Are you the kind of metal fan that thinks Immortal is for wimps? Long for something more painfully distorted, shrieking, and altogether blasphemous? Look no further! 1349 is perfectly equipped to suit all of your hardcore black metal needs. In ye olde Norse tradition of sharing bandmates, 1349 features Satyricon's Frost on drums. And indeed, the band has a lot in common with Satyricon and other Moonfog artists such as Thorns. Liberation's sound is made up of hate-filled rasping, shrieking speed-picked guitars, a near constant throb of blast beats, and distant brooding bass notes.
What sets 1349 apart from the crowd? That question reveals the key weakness of Liberation. It's a good hardcore black metal album. When it comes to painful fuzzy noise, things don't get much better, but 1349 isn't especially original. Their guitar sound is kind of similar to a poorly produced version of Thorn's self-titled release, and without any of the spacey ambience and mechanical sounds that let listeners catch their breath. There are only a couple of brief breaks in blast beat/speed picking combo. It's also worth noting that 1349 is an adventuring party of six black metal warriors, on a mission to, like, burn churches, or something.
Seriously, just take a look at their band photo. They've got a leader with munitions strapped around his leather armor. There's a monk. A fair-haired knight. And two very disgruntled looking corpses, who are likely wondering why they were dragged from their graves for a photoshoot. When it comes down to it, some black metal bands are only distinguishable by how many churches they burn, how many people they kill, and what their extreme image is. 1349 eschews any of these usual claims to fame, which is a good sign that maybe they really do like their music and just want to be friendly and share.
If you enjoy older Immortal, Abigor, Marduk, Thorns, Satyricon, Dodheimsgard, Ulver (Nattens Madrigal), or anything by... oh who am I kidding, this list could go on for another six point six six pages. 1349 is yet another hardcore black metal band. They do what they do well. The songs stand apart as much as any music slick with a constant buzz can manage, and Liberation is such an energetic release that I actually kind of like it. 1349 isn't doing anything to change the style, but they're worth a listen if you take your black metal as cold, black, and harsh as it comes.
2) I breathe spears
3) Riders of the Apocalypse
5) Pitch Black
6) Satanic Propaganda
8) Evil Oath
10) Buried by Time & Dust
Ravn - vocals
Frost - drums
Archaon - guitar
Tjalve - guitar
Seidemann - bass
The Ancient Gallery
kopfdelay (Noiseworks Records)
~review by Jyri Glynn
If you were contemplating starting an industrial band, my suggestion would be to sing in Klingon! If this is not a reasonable option, might I propose German? Even “Jesus Loves Me” sung in German sounds pissed off! Lets face it; this is the perfect dialog for any Industrial project! That being said, The Ancient Gallery is one hell of an industrial band! Oh, and did I mention, they’re German?
In this day of age there’s an over abundance of ill-fated industrial bands who have descended into this black hole of boring sequences, annoying pre-set drum machines and over-distorted, gurgling vocals. Do they not realize that this makes for a monotonous listening experience for the rest of us? Christ, if you want to make electronic music interesting at least have some dynamics!
The Ancient Gallery blends electronic, trip-hop beats with metal driven guitars, refreshing synth parts and strong vocals. This band has it all.
Hailing from the sleepy mountain village, Eppendorf, this project got its beginning ten years ago as a cover-band playing in small regional clubs. Today they find themselves composing their own approach to modern music with a large amount of their local fan-base residing in Dresden. Vocalist, Andy Weinhold and guitarist, Robin Weinhold, are brothers; however, all the band members have been close friends since grade school. The band lost their original drummer, Stefan in 1999 to the Theater where he is now pursuing a career in dance.
The band maintains that one of their biggest influences was The Doors and this is where they acknowledge the origin of the band’s name, The Ancient Gallery.
Kopfdelay is the band’s second full-length release. Kopf translated into English is “Head”, and when I asked the band how they came up with this title for their release, I was told not philosophize too much into it but that yes, it did translate into English as Head Delay.
Within the album there is also a song titled "Kopfdelay", which was explained to me as a senseless combination of German words, a tribute to Dadaism. “Ich bin was ich bin, ich bin was ich sehe, ultima ratio kopfdelay” (I am what I am, I see what I see, ultima ratio kopfdelay).
The band explained to me that Dadaism was an artistic movement in the beginning of the last century mostly developed in Berlin. Its message was to propagate and de-mask the untruthful and canting values of society regarding the two unimaginable wars that took place in Europe. The protests of the Dadaists were of course also an artistic one and they fought against the traditional old-school way of thinking. Ironically, synthesizing primitive and banal things with modern techniques to demonstrate the absurdness of logic, intellect and Bourgeoise art (and society). The Ancient Gallery states that for them it is also a political order to revive the idea, especially in these times. Though they claim not to be a political band, Kopfdelay is the only released song, until now, which points out a political message.
The album opens with the track, "Alles" (Everything), which has a groove to it that makes one reminisce of days back when bands like Nitzer Ebb ruled the dance charts.
"Destinations", which I am told was created as a memorial to the late Dresden DJ Indy Fada, continues in much the same vein with the addition of crunchy guitar parts in the intro and chorus.
"Teil des ganzen" (Part the whole one), begins with a Middle Eastern instrument that sounds to me like a sitar but quickly explodes into a driving guitar element that is mirrored by a marching drumbeat. Once again the band exhibits excellent dynamic changes through out the song with various low points that explode into aggressive chorus parts. This song is sure to be a club hit.
Du willst nur ein Stück You want only one piece
Du willst nur einen Mensch You want one humans
Du willst nur ein Gefühl You want only one feelings
Du bist You are
Du bist ein Teil des Ganzen You are a part of the whole one
"Ohne Wissen" (Without Knowledge) has a Nine Inch Nails proximity to it with its whispery vocals and isolated keyboard riffs. While "Druck" (Pressure) demonstrates more of a Wumpscutt meets KMFDM presence to it by blending harmonious female vocals through out the song.
Contrasting in style is the placid track, "Jemand geht" (Someone goes) where the band states that the focus was placed more on the actual lyrics. The authoress and spokeswoman on this song, Barbara Köhler received various German Literature Awards for these lyrics.
"Noember Euka" is probably my least favorite track on this album; however, Nirgendwann kick-starts the album back into high gear with its electronic rhythms, lashing guitar parts and stylistic traces of Rammstein.
"Va Banque" has an atmospheric- funk mood to it, which certainly adds to the long list of electronic diversity contained within this band. Weinhold reminds me at times of Ogre (Skinny Puppy) with his textural dialogue.
The rhythmic "Nichts" (Nothing) brings this album to a close leaving the listener with only one option. Pressing play once again on their stereo!
This follow-up album to the band’s debut release, Deinstallation, is a must have for any listener who enjoys hard-hitting dance music. I am reluctant to put these guys solely into the Industrial category but I can confidentially state that they do create outstanding and diverse electronically based music.
I don’t anticipate this band to make an appearance anytime soon in the US, but if you happened to find yourself in Dresden, Germany, I’d highly recommend you track this band down and catch one of their live performances. I’m told you won’t be disappointed.
Hymns of Blod
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Lord Odin is undoubtedly pleased with Scandanavian metal warriors Allegiance. Their Hymns of Blod are a thundering firestorm of fury crashing down on a metal scene where blandness is all too common. Surely, there is a spot reserved in Valhalla for these venomous vikings. Allegiance's brand of epic black metal recalls elements of many of the stalwarts of the genre and consistently entertains across the lengthy hour-long album.
Hymns of Blod is so jam packed with brutal yet catchy riffs that I suspect Allegiance may have employed some sort of 'Kickass Riff Generator' machine in its creation. If they did, they surely had it turned up to maximum output. Nary a song goes by where an attention grabbing melodic hook fails to sink in and rip off a pound of flesh. In fact, the intensity of the majority of the songs and the length of the album make it a draining experience to listen to in one sitting. Wisely, Allegiance often intersperses neo-classical guitar based atmospheric interludes inbetween the beatings. These brief respites allow listeners to regroup and marshall their defenses before the next assault begins, but they are never long enough to blunt the razor edge of the band's weapons-grade songwriting.
