On top of my television sits a life-size grey skull. On top of the skull sits a small luminous rat. On top of the rat I have balanced, as a suitable angle, the CD cover, which gives an overall effect of a spectral headmaster. On the CD sleeve we find a face that looks unnervingly like Siobhan during Shakespeare’s Sister’s ‘Stay’. What on Earth is going on?
It’s only a short album, at approximately forty minutes for the seven tracks, and most have a safe, wintry feel to warm the cockles of your heart, which is the general All About Eve effect. They have managed to sound resolutely modern, while at the same time maintaining something of a demure approach, which masks the duplicitous alchemy at work on this project that will soon, I fear, strike terror into your hearts.
The good news is that there’s two new songs here, with ‘Melting’ being suitably winsome, in a stress-free sleepy manner, not unlike an Ally McBeal episode ending, where people walk forlornly home, with the emphasis on alone. It’s that kind of music. Then we have ‘Cold’, which is mainly instrumental and has about it in a moody, knowing feel. On top of that, in terms of expected rewards, you get ‘December Revisted’ which is gauzier than the original, moving into ethereal territory. In the anteroom to Heaven, distorted memories are left free to drift. Things turn livelier in the lumpy closing track that you would never know was them, as the cycloptic dance twist ‘December Amnesia Mix’, is more like Collide. It would have been brilliant to hear some hoarse vocals of a dark, brittle variety with this, to move it even further away, but instead the voice is all but hidden. Cop out!
But why is this all happening? Could it be that these Reganomics follow on from their sudden thirst for musical dictatorship? They think they can simply run their tanks across any territory they see fit? Well yes, actually. What I am about to say may seem shocking, so I suggest you settle yourself carefully, because there are three cover versions included, and I have to mention the following names – Wham, Aled Jones, and Queen.
I do apologise. I also must repeat them, in case you think I’m pissing about. Wham, Aled and Queen. It scarcely makes sense does it? Apart from dubious choirboy porn, it’s hard to see how the names could ever be mentioned in the same breath, but in the context of this album, it actually works. The songs are striped bare, and you have simple loops and breathy vocals, often with a deadened feel, where a breeze slips through them all, in a strange, at times disembodied, way. They actually make ’Last Xmas’ into a delightful song, slowed to a cautious speed, and seeming quite charming. The ‘Snowman’ theme (Walking In The Air!!!) is recognisable on a basic level but musically this is ultra-minimal, barely the ghost of a tune, verging on Twin Peaksesque. Queen’s ‘A Winter’s Tale’ is actually so close to the expected Julianne lyrical worldview that it fits perfectly, a warmer, enfolding experience, but still light, and delicate, like a dream.
If this was a new band you’d be confused, but drooling. So be honest, and get one. It is great to see they can still do it.
WALKING IN THE AIR
A WINTER’S TALE
DECEMBER AMNESIA MIX
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
The electronic underground was privy to a new phenomenon that began in the autumn of 1995. This was the point where history was made as Android Lust embarked on a musical path that heretofore was simply crowded exclusively with male artists.
Shikhee, a.k.a. Android Lust, has a background ranging from classical to contemporary music. Her attempts with several traditional bands proved less than satisfying, causing her to take a major musical rethink and become a solo artist.
After her successful and well received releases, Android Lust takes us even further into the world of mechanized and organic style music. The Dividing, which was two and a half years in the making, takes on post modern industrial music and weaves a scalpel’s precision of elements ranging from punk, pop and rock, forging yet again new territory with what could best be described as neo-industrial. The songs tackle emotional elements such as loss, discovery, regret and carnivorous loathing. This DarkVisionMedia release also boasts a special CD-ROM packed with photo’s, lyrics and a bonus track.
The Dividing also features guest musicians such as Lew Del Gatto (Saturday Night Live Band) on Flute, Christopher Jon ( I, Parasite) on live drum performances, Scott Slapin (the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra) on viola, as well as touches of Shikhee’s acoustic guitar mixed within the palette.
“Division” opens with a funereal style organ as Shikhee drones and self harmonizes, crafting an interchange between man and machine. The organs manage to coalesce and dance with a touch of Celtic flavor, demonstrating from the outset that there is a decided organic yet electronic interplay going on.
“Kingdom Of One” slams in with the trademark noise electronics while the keyboard percussion rushes us into a maelstrom of fuel injected beats. Shikhee’s vocals take on an urgency and overwrought intonation whose drive hasn’t been heard since the early punk rock days.
“Panic Wrought” adds layers of electronic gloom that bubble and coalesce, making it rather dark with a “goth” feel but not necessarily “goth.” The percussive beats elevate the track to club floor status while Shikhee infuses an almost desperate and lost soul delivery of the lyrics.
“Follow” sends out electronic laser beams on a seek and search mission. The track is mid tempo and adds so many interwoven elements that accompany her sotto voce delivery expertly.
“The Want” has been featured on her site on Mp3, but quite frankly, if one has only heard this track via a regular modem, you are missing a lot. The electronic percussive elements are intact, as is Shikhee’s desolate and subconscious delivery. However, the high and low ends from the fully mastered song simply bounce from the cavernous spaces, daring the listener to take a voyeuristic look into her world.
“The Stained” tackles dark electronics with atmospherics that are haunting and quite delicious. This is one mid-tempo sexy groove, that it would be unthinkable for any DJ NOT to feature it at some point in the night. We are also treated to an almost pop crossover vocal intonation, demonstrating the strong range that Shikhee possesses.
“Unbeliever” once again percolates underneath as sound and spatial atmosphere lead us into a dark electronic world. The vocals undertake a melancholic and pensive feeling, painting a hybrid backdrop between outward calmness coupled with internalized angst and uncertainty, earmarking this track for the club set.
“Another Void” flourishes with touches of classical elements, as though strained through a space-time continuum. Percussive and marching drum effects pick up the pace while other electronic elements bounce off of each other and the vocals.
“Fall To Fragments” opens with a beautiful flute rendition which segues to Shikhee’s sensuous vocals that are then cut up in razor blade fashion. Throughout the hypnotic percussive beat, the flute remains the counter point and base line where everything else is wrapped around it.
“Sex and Mutilation” veers into the familiar Android Lust territory of icy electronics. Imagine Die Form thrust 35 years into the future to get an idea of just how calculated this track was constructed.
“Burn” begins with a classical moroseness that reminds one of a gloomy and rainy day. The soulful element and lamentation is given an Elizabethan twist where Shikhee can be envisioned at a spinet, pining away for lost opportunities in life.
Having heard the entire back catalog of Android Lust, clearly this is without question the best work Shikhee has created to date. The songs take on more than just an electronic element, as she has interjected many comprehensive atmospheres, elements and intonations. Most of the songs are destined to be club hits, but there are also tracks meant for moments of introspection as well.
Unlike many of the male counterparts in the electronic realm, Shikhee doesn’t need to compress her vocals down to some white noise element simply because she CAN sing. Being female also allows her the extra liberty of taking emotional feeling beyond just the parameter of rage to bring to the table something that most male fronted acts cannot or will not do. That, coupled with her uncanny ability to hear music in everyday sounds and take on the task to recreate it into a viable musical medium demonstrates the precision and astuteness she brings to her craft. It is precisely her ability to bring an emotional component to the neo-industrial movement that will once again make her work a benchmark for others to emulate in the future. Android Lust is anything but dull and one never knows what else Shikhee will pull from the stratosphere to taunt, tease and bedazzle us with. Do seek out this recording as it conveys sound and music unlike anything on the market at the present time. Rest assured, there will be many imitators though few will be able to connect with the organic and electronic elements the way Android Lust has.
