra.
Yet admittedly, of the 15 albums the band has under their belt, Starfish is the only album I ever heard. <ducks> There is just so much music out there, that in my personal case, I was always somewhat leery of investigating the rest of The Church’s discography, in the cowardly fear that they were one of those “one album wonders,” I put off looking into their other releases. Seemingly wise friends always advised: Starfish is the best album - it has “Milkyway,” “Destination” and “Reptile” on it.
Thus, I unfortunately stopped there.
I was totally unaware that The Church were even still together, let alone that they have had at least three new releases in the past five years. I was foolishly ignorant until another wiser friend said “you have to get the new Church CD – it’s their best in years, if not their best ever!” At first I doubted him, but after finally scoring a copy of the CD myself, he just may be right.
After Everything Now This definitely is just as good, if not better than Starfish. Perhaps our reverence for the material from Starfish is a result of nostalgia and familiarity. However, in ten years, fans of mature melancholic alternative rock will look back on this album just as fondly. It is absolutely fantastic, and amazing that The Church still manages to sound relevant and poignant as they did over a decade ago without too drastically altering their sound. In many ways, the dark music scene NEEDS a band like this to remind us what good alternative music can be. There could be no better time than now for The Church (or The Chameleons, The Damned, The Mission, All About Eve, etc) to return with new quality material. It is definitely an achievement for the band and an unexpected treat for the current generation of fans to once again experience the excitement surrounding a release from The Church. And though there are a lot of eighties bands reuniting, embarking on reunion tours, etc, The Church never really went away. Hearing how good they sound now makes me wonder how awesome the ‘lost’ years in between have been.
“Numbers,” the album’s opening track is a fantastic work of brooding majesty – the fluid guitar jangles, soft overdriven leads, and acoustic strums of old fuse with live swayable drums and small seasonings of dark rhythmic electronics and ambient piano. Steve’s familiar vocals drift smokily above it all, for a track that is perfect for club play, if not too good for club play! The Church are so much more and cooler than just another Goth band. But for fans of vintage ‘alternagoth’ you are going to flip your lid when you hear how good this CD is. The album’s title track is a peaceful emotive ballad, animated with a strong and resonant chorus, but overall a more relaxing song. Much like “The Awful Ache,” another mellower track complete with gray washes of reverberated guitar leads and subtle viola passages that snake in and out of an almost psychedelic climax of the song.
Darkwave drum programs and hypnotic electronics underlie “Song For The Asking,” and like a good percentage of the album, these modern elements work in perfect harmony with the classic style the band is known for. The irresistibly catchy “Chromium” is another standout track, easily single worthy and a bit more accessible than “Numbers” might be regarded.
There are usually always filler tracks on an album, and though there is an obvious formula at the heart of the tracks on this album, every song has it’s own unique value, each with it’s own memorable harmonies and evocative melodies. The first half of the album houses the most exciting tracks that stand on their own, while the latter half of the album is marked by a coherent, mesmerizing flow.
After Everything Now This – after years of quiet mastery, another album appears and hopefully will reacquaint old fans with their estranged heroes, and not to mention the possibility of earning The Church scores of new fans. Those of you who have known and loved the Church for years, do not, under any circumstances, pass this release up. You will not be disappointed. Will we hear songs from this album on the radio? Will we see their videos on MTV or VH1? Probably not, being that this music is so sincere. But alas, we can always pray for a renaissance of substance. In the meantime, keep an eye out for these guys – they plan to go on tour! May all of us born too late realize how lucky we are.
2.) After Everything
3.) The Awful Ache
4.) Song For The Asking
8.) Night Friends
9.) Seen It Coming
Steven Kilbey – vocals, bass
Marty Wilson-Piper - guitars
Peter Koppes - guitars
Tim Powles - drums
Church – Official Site:
The Astonished Eyes of Evening
~reviewed by Blu
"What do we have along the lines of GHASTLY?"
Their second CD - The Astonished Eyes of Evening is the most beautifully morbid piece of work I've heard to date - from anyone. .. with lyrics somewhere between the worlds of Poe, Tim Burton and Edward Gorey. It is amazingly ironic to me that this gothiest of all CDs is hardly being picked up by the ::cough::: goth community in the U.S. and that it is the deathrock community that holds this band most closely to heart. This - I would think - would have goths shedding tears of joy having something this playfully dark in their hands once again. Europe - especially Germany - has been keen to the talents of Cinema Strange since their first self release. Perhaps the U.S. will catch on... Meanwhile I will hoarde this CD and pine away at all its decaying intricate beauties all the while keeping a watchful eye on U.S. playlists to see when and if this country Gets A Clue.