Stylistically, the fourteen Hymns of Blod cover much ground in the context of aggressive dark metal. Most are full-speed-ahead black metal churchburners, but even these are varied and kept interesting by the frequent changes in tempo (from 'really really fast' to 'fast' and back) and occasional squiggly guitar solos. While listening, I was reminded of a thrashier Dissection with an occasional Mythotyn-esque viking riff thrown in for flavor. The other tracks generally adhere to the formula established by Immortal on the latter part of 'Sons Of Northern Darkness', where harsh, thrashy churning is slowed down to an epic mid-tempo trek across the frozen plains. All vocals are the traditional echo drenched gravelly rasp favored by nine-out-of-ten hardened norsemen.
I feel I can safely recommend Allegiance's Hymns of Blod to any and all fans of black metal- in any of its guises. The ever-evolving compositions, pounding guitar blasts, warlike viking melodies, and scintillating dark energy in every track make this a very enjoyable listen for connoisseurs of Scandanavian metal. I have some issues with the anti-Christian themes mentioned in the press release (and typically touted by bands in this genre)... but all the songs are sung in Swedish so you probably won't notice if they happen to be decrying your religion. Though their ideology may be violent and on questionable moral ground, I will gladly sing praise to Allegiance and their mastery of warrior metal.
02.) De Nordiska Lagren
03.) The Third Raven
04.) Den Kristens Dod
07.) Med Svard I Hand
09.) En Svunnen Tid
11.) Do Vite Krist
12.) I Som Drogens Hart Med Doden
13.) I Stjarnornas Skugga
14.) Hrodvitners Rike
Bogge - Bass/Vocals
Fredrik Andersson - Drums
Par Thornell - Guitar/Vocals
World War III Music:
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
When Norwegian artist Amethystium first came to my attention a few years back, it was refreshing to hear organic sound between layers of lush music. This was clearly a new direction that ethereal music needed to take, and like the artist Pulsar Bleu, Amethystium’s music seems to emanate from a faraway time and place in mankind’s arcane past.
Although the work itself is labeled as “new age” as a means of marketing and for record placement in the music shops, the soul of the work is clearly embedded in the ambient history of underground ethereal music. Unlike other new age artists, Amethystium steeps the world of sound with layers of Gregorian chants, Middle Eastern intonations, tribal percussion, angelic vocals and mystical flutes. The average “new age” artist merely creates sound that is fluffy and light. Amethystium, however, takes sound to a level and texture that ventures forth between the veil of light and dark, clearly demonstrating why this work has been embraced by goth ethereal fans worldwide.
Previously, Amethystium’s top Billboard charting CD, Odonata was utilized by this reviewer as an unofficial music therapy experiment to test learning skills with a mentally challenged young woman. The songs resonated within the untapped recesses of this young woman’s mind and she was able to learn to feed herself for the first time in her life. For many years, various therapists were unable to motivate her to learn anything until that magical moment that culminated with the association of a system of “musical” rewards that included the unique work of Amethystium. I digress on this point because it should be made evident that Amethystium doesn’t “just” create music. Somehow, he taps into the unseen realm of psychological and neuro-wave lengths and creates a mental stimulus from it, conjuring a positive response from the listener.
Amethystium’s latest release Aphelion is no less brilliant than the preceding release. While the world anxiously watches the fulmination of a rising war and conflict, it is impossible not to feel some of the encroaching tension and anxiety that is building on a global scale. After playing Aphelion, the stress and anxiety seems to melt away, leaving in its place clarity and focus for working towards a better tomorrow.
The vocalist’s who lend their talents to this project are no less than magnificent in their own right. They carve a cleansing sensation that is akin to bathing under a tropical waterfall surrounded by a fragrant garden in a personal paradise of sorts. By the time one reaches “Autumn Interlude” as sung by Joyelle Brandt, one cannot help but feel as though they have truly ventured into the stratosphere of timelessness.
A track by track review seems pointless though because the work has to be taken in its entirety to be fully appreciated. Each song builds upon the next, delicately creating a sacred space away from the cares of the everyday world. Thankfully, in today’s troubled times, music from artists such as Amethystium seems to be the only remedy left to obtain a blissful peace of mind.
Aphelion is akin to taking a mental vacation to the four corners of the world. The majority of world influences are clearly evident, yet they are constructed in such a way that bespeaks harmony in the tragedy, growth after rising from destruction. Do seek out this recording and let your spirit soar to places you never thought possible.
Amethystium is Oystein Ramjford
Martha Krossbakken on Exultation
Joyelle Brandt on Autumn Interlude
John Yannis Fyssas on Shibumi
Synove Flobak: Cello on “Elvensong”
1. Shadow To Light
2. Garden of Sakuntala
4. Ad Astra
5. Gates of Morpheus
6. Autumn Interlude
Available through Neurodisc
Sound downloads available at www.mp3.com/amethystium
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Have you ever come across a CD so confusing that you weren't sure what to make of it? I felt that way the first time I listened to Artrosis. But it's loosely my job to 'make something of it', so I wasn't content with a review that essentially amounted to 'it's this CD, with music.' Amazingly enough, when I listened to Artroris more closely, I found that I really sort of liked them. Melange has an interesting mix of darkwave electronics, rock riffs, and emotionally bizarre vocals.
Medeah's singing is very unusual; her melodies and phrasings remind me of alternative bands like Soundgarden and even a bit of Pearl Jam, but all in a much darker context. Artrosis's music is actually somewhat hypnotic. Maciej Niedzielski's layered keyboards and synth lines float alongside repeating beats while Medeah performs her melodic chants. The most peculiar aspect of the music comes courtesy of Rafal "Grunthell" Grunt, who plays guitar rather as if he belongs in another band. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Artrosis found his lost guitar recordings from a previous effort and decided to patch them into Melange in some fit of mad creativity.
This isn't to say that the sound doesn't work - it's just peculiar. The guitar tone is full-on rock with harsh distortion, movin' riffs, and even an occasional wild solo that will remind you of rock's legendary players (not because it's of that caliber, but it's vaguely similar in wildness). Some of the tracks even finish with bits of messing around on the guitar - sliding around and making noise like a rock guitarist might at the end of a live song. Since the rock guitar only creeps up on roughly half the songs, you won't have to endure too much of it if you aren't interested in that sort of wanking.
All of these disparate sounds somehow mix into a very dark and enjoyable release. The rock influences sometimes fit with the darkwave elements to make a sound that is not too unlike Nine Inch Nails, and the vocals act as a mediator to bring everything together. I suspect that Artrosis is better at making songs than full albums, because there are a number of standout tracks here: "In a daze", "In low spirits", "Stone Infatuated" - but even the worst songs muster enough creative energy to be a step ahead of 'filler material'. I can assure you that Melange is a very worthwhile proggy gothy dark sort of CD, and fans of proggy gothy dark sort of music should give it a listen.
1) In a daze
2) In low spirits
3) Was it meant to be like that?
5) Tone of the Gloom
6) Somewhere between
7) Stone Infatuated
9) A Leaden Sky
10) A yen
11) Impre Sjon
Medeah - vocals
Maciej Niedzielski - keyboards
Rafal "Grunthell" Grunt - guitars
Artrosis Official Web Site:
Metal Mind Records:
Blood Red Throne
Affiliated With The Suffering
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Hey, Green Carnation fans, it's Tchort's newest output with his band Blood Red Throne! Nearly a direct follow-up to Light of Day, Day of Darkness, Affiliated With The Suffering continues the completely unrelated tradition of Floridian death metal. Ok... so it's not a follow-up. Tchort is one of the most confounding metal personalities. The fact that he can make such beautiful music with Green Carnation, and then put out hardcore black metal with Carpathian Forest, and still have the time and energy to make brutal death metal... he must be mad.
Since this CD is so different from any of Tchort's work with Green Carnation, Carpathian Forest, and (previously) Emperor, it's best to evaluate it compared to other death metal releases. Time break out our handy check list!
Naked women: None
Brutal riffs: Check
Burping vocals: Aye
Blast-beat drums: Yup
Horrible samples of people dying and talking about death and generally trying to creep you out: Check!