Kingdom Of One
Fall To Fragments
Sex and Mutilation
current live Android Lust members are:
Shikhee (vox, keys)
Christopher Jon (drums, keys, backing vox)
TrevorG (keys, bass, guitar)
Amazon.com | Broken Seal (Germany) | CD Baby | DSBP | Gemm | Isolation Tank | Metropolis Mail Order | Middle Pillar | Projekt/Darkwave | Storming the Base (Canada)
Portals of Grace
~reviewed by Jyri Glynn
Equally matched within the musical veins of such vocalists as Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance), Loreena McKennitt, and Enya, Azam Ali’s debut album, Portals of Grace, adds her own touch of Medieval European flare to the genre. This is a cd that will certainly be appreciated by any eclectic listener.
Formerly the vocalist for world-music group Vas, Azam Ali describes her music as ‘alternative world’, a term which she defines as music that transcends cultural and geographic specificity. Her appeal easily reaches the souls of both ambient, new age and goth fans alike.
Ali was born in Iran and raised in India and with this album she truly exhibits the melodic emotions of her Middle Eastern heritage. Drawing from many varieties of medieval styles, Portals of Grace includes songs in French, Latin, Arabic, Judeo-Spanish and Galician. The music ranges from an early 14th century tune in the Provencal dialect to a 12th century song written by Comtessa Beatrix de Dia.
Portals of Grace transports its listener into a harmonious journey utilizing such exceptional world instruments as the hurdy gurdy, vielle, rebek, hammered dulcimer and the nyckelharpa to name only a few. On track#7, titled "Sackpipslat", bagpipes are traditionally used to perform this Swedish medieval melody; instead, musician Ethan James demonstrates the full extent of the nyckelharpa. This bowed instrument is worn much like a guitar yet is played with a short bow that runs over 16 strings: 3 melody strings, one drone string, and 12 sympathetic vibration (or resonance) strings creating a very haunting, yet exquisite result.
Each track on this album narrates its own story of traditional folktale and myth. The album insert describes each song in its entirety with the story, history and the people they were written about. Ali explains that her intent with this release was to give this traditional music a contemporary feel in hopes to expose its beauty to people who, with absolutely no reference point, may find the more purist, academic approach to be too austere or inaccessible. With Portal of Grace this has been achieved.
Record Label Website: http://www.narada.com
Artist's Website: http://vasmusic.com/Bio's/azam_ali.htm
Axis & Les Joyaux de la Princesse
Absinthe: La Folie Verte
Athanor, ATNR 017
~reviewed by Saint Petrol
For those of you already familiar and enamored with either Blood Axis or Les Joyaux de la Princesse, you need not read much further. You will not be disappointed by this piece of work; you need only purchase it and fall quickly in!
For those of you who remain unfamiliar with either Blood Axis or Les Joyaux de la Princesse, I encourage you to make a purchase or two, and find out exactly the brilliance you've been missing. Blood Axis has been involved with several compiliation projects which are truly breathtaking, including projects inspired by the likes of Julius Evola, Lucifer, and Mithras; I very highly recommend these, no matter how difficult they may be to acquire! Les Joyaux de la Princesse also has an impressive body of work which will sate any person's hunger for the burning, elegant landscapes of what has come to be known as "apocalyptic folk" music.
Now, to the album at hand. If one has not had absinthe, it is quite possible to enjoy this music, because it is well done and lovingly created. However, I feel that to truly understand how well and lovingly done this work is, one must have been held in the clutches of this green folly oneself. To listen without knowing absinte would be, I imagine, like trying to understand the bright organic patterned chaos of the 60s without having done psychedelic drugs, or like trying to understand the blacklight fascination of rave without ever having done ecstasy. The aesthetics of the music reflect qualities of the experience that cannot otherwise be fully comprehended.
There is a certain beautiful horror reflected in this music which I feel is aptly expressed; something beautifully old, something covered in dust and splendid, but underneath, friend, underneath, can any person bear this wondrous horror? Subtle, tender melodies float over echoing madness. All of what has made the music of Blood Axis and Les Joyaux great before, has been honed, perfected, concentrated and focused within this green asylum. All of the grandeur, all of the pomp and fury that has drawn me to apocalyptic folk in the past, is present here, along with the very spirit of absinthe itself. The first two times I listened to the album, I sat in awe, and noted with amusement as waves of nausea passed through me. The sounds of these works so aptly recall the experience of absinthe, I felt as if I were taken again, e'en though I had not been.
The perfection of this collection of sounds and songs is the result of years of experimentation and obsession with not only absinthe, but the culture and history behind the drink. The album contains poems which were written at the turn of the century, and bits of songs written to and for absinthe, culled from old cylinder recordings and 78rpm records. I have never, ever seen or heard and tribute to or journey through absinthe in sight or song, more beautiful than this album. The cover artwork, the inner sleeve, the booklet within, and lastly, amazingly, the music; all of these things are done with unusual and un-common tenderness and care. I recommend this album highly. You won't feel you've wasted your money. It won't be one of those experiences where you wonder what all the hype's about. You won't open your package arrived from afar, and wish you'd've picked something else. I think you'll stop, like I did, and smile to yourself, glad that people in the world still care about music this much. Still care about anything this much. My grateful thanks go out to Michael Moynihan, Eric Konofal, and everyone involved with this project. Thanks also to Athanor, for continuing to be involved with projects like this one. I go out into the world today because of this album, haunted and happy. To absinthe, to obsession. I raise my glass.
1) Folie Verte (I Am The Green Fairy)
2) Symphonie Verte (And Here I Am, An Absintheur...)
3) Minutes D'Absinthe (Let Me Be Mad, Mad With Absinthe)
4) Absinthia Taetra (Opaline)
5) Poison Vert (D'Apres Frederic Barbier)
6) Avec Les Fleurs... Avec L'Absinthe (With Flowers And With Women)
7) Variations Sur Le Theme De Corelli (By Venus And Cupid) & (That Night, I Drank Deeply)
8) Princesse Verte (D'Apres Emile Spencer)
9) Fee Verte, Vous Etes Jolie (Chante Par Affre)
USA distribution: Metropolis, Middle Pillar, Soleilmoon.
Les Joyaux de Princesse: http://www.ljdlp.net/
And a website about absinthe:
White Dog Music
~reviewed by Saint Petrol
for some background into the life and works of Bobby BeauSoleil, I strongly
suggest you read previous interviews and reviews of his music, both at
(http://www.beausoleil.net/Bobby/bobframesert.htm) and in the Starvox archives (http://www.starvox.net/crypt/dec2.htm).
I hold this music in my hands at a time in my life when I needed to hear it most. I feel lucky. One of the things I do when life is feeling a bit rough, is look up into the night sky. My fascination with our universe and specifically dark nights on earth, has lead me recently to spend a lot of time at a local observatory. If you have one near you and have never been, I highly encourage you to go. It seems like synchronicity that I have spent the past few weekends of my life looking at Saturn and the wondrous winter constellations, and then a CD called simply "Orb" arrives in my mailbox to be reviewed. All that is spherical, all that is luminescent, all that is deep and troubling and comforting and profound, all the wonder and mystery I find in the night sky, I hear and feel in this music. I am amazed.