Released by the German Label Trisol, this CD is packaged smartly in a digipack, the cover and spine with sparkling silver lettering and the insides which open up like a Brother's Grimm fairy tale with index page announcing: "The Astonished Eyes of Evening by Cinema Strange." Thankfully there are lyrics inside - a delight to all the senses when read along with the music (to more fully appreciate their twisted wit and satire) - and a very amusing list of players that will no doubt clue you in on the complex personalities that have created this masterpiece:
he is sneaky
... but he always gets caught
is king of the circus
...but it is a very small circus
...but haddock doesn't like him
(I gave up long ago trying to keep track of their names and all their aliases.) There are some equally amusing photographs included within and the background of it all is covered in cryptic handwritten scrawl.
"Truncheon-bruised and exaggerated piece-parts... moldy, motley, creeching family..."
There's several different ways to approach this CD - it is in total more akin to a piece of art work - everything from the packaging to amusing side notes which accompany the track listings and read like a screenplay. The lyrics are nothing short of sheer literary genius. A morbid set of stories unfolds...
The note for track one "Reveil En Sursaut D'Un Rêve" says, "...in which a piano is manipulated strangely." Strangely indeed. An old phonograph starts, its ghostly scritching and scratching a background to a purposeful 3/4 piano melody which slithers its way into your ears... my mind conjures scenes of Ms Havisham's wrecked and decaying mansion, elegance rotted... and just when you're comfortable with it, the record slips and the needle slides across - a jarring skriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch and you're snapped back from your trance only to hear ghostly vocals trailing off into the distance. In all truthfulness, the first time I heard this it scared me. And that is a very good thing. Not only is the sound of a needle ripping across vinyl a horrendous sound, but to have it all stop and then to hear this ghostly voice... well, it was something I wasn't quite prepared to hear... (and that should give you a good idea of what's ahead of us!). The ghostly voice is actually the start of track 2 - "Ere The Flowers Unfold" "... in which an unfortunate fellow falls prey to his own social fascinations..." It's a minimalist track - light hand percussion, a strumming of strings, and a melodic bass line. The vocals are playful yet dark - as they are in most of this CD. Lucas sings quite lightly, "Please come near me, will you hold me? I am leaking so very badly... Will you stop up my holes?" and it's this innocent vision of gore that reminds me so very much of Edward Gorey's stories. I am simply in love with these lyrics and the structure of this song. After 4 verses is ends with one last dramatic stanza.
Track 3's note, "Dead Eye Open or How the Woman In the Attic Fled, Never to Return," says,"... in which a mother (deceased) and a son (not deceased) are united at long last..." How could you not be morbidly intrigued? Don't you want to know how the story plays out? All you have to do is press play and into another story you go - this one divided in three parts. Pointed bass lines pick up speed as the parts build up to a sing songy melody. The vocals are at times tortured and you find yourself sympathizing with the deceased who seems to have been waiting an awfully long time.
Not flying, not walking, porous like curtains I hang on the dampness of the spring!"Hello, my dear! Were you aware that your mouth stretches ear to ear?"
I've heard my own scrapings for so many years; I know that something is coming...
Not demon, not quickly, gradual breaking glass... my knees will go out from under
me! I've borne my own weight for so many years; I know that the ground is dissolving.
Not under, not behind, not slow and torpid... I'm far away attic-frost free and untangled!
"Catacomb Kittens" has become a favorite for DJ's who are spinning this new CD for its deathrock musical traits. The story though, is no less morbid then the others. It is one "...in which two children run away, are drowned in the sewers, and then become ghosts..." To read this story as it's sung will surely impress upon the reader the unique ability that Cinema Strange has to create a magical world framed in innocence and dangerous outcomes. Not only is the lyric writing beyond impressive on this song (it's probably my favorite "story" in this collection) but the dramatic shifts in the music itself is noteworthy. It starts out rather dreamy - lots of echoing guitars and sparkling bass lines... innocence perhaps? And then it changes tone - a bit more sinister as the pace picks up and lunges into a steady deathrock groove, and suddenly you find the music matches the urgency in the children's desire to escape their current surroundings:
Away after sunset, they tumbled through the darkened city, searching for cold gratesAnd as the fateful end comes to claim them the vocals and music get more urgent - a terrible fight to survive and then suddenly...it winds down, the tension is resolved, and a rather sad tone takes over as this is sung...
with bars agape like twisted teeth and jawbones pulled wide and cracking. Wet and
talking wind forbade them! "Just shut your ears," she said. "Orphans are surrounded
by these things. Hold my hand, I'll lead you below!" We'll find an alcove and no one
will know about us! We will live secretly, away from society!"