I could probably make the list longer, but you get the idea. Norway isn't exactly known for its hardcore death metal. Blood Red Throne plays the style with the best of them, because the riffs are actually fairly creative and distinct. But it's still your standard brutal death metal, and the fact that Tchort is in the band doesn't imply any greater depth. I think he wants to have a lot of bloody metal fun, and that he did. If you have any taste for horror/gore metal, you can't do much better than the variety of brutal rhythms that Blood Red Throne blasts through on these 9 tracks.
1) Unleashing Hell
2) A Dream of Death
3) Bleeders Lament
4) Mandatory Homicide/Death Inc.
5) Razor Jack
6) Chaos Rising
7) Gather the Dead
8) Affiliated With The Suffering
Blood Red Throne is:
Tchort - guitars
Død - guitars
Mr. Hustler - vocals
Espen "Beist" Antonsen - drums
Erlend Caspersen - bass
Blood Red Throne - Official
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman
Being that it is perhaps one of the most criminally under appreciated albums of Gothic Rock, it is my absolute pleasure to review this disc. Candlelight Records has recently saw fit to re-release the masterpiece Atrocities, the 1986 concept album that was the first full-length Christian Death record released after the departure of Rozz Williams.
For years, people have held close to their habits of dismissing the work Valor Kand did with and continues to do for the band Christian Death. Without question, Rozz Williams was an exceptional lyricist, vocalist, artist, and musician. Without him, there never would have been such a thing as Death Rock. His influence is incomparable and an incalculable amount of his work demonstrates nothing short of pure genius. But without Valor, Christian Death would have ended after Ashes was released. Though many believe that the band should have dissolved at that point, it would have been a shame if some of those successive releases had never come into being.
It is possible for open-minded people to enjoy several of Valor’s releases for what they are - good Gothic Rock records. Despite what fanatical fans of Rozz Williams claim, accepting and listening to the music that Valor produced detracts absolutely nothing from the legacy left by Rozz. Those that celebrate the achievements of both artists are infinitely richer and will have three times the amount of dark music to enjoy.
What critics inevitably overlook is that Valor, Gitane, and David Glass were equally devoted to Christian Death after Rozz recruited them in 1983. Their talent and work helped the name Christian Death achieve notoriety at the first peak of the band’s popularity in 1985. So why should they quit a band that they helped make successful just because the founder of the project no longer wanted to be a part of it? From 1984 into 1985, they helped make the name Christian Death familiar to alternative music fans -- so they certainly had a right to use it afterward.
The initial three recordings that Valor released under the name Christian Death are some of the most influential and powerful Gothic Rock albums ever recorded. Not to mention the fact that it was Valor’s material that initially gained the attention of post punk fans and dark alternative music fans in the late 80s. Valor’s Christian Death yielded the most club hits (“This Is Heresy,” “Zero Sex,” “Church Of No Return,” “Sick Of Love”) and it wasn’t until the mid 90s that Rozz’s Christian Death material began to regularly appear on Goth DJ’s playlists. (Ironically enough, Valor’s classic tracks have all but disappeared these days – but this I suspect is due to trends, rather than the quality of the music).
Besides the well-publicized but often libelous information about Valor ‘stealing’ the name of Christian Death and his ‘feuds’ with Rozz, the indisputable truth behind Valor’s decline in popularity can be traced to the fact that he hit a *very low* period in the early 90's when he released a few unfocussed albums that have no more than one or two strong tracks. These releases were much more experimental and unpredictable. As trends changed, Valor continued to reinvent himself and gradually became more allied with darker metal music and further from Gothic Rock. What it boils down to is that he is a remarkably talented musician with more insight and vision in one eye than most legendary musicians that get the most credit and attention in this genre. He and Bari-Bari (who appears on this release and the Wind Kissed Pictures EP from 1985) are responsible for setting the standards of guitar driven Goth as it was throughout the late 80's and into the 90's. But he continues to receive little respect from those who would probably enjoy, understand, and appreciate him most.
With all that said and done, I will get to the point and the matter at hand: which is to strongly urge readers to check out Atrocities. The album is a conceptual release that explores the ‘atrocities’ of WWII. The result is a stark and melancholic descent into psychology and emotional trauma. This magnum opus begins with a shrill, slithering violin sample lifted from one of Paganini’s 24 Caprices and then crashes into the frantic firestorm of “Will O’ The Wisp.” A shuffling and jagged rhythm underscores a discordant clamor of processed guitars and droning church organs, while Valor’s smoky vocal delivery wavers from a croon to a wail. The influence of punk rock had yet to fade from Goth, and “Will O’ The Wisp” demonstrates this immediately. A similar intensity resurfaces throughout much of the album, most notably in the gigantic bass lines of “Strapping Me Down,” the shadowy mischief of “Chimére de-si de-la” and the frenzied tribal drum cascades on “Silent Thunder,” a track that also appears on the Mephisto Walz album The Eternal Deep with Christiana’s vocals.
While several of the tracks are edgy, up-tempo post punk blasts, the album is as atmospheric as it is confrontational. The haunting gloom of "The Danzig Waltz" is truly unforgettable -- an eerie track that centers on murky piano passages, crowned by Valor’s ghostly vocals and jarring violin effects. Ethereal and apocalyptic folk fans will also take delight in the mediaeval nostalgia of "Strange Fortune,” where layers of acoustic guitar, hand percussion, and soft ambient lead guitars create a warm and inviting mood.
But perhaps Gitane DeMone provides the most atmospheric aspects of the album. Besides her distinctive back up vocal contributions to nearly every track, “Atrocities” offers a few of her most powerful and memorable lead vocal performances with Christian Death. First with the dark and sensual classic, "Tales Of Innocence," which is an unrivaled example of atmospheric Gothic Rock. Additionally, Gitane's moving rendition of the infamous Billie Holiday lament "Gloomy Sunday" first appeared on this album. Though these tracks are available on various live compilations, absolutely nothing compares to the original studio versions of these songs that first appeared on this release.
If you are a fan of the albums Catastrophe Ballet and Ashes, then Atrocities will definitely appeal to you. Though it does not feature the voice of Rozz Williams, musically and thematically, it was a logical and appropriate development of the band’s classic sound. Valor’s voice is commanding and hypnotic, and the song writing and instrumental arrangements are probably the band’s most mature and accessible. I hope that more people will be open-minded and check out this fantastic and seminal release. There are few Gothic Rock albums that feel as complete and satisfying as this one.
1.) Will O’ The Wisp
2.) Tales Of Innocence
3.) Strapping Me Down
4.) The Danzig Waltz
5.) Chimére de-si de-la
6.) Silent Thunder
7.) Strange Fortune
9.) Gloomy Sunday
10.) The Death of Josef
For this release, Christian
Valor Kand – vocals, guitars,
Gitane DeMone – vocals, synths, organ, piano
David Glass – drums, percussion
Barry Galvin (Bari-Bari) - guitars
Johann Schumann – bass
Christian Death – Official
John Collins’ Christian Death
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
One of the greatest things about living in a thriving metropolis such as New York City is the ability to find a vast array of artistic endeavors. Whether one seeks out unique bands, paintings, sculpture and the like, there is always a wealth of talent available for our enjoyment. Curse is reflective of an endeavor that typifies the heartbeat of the city.
The band formed in 2000 and states that their influences range from such legendary bands as The Ramones, Velvet Underground, Siouxie and the Banshees, Janis Joplin and Tom Waits. All of the aforementioned artists are still a heavy staple within the college circuit because of the timeless quality of the music. The magic of those bands is based upon their ability to musically translate some of the grit and angst of life in classically original ways while adding a touch of nostalgic seduction. Now, in the 21st century, Curse has ventured into the forefront to pick up the torch of past legends to bring that timeless tradition up to date, albeit with a touch of darkness for good measure.
Curse first came to the attention of New Yorker’s during the Convergence Festival at Irving Plaza. The buzz about their live performances in and around NYC attracted the attention of producer Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth, Swans, Helmet), which resulted in this self-titled release. The interesting thing about the band is their utilization of occult, historical and mystical themes, which includes New Orleans, Vodou, The Rites of Eleusis, as well as the myths of Dionysios, Isis and Orpheus. All of this blends into a respectful and introspective homage to the darker mysteries of ancient religion and lore.