The CD begins with an overture called "Dreamways of the Mystic" which makes me wish that Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Bobby BeauSoleil could converse with guitars. That's a conversation I'd love to hear. Bobby's guitar is as soulful, haunting, and bright as David's work circa (ironically or not,) "Dark Side of the Moon". The next track is the beginning of a gorgeous four part piece called "In the Temple of the Moon". The sound of it almost sickens me with delight. It beautifully encompasses the breathless wonder I feel when I stand, with my eye to a telescope, and try to comprehend in any way possible, the majesty of the universe we live in. The sound and feel of the "Temple" tracks leaves me with my mouth a little dry and my heart pounding. Haunting, yes, but god, so full of profound weight, and depth, and hope, and delight. No one makes music quite like this. I cannot with any self-respect sit here and believe that my words can ever express why and how this music is magical. I can only encourage you with deepest sincerity, to expose yourself to these sounds without reservation.
The third and fifth tracks on the album concern one Punjab the Barber, and his Return. The music here is tactile, sensuous and strange. Beautifully exotic, and yet playful. An invitation to unknown customs, and unmapped deserts. Maybe I read too much Bradbury, but I like to believe that Punjab the Barber's desert is somewhere far, far from Earth's Allahabad. I like to pretend it's on Mars or one of Jupiter's moons.
"Songs of the Forest People" is the seventh track on the album, and again, I like to believe the people of this forest are from a place or a time far far from what we can comprehend. I like to close my eyes and imagine the buzzing insects of this forest are like none ever seen by human eyes, nor harmed by human hands. The entire atmosphere of this album calls me to push my mind further, further, out into what can be imagined. The constructs of these sounds point me not to memory of this Earth, or anything I've ever known whilst inhabiting it. The underlying framework of this music, of these sounds, seems to change and morph constantly. I cannot keep my mind on it. When I listen, I hear not so much the sounds themselves, but the cause of the sounds, which is timeless, limitless, without name or bound. This nearly frightens me, but I can't stop listening. "Songs for the Forest People" could be as much for the ravens who inhabit the LA County Zoo, as for the strange, feathered reptilians who live free in forests in other galaxies in other universes.
The final track on the album is the companion piece to the opening overture. "Dreamways of the Mystic Part I", somehow incorporates all of the ingredients of the tracks previous, and weaves them into one fantastic vision. Again, I am reminded of David Gilmour and Pink Floyd, which, as a fan of both, is from me, one of the highest compliments I could pay. But I will also happily point out that this is not, in fact, David Gilmour or Pink Floyd. There is something different here. This is the work of Bobby BeauSoleil, an individual, living, working, and breathing his own dreams, his own visions, his own galaxies, universes and atmospheres. I will always be grateful to him for singing with his guitars, for stretching out with his sounds. His music touches my life uniquely. This album is, in my opinion, his best yet. I will wear this one out, looking at the stars and the planets, and letting my mind go where it will.
1) Dreamways of the Mystic -- overture
2) In the Temple of the Moon -- Part 1
3) Punjab the Barber
4) In the Temple of the Moon -- Part 2
5) Punjab Returns
6) In the Temple of the Moon -- Part 3
7) Songs of the Forest People
8) In the Temple of the Moon -- Part 4
9) Dreamways of the Mystic -- Part 1
order this CD, please visit: http://www.whitedogmusic.com/artist.html
People Of The Dark
~reviewed by Blu
If you were lucky enough to attend one of their shows on the West Coast of the U.S.A. you probably got your hands on this new CD and will have had a chance to hear what most people won't for a few more months yet (it's slated for a mid-April release in the UK and later for the rest of the world). Lucky, lucky people you. San Francisco DJ Rick A Mortis just named People of the Dark one of his top CDs of the year alongside work such as Cinema Strange, Penis Flytrap, Peter Murphy and David Bowie. Greg Fasolino, noted alternative music journalist and guitarist for The Naked And The Dead, has said it's a "damn good" CD and named their track, "The Fall Of The Evergreen," as his favorite off the StarVox Trinity Compilation. You see, it's not just me.
So what's all the excitement about you ask? Buzzing around subjects as diverse as UFOs, ghosts and paranormal activity, matters of the heart and rebellion against unfair practices of organized religion and government, is a complex, well produced, textured and musically powerful CD. At times it's a seething ball of fury and criticism on political fronts; at other times it has all the abandon and fun of bouncy, riotous punk and every once in a while, there are moments of pure blissful beauty and heart-felt soul. If I had to make references for familiarity's sake, I'd say mix up a bowl of one part Sex Pistols (for the angry energy) and one part New Model Army (for the politics) and toss in a bit of Killing Joke, Led Zepplin and The Damned for musical flavor. It's not a perfect CD, I don't know any that are, but it is highly superior on many levels and will undoubtedly make my "Best Of' list at the end of the year.
What I first noticed is how crystal clear the production is. The sound is really top notch. Candy to the ears -- it's as crisp and brilliant as any CD done by a big name label. What makes this even more incredible is that this CD was engineered by Belisha's very own guitarist - Byder. Talk about a DIY band!
Track one, "Tribal Gathering," is a lush instrumental introduction that sets the theme for later songs. Mixing Christian commentary with samples of Middle Eastern religious music, it's exotic and disturbing at the same time especially in our current political climate. And while the absolute horror of misguided religious paths hangs in the air, they launch into their first song, "Agnostic Jihad" where no religion is spared criticism with the hope that we may someday as human beings, get beyond those differences and stop using them as means of murder and hate. The chorus opens up the song against the backdrop of Indian music for a worldly flavor helping to drive home the point that this is not about any one religion but all of them when used as excuses for racism and genocide. Big and bold and in your face they yell: "Your gods are dead." Hitting upon perceived hypocrisy they sing, "Holy leaders, All religions, Love thy neighbour, Embracing murder, The truth now, Your gods are dead" all to the tune of pounding, guitar-heavy anthems. Highly energetic, angry and powerful, this song may well be their first single.
Track 3 is one that many may have downloaded off Belisha's website earlier this year. They wrote "People of the Dark" for the goth scene in appreciation for our support of their music (an unusual bit of thanks that we don't normally get from a non-goth bands). If you've read any of the interviews done with this band you know that one of their goals is to crush the way the mainstream music industry works and they're more than happy to take us along for the ride: "Dark ones, Take hold, People of the dark will meet -- the realm is turning, People of the dark will set the land a burning..." Musically it's a mid-tempo song with a catchy melody that I've no doubt had running through my head many times since I first heard it.
Getting into more personal territory, "Pain" is a bleak and dramatic song centered around heartache and loss. It's driving tempo and guitar melodies echo the desperation and emotional turmoil of a broken heart searching for a reason to continue on. Vocalist Dan spits out the word "pain" on the chorus as if on the verge of complete frustration and breakdown. On the flipside of this emotional roller coaster they've taken us on, is lusty track "Want." Built around a staccato, bouncing bass line that lends itself to punk inclinations, it's lyrically romantic: "I held you I felt you I want you I need you I see you I breathe you I want you I need you." There's a nice bridge here that slows it down and changes the feel of the song for a bit before rousing back into the main chorus.
Track 6 does not have a title but a symbol. Upon first listen it appears to be a scratchy radio transmission of some kind and if you know Belisha and one of their favorite past times, it's not too hard to surmise that this is a recording of a UFO encounter. What makes this terribly interesting is that it's the actual transmission from one of the UK's top UFO controversies that happened in 1980 near RAF Woodbridge in eastern England. It's been dubbed the "Rendlesham File" and ironically, only recently has this information been made public. In press releases that hit the news on Nov. 29th, the complete government files have been made accessible to the public for the first time. It's completely fascinating to be able to hear this recording especially in light of the recent news. See more info on this case on CNN here and stay tuned to StarVox for a new interview with Belisha and more about this subject.