Next week, next year, there is a somebody who hears their feet underneath... TheyAnd yet the music will change once again as you go below the streets and you hear the siblings speaking to one another as chiming acoustic guitar strings play out to the end --
stop and tilt and frown. They hear them drowning - no, the wing singing just below
"You're here with me.... it's just we two. So if you've died, why then I have, too..."
"What do we have along the lines of POISON?"
"Speak Marauder" "...in which a scarecrow, tired of his duties, goes for a stroll..." is another track that has gone over well at some clubs for its skip-a-long melody. The lyrics are beautifully descriptive and emphasize the sing-songy qualities with their rhymes while Burton-esque "la la la la"s are sung in the background - "There's straw in his brains and his clothing is stained with mice and small newts and the perfectly maimed." Never ones to be satisfied for conventional song structure, this song morphs and changes tempos and tone and ends up being very scary (and now I'm having flashbacks from that movie "The Scarecrow" that frightened me when I was younger). "He can be the darkness in the trees, feel the hollow, and then frighten children far too young for winter. He can live his fear and die and talk again...always in the glade where dark and chill begin..."
"Mathilde In The Dirt" "...in which a cloth doll becomes lost and then found and then abandoned and then found again..." is a quirky and playful song that starts out rather slow and builds into a romp. Lyrically its rich with phrases like "She sobs dryly for the girl who whispered like a leaf in the autumn time, with winter skin and breath of clover." By the time you get to the passage marked "Middle" the tempo has doubled and you're taken on a wild ride as poor Mathilde is snatched up by forest animals and you fear her being torn to shreds. But fear not readers - for all might end well in this story...
"Legs and Tarpaulin" "... in which two sailors meet the Plague and his family..." could indeed be my favorite track on here - its lyrics are brilliantly written and a masterful creation in their own right while the talent to set such a story to music that is just as worthy of praise is mind boggling. The story itself is based on E.A. Poe's "King Pest." The music becomes a vital character of its own, narrating and ushering characters from scene to scene. An entire conversation - ripe with wit and sarcasm is played out into your ears complete with voice changes. This one must be read while listening to fully appreciate the artistry that went into this song. Beyond that, it's a great piece that can stand on its own on a dance floor - twice as fun if you know the story and can act out some of the more dramatic parts.
Track 8 is an instrumental called "Finger Broken Branches" which showcases some of the more excellent "string" playing by this band in a Twin Peaks-ish dream world of rolling bass lines and atmospheric guitar rifs.
"Tomb Lilies" has an interesting side note in that the end of it was "based on Prelude No. 14, Op. 11 by Alexander Nikolayevitch Scriabin" - a Russian composer (1856-1915) who had a "preoccupation with mysticism and theosophy." (yes, our dear musicians are some what of the academic kind...). The song itself - in which the florist is lonely survivor in a town hit by the Plague - is highlighted by tormented lyrical stylings. We suspect he's gone completely mad.
And finally, "The Red And Silver Fantastique And The Libretto Of The Insipid Minstrel" "...in which an old street performer reminisces on his career..." is another playfully morbid song complete with magical chimes and fairytale atmospheres punctuated by a rather raw and noisy guitar solo. It's on this carnival note of twisted wonders that they launch us out to sea to ponder all the strange sights we've seen.
Whether you appreciate creative and smart lyrical writing, well thought out musicianship, unique ideas, or just crave something delightfully dark, this CD from Cinema Strange will no doubt impress. I've already decided - its my pick for the best CD of 2002.
1. Reveil En Sursaut D'Un Rêve
2. 'Ere The Flowers Unfold
3. Dead Eyes Open, or, How The Woman In The Attic Fled, Never To Return
4. Catacomb Kittens
5. Speak, Marauder!
6. Mathilde In The Dirt
7. Legs And Tarpaulin
8. Finger Broken Branches (instrumental)
9. Tomb Lilies
10. The Red And Silver Fantastique And The Libretto Of The Insipid Minstrel
Cinema Strange website: www.cinemastrange.com
Cinema Strange Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cinemastrange
Awesome gallery of CS photos: http://reficul.cinemastrange.com/
the U.S. we suggest ordering this CD from Middle Pillar: www.middlepillar.com
The Moon’s Bright 3rd EP
~reviewed by Matthew
It’s not often we were from ‘down under,’ but this eclectic and dynamic Australian outfit definitely caught my attention. I received their press packet, which was eloquently packaged in a DVD video box, along with the EP’s artwork and a small pamphlet of information on the band. Pretty eye catching and very professional, they had my attention.