This self-titled release falls within the parameters of a dark music for a modern day beat-generation. Although the work incorporates catchy rock melodies, one would not label this release “classic rock” or “typical goth.” The rock fusion is clearly evident, however the lyrical content as well as the hybrid of incorporated rhythmic elements and mystical chants bend the rules a bit, creating a new musical paradigm.
Mikaela Pearson’s lead vocals sweep between the essence of an enchantress to the disaffected angst of a rock goddess. The backing vocals and driving bass line from Theodora Michaels, the superb guitar licks from Kevin Michaels and the mesmerizing pulse precision of the drums and percussion from Robert Lacyk make this a band that is potent and cohesive. Everything recorded here is done “live” with minimal overdubs, thus dispensing a reflective and organic sound.
“Tattooed Rain” opens the disc with a new alternative rock flair. This was also the track chosen for Lollipop Magazine’s compilations # 57 and 58 and just seems destined to be the song to make the mark for the band.
“Her Confessor” delivers an updated shoegazer sound that also lyrically paints a story where one can imagine the events as they unfold.
“Starfall” incorporates a portion from Lord Byron’s “Child Harold’s Pilgrimage,” whose inclusion makes the last portion of the song sound like an invocation to the unseen realm.
“Luna” and “Maenads” both deal with ecstatic pagan rites. “Luna” however has more of an anticipatory element while “Maenads” seems to float on a surrealistic cloudburst of rapture.
“Graveyard Shuffle” intentionally gives a “honky-tonk/ barrelhouse-style.” When processed through the parameters of darkness, it works rather well.
“Like A Glass of Wine” dances between the throes of a relationship fraught with continual separations and reunions, never seeming to get it right. Since they have been through the charade so many times, one partner has reached a point where “the news of your leaving goes down like a glass of wine.”
“High Enough To Reach” utilizes delightful harmony and dark folk rock elements. Here, we are faced with the blatant reality that sometimes it is difficult to deal with one who is only emotionally functional only when they are “high.”
“Gris-Gris” is aptly dedicated to voodoo queen, Marie Laveau. This track showcases the guitars, but really pulls out stops and allows us to get lost in Lacyk’s delightful drumming. All of the tracks feature the talents of each artist, but this one really lets the drums kick into the heat of the song.
“Svengali” demonstrates the forthright attitude of a New York woman at its modern best. Lyrically, a “Svengali-like” person is trying to seduce one with money, presents and lies. However, none of the “5th Avenue treasures” or mesmerism is effective to one who seeks out a hear that is true.
When all is said and done, Curse offers original music that can be deemed as dark alternative with heavy doses from a number of other genres. The band isn’t overproduced to sound commercial, so comparisons with other bands will remain minimal at best. The song construction demonstrates that each artist carefully works off the other without trying to overpower anyone. The “hit” from this Cd that will most likely make it to college radio rotation will probably be “Tattooed Rain.” The track has a crossover fusion while not being too alarmingly dark for the general public.
Some of these tracks, if remixed, would work for club rotation. In their present state, the music is more for home listening or for a live performance than any nighttime hot spot. Nevertheless, for home listening, Curse is a blessing, particularly due to the fact that there is such a talented drummer keeping pace with the music. That in itself makes this release refreshing at a time when so many bands are resorting to drum pads and mindless machinery.
Curse is available along with sound samples at www.amazon.com , www.cdbaby.com and www.cdstreet.com
1. Tattooed Rain
2. Her Confessor
4. Luna (Draw Her Down)
5. Graveyard Shuffle (w/ David Amram and Marc Ribot)
6. Like A Glass of Wine
7. High Enough To Reach
11. Starfall (radio edit)
Mikaela Pearson: Vocals
Theodora Michaels: bass, backing vocals
Kevin Michaels: Guitars, e-bow
Robert Lacyk: Drums, percussion
David Amram: Piano, congas and pennywhistle
Marc Ribot: lead guitar
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Napalm Records recently patented their Goth Metal Design-a-tron 5000, a newly updated edition of their old cloning software. Consequently, older versions of their software have leaked on the internet, and now any old label can get their hands on it to make perfectly acceptable but largely unmemorable goth metal CDs. Metal Mind recently hacked the software and decided to produce a standard Napalm goth sound with just a hint of a Polish accent - the accent being the hacked bit.
If you're a fan of Napalm goth metal CDs, you really ought to get ahold of Delight. If you aren't... well, it's up to you. Delight avoids the traditional 'beauty and the beast' sound by getting rid of any beasty vocals entirely. Paulina Maslanka is a perfectly talented vocalist, but sticks to rather pedestrian melodies, as do the keyboards. The guitar riffs are utterly predictable, ranging from standard power chords to The Kovenant-ish militant rhythms.
I'm disappointed to hear yet another release in this style. Isn't it enough that half of Napalm's catalogue is already playing music like this? And the thing that really irks me about these bands is that they are quite good in their own way. Delight isn't directly copying anyone else, so I really do recommend them if you enjoy this style. But the problem is that many of the goth metal acts are all unique in the same sort of way - what defines them tends to be the singer's voice, not the melodies, or the guitar distortion and not the riffs, or even the keyboard samples... but not the compositions.
Delight has the competency to take their music to a higher level, and I sincerely hope they do just that. Right now they've made another enjoyable but forgettable goth metal CD, and I simply can't get excited about it. My advice to the band is to spend more time on the creative songwriting process, and not to settle for expected sorts of melodies. Assuming the band isn't the result of a sophisticated but uninspiring computer program, that is.
1) The Hand
2) Stained Glass
4) Spring Day
5) Whale's Lungs
6) I Promise
7) The Sun
9) Wieczny Final
Paulina Maslanka - vocals
Jaroslaw Baran - guitars, drums, samplers, and keyboards
Sebastian Wojtowicz - rhythm guitar
Piotr Szymanksi - bass guitar
Barbara Lasek - keyboards
Tomasz Baran - drums
Delight - Official Site:
Grand Death Opening
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman
Yet another prime example
of why I dread going to my mailbox. Is it a letter dusted by Anthrax
that I fear? No. What I look forward to with such chagrin is
the seemingly endless amount of unimpressive ‘atmospheric’ metal that has
been released since last year and is still being shamelessly (mis)promoted.
It seems like the spoiled crème of the crop unfailing arrives in
my mailbox to review. Nonetheless, principle obligates me to
share these CDs with our readers, if for nothing more than for a cautionary
Devlin is a new project by Marcus Ehlin, formerly the front man of the Swedish black metal act Siebenburgen. Most of the time, a band member’s former relations can tip me off. This time, being that Siebenburgen were a band that I thought had quite a few admirable tricks up their sleeves and two relatively solid releases under their belts, I thought this might not prove to be another dud. Top that off with a press release that promised “an ingenious…blend of darkwave, gothic rock, and highly atmospheric doom metal,” my curiosity was bursting and I couldn’t wait to hear what was in store. Even the cover was cool, depicting an eerie woodcut (which quite possibly could be an Albrecht Dürer) of Adam and Eve lingering around the fatal Tree of Knowledge in place of the usual busty vampiress or dragon slayer that graces most metal covers these days.
But what I should have learned by now being a dark music reviewer and journalist for over seven years is that you cannot judge a CD by its cover, and you certainly cannot depend upon the libelous press releases that accompany promotional CDs.
Devlin, quite simply, is a horrid addition to the continuous stream of poorly executed ‘dark’ metal flooding the market at the present time. As expected, venomous death growls and raspy black metal rasps are employed by the male vocalist and sound as novel and as gut wrenching as ever. Please! Not only has the effect of this style of vocals completely lost whatever appeal it may have once had, Marcus sounds sloppy and more like a Muppet than the great vengeful daemon of the abyss he aspires to be. Perhaps the male vocals wouldn’t sound so ludicrously out of place if they were not juxtaposed with the cock rock vocals of ‘female star singer’ Lexi, who at best, resembles Lita Ford. Apparently, Lexi is ‘operatically trained’ but by whom I could not guess. Throughout the entire disc, she never varies her flat intonation above a lazy biker chick’s inexperienced alto. How, pray tell, is this supposed to be atmospheric? Poor Lexi hasn’t even the slightest clue to as to how much of a parody she is. Truly, the vocals on this disc, by both Lexi and Marcus are deplorable and inspired absolutely nothing but impatience and disgust within me.