"Negative" is one of my favorite tracks because it's massively heavy and hard hitting. We've all had those people in our lives who insist in wallowing in their own pain for illogical reasons, who don't listen to reason, who refuse to help themselves, who seem to do nothing but bring everyone around them down. That's the theme behind this song. With guitars that are almost metal in nature and lyrics that are nearly shouted and always fueled with anger; I daresay they'd attract a few headbangers with this one.
"Eyes That Blacken" is a great example of how keyboardist Pit uses samples and keyboards in just the right places to accent a piece rather than over loading a song with them as many modern bands tend to do. It starts with vocals over synthetic percussive elements so low you almost don't hear them and then a siren comes in blaring before giving way to bell tolls all to highlight yet another song about heartbreak. It develops into a fairly fast tempo propelled by a nice bouncy bass line.
Track 9 is a 43 second track titled "Lizzard" and if you've got the capability to play it backwards you will unlock the mysteries of the universe. Otherwise, it's a bit harsh on the ears. Don't get me wrong, I find these odd interludes (tracks 6 and 13 included) completely fascinating and they often aid in understanding what motivates this band; however, when you're listening to the CD over and over again in the car for the pure joy of hearing good music, this track gets to be a thorn in your side and I'm now automatically reaching for the "skip" button when it comes up. So perhaps, the idea was good and the sentiment important but the placement of it is bothersome when listening to this CD for purely musical reasons.
Next up is the jewel of the pile for many people. "Shroud of King" has been the surprise favorite with those who picked up the CD on their recent West Coast tour. It continues a theme first explored on their CD, The Hounded, in the track "Into the Casparian Sea." Exotic and mysterious sounding, textured with more Middle Eastern melodies, it's got a good beat and great allure with it's adventuresome tale of kings and battles. Sexy and serpent-like it winds and slithers and begs your body to move to its rhythm.
Then we have track 11. To be completely objective I have to admit that "Hero" does not work for me. While the lyrics are obviously fueled by some strong emotion, the music itself seems much too pop-ish for its own good and to me, the lyrics lose their affect in the seemingly carefree tone. Even though it starts out a bit more down beat with a great bass led melody, by the chorus it's sing-songy and light and just too happy sounding for what the subject matter is. Could just be me. It's not a bad song mind you - it has plenty of personality and I do catch myself sometimes bopping along to it; but something just does not click with me even as they whisper "I hate you I hate you I hate you" in the background. Maybe I'm missing the irony?
"The Fall Of The Evergreen" almost needs no introduction here as this was the first song released prior to this CD on a teaser EP and then again on the StarVox Trinity Compilation. It has been the song they've gotten most club play with and certainly a favorite for fans. This CD has a different version from the one on the EP, a bit more uptempo and more textured. It's been perfected and is seamless in production. This is a perfect example of the kind of tight rock n roll Belisha is capable of. The guitar here is especially good and varied - classically jangly in all the right places, screeching and ripping in some instances and distorted and dirty in others. The chorus is very addictive and the uptempo beats are hard to resist. I predict this is the song that will get them the most comparisons as a modern version of bands like The Cult.
If you're not paying attention track 13 will buzz by and you won't notice it. Or perhaps you'll only think, "odd, that's a bit of a long silence between tracks." But it's not silence. No no, it's another odd little treat Belisha has stuck in there for us called "Altered Ones". If you turn it up and listen to it with headphones on it should make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and chills run up your arms. At least it does to me every time I play it. Even though there is nothing to give away the subject matter per se; it is sufficiently spooky all on its own. I had a suspicion of what it was and later asked them about it and they confirmed it for me. What you'll hear here is some EVP recordings - or Electronic Voice Phenomena - which is supposedly the low-audio sounds of paranormal activity caught on tape and only audible by intense magnification. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... creepy. Not recommended when all alone in a dark house.
Next is my favorite track on the CD if I had to pick just one and strangely, it's the most un-Belisha song of the bunch. It's an unlikely favorite to be sure but perhaps it's because they are usually so energetic and so boisterous and loud and angry that I appreciate the quiet beauty of this acoustic track all the more. Yes, I said acoustic. Belisha does indeed have a soft tender side though lord knows they don't let it out to play too often (and we wouldn't have it any other way). The music is utterly beautiful - delicate acoustic guitar with wonderful harmonized vocals and hand beat percussion. The lyrics are mystical and magical and the sentiment soars with emotion and wonder. I've yet to unravel the mystery of this story but I'm working on it: "Silence for the approaching king, Sexless mighty and meek, Viper in a tarmac bind, Dances slow with each of, Maria and her western girls, Swirl with stealth and reach, Lies they say and fires they make, The lone ghosts gently weep." Keyboard lines hint at heart-pulling string melodies and I can only imagine how much more dramatic this song would be backed with a real set of string players. There is a section right before the final verse where the acoustic guitar really gears up and the notes are picked bright and fast and it almost brings me to tears. I have literally set this song on repeat in order to listen to it over and over again and haven't got tired of it yet.
Speaking of ghosts and paranormal things, "Old Barbed Wire" is another unusual track - a spoken word part set in a creepy dreamscape that seems to portray a vision of a battled and beat army. I like it because the subject matter is pretty morbid and being a silly American, I find the British accent completely delightful. I do have one small complaint though. Despite the superb production on all the other tracks, the beginning of this one seems entirely too loud. For some reason that first rush of harp is just overpowering and I find myself turning it down for a few seconds only to have to turn it up again to hear the vocal part. I'm unsure if this was done on purpose -- as a way of whisking the listener down into this dream world -- but it's loud enough to make me adjust the volume every time and that's a tad annoying. Beyond that little bit of criticism, I think it's a fairly effective as a descriptive soundscape on the horrors of war and the mis-guided evil that humans are capable of.
"Rising" continues their anti-religious theme but in a less aggressive way than "Agnostic Jihad" did. The lyrics are a bit more cryptic, almost riddlelike: "Buried in the certain veil, Balance form soul to sail, Suffer with the Holy Ghost, Every man needs it most." This music is laid back but still heavy in a kind of dramatic stadium-band way and it's really grown on me the more I listen to this CD. It's deceptively more complex than you think upon first listen. Myself and others have found odd comparisons between Belihsa and bands like Led Zepplin and I find that most apparent here although I think it was entirely unintentional. It starts out with keyboard lines that are both regal and a bit psychedelic in tone with long, drawn out guitars and rumbling low bass lines. The drums are heavy and accented. The chorus is strong and clear and very catchy. The keys are the real stars of this one because this song suddenly changes and builds to a feverish dirge of sorts, each instrument, one by one chiming in on a the same melody line until a whole orchestra is let loose and it's pounding very heavily altogether completing a dramatic climax with accompanying break beats in the percussion (and this is where it's most like Zepplin). It never fails to make me head bang like a highschool boy. I love it.
And finally, my second favorite song and by far my favorite in their live show is "Illuminati." Accessible in a good way, aggressive and another great example of that kind of excitement I can only tag as "Belisha Energy." It's angry and alive. It's especially fun in headphones or in a good surround sound system on the chorus because you get Dan whispering in your ear and then you get pierced on all sides by the group chorus. I'm almost obsessive about this chorus - it literally just RIPS out of the speakers. It's like a good roller coaster ride. Musically they just go insane on this one. There's a guitar solo in it that's off the hook and the drumming get maniacal. Subject wise it's their "love song" to world governments and just the kind of tongue-n-cheek cynicism that I like best in this band. On CD and especially live, Dan goes completely mad and we get the full extent of his anger as no one is left out of this political reaming: "Fuck G8, Fuck Rockefeller, Fuck Rothschild, Ruck UN, Fuck Nato, Fuck Bilderberg!"
I think Johnny Rotten would be proud.