The music is an ear stimulating and impressive mix of progressive alternative rock, gothic atmosphere, and melodic hooks. Devour Ensemble is primarily a two man operation, but a handful of session musicians help bring their musical vision to life. The opening track bears the title of the EP as well as a poem by e.e. cummings. A playful mix of violin and light electric guitars recalls Human Drama. In fact, vocalist Anthony Cook resembles Johnny Indovina throughout much of the EP.
“Sounds For Charles Junior” is a lurching, seething ballad, based upon lyrics written by convicted murderer Charles Schmid Jr. The band has a knack for long songs, however they unfold and rivet the listener’s attention. This track as well as the mischievous carnival waltz of “Days Gaudy Canvas” recalls country kin Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to some extent, however, not quite as organic, the synths give this a decidedly quirky feel.
“Frozen Forests” is at first a slower track, very wispy and soothing until a sudden and unexpected shift toward more metallic pastures occurs. I wasn’t quite as convinced or won over by the band trying to inject harsher elements into the mix. Something just didn’t click as well. Though the latter half of this song does conjure a vaguely majestic Zeppelin “Kashmir” tinged vibe with the stop/start of power chords and swirling string arrangements, it doesn’t quite reach the plateau I think the band was aiming at.
“Unter den Linden” or “Song For Berlin” is an effective instrumental piece, centering on the violin and warm synth undertones. The song, or score rather, builds to a militant finale, with a steady snare march and some thundering percussion.
Devour Ensemble definitely exhibit a great deal of aspiration and vision. Sometimes the guitars could stand to be a bit cleaner, and if they do chose to introduce some harsher elements, the guitars would be improved by a deeper, thicker distortion. The same goes for some of the drum programming – at times, the overall sound of the band verges on being a bit too tinny. I did however find that the vocals, the violin work, and the guitar playing to be very well done and top notch. There is unquestionably a wealth of talent brewing at the heart of this project. However, I found this EP to be a little weak around the edges, and in need of a fuller, more organic sound.
I definitely look forward to hearing more from this band. Where they fall short, they easily make up for with conviction, and with a few minor technical and recording enhancements, Devour Ensemble’s next release, which they promise with good humour to be released ‘before the commencement of Armageddon,’ will be a marked improvement to an already hopeful act.
1.) The Moon’s Bright 3rd
2.) Sounds For Charles Jnr
3.) Frozen Forests
4.) Unter Den Linden
5.) Day’s Gaudy Canvas
Michael Bridges – violin, backing vocals, programming
Anthony Cook – vocals, keyboards, programming, ‘toys’
Hunter – bass, guitar
Matthew Spangle – bass
Melinda Reed – vocals
Vanessa Alia – backing vocals
Lisa Golliner – cello
Ensemble – Official Site:
Evolutions: Prelude to Briah: of Man and Magician (Promo EP)
~reviewed by Blu
The description on their website is accurate: "New and powerful music from North London." Their live debut was at the Camden Underworld in October 1999 supporting Inkubus Sukkubus and The Screaming Dead. In 2000 they put out a self financed CD on their own label, spent 2001 developing and practicing and honing in on their second CD BRIAH while 2002 has had them at various gigs around London. They've become the house band of sorts at Tenebrae (Gossips nightclub, 69 Dean st. Soho London W1) where they can usually be seen playing on the last Friday of the month. With this promo CD - Evolution - the band has set it's sites on promoting themselves outside of their home town and have made a strike to garner some U.S. attention. Manager John Goodwin has been instrumental in getting these promos out to DJs and at keeping their e-list alive and chatting as well as posting updates regularly on newsgroups. By all accounts, this band is steadily and surely going to work its way to the top. If the reception of US DJs who've received this promo is any indication, Descendants of Cain is well on their way.
The EP opens up with the ghostly haunting whispers of "Ceremony" before early-era Bauhaus sounding guitars slink in and you get the first audio dose of Darryl Kruger's deeply eloquent vocals. Propelled by driving percussion - the song is dark, foreboding and mysterious. At points Darryl growls and the result is powerful and raw. It mellows out in the middle - a light break with melodic keyboards before it builds to a finishing frenzy. This would certainly appeal to fans of traditional goth rock, deathrock and even the metal-goth cross overs.
"The Bearer" is next. Darryl sings a deep resonating verse alone before quiet instrumentation kicks in. In tone I find its rather like Peter Ulrich's last offering (on Projekt Records) - cinematic, atmospheric, neo-romantic, neo-classic. I am amazed at how deep his voice goes and yet how graceful and in control it remains. His range is amazing - I am in awe. This is a thoroughly beautiful song - one that could bring tears to your eyes with its undulating waves of synths and emotionally dramatic vocals. If only half the bands I had to listen to would put this much feeling in their performances...