Then there is the music. The drumming is also sloppy and loose, and like both of the vocalists, the execution is unforgivably lazy. Few fills, no punch, and the music lurches at pretty much the same lackadaisical pace the whole way through the disc. Despite how aesthetically unappealing the music is, it regardless sounds uninspired, and is quite boring. The guitars rely on basic galloping power chords and the keyboards are silly and are best suited to score a children’s Halloween special. The album seems to get worse as it unfolds. “Dying Dream” is a disgustingly sentimental ballad, driven by piano and Lexi’s vocals. Crunchy guitars eventually stir up the monotony of it all, but they only make the song even more tedious.
But it was the cover of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” that truly sent me over the edge. Lexi’s off key and lethargic alto are a butchery of the original performance while the drums and guitars twinkle along under the poor assumption that they are adding metallic muscle to the song. However, the original New Wave track is three times as urgent and captivating, without the crunch of distorted guitars. A horrendously cheesy church organ supplies the melody we have been humming since 1983, and I actually laughed out loud at this juvenile and ineffectual arrangement. Devlin’s cover of “White Wedding” can be more fittingly described as an insult rather than a tribute.
Why do I sound so spiteful? Because I am sick of these bands, and I am sick of these labels. And if you are buying this drivel, what the bloody hell is wrong with you?? Metal labels are currently manipulating their audiences by throwing around genre descriptions that DO NOT apply to the product they are selling. They use terms like Doom, Darkwave, and Gothic Rock when not even a single dignified shred of the characteristics of those genres apply to the music contained on the disc. Sure, it has keyboards, and female vocals, and sings about death. But it’s not Goth. And it certainly isn’t Doom, because Doom is not so goddamned cheesy and uninspired. Even people that hate Doom Metal can at least recognize the sincerity behind it, and can also detect more professional skills, even if they are not interested or moved by what they here. It sounds like real musicians making real music. Devlin, however, sounds contrived, dated, underdeveloped, and corny. Any average music fan would be able to readily identify that it is dismissible.
Whatever. Be more demanding of what you buy, and expect more. Do not settle for mediocrity like this. There are great bands out there that can be appreciated that at least take their art more seriously. These people are jumping on a train that is bound for disaster and I hope to Christ that our readers spend their hard earned money on something else. Just because it’s newly released means nothing. Gothic Metal and Doom Metal are in decline, the art has been diluted, and because of bands like Devlin and numerous other bands that I have unfortunately had the pleasure to review as of late, one can no longer boast about these genres with the pride we once did and without having to explain themselves. And it sucks.
I will step off my pedestal now and go quietly into the soft night…
2.) Death Is Our Kingdom
4.) Come To Me
5.) Dying Dream
6.) White Wedding
8.) Sinner Paradise
9.) Queen Of Razors
10.) Buried Deep
Devlin – Official Website:
Devlin's Grand Death Opening is forty-four minutes of competently played guitar driven goth-metal. When listening to it, I am filled with... indifference. That's not to say it's particularly bad, or even that it's derivative of other bands and therefore uninteresting. With the exception of a few highlights, the songs are simply unexceptional. This is, of course, my subjective opinion... but nothing on Grand Death Opening really grabs ahold of me and demands my undivided attention.
The one truly unique aspect of Devlin's music (and the most likely to actually give the band its own identity) is the uni-named Lexi. She is a fine singer, though she has a strange delivery in the context of metal music. Her voice would be more at home on an oldies station with the Shirelles or the Supremes or any of those interchangable Motown girl bands. Her voice is powerful, but sticks to a relatively limited range in the mid-to-low frequencies. Lexi is at her best when she gets to actually sing as opposed to using the semi spoken-word style she deploys half of the time. While on the subject of vocals, I'll mention that Marcus Ehlin delivers a bog-standard metal monster growl over many of the songs as an unnecessary counterpoint to Lexi's clean singing. Will goth-metal bands ever tire of the 'beauty & the beast' vocalist format?
I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the album features a wholly ill-conceived cover of Billy Idol's erm... classic... 'White Wedding'. Billy is probably rolling over in his grave each time it's played. What? He's not dead? Could have fooled me. Anyhow, Lexi just isn't the right person to be singing the lead vocals in a cover of 'White Wedding', and the goth-rock stylings really don't do the song whatever justice it deserved. I'd much rather have heard another of the folkier, soft ballady numbers like 'Queen of Razors' or 'Dying Dream' instead.
So, then. We have an album with adequately played music and a quirky (though perhaps miscast) female vocalist. Oh, and monster growling. Can't forget the monster growling. The lack of any particularly catchy songs really makes this an album I can't recommend for purchase... unless you really really like Lexi's singing. Listen to the demo mp3 on Napalm's page and find out for yourself if you do. It may be enough to warrant the expenditure of your hard earned money. As for me, I'm closing the book on Grand Death Opening.
02.) Death is our Kingdom
04.) Come to me
05.) Dying dream
06.) White wedding
08.) Sinners Paradise
09.) Queen of razors
10.) Buried deep
Marcus Ehlin: strings, vocals, keys
Lexi: lead vocals
Devlin Official Website:
~reviewed by Saint Petrol
God, I've been craving this music for weeks. A mental palate cleanser, if you will. A steel brush to the inside of the head, a la Daniel Menche, Merzbow, etc. From the first moment I pressed "Play" I was in love. I've listened to these pieces several times now, and I'm more amazed each time, especially with what's going on in Baghdad these days. It's weirdly creepy, sickening, vulgar, to see those images, and hear much the same thing happening from the stereo. This is some serious headphone holocaust right here, and if it doesn't make you think a little, cringe a little, make a fist a little, tear yourself apart a little, then you must be dead already. I mean, this is like "Too Dark Park", on crack. I find myself clenching my jaw when I listen to this. It's really *that* good. I remember at one point closing my eyes and thinking, "This is like shooting a Glock and having someone take a blowtorch and jackhammer to your head, all at the same time."
2 Silence as your Deadly Weapon
3 Gasmask and Nightvision
4 Ammunition Entrance
6 Test of Fortitude
7 Pillars of Confinement
8 Human Downfall
10 End of the Line
11 Burning Away
12 Automation Threshold (hidden track)
order from: http://www.fracture.ar.com.au in Europe and Australia.
order in US: http://www.malignantrecords.com/, http://annihilvs.org/, and
Produced and executed by
Additional production on Track 1 by L. Tranter
The Electric Hellfire
~reviewed by Saint Petrol
Picture me with white foam dripping from around my mouth; with a slight but undeniable tremor in my hands, and a weird twitch in my left eye. Electronomicon did this to me.
I confess I've loved the EHC from day one. I've loved everything they've ever done, even back to Thomas' "My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult" days. I'm just a sucker for anything Thomas Thorn touches, I guess. My alltime favorite EHC album will probably always be Burn, Baby, Burn but this one's pretty damned cool. Excuse the pun. ::Cough::
The thing I love about this particular album is the influence of black and death metal that's crept into the mix. It was inevitable, and it's rather like peanut butter and chocolate, absinthe and sugar, goths and Johnny The Homicidal Maniac, or whatever. What I mean to say is that the influence is seductive and delightful, and it gives me the chills just thinking about it. The thing is, Thomas and EFC are smart enough not to associate themselves with the fake poseur black/death metalists parading themselves about like idiots these days; they went for the real deal. Peter Tatgren from Hypocrisy, for one. Having Tommy Tatgren engineer and co-produce with EHC was a brilliant move, and the whole thing leaves me as I described in the first sentences of the review.
Now, don't go thinkin' this is a Darkthrone album or something. This is still the Electric Hellfire Club you know and love. There's still that sexy, demented sound of Ricktor Ravensbruck's guitar. There's still the lovely, irreverent humor. It's just, well, it hasn't slept in a few days, and it woke up in its own piss. This EHC album came to with razors in its brain, and a Mayhem shirt tucked in its leather pants. Okay? Okay. Don't be afraid. Purchase. Indulge. Fall back on the couch and shudder.