1. Tribal Gathering
2. Agnostic Jihad
3. People Of The Dark
8. Eyes That Blacken
10. Shroud of King
12. The Fall Of The Evergreen
13. Altered Ones
14. The Lone Ghost
15. Old Barbed Wire
Dan - Vocals
Byder - Guitar
Elrik - Bass
Pit - Keys
Hawl - Drums
Filthy Sonnix Records
~reviewed by Basim. [Rhymes w/ Possum]
Gosh, for a scene that prides itself in being creative, Goth sure seems to ride trends often. Yesterday’s Nosferatu, Rosetta Stone and The Wake are today’s VNV, Apop and Covenant. Whether it be Sister clones, or by-the-numbers EBM, what succeeds in our scene is almost always formulaic. For this very reason, Virginia’s Bella Morte sticks out like a sore thumb among the current heap of bands today. While fellow Americans Cruxshadows seem to have taken up a decidedly Eurocentric sound drawn from a fairly limited -cynics would say reserved- list of influences (VNV, Apop), Bella Morte has done the exact opposite. There is no doubt this is an American band whose sound takes cues from a wide range of influences – many of which, I’m happy to report, have no association with the Goth/Industrial scene whatsoever!
The opener, "Regret", turned out to be my favorite song in their set at the Boston gig they played last June. It had this killer energy to it that can only be described as ROCK. Opening with a simple synth part, it’s pretty hard to imagine how intense the music gets. Alongside, Andy rants:
Where has the warmth within your voice gone?And before you can come up with an answer, some growling bass begins to bubble under that seemingly simple synth part, creating the substance of what will be a colossal juggernaut poised to plow through anything that comes in its way.
It seems your care has died away
I wander through a thousand questions,
Never knowing what to say.
Lift your palms – your hands are soiled,
And the guilt now lights your eyes,
‘Will I know or will I wander?’
The voice of severed ties.
Years will pass and you’ll remember,The first thing you notice about the lyrics is that they’re a lot more personal than Bella Morte’s previous material. This is totally a break up song, and along with it is this dormant resentment that’s just seconds from having to explode! In a move demonstrating good song craftsmanship, the Bella Bois have written the chorus with this airy faerie ambience to it: The vocals are drenched with lush reverb, and the guitar wails in the background with the warmth of a humpback whale. This lack of grounding adds to the tinderbox of suppressed negativity, and before you can say ‘resolution’, this sharp snare pierces through the atmosphere and the vocals get a hell of a lot angrier:
All that died within your grasp.
And I’ll be gone – you’ll sleep uneasy,
Upon a bed built of regret.
You won’t forget the loss of passion
As the past sleeps in your mind,
Years will pass and you’ll be searching
For things you’ll never find.
Beneath the days there lies indifference,Well close one sad eye folks, this guys pissed! The lyrics are some of the best I’ve read by Andy, and the music seems to get grittier and grittier. It’s a showstopper live, and if it’s pushed right (by fans, DJs) it’ll realize it’s own cross over potential.
Your smile can’t retract lies,
And my nights will find their comfort,
In the knowledge that I tried.
Were your words always so empty?
Have I been blinded by your light?
My doubts were real from the beginning
Unlike the final tears you cried.
Next up is "Logic", which seems to be the antithesis of "Regret" in terms of tone and depth. "Regret"s brooding burned us from the inside, while Logic has no gripes standing up and standing out as just a fun, silly zombie song! It’s got these big arena rock drums and HUGE guitars. I’ve reached a conclusion; this is the song that should have been in Reanimator. There’s nothing I’d like to see more than Herbert West killing and reanimating crippled kittens to the sound of this track. The music has got this horror industrial feel to it, and the vocal melody really carries the sentiments well. I urge you to download it from their mp3.com site and make opinions of your own.
Moving on, here comes the lyrical prequal to "Regret" (notice how everything ties into that song?), "Whispers". To me, this is one of the most interesting tracks on the whole album. It centers on Andy’s vocal part and Gopal’s descending bass line. Like any song that has a descending bass line as its focal point, this could really shine as an acoustic ballad. Not that it doesn’t shine as is, because the song is gorgeous, and with lyrics like "Sleep another hour, dear just close your eyes // For time is fading quickly from outside", it succeeds making the girls blush. Gee, thanks for keeping every girl I ever dated distracted – Jerks! What I find really endearing about the song is that more then any other on the album, this piece reminds of material from Remains. It’s romantic, the song showcases great dynamics and interaction between real instruments (the synths are only there to add intonated fuzz), and the overall feel has the story-by-the-fire-side warmth to it that permeates their best work.
By the next track, it’s clear to me that I’m going to remember this album for times to come. While on previous releases BM kept all bases covered by having songs that fit into established caricatures of subgenres (goth rock song, synthpop song, death rock song), on The Quiet it’s clear that they’ve kept all bases covered by having songs of varying tone and meaning. This is a far more respectable and mature approach to song writing, and it serves for something more interesting to listen to. "First Light" is as fickle as it is decisive. The drum programming really shines, and I love the way it complements the quirky synth perfectly: the beat is constant to the point of redundancy, and layered over it are these synth lines that never seem to settle on a phrase for too long. It’s a sonic contradiction that fits together like puzzle pieces. Then crunchy guitars add a sort of polish and ‘swing’ to the song. It swings like a solid jazz standard, but instead of being fluid and human, we have something that operates in quick thrusts and sudden jerks. I wonder whether they planned the song to come out this way, or whether some wandered by mistake and the song found them.
The title track is next up, and with the exception of ‘living dead’, is the first of a long string of gothic dirges that are bound to perk up your day! It opens with ambience, and a funereal bass thump every measure. There’s some really pretty mandolin-like guitar strumming in the back ground, and in the foreground Andy paints, in delightful Bella Morte fashion, a tale of Love and Loss:
And this silence is her life,Pretty soon the music picks up, and the bass begins to anchor everything in place. It’s as rhythmic as it is melodic, and the way it acts like a bridge between the warmth in Andy’s voice and the frosty electronics is a testament to that. You can almost see the spoken words smolder as gray mist before you in the cold. It’s a powerful song, though it does noticeably loose a lot of punch in its recorded state. It’s not three dimensional enough. Maybe raising the volumes at the end of each guitar phrase with some sort of volume pedal like effect would breath more life into it. Something to vary up the dynamics is in order and it wont come from layering, which is what they’ve already done. They need to add more room between the peaks and divots in the sound: something to give the illusion of sound dissipating in a concert hall. Really tactful reverb on staccato sounds, not unlike what they did in the beginning with the mandolin – style strumming on guitar would really help. More sounds in that vein. I hope the band finds that helpful J
Falling back into the dark November sky,
Over voices she shall cry,
Soundless screams are felt before the sun can rise.
Hear a voice as strong as stale,
Speaking long dead names to keep the evening still
In her heart rests all the time
Trapped for now in faith that death is still a lie.
Armed to shred up all the atmosphere created by The Quiet is the death rock’n Living Dead. The lyrics are camp and the music is hard. Some of the guitar phrasing behind the vocals sounds really ‘metal.’
It’s the way they’re arpegiated, I’ve realized, and it sounds strikingly similar to ‘Number of the beast’ era Maiden. It’s also got a Maiden-esque upbeat vibe to it, minus the dramatic vocals. It’s a tune that’ll definitely appeal to those of you into harder death rock, like fans of 45Grave. Feeding off the energy created by "Living Dead" is "Echoes", which has one of the most well crafted choruses on the album. It’s a fast paced synth number with some guitar bite to it: there’s actually shredding going on behind everything. It’s like the bastard child of new wave and shred metal; it’s cross genre 80s nostalgia – if there is such a thing! Well, there is now, and I’d like to hear more.