And finally, we have "The Fallen Kingdom" which starts out with subtle electronic pulses and shimmering guitars that works itself into a mid-paced groove backed by piano melodies. Not as dramatic as the others this song maintains its steady pace while the vocals move through it telling their story. As a testament to how versatile this band can sound - this song is more like something you'd hear from the electronically based Diary of Dreams.
If the range of these three songs are any indicators of what this band is capable of producing - on recording as well as live - we are certainly in for a treat. I cannot wait to hear more!
1. The Ceremony
2. The Bearer
3. The Fallen Kingdom
of Cain are:
Darryl Kruger (voice, guitar, programming)
Philippa Moore (keyboards, programming)
Iain Smith (guitar, support voice, programming)
Judy Smit (lighting and effects)
Hosanna Mohol - Perschy (sound engineer)
John Goodwin (management and promotion)
sound clips available on their website:
Descendants of Cain CDs are available through RESURRECTION RECORDS (recommended), PlasticHead, Grave News, Nightbreed, Metropolis, Middle Pillar, Indietective, Martz-Mailorder, Paf records (most of these have secure online ordering as well as mail order) - or directly from us by mail.
the group online at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Descendantsofcain/ for more info.
To subscribe, send an email to Descendantsofcainfirstname.lastname@example.org. Once subscribed, you'll be able to post to the group by sending emails to Descendantsofcain@yahoogroups.com.
of the Nile
Untitled 4 track Ep
~reviewed by Blu
History has proved time and time again that conservative environments often produce the best bands through the necessity of rebellion. This is the case with Daughters of the Nile. We can thank the overly religious town of Salt Lake City, Utah for giving birth to this band in 1989. Their heavy sound - a unique combination merging elements of metal, hard rock, pyschedelica, punk and goth - saw them pack out many venues and play alongside bands such as The Church, Christian Death, Electric Hellfire Club and Godhead. They put out a full length CD in 1998 called Apocatastasis and released this 4 track EP in 2001.
"Deadrun"s war themes are reflected in the heavy handed, choppy guitar riffs which seem to at times emulate gunfire. The vocals are harsh and raw - no processing that I can hear and the powerful group choruses have me thinking of the metal band Slayer.
"Bloodgrass" starts more quietly - sneaking up on the listener as a sexy groove kicks in - low and rumbling. Thematically appropriate - this song about addiction is more psychedelic in tone - the vocals are sung in a dream like state and finally come to a more powerful boiling point on the chorus. The bass lines and guitar are kept in check - minimal is more here; holding back for a couple of really big build ups that coincide with vocal outbursts by Daron.
"Author" is probably my favorite track on this EP with its exotic, almost Egyptian guitar line and rumbling bass propelling it along. This is also the track where Daron's vocals seem to be exercised to their widest range - from almost spoken word verses to extremely dramatic choruses where at times his voice breaks into shouts. It's a powerful, in-your-face type of song with a bit of a punk edge in it.
And finally, "Problem" is a moody, bitter song reminding me of Jar of Flies era Alice in Chains. It's catchy and melodic in the chorus but darkly sinister at the same time. The lively drumming does alot to keep this slower track dynamic. Moreover, Daron uses "fuck" alot in this song - and although it sounds juvenile of me to say this - for some reason, I love the general rebellion of using cuss words in songs. But how would this song ever get radio play you ask? "Fuck that" I imagine would be their answer. These boys play because they want to - not because they want to be FCC rock stars.
I had the privilege of meeting and hanging out with these guys in Seattle before I moved (thanks to Jyri from 3SKS/The Sins). Amusingly I found out they're known as "gothic basketball players" because all members of the band are over 6' tall -- an intimidating bunch to be sure if only they weren't so damn nice. I never got to see them play live and I regret that. Perhaps some day in the future. Meanwhile - see if you can spot Daron - fan boy that his is - in the crowd at this Penis Flytrap show.
(which has mp3 samples of the songs on this EP):
of the Nile are:
Daron on vocals
Lars on guitar
Kyle on bass
Jeff on drums
~reviewed by: Shannon W. Hennessy
If you happened to attend the San Francisco or Los Angeles VNV Nation (w/ Haujobb) shows on the 28th and 29th of April, 2002, then you probably caught Informatik as an opening act.