1 Into Thee Abyss
2 Wired In Blood
3 Sons Of The Serpent
5 Stockholm Syndrome
6 Whores Of Babylon
7 Broken Goetia
8 I Dream Of Demons
10 Tannhauser Gate
11 This Is The Zodiac...
12 Hymn To The Fallen:
i Conjuration (Song Of Azazel)
ii Goat Mass
iii Revelry (Feast Of The Beast)
13 Keys To The Kingdom
Electric Hellfire Club in
this incarnation are:
Thomas Thorn, Ricktor Ravensbruck, and Sabrina Satana.
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
The Gathering entered the world of metal as a death metal band, and after a couple of relatively obscure releases, found their calling with the addition of singer Anneke van Giersbergen. Her melodic, soaring vocals added an emotional power that you don't often hear in metal; it changed the band's sound forever. And just to get this out of the way - for those of you still complaining about how The Gathering sold out after their first CD with Anneke, which was somewhat metal, get over it! This is several CDs later: The Gathering has continued to mellow out, but Souvenirs is possibly the group's most experimental and interesting record to date.
The soundscape is full of electronic beats and synth noises with watery, emotional guitar lines, symphonic keyboard swells, and moving piano. Anneke gives her most personal vocal performance yet. She has mostly given up on her rock-oriented singing, but her approach now is very soft and melodic, in a welcoming but intensely intimate way. Each song occupies its own beautiful and sadly downcast world. Even at their most upbeat, The Gathering maintains a melancholy sound that brings their music down to earth. Dark music fans in general should find comfort in this, but even the band's old metal fans will find a lot to appreciate. I'll say The Gathering has sold out when they become ultra happy pop and they start touring with Avril Lavigne and they cut a major record deal - so far they haven't come close.
For now, it's good to see that a band with some commercial appeal is willing to experiment and bring listeners the best music they can. Also, the production is better than ever, and greatly helps the layered themes encompass and sweep you away. Nice production is welcome, otherwise there's little more irritating than beautiful music compacted into a box of sound that's beat against your head repeatedly while you listen. Souvenirs has a style that is hard to label, but it fits well with trip-hop and rock, or maybe that's just 'trip-rock'. It's the kind of hypnotic and easy going music that can take you on a 'trip', but still has enough guitars and forceful elements to be deserving of the 'rock'.
It should also be noted that
Garm of Arcturus/Ulver fame appears on the final track. He sings much the
way he did on Perdition City's "Nowhere/Catastrophe". His voice is superb
as always, and his duet with Anneke is graceful and absorbing. The song
is very hypnotic and tranquil, fitting well with the pace of the rest of
the CD, and rounding
things up nicely. If you appreciate dark and emotional music, you should definitely listen to Souvenirs - it features the rare kind of music that is easy to get into, but is so diverse and compelling that you won't want to let it go. Fans of more recent Radiohead or similarly experimental and emotional rock music will also get into The Gathering's newest direction. You can check out an mp3 of "Broken Glass" right now on www.theendrecords.com. Make it a point to do so!
1. These good people
2. Even the spirits are afraid
3. Broken glass
4. You learn about it
6. We’ve just stopped breathing
8. Golden grounds
10. A life all mine
The Gathering is:
Anneke van Giersbergen
Hugo Prinsen Geerligs
The Gathering - Official
The End Records (US):
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Progressive Baroque Gothic Power Metal. How's that for a new genre name? Golden Dawn's album Masquerade has forced me to create that monstrous moniker due to its unique blend of premium grade sounds. Apparently, Golden Dawn's debut album The Art Of Dreaming was quite popular (and is now also being remastered and reissued by Napalm Records) when it was released seven long years ago. My press sheet reports that its followup has been 'long awaited by hundreds of thousands of metal fans worldwide'. I missed out on the band's first tour of duty, but if Masquerade is any indicator, that fluffy bit of PR may be less hyperbolic than it seems at a glance.
Masquerade features a dazzling array of deft guitar play, burbling synthy leads, swirling atmospheres, harpsichords, and engaging vocals. Everything revolves around dark or melancholic themes but never lacks energy. Golden Dawn's unique signature is scrawled across every track on the album. They graft stylistic bits from many eras and genres into a musical Frankenstein. This is appropriate, since much of 'Masquerade' sounds like a Halloween romp through a haunted house. If you can imagine (or indeed would dare to try imagining) the result of a fusion of Bach, Children of Bodom, and Fintroll... well, your head might explode, but you'd get an idea of what Golden Dawn has going on.
Not all of the album is pure creepshow-metal. A sort of bouncy power-metal stride pervades most of the tracks, which zips the listener along before they can catch their breath. Occasionally, however, the band opts for a mid tempo goth-rock approach. Further, a number of tracks are suffused with neo-classicism, usually in the form of intricate guitar arrangements or harpsichord madness. These passages show how technically skilled the musicians are, and rest assured, they are quite capable. The compositions are all dense with interweaving layers of sound (and happily, crisp, clear production). They will impress and delight listeners who appreciate a well-crafted song.
Several singers participated in the recording of Masquerade. Curiously, they are largely unheralded, with only Stefan Traunmüller receiving a vocal credit. The rest are simply referred to en masse on the press release, which mentions that the band employed '... the talents of several session singers.' Rather an inglorious way to treat contributors to your album, unless releasing their names is forbidden under some sort of contractual clause. Whatever the case, these 'session singers' provide a fitting (if sometimes unspectacular) assortment of dramatic clean vocals, black metal raspy growls, and on the last two tracks of the album, delicate and emotional female leads.
Masquerade is a fine album that should find an eager audience in many camps. Power metal fans will appreciate the energetic and upbeat riffing and fantasy-horror laced thematic content. More adventurous fans of symphonic black metal may like the dense layers of sound and aggressive guitars coupled often with traditional rasping (Children of Bodom is a good guidepost here... if you enjoy them, this is likely right up your dark, dangerous alley). Even fans of prog-metal have something to look forward to in the complex arrangements, prominent use of synths, and excellent instrumental performances in general. Golden Dawn's sun is certainly rising over the metal world, and seems poised to shine as a beacon of quality for some time to come.
01.) Silent Inferno
02.) Doomsday Celebration
03.) Alive And Immortal
04.) Where Dragons Reign
06.) Enthralled By Unknown Dimensions
07.) Unborn Again
08.) A Memory's Reflection
09.) Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
GOLDEN DAWN is:
Stefan Traunmüller - Keyboards, Vocals, Additional Guitars
Sebastian Reiter - Bass, Lead & Acoustic Guitar
Karim Kienzle - Rhythm & Lead Guitar
Moritz Neuner - Drums
Golden Dawn Official Website:
~reviewed by Saint Petrol
I love the parts of this CD where no one is speaking. They are graceful, thoughtful, and quietly consuming. However, when the vocals and spoken-word parts begin, I'm totally turned off. The vocals and lyrics seem insipidly silly, kind of like what Beavis and Butthead or Wayne and Garth would do if they were trying to sound cosmopolitan or intelligent.
The big premise of this whole thing is a European guy going to New York City for the first time. Which, to me, is laughable that someone would dedicate a whole album to this. Someone who's probably seen Rome and Paris and Munich and Amster- dam would feel compelled to write an entire album to NYC? Yeah right. Even if I accept the premise, having been to NYC a few times myself, I can't relate to this music as a reflection or interpretation of that particular city. Maybe it's an articulation of what someone wanted that city to be. I can't even see these lyrics as genuinely poetic. 'You want something poetic that reflects NYC, listen to the Last Poets or Grand- master Flash.
The promo material says that this CD is partially the work of Harald from Chandeen, which, admittedly means nothing to me since I've never heard Chandeen, but may mean something to you, and help you to make a decision to purchase the music anyway, in spite of my feelings for it. In fact, to be fair, I think the music throughout the album is glorious, I just think the vocals ruin it. Had I the ability to go through and remove the vocals, I'd probably like this album a great deal.
Lastly, whomever wrote the promo material which drew lyrical comparisons in this "concept album" to Allen Ginsberg's Howl is on something I'd like to have a nip of.
The broken Surface
A Zone of Silence
A More Sober View
a) Air-Conditioning System
b) Lantern Shadow split white urban Native apart
Animals & Districts
a) Emptiness, cooling Down
b) Last Instructions
Nearness of Harbour
The Sound of Leaving Foot-Steps
Falling back 'n' forth (Löwys LP Version)
Generator X.0.7/8 (Javelins LP Version)
Distributed by Projekt in
the US, EFA Medien elsewhere.