The next song is yet another ballad, and it stands out as the most depressing track on the album. This is as dirge like as they come. It also shows off Andy’s crooning and vocal talents. The guitars start off as smooth and Cure-like until the end, where it beings to writhe and scrape against its surroundings with its really rough, distortion edges. The song is called "Hope Again", and its my suspicion that Bella Morte was commissioned by Prozac to produce it, in hopes to get more people prescribed. They seem to have succeeded, as Andy bellows at the end:
And his words are the rain,The song seems to be about over coming apathy when logic and reason have killed your heart. Uh... Yea. Eeyore must have been one of Andy’s early role models. All things considered, this is a strong track, sounding like My Dying Bride’s "The Angel and The Dark River" remixed by Trent Reznor.
Which fall into my life,
Through the years as tears are left behind.
To the end of time, we’re holding on to faith,
This day will carry on,
No matter what shall come.
‘I want to feel’.
Speaking of interesting mixes, "I Follow" sounds like two parts vintage Bella Morte mixed with one part Run DMC! It’s easily my favorite track on the album, as it has the most infectious drum loop out all thirteen tracks. There’s this great groove established by drums, bass and guitar that makes way for a distorted industrial part every now and then. Also, while the song is the most experimental, it happens to have the most memorable break on the entire album! A little more than three minutes into it everything goes silent save for the guitar and a few electronics. Then it all EXPLODES: Loud synth, huge drums, colossal electronics and the best vocal line in the whole album:
Watch the grayLike a character in a Walpole story, it succeeds in being both triumphant and morose. It’s completely different sounding but distinctly Bella Morte. The song’s a success, and must be heard in order to succeed.
While the world is standing still
I reach for memories of Hope
See our fate leave just faith
To last the bitter day
Into such deadened times ahead!
Always is the last ballad on the disc, and it’s somber but also 80s. It’s lavender, and hot pink. It’s Eeyore in legwarmers. The lyrics and vocals really propel the song:
Careless words were spent,By the end of the song, the bass is playing these really odd figures in a high register, and the vocals begin to get really dramatic. The electronics are layered nicely, the voice is strong and the bass adds this nice ‘gallop’ to the music.
Careless songs once help you near,
Have I always known,
This would be our end?
Snow obscures the Earth,
Just as time obscures the past.
Details fade away,
Visions fill the sky with ash.
Next up is the punk rocker, "Christina"! It’s got roots in the bouncy Angelic Upstarts/Cockney Rejects side of things with lyrics about seizing the day and living life moment to moment. It’s really pogo worthy, and requires much bouncing to fully appreciate it. When I listen to it, I have to make an effort not to punch a wall! It’s lively pothick gunk, and it deserves to be on play lists on College radio across America. This is spring time/dressing up music. It’s good to listen to while putting your hair up. The lyrics are a real treat, as they’re one of the few stories on the album that are clear enough to understand on the first listen. It’s a great light-hearted romp that will energize the weariest of hearts.
The next two songs compliment each other: Ember is much like the Xymox-y stuff on Remains/Where Shadows Lie with an updated, harder edge to it. There’s not much to explain, really. The thirteenth track is called "Wires", and it’s an orchestrated symphony of sampled sounds that all bear relevance to death. It’s really morbid, but romantic at the same time. It really sums up what Beautiful Death is all about, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to end the album.
My eyes are sunken; My skin is cold.
Andy Deane – Vocals + Programming
Gopal Metro – Bass + Programming
Bn Withlow – Guitar
Tony Lechmanski – Guitar
Metropolis Records: http://www.metropolis-records.com/
Wow, listening to this brings back memories of the first time I saw Bella Morte live. I was 18, sick of girls, sick of parents, and really sick of being told what to do by everyone. To make it to the show, I trekked all the way from Cambridge to New York by way of the super shady Chinatown bus circuit... little knowing that the Bella Bois would unveil what was to take its place along side Kommunity FK’s Close One Sad Eye as the soundtrack of my angst for times to come. Their set consisted mostly of death rock tracks, much to the entertainment of the mohawk-ed legions up front. The band was energetic and people began to mosh (where else can you see goths mosh besides a Morte show?).
I had a crackily mp3 bootleg then, and though the bit rate could have been better, listening to it succeeded in conjuring up fuzzy memories of Andy’s Bollywood-meets-Return of the Living Dead onstage "movements." You see, the first time this was released it was vinyl only. It’s taken them a while, but what I have in my disc player today is their CD reissue complete with two killer bonus tracks! I loved it then and I love it now, I urge you to all get your paws on it ASAP. It’s not to be missed and for those of you unconvinced, here’s the rest of my review:
"Demons" starts off the album with these really 70s guitars: each chord drenches everything in Sabbath-esque sludge that exudes the type of warmth only possible through analogue recording. I really caught myself doing double checks because the only thing missing here is Geezer’s tubby bass! About twenty seconds into it Andy’s voice pierces the gooey guitars with this vocal melody that seems lifted straight out of the violin passages of Nosferatu:
In their eyes we see the dawn fall to the dayPreviously submerged, this punk rock beast rises out of the sewage of guitars and begins to kick your ass! The drums pick up; the bass locks in and soon everything comes together to create this uncompromising ‘bouncing’ machine: You know when you’re listening to your Discman and you can’t help but synchronize your steps with the beat? Soon those beats get more jagged, and your steps begin to get jerky. Only moments from then you’ve begun ‘galloping’ and you must surrender your physical self to the bouncing machine. It’s that type of bouncing machine: as tyrannical as it is ‘bubbly.’ There’ll come a day when this sort of thing gets played at clubs, but until then life goes on. I guess I just can’t be happy today.
Whispered fears cast light against the
In their minds our time is lost and ever still
They will see where horror lies.
In contrast, the next song on the EP deals with much graver subject matter. Between 1923 and 1954 there was a legendary cult magazine called Weird Tales which was known for publishing all sorts of deliciously lurid short stories. Among those was a political anti-war ghost story, in which the ghost of the Unknown Soldier haunts two Senators, who had been arguing about starting a war to protect American ‘interests’! It was Henry Kuttner’s "We Are The Dead", and it remains my favorite ghost story of all time. Bella Morte’s song, "The Dead", touches on similar themes: The dead have come back to reclaim what was taken from them.
We stand We fight We moveYou can literally see a sea of undead Palestinian children, once killed in crossfire, rise up from the rubble of ruined courtyards and graves ready to lay siege on what once belonged to them. You can see an army of Kurdish children, malformed from Sadam’s chemical testing, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue just itching to remind the plump Republicans in office what was promised to them during the Gulf War. Under two minutes, "The Dead" is not only the most concise song on the album, but also the richest in form and substance. It starts with a loud and sharp sounding snare that doesn’t let up until the end of the song. The guitars are jagged like buzz saws and the bass adds this depth to the sound and really shines through during the shouted chorus. The vocal delivery reminds me of Specimen’s "Sharp Teeth, Pretty Teeth" in the sense that both singer’s really stress their consonant sounds as to keep the words clear even though they’re being fired off a mile-a-minute.
Into the night
We are the death of legends
We stand so black in grief
Of what has passed
We owe the world no debt
Living ends with shattered bones
across the cemetery roam
into the grey-lit twilight
and from the soil another cries
to pierce the dark against the lies
and never see them falter
"The Fallen" is up next, and with it’s classic B movie sound byte (I won’t reveal anything!) it remains the most Misfits-y song on the disc. It’s bouncy and really wears the bands Southern roots on its sleeve: Andy really sings in drawl, y’all! If Leatherface were in a punk rock band I’d fancy it would sound like this. It has the type of Zombiefied lyrics ("We wander from the grave", "all I see is hunger" "The end is drawing near, the light of day wont save you now") and frequent "woah-oh-ohs" that Danzig would be proud of. It’s a fun track, but as fun as it is there really isn’t much to write about it. It’s great fun live.