I'm not a huge fan of music motivated by any one given sub-sect within any particular subculture. The label of "Gothic/Industrial Subculture" is a lot like the label attached to the Hindu "religion;" The Gothic/Industrial Subculture is actually many, many little groups of people who share some similar interests where fashion, music and socialization are concerned. It is not a single, syndicated "union" of people who wear black clothes, makeup that can be way too hard under white light and listen to "bleep-blop" music while drinking absinthe in a clove-smoke filled club that reeks of hairspray and heavy makeup. Somewhere inside the "Gothic/Industrial Subculture" is one of these little groups of people who enjoy expressing their sexuality outside of the bedroom, among friends of like mind, and in front of God, the universe and everyone. I was very much expecting Informatik's third full-length release, Nymphomatic, to be a collection of electronic anthems dedicated almost solely to the "fetishists" somewhere in the vein of Genetorturers or Impotent Sea Snakes and who wants that?
Suffice to say my expectations were surpassed, and I was actually pleasantly surprised by the end result that fans of Informatik have waited for patiently for four years with only a couple of noted exceptions.
It took a track or two for me to get "into" Nymphomaniac. If you're looking for lyrical genius, you're not going to find it encoded into this CD. The first couple of tracks are, in my opinion, the weakest of the tracklist but it does get better. Lyrical genius, no. Hard rhythm, pulse and infused with energy that could ONLY be described as "sexual," absolutely. There are some electronic industrial outfits that I think feel they MUST include a vocal to every track lest they be labeled "ambient" or some such and lord knows that labels are the devil's Lincoln Logs. I think MANY of the tracks on Nymphomatik could (and do) survive a long, lustrous dance floor lifespan without the vocal tracks laid over them, but then again I didn't produce the album so I can only state what I think. As far as I'm concerned, the weakest link in the Informatik chain is David's predictable and somewhat exhausted lyrical stylings.
This is not to say that Din's voice and words are insufferable, because they're not. They are a little overproduced and somewhat monotone - something like what you might hear if you genetically engineered the lovechild of the lead vocalists of Laibach and the Crash Test Dummies - just not my particular cup of tea.
However, and this is most certainly a highlight, the addition of Newman to the lineup of Informatik seasons the band with a mature, edgy industrial kick that I personally feel was lacking from their two previously releases - Syntax and Direct Memory Access. If you're at all familiar with the Boston industrial outfit known as Battery Cage, then you've heard Newman's percussion. "Built for Pleasure" and "Matter of Time" are probably the better showcases of Newman's talent both with programming and percussion, and while Newman himself doesn't "save" an album that needs no saving for all intents and purposes, he does add a certain legitimacy to the sound of Informatik that takes them beyond basic, repetitive EBM and quite possibly into the CD collections of "rivet-heads" the world over.
I can say this in all confidence; this is the PERFECT album for anyone who works out. The beat and energy - throughout the entirety of the CD - are practically geared towards physical activity. Whether that activity happens to be weight repetitions, life cycling, treadmill walking or even getting your bottom spanked with a studded, leather-swaddled, wooden paddle with a tassel hanging from the end and wielded by someone who insists you call her "Mistress" while using pain as a motivator, whatever; Nymphomatik is very much appropriate.
All in all, the CD is not bad. I don't care for the lyrics or the vocals and wish there was an inexpensive technology available out there that could filter them out so that I might enjoy Nymphomatik more than I did. For fans of the outfit who have been waiting, you won't be disappointed, and there's a good chance that Informatik could draw a completely new "sub-sect" of an audience from within the morass that is the "Gothic/Industrial Subculture" with their latest and most technologically adept release yet.
1. Flesh Menagerie
3. Perfect Stranger
4. Physical Education
6. Built for Pleasure
7. A Matter of Time
8. Oblivion v2
9. 96 Degrees
10. Prefect Stranger (Robot Mix by Negative Format)
11. Physical Education (Day Job Mix by Stromkern)
David Dim & Tyler Newman
Official Band URL: http://www.nymphomatik.com/
Label: Metropolis Records, http://www.metropolis-records.com/
PO Box 200 631
~reviewed by Anthony Flores (BlackOrpheus)
Inure, is a project that was born in 1999. It really had its origins in the early Las Vegas song writing collaborations between Adam Moore and Rob Vogel in 1996. Although their association proved fruitful, the sparse industrial scene in Las Vegas, drove the pair to L.A., where their creative energies were more fully engaged by a thriving local scene.
The debut release of Inure's Seemless is a milestone in the creative partnership of Rob Vogel and Adam Moore. It marks the culmination of all they've strived to achieve together.