On Kalinkalind Records, (a division of Kodex Media.)
Javelin/Lowy are Ion Javelin
and Harald Lowy.
~reviewed by Kevin Filan
Toronto singer-songwriter JC Milo really likes Peter Gabriel. A lot. His vocal stylings on Giant Bug range the gamut from Lamb Lies Down on Broadway to So and points in between. In a lesser artist, this could be a fatal flaw. Thankfully, Milo has the talent and intelligence to rise above the merely derivative. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and you can't go wrong imitating the best. Standing on the shoulders of giants always makes for a better view... and Milo definitely does his antecedents justice.
The first track, "In the End," starts things off on a positive note. Milo's imagery of ice ages and apocalypse recalls Gabriel's "Red Rain," complete with synthesizers and a melancholy acoustic piano. His hymn to materialism, "Absolutely Nowhere," has the same kind of beauty and dark grandeur. "What we don't know won't kill us/we don't believe in spirits anymore/leaving us absolutely nowhere," Milo croons over a sad cello line that evokes whistling outside a graveyard. It's one of the highlights of this CD.
Milo's acoustic piano work stands out throughout this CD. His quiet elegaic chords on "In a Car" could have come from Tom Waits. Even the comparatively upbeat "As I Do" has an undertone of dread and longing, as he sings to a storm, asking the angry wind to "try to be polite." Perhaps the flowers will grow in the morning, but right now there's a storm on the horizon; he hopes his former lover "feels the same way as I do," but there are no assurances, and the jaunty piano lines ring hollow as old promises.
Milo's songs are strong, and the creative instrumental arrangements only make them stronger. The creative cello opening of "Baby Blue Eyes" (and the superb cello work on "In a Car" and "Absolutely Nowhere") show Milo's fondness for that beautiful but sometimes unwieldy instrument. It's no small feat to incorporate a cello into a standard rock band lineup, but Milo manages to do so with flair and skill.
Too many bands today rely on samples; somewhere along the way they came to the conclusion that programming skill could make up for musical talent or studio time. Thankfully, JC Milo isn't among their number. The chirping samples underpinning the twisted love song "Giant Bug" ("You could be the pusher/I will be the drug") and the electronic percussion of "World of Lies" are as catchy and well-done as the acoustic instrumental work. Milo uses modern instrumentation as skillfully as he uses the standards.
This isn't Classic Goth: it lacks the Usual Cliches. It's not danceable enough to be synthpop. (I can imagine Voltaire covering "Devil's in Love," but that's just because I'm a twisted S.O.B.). But it's a Damn Fine Slice of Modern Rock. Some critics have described Milo's work as "acoustic electronica." I wouldn't go that far -- to me he's closer to Adult Contemporary with a twist of lime, Indie Rock with the snarky irony removed and a healthy dosage of intelligence added. The vocals resemble Peter Gabriel: the vision is uniquely JC Milo. Intelligent, thoughtful, well-done and highly recommended.
1) In the End
2) Giant Bug
3) As I Do
4) In a Car
5) Baby Blue Eyes
6) World of Lies
8) Absolutely Nowhere
9) Devil's in Love
10) Alive in the Sun
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
Jera Denny first came to my attention quite by accident. During the latter part of 2002, while compiling a Gothic Xmas station of songs for the net radio station, I happened across her track “Ghost.” The beauty and mesmerizing quality of the music was convincing enough that further exploration of her work was essential.
Her work belies a dark carnival quality, leading us into an assortment of rooms in some Mad Hatters hall of mirrors. Once there, we survey the various layers of our emotional being. Denny’s vocal style is often reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, which is always a plus to this reviewer. Suffice to say, if you like Stevie Nicks, you will most likely adore Jera Denny. Unlike Nicks, however, Denny’s lyrics are less ambiguous and veer into a dark pop sensibility that you can’t help but put on replay for a while. This is especially true for those who find that their current relationship is held hostage due to a lot of emotional baggage.
“I Know” is a mid-tempo groove about understanding someone better than they think we do. It has a lazy ambience and a catchy hook to it that belies a bit of comfort in the familiarity. Before you realize it, you find yourself immersed and mesmerized into the track, swaying along to the beat on a rhythmic bliss.
“Dog Days” brings us to a portion of the psyche that desperately needs to unleash the primal scream. Mind you, this seems subliminally conveyed via the opening wails at the start of the track and then interspersed at various points of the track. The self harmony of this track is well constructed and propels this song in anthem-like fashion. Essentially, the track belies that inner churning at finding out the one you love has cheated on you. These emotions are expertly handled here.
“Where We Used To Be” whispers in the back of our mind about the time when things were so much different. It resonates to that cognizant voice within that dares to question the things we often do not want to confront head on.
“Let It Go” provides a bit more of an upswing beat with an assertive declaration about picking up the pieces of one’s life and just let the unimportant things go. Sometimes it is essential to have that private self-talk to realize that some people just aren’t worthy of our time in this life.
“Wait” somberly takes us through that magical moment at sundown. One is wrapped up in the heartfelt sentiment of unrequited emotion that is strongly depicted with the structure of the track. This gives voice to that emotional component where we are in a relationship that has stagnated to nothing. Upon awaking from the “emotional coma,” we somehow find ourselves filled with regret for wasting so much precious time.
“Ten Miles High” isn’t as strong as the other tracks, but enjoyable in a Fleetwood Mac sort of way.
“Ghost” is the magnum opus that I first learned about last Christmas. This haunting track was written for someone very close to Denny who has since passed on. In some way, the spirit of her friend has coalesced with her vocals in order to bring about a song that is simply magical. It is the type of track that one cannot help but put on repeat a number of times. This track is haunting with touches of Celtic somberness whose beauty is timeless.
If soft rock that is akin to dark pop mixed with Celtic flavor along with dashes of Stevie Nicks are conducive to your listening pleasure, do check out Jera Denny. This lady is an abundance of talent with the enchanting ability to bring us to our emotions as painlessly as possible.
Where We Used to Be
Let It Go
Ten Miles High
Jera Denny: vocals, guitars
Struan Oglanby: bass, drum machine
John Holland: drumkat,
Sound Samples and further
information available at http://www.mp3.com/jeradenny
Contact through: email@example.com
Fall, I Will Follow
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman
This German band’s previous release Burning: A Wish was one of my deeply personal favourite releases of 2001. In terms of the Gothic Metal genre, it remains a CD that is absolutely essential for a fan’s collection. With Fall, I Will Follow, the band’s fourth full-length release, the band has conscientiously attempted to craft a more commercially viable release. Most of the time, such a shift in direction is regarded a bad move. Case in point: Anathema, Katatonia, and according to some, Paradise Lost. Comparing this latest release with the band’s previous effort, I am personally let down, but I do not feel as venomous or betrayed as when I heard the last few releases from Katatonia and Anathema. Lacrimas Profundere have managed to move forward without sacrificing their most appealing and critically acclaimed characteristics, and the qualities that are most integral to their alluring sound.
So how has the band changed, exactly? Basically, the Doom Metal growls are gone, the songs are shorter, the lyrics are more direct and the melodic hooks are more traditionally catchy. What remains are the smooth, sullen vocal performances of Christopher Schmid, which is perhaps the band’s most inviting and immediate appeal. His captivating voice will unfailingly appeal to earlier Doom Metal fans, and equally provides an audible treasure for Goths, and casual alternative or rock fans. His voice is majestic, captivating, and the anxious, forlorn emotions flows out on vulnerable, honeyed breaths. The band’s penchants for mid tempo or galloping rhythmic paces remain, as does their enveloping guitar sounds. Though lighter than in the past, a solid foundation of bottom heavy guitars continue to crunch beneath the emphasized lead voices of jangling, overdriven harmonics and murky arpeggios. Bits of piano and acoustic strumming and cinematic synths add an additional layer of icy atmosphere, without seeming to follow standards of genre expectations. They contribute to the sound rather than seem to exist just for the sake of it.