Now the next track is an epic -often melodramatic- tale of love, betrayal and retribution. Yes folks, this is just like Bollywood. Infact, if Bella Morte ever hold a make-your-own-video contest let it be known that it was my idea to turn this into a tacky/grandiose spectacle of dancing Zombie bois and choreographed ghoulish girls (wearing form fitting midriff shirts – in true South Asian style)! I thought of it, I’m entitled to it. "The Fallen" was Southern in delivery and "The Coffin don’t want me and She don’t either" takes this one step further. This is Southern in content. The vocals are accented, the syntax is a ‘lil off ("Though I’ve been dead but three weeks") and the song is about killing your ex-lover! Ok, so maybe killing your ex-lover isn’t distinctly Southern (even I have a dead hooker in my trunk!), but the rest of it is.
This song stands as one of the few new songs that are both pure camp and also inventive at the same time. Some groups like The Serpenteens and Mr. Monster may be fun, but they never really write anything that we haven’t heard the Misfits do before. It’s bands like Zombina and The Skeletones along with Bella Morte that know how to take a classic formula and make it their own. They’re smart and know how to keep the spirit alive and not get over obsessed with the icons. Isn’t that what punk was about? It’s about time the whole scene took the hint and matured into something respectable.
Ah, time for the bonus tracks. "Eyes of the Ghost" begins with this infectious, sugary guitar melody that makes way for this bass and drum gallop that reminds me of the kings of galloping rhythms: Iron Maiden! I’m seeing a pattern in all of their new Death Rock styled music... It all reminds me of Maiden. I’m pretty sure Dickenson roadied for the Clash, which would explain the punkish element in I.M’s early material – so here’s my request to the band: I love the music you’re writing now, but don’t you think it’s about time you went ahead and just covered an Iron Maiden song? Both bands have dramatic vocals, camp lyrics, talented guitar players and galloping rhythms. Any shmuck can tell you Bella Morte takes cues from Xymox on their material off Where Shadows Lie, and I’d venture to say they take just as many from Maiden during their punk moments. "Eyes of the Ghost" is a wonderful tune, with a great guitar hook and touching lyrics. It stands up there with "The Dead" as the best songs on this EP in my opinion.
The next song is somewhat of a three chord punk song with some really stunning trimmings. It’s called "A Light In The Window" and opens up with these really pretty guitar harmonics. There’s some foreshadowing going on here as midway through the song the guitar drops out and leaves the bass as the only sonic anchor for song’s chord changes. Then the guitar sweeps back in to sprinkle more chirping harmonics over everything. The lyrics are also lush, and more akin to the morose style that appears on The Quiet. The concluding passage is especially powerful:
so quiet now,
The words we spoke cannot be found.
The moments lost,
Still carry on,
In unseen worlds before the dawn!
And children say,
‘That through the night,
That one can see a ghostly light’!
This is "just a punk song" like ‘We Are The Dead’ was "just a ghost story." This is something much richer. This is a story that uses punk as a medium to weave a captivating and impressive yarn. Making art that can stand on its own when viewed from multiple angles (lyrical wealth, musical value) is something that the boys in Bella Morte have done since their Remains release. Listening to the Death Rock EP, I’ve witnessed Bella Morte expand upon what they were able to do before by including songs that were political ("The Dead") and bombastic ("The Coffin..."). This is a release well worthy of purchase and I strongly advise all of you to see them play these songs live. It’s really wonderful.
Death Rock E.P Tracks:
The Coffin don’t want me and She don’t either
Eyes of a Ghost
A Light In The Window
Andy Deane – Vocals + Programming
Gopal Metro – Bass + Programming
Bn Withlow – Guitar
Tony Lechmanski – Guitar
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
P Emerson Williams is someone you may know from Veil Of Thorns, who fitted into the experimental Goth paddock a while back, or if your head demands darker spew clotting your hair, then maybe Choronzon is his forte, as you can discover elsewhere. (i.e. tomorrow, right here.) Somewhere in between this album has happened, and it’s quite odd.
The man himself says that Goths aren’t so open-minded these days, and when so many get by with a happy reliance on club-related pretties maybe he has a point. He has drifted closer to both Country (where stories take prominence) or Black Metal where some individuals do test the limits of sound, but just as many sad bastards wank in a futile fashion over satanic fantasies. And then there is Beyond Flesh.
Call me old fashioned but this is dance, and this is cute. Admittedly the first twenty seconds made me think of nothing less than Noggin The Nog which will make no sense to anyone under the age of 35, or outside the UK, but that’s your problem. Just think - and here’s a weird coincidence - of a small cartoon character, supposedly beset by dragons, and based on Norse myth. Then forget that, and think of a latterday sister sound to traditional Roky Erikson, or Alien Sex Fiend covering ‘Firestarter’. That is in the wilder moments, but when it cools down and the generators stop humming, you have a trip hop Bauhaus at plays with some vocal Rozzisms undeniably peaking through the dope-stained curtains.
At times it’s a pureed Stereo MCs, at others it’s aborigines from outer space, all done in a muffled, welcoming dance stance. Sometimes it gets irate, and goes for Squarepusher-style bleepisms, but these are no copies, just his beautifully hypnotic templates of what is, to a large extent, the common currency worldwide, which makes it all but instantly accessible, if not necessarily that demanding.
P. Emerson Williams once said, “I’ll not be satisfied completely until I manage to tear time and space into ribbons and unhinge the minds of humans” but then Pop Idol came along and no-one gives a fuck anymore.
That’s what living in Florida does for you. Softens you up. Makes you relaxed. Creates an album that is – gasp wildly – inoffensive!!!
FALLING TO EARTH
BLEEDING ACID CASUALTY
IN YOUR GOODNESS
And don’t forget, that the man is also a talented artist so when you investigate the website there’s plenty to impress.
http://www.choronzon.tk is not the url, despite the fact P sent it himself, it’s http://foaminbone.bizhosting.com/ or at least for the time being. And why not see http://artists.iuma.com/IUMA/Bands/beyond_Flesh/
more Noggin The Nog info (which is highly recommended):
Parliament of Rooks
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
Caustic Soul first came to my attention when promoter Jett Black had them send a demo of their CD, “Torrent” for review. After one listen, it was hard not to feel as though one were witnessing one of the greats of Goth on its burgeoning journey to underground notoriety.
has a strange way of creating transitions. Initially, all 3 members had
been friends while working in other bands. Mike was in a metal band,
Judas was in a grunge band and Dave was in a punk band. The three of them
had talked for 5 or 6 years prior about forming together, but it just didn’t
seem to come to fruition. The major catalyst came when Judas' girlfriend
at the time, friend to all 3 men, was murdered by her neighbor. Judas and
Mike consoled each other through their grief. A few weeks following the
incident, they were sitting around and Mike turned on a 4-track and told
Judas to just start playing whatever he felt like as a means of working
through the grief.
What came out was "Nocturne" whose original recording is now on "Torrent," becoming a loving tribute to a woman who had greatly touched their lives.. The band hasn't played that song since. The trio then found that the groups that they had been involved with had disbanded but the trio still remained tight friends. From their joined tragedy, the band became an entity that fated Summer of 1998 in Casper, Wyoming, collectively forming to create the dream of a gothic industrial band.