Seemless is an arresting amalgam of sounds and textures. It is by turns stark, dark and malevolent, and inescapably industrial in the classic sense. It is a strong effort for a first release. I believe the duo have succeeded admirably in their attempt to do homage to their own vision and such stated influences as Skinny Puppy, Front242 and Haujobb.
As long as they continue to evolve and don't get caught up in the increasingly transient affectations of yesteryear this band has a future before it. This is a recommended listen, especially for industrial purists. Below are a few of my favorite tracks.
"Malediction" is quick and sprightly. It is easily the most dance floor friendly tune on the album. With its syncopated drum beats and pacing,it is sinister ebm, indeed. It is as cerebral as it is physical. It'sintriguing vocal sampling and vocal distortion intimate dark thoughts springing from a darker nature.
"My" is a wedding of stream of consciousness prounouncements and it felt like the very heart of the record with the pulsing and swelling of the arrangement. "My" flet like the recordds heart, as it rose and fell on the swell and ebb of the music. It was very stream of consciousness, with it's nearly inaudible words of comfort, lust upon a mind that cannot know ease or rest. This was my favorite, I think.
"Again" is the kind of song that you most appreciate, when you're beginning to slip into that state of weightlessness and well being brought on by a few well mixed drinks. It is slow and sexy. Its languorous beat and grind is reminiscent of sweat, cloves, and mouths tasting of merlot. It is black leather clad sex. It is a bruise and a caress. It is both urgent and articulate. It is a prime candidate for a remix, to my way of thinking.
In closing, I'd like to thank Adam and Inure for sharing their creation with me. I have every hope that this and their future efforts will find a home in the hearts and collections of the as yet unsuspecting listener.
Rob Vogel- keys, programming
Adam Moore- vox, keys, programming
Adam Moore: Vocals
01. Ground Zero
03. Daar Staan Hy (full)
09. The Gift of Machine
Web Site: WWW.Inure.Net
can buy "Seemless" at the following:
Vinyl Fetish Hollywood, Ca.
Aron's Records Hollywood, Ca.
Electric Chair Huntington Beach, Ca.
Ipso Facto Fullerton, Ca.
MusicWerks Seattle, Wa.
LatexRecords.com Denver, Co.
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
The website for this band delivers very little background information regarding this enigmatic duo other than it is a project that started sometime in 2002. Suffice it to say that beyond the prerequisite influences of Skinny Puppy, NIN, PIG, New Order, Orgy which every new band seems to compare themselves to, there isn’t much that we can expand upon in that arena.
"Crack Up" started with a bit of interesting beats and sounds but after a point simply became rather redundant. The curse of being an elder goth is one has simply heard all the samples and song constructs in the span of 20 years to be heavily impressed.
"Father Of Lies" percolated with a nod towards Xorcist’s "Nomad". The vocals are clearly buried in the background as a haunting effect while the dance beats are brought to the forefront.
"I Hate Myself" opened with a sound similar to VNV Nation, so this was going to either make it or break it. 30 seconds in, we are treated to a NIN type of industrial grind. The vocals need work as they are too hot up front to be showcased that strongly that it takes away from a track that almost made it to a perfect 10 for today’s underground market.
"Flash" had a trip hop/disco feel to it. Sorry guys, but I have heard this beat before, so looping it endlessly seemed pointless and uncreative. It is danceable and would probably work within the confines of a regular dance club, however it wouldn’t fit in a dark underground club by any stretch of the imagination.
"Sick With Belief" had the promise of a goth track but seemed to drag a bit on the introduction. This did not improve as the same chords looped for over a minute and a half before we were assaulted with another loop of untrained vocals.
"Temper Mental" once again incorporated electronic loops that at first sound interesting enough, but simply remain too repetitive. Just when one would think the song would break out of its confines, it slows down then picks back up with the loop again.
"Mellee" delves into a bit of hardcore grind, but again is cursed by the now annoying over utilization of loops. Once it does break free from that, we have a guitar like grinding and shouting vocals that simply cannot be deciphered.
"Ver 4.0" starts with a white noise and tink type sound loop. (Yes, another one!) There are various grinds, blips and beats, but the loops simply make this recording sound like an exercise in musical stuttering.
"Stupid Boi" opened with an interesting electronic grind and pulse beat with some promise. Here, the loops are at least pushed in the background while the electronic beats up front are given a chance to develop.
"I’m In Love With Being Sad" has a loop that actually made me think the CD player was skipping. This seems to be the track that is making some headway for the band. The vocals are still a bit too hot up front. With a bit more production on this, the track may in fact work quite well.
"T W O" utilized white noise as a beat counterpoint. This developed into a simple drum machine and high hat loop with “scratches” of the white noise interspersed and cut in. This may work as a DJ dance break but not as a full song.