While the brevity and immediacy of Lacrimas Profundere’s new material is an attempt to reach a wider audience, to traditional Doom and darker Goth Metal fans like myself, I believe that this album will have a slightly different affect than it would have on whomever they are targeting as a new audiences. Fall I Will Follow is a bit more forgettable on some levels. Not that you would intentionally flush these songs from your memory, but Doom fans rejoice in sprawling, epic song structures and the shorter, more concise tracks fail to evoke that kind of emotional grandiosity. The density of mood – how depressive or passionate the song makes you feel – is what makes a song memorable and determines how much a Doom fan is going to enjoy a song. Though a great many of the elements that solidified Lacrimas Profundere’s place in the annals of dark metal history are still unmistakably present, they have waned somewhat in their intensity and the depth at which they explore their dreary emotions is not quite as inescapable as on past efforts. But the melancholia is still their in great abundance, which earlier fans will surely recognize and it is tempered in such a way that new fans (not used to Doom) will not be overwhelmed or turned off by it.
Comparisons to Katatonia and Anathema have been tossed around as frequently now as in they were in the past. In many respects the developments of all three bands from Doom/Death toward various degrees of dark alternative rock certainly mirror one another. But of the three, Lacrimas Profundere’s music feels far more genuine and dignified to me. Nonetheless, the thing that I cannot overlook is the use of Travis Smith’s photography for the album’s artwork. Admittedly, this to me seems like a relatively shady and undignified marketing move: Lacrimas are apparently attempting to further ally themselves by packaging their product similarly and ride the coat tails of Anathema and Katatonia’s “success.” But further allying themselves with either of these bands threatens their artistic credibility. Discerning listeners have rightfully given up on both of those bands, despite the fact that so many fans still maintain that the last few Katatonia and Anathema records have been pure genius and were just so goddamned stellar. What Lacrimas Profundere needs to realize is that they can be successful on their own. What speaks louder than cover art is the music contained therein; and though there are similarities, Lacrimas Profundere’s material is just downright better – it’s more convincing, more moving, and ultimately, more fulfilling.
The bottom line is that Lacrimas Profundere have not entirely failed to deliver an album that will appeal to their fans, because they haven’t (as of yet) sacrificed or abandoned themselves to a style or sound that is beneath them. Where they choose to go after this, you really can’t tell. Fall, I Will Follow could be their last noteworthy release – or it could merely be an attempt to diversify themselves and once they have quenched their need for experimentation, they will return to doing what they do best and push the boundaries of Gothic Metal further, rather than trying to attempt to commercialize it for mass consumption.
Whatever the case, I recommend this album. It isn’t as captivating as their past efforts, but it is FAR better than most other current releases on the market, in any genre.
1.) For Bad Times
2.) Adorer Two
4.) I Did It For You
5.) Sear Me Pale Sun
6.) The Nothing Ship
8.) Under Your…
9.) …And Her Enigma
Lacrimas Profundere is:
Christopher Schmid - vocals
Oliver Nikolas Schmid - lead guitars
Christian Steiner - keys
Willi Wurm - drums
Christian Freitsmiedl - rhythm guitars
Rico Galvagno - bass
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
The black metal genre is an altogether different beast than it was a decade ago when Marduk was conceived (in, I imagine, a great enveloping oblivion darkness). A lot of bands have since left behind the cold, cold forests and corpse paint in favor of black metal in space or symphonic laden satan-worship. Marduk, however, has not. They've still got their corpse paint, and presumably their spiked maces for dueling in the wintry woods. In an age where most bands have pretty much moved on... I don't know whether to respect Marduk all the more, or wonder if they're just stubborn old black metal warriors.
World Funeral is an exercise in apocalyptic, blasphemous lyrics paired with respectably heavy and atmospheric black metal. Each song has slower and faster riffs and fast riffs with slow tempos and every other combination therein required to make good black metal. This allows the music to breathe when it needs to and beat you senseless the rest of the time. World Funeral is similar to Immortal's Sons of Northern Darkness in that both bands have stuck to a guitar-oriented black metal style. I favor Immortal, but Marduk should appeal to those of you that like your metal oppressively dark and satanic.
If World Funeral has one major flaw, it's that we've heard it before. No matter how well crafted it may be, or how well established Marduk is, World Funeral isn't particularly more special than a lot of older releases by Marduk, Immortal, or any other guitar driven black metal band from the last few years. What World Funeral does have going for it is good production, a nicely heavy guitar, bass, and drum sound, along with above average black metal songwriting.
It's a fairly lonely forest that Marduk is camped in right now. A number of their brethren ran off to abandoned citadels and discovered keyboards, and other disgruntled black metal bands decided to search for satan in space. If you've been waiting for a solid but somewhat modern hardcore black metal release, you'd do well to listen to Marduk. I'd say that you don't really need this CD if you own their other 10+ albums, but if you bought all those, hell, might as well complete the collection. The rest of us can either enjoy recent Abigor, Immortal, Thorns, or any other band that's trying something new.
1) With Satan and Victorious Weapons
2) Bleached Bones
3) Cloven Hoof
4) World Funeral
5) To the Death's Head True
6) Castrum Doloris
8) Night of the Long Knives
10) Blessed Unholy
Morgan Steinmeyer Hakansson - guitar
B:War - bass
Legion - vocals
Emil Dragutinovic - drums
Marduk - Official Site:
The End Records (US):
Mercurine (4 song demo)
~reviewed by Blu
Many of you may remember Mera Roberts as the cello player on Faith and the Muse's Blackout AD Tour. That's where I saw saw her first. She's also made appearances with (but not limited to) Cassandra Complex, black tape for a blue girl and Ministry before relocating to Los Angeles in 2000. Branching out on her own alongside Byron Brown (Superfiends, Kommunity FK, and the New Ambassadors of Love) they've created this promo EP while working on their full length CD. I happened to run into them at a New Year's party in Long Beach and was more then delighted when she happened to have an extra copy with her.
With Mercurine, Mera doesn't play strings at all (which I admit I was a bit disappointed in because I do love strings) but takes the spotlight instead to sing. Her voice shimmers somewhere between Switchblade Symphony, Kate Bush and Monica Richards yet doesn't try to duplicate them. There is all at once an innocent air yet coy, determined strength in her presentation. Their webpage says when forming this project Mera "envisioned a new band that would combine elements of New Order, Curve, My Bloody Valentine and harder-edged electronic influences." And musically, despite my general dislike for electronic percussion, it's done so well here that it doesn't bother me at all and does, to a certain degree, accomplish her goals. The electronics are used wisely and creatively, careful to avoid the repetitive traps of synthpop and smart enough to put in bright electronic pulses in just the right places. If you're going to use a drum machine, this is a good way to do it. Overall the songs are lush and textured -- upbeat, danceable and dreamy at the same time. While it seems to me that there are hints at a Faith & the Muse's influence in places, particularly on track one, they manage to bring something fresh and new to the table.
"Will Morning Come" is an obvious hit -- a memorable melody with a good danceable beat. Mera's sometimes delicate voice is tempered against distorted guitars and haunting synth lines. Track 2, "Gone Too Far," starts with a melodic bass line and almost elfin-like vocals and percussion that becomes more dominate as the song goes along.
Track 3, "Walking West," is the heaviest electronic-driven song. There's lots of sparkling synth lines contrasted with more gritty guitar playing while track 4, "Nameless" is an instrumental focusing on atmospheric guitars. Dreamy and vast it calls to mind early U2. It is a gorgeous composition.
And finally track 5 was not listed so I assume its a hidden track (or a misprint/accident?). There's cello-like bass lines, synths running counter melody and vocals that are whispered and echoing.
All of the four named songs are available on their well organized website for free so take a few moments to check them out. This is definitely the beginning of a wonderful new music project with a wealth of talent to propel them onward.
1. Will Morning Come
2. Gone Too Far
3. Walking West
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Metharia is an Italian band who play a style somewhere between classic metal and modern power metal. As far as I can tell, the promo CD they sent (which appears to be from 2001, oddly enough) isn't for sale... but you can listen to it on their website, as noted at the conclusion of this review. Should you spend your time doing so? Perhaps I can help provide an answer.
First off, Metharia's songs are sung exclusively in Italian. Whether this is a problem is a personal decision for the listener. I, for one, didn't mind at all. In fact, it probably enhanced the experience, because for the most part, vocalist Luca Volani sings like a madman. He wildly over-emotes every single lyric and could reasonably be descri