The original name for the group was "Cease To Exist" but later replaced with Caustic Soul. Mike explained, “I feel Caustic Soul states more clearly what we are. Caustic- like a chemical burn in the center of your being. It's like that pit in your stomach when you long for something out of your reach.” With a new band, new sound and new image, they left the confines and restrictions of Wyoming and headed for Colorado.
Not long after the move, the Littleton, Colorado tragedy made headline news, creating quite a surge of unrest that was proportionately getting out of hand for anyone involved with goth. From yet another tragedy, 40 like-minded people decided to start a non-profit organization called CDAC (Colorado Dark Arts Collective). Mike was in charge of getting the musician’s to perform and did an all-day festival of bands, artists, DJ’s and Fashion Show’s that were local to the Colorado area. The event pulled over 700 people while also capturing the media’s attention. The population at large saw the art form related to the scene, which in turn helped to squelch some of the misguided interpretations and initial scene backlash.
On “Parliament of Rooks” the band forged ahead with songs that are like mini-vignettes, crafting short stories set to goth-industrial tones while also adding layers of keyboard work to sound as though a full orchestra is also playing alongside them.
“Harlot Sky” provides dark tones and mechanized clanks to seem as though we are immobile in some forgotten corridor. We are left to look in at the nocturnal activities of an erotically surreal dream between lovers.
“Trine” opens with sound bites from a nefarious character. The track itself was inspired by the most powerful lightening magic from the game Final Fantasy. Here, the song delves into the essence of being electrocuted, poetically written and layered to depict torment without coming right out and stating what it is all about.
“Eryx” is based upon the mythological tale of Eryx who fell fatally in love with the siren of the sea. You may have heard this track making the rounds in the clubs because of its infectious hybrid style that makes it conducive for a night of dancing. In spite of its mythological pathos, lyrically it brings about the love-lost frailty of man.
“Separation” has lyrics which point more to jealousy of watching another man kiss the beloved. On the band webpage, it is simply stated that this is how Mike and his wife met. There’s a question to ask about with their next interview!
“Sick” was depicted as “a psycho stalker kind of song.” The lyrics read as though on some stream of consciousness from an obsessive-compulsive who is simply about to explode. The opening intro provides a malevolent recitation of the lyrics before the metal kicks it four to the floor.
“Dead Doll” this song was initially based on a true story about a woman the musicians knew at one time, if memory serves me correctly. In any event, it is a harsh tale which depicts an abusive relationship. The victim's rage turns the tables on the abuser and becomes a tool of revenge.
“Aurora” weaves a tale of survival that expands beyond just the physical realm. The track itself is delivered as though the musical score to the opening or closing credits for a major motion picture release. This track would have been right at home in any of The Crow soundtracks.
“Scarborough Fair” took a classic song and placed it into a dark, hypnotic chasm. Forlorn medieval sentiments waft across a dark and overcast terrain.
“Goodnight” reworks the story of love and death. Here one gets the impression that this is the song that the lovelorn sing to the one who has since passed from the physical realm. Understanding the history of this band makes the tract even more poignant and bittersweet.
Caustic Soul managed to craft songs that are seductively and poetically dark . Mike Atchley’s vocals simply exude the deep resonance necessary to make a song work in this genre. The combination of goth moroseness and industrial tones, mixed with Judas’ orchestral layers of keyboard tones and David’s episodic sound bites and effects, weaves an unusual listening experience that takes us through many elements of emotion. This is enhanced by the poetic story telling of the lyrics which are carefully crafted to jog subconscious feelings as opposed to being a typical narration that explains it all out for you.
1. Harlot Sky
6. Dead Doll
8. Scarborough Fair
Mike Atchley: vocals, drums, and guitar
Judas Neiman: keyboards, drums and effects
David Spethman: bass, effects
Sound samples also at: www.mp3.com/causticsoul
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
Beyond laughing at Mortis I admit to having little experience with anything emanating from Black Metal’s cauldron. Clearly, P. Emerson Williams’ work here is suitably dark and dense to fit in with that scene and I remain sceptical, wearing surgical gloves to even unwrap the CD. (That bit was a lie.) He told me it wouldn't be my thing, and he was right.
Initially I was quite interested, after the usual pointless intro track, because ‘Love. Strength; Lies’ has linear drums and dipping, frisky guitar all set on a forward motion, so it reminded me of UK Decay, minus vocals. Then the singing starts, in the form of screeching friction, and this is more Thrash Metal, from before Death Metal grew up to be strong, before Black Metal started to explore extremes. It seems like a weird mixture between old and new, and at the end there’s a guitar (out)break which appears strangely directionless. It gives a picture of something that isn’t natural in this environment, even though it seems to work.
‘Under The Leaves’ is another piece of fluff, which always bemuses me. (Why do bands stick these tiny trifles on?) Then, with something approaching a title track, they go quite bonkers. The guitar gallops briskly alongside the heartbeat drums and vocals slip in happily capable of great speed. It’s all fairly meaningless to me, as most breakneck metal is, but it’s jolly, almost, like a barbequed Creaming Jesus.
‘Crimson Awakening’ is just weird. The guitar is brimming with vitality in what is holistic rawk, and it’s a shame about the pauses, which blows the tension, and at ten minutes long the first and second halves could have been turned into better songs on their own. ‘Demon’ has some good bounce to it, revealing more flair with its slower speed, after the hammering intro and rasping vocals struck me as somewhat identikit. Similarly, ‘333’, liposuction of the Beast, ends colourfully but is standard splatter and riff manoeuvring.
Finally, the immense ending, ‘Choronzon’, which lasts twelve minutes and although more ravaged than ravishing, contains great elegance and intriguing ideas between bouts of grizzled frenzy, which sums this album up for me. It’s moodier than anticipated, where I expected it to become all-enveloping. I assumed I was to be locked into an alien world, feeling trapped in an observational role. Not so.
BM fans will doubtless be taken by its lean cuisine. I can’t say I was thrilled or horrified much either way, but panning for gold in a sewer isn’t my idea of fun.
LOVE. STRANGTH; LIES
PERDURABO (MAGOG AGOG)
UNDER THE LEAVES
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
I am grateful to the band for their basic but sleek promo pack, with the debut CD, because here is a trio with a knack for pleasing brevity and just a hint of power. They claim there are Goth, Electronic and Metal influences at work but it’s mainly a light Gothic feel that comes through, and some sensitive vocals, which really does add up to a compelling sound.
‘Angel’ shows Michael Clayton, who handles bass and vocals, singing in a sonorous manner, as Andrew Meadows (guitar) and Stuart Meadows (keybds/prog) show good rhythmical touches and dexterity. It’s the song which comes through proudly, the vocals and guitars quite fleeting in the overall sweeping sound.
They claim that the third track, ‘Drifting’ which features a slow spell, based on a slow swell; layers added gradually, in increasing weight, is moving towards filmic. I think it’s a pleasant fraction of what could have been a much larger sound, and the filmic quality is already exhibited in track 2, because ‘Into The Lake’ brings an interesting diversion into play, for Michael has a different vocal style compared to ‘Angel’, with attractively ambivalent lyrics creating visual suggestion. They manage a strikingly pretty sound here, with almost guarded opulence as if they didn’t want to go far, and that bellows Intriguing Potential to me. As the song builds, the stridency does nothing to disrupt the charm and only sharpens interest.
This CD is well worth getting because it could be the start of quite a collection. It’s up to them to keep the quality consistent now and develop their themes for a debut album.
http://www.darkhorizon.org.uk is a fairly basic website – no gigs planned as yet, sadly - and their history could be ten times the size, to show us what they’re into and