"Laughing At Me" provided lyrics over yet another looped sample. The track is quite reflective of some of the early punk rock music days and would probably also work much better with a bit more production to it.
"Boogie Man" provided an element of the macabre. It’s hard to look at the title and not think K.C. and The Sunshine Band though. This track is NOT a remake of that song. The direction of the track seems to be lost and in need of more tweaking as well.
Jimmy Decay tended to rely way too heavily on loops and samples in an effort to deliver a creative body of work. Simply, this did not work as the average music listener has been anesthetized to these production tricks and demands more from their music.
In all fairness though, this was NOT a release funded by a major or indie label, and as such, the artists simply worked with what was available. Too much of their “influences” seemed to have colored the constructs of the music when they would have fared much better allowing their own creativity to soar to bypass those underground “icons.”
Had they been given the opportunity to work with a decent producer, some of the tracks would have developed a lot further. As it stands though, the vocals are a bit too untrained and all this push button machinery does not belie a whole lot of creativity. Even in today’s age of using loops, many plainly went on too long, bringing the attention to the loop and not the song itself.
Hopefully with more experience and tweaking, Jimmy Decay will be able to come forward with a body of work to astound the musical underground.
1. Crack Up
2. Father of Lies
3. I Hate Myself
5. Sick With Belief
6. Temper Mental
8. Ver 4.0
9. Stupid Boi
10. I’m In Love With Being Sad
11. T W O
12. Laughing At Me
13. Boogie Man
~reviewed by Shannon W. Hennessy
Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid follow up their Boots EP in 2002 with the full-length release of Attak, their first full-length (as KMFDM) since disbanding in 1999. There are a lot of things that can be said for KMFDM, a dozen different opinions ranging from blind adoration to disgusted intolerance from die-hards within the industrial music subculture, but the one thing that cannot be disputed regardless of who might be talking about KMFDM or where is that they are nothing if not consistent.
In many ways, this is a testament to the lifespan of a band that could be easily labeled as the single most successful alternative act ever to come out of Germany and one of the most successful industrial acts ever. KMFDM definitely stick to a formula; I’ve heard many people describe the music that the band makes as “Industrial 101.” Indeed, if you’re looking to dabble and experiment with the genre of industrial music, KMFDM is a great starting block to get a feel for what might be waiting for you out there. Industrial music, however, is a dynamic creature that doesn’t sit still for long, always hungering for the further evolution of itself. Few industrial outfits can float in the tempest that is the industrial scene without growing, changing and pressing forward. KMFDM, however, seems to be the noted exception to the rule.
In the opinion of many critics, KMFDM is a one-trick pony. Some say that KMFDM is stuck in the figurative tar pit of the “good ‘ol days” of Wax Trax!, and that the best work they ever did was done under the tattered flag of a now defunct label. Honestly, a lot of KMFDM’s work sounds like a lot of their other work. There are glaringly obvious similarities between many of the band’s tracks that span over several of the band’s fifteen some-odd albums. While I roger this sentiment, and while I too have been guilty of rolling my eyes while “Naïve” or “Xtort” play throughout their campy entirety, I also hold the opinion that while a lot of KMFDM’s stuff sounds a whole lot like OTHER KMFDM stuff, no one sounds like KMFDM other than KMFDM.
I won’t lie to you by telling you that the majority of what you’ll hear on Attak is not more of the same where KMFDM is concerned. This CD was recorded as per the formula that die-hard fans are both familiar and comfortable with where their beloved band is concerned… but there are some distinct changes in regards to how that formula was worked. In some respects, you can’t really slam on a band that sticks to their guns where their sound is concerned; they’re making marketable music for a fan base that supports them. If Attak sounds a little like Adios, which sounds a little like Xtort, which sounds a little like Angst, which sounds a little like “insert KMFDM album here,” then the fans who pay the band’s bills are most certainly going to come back for more. I quickly discovered that not every track on Attak is as predictable as I had initially thought… but most were.
For newcomers to the band, you’re going to get a treat. Part of me wishes that I’d never heard KMFDM before Attak, and that if I hadn’t, I would have enjoyed the CD much more than I did. The other part of me finds myself smiling at some of the more subtle changes that have been worked into the tried and true KMFDM method; the tracks “Save Me,” “Superhero” and “Sleep” showcase some of the talent that has found itself crystallized within the rank and file of KMFDM’s war machine over the years rather than beating a dead horse for the entirety of the album. On the other hand, tracks like “Urban Monkey Warfare” and “Yohoho” are just shy of absolutely ludicrous. How many tracks can a band write with their own name contained