With all highly experimental music, there exists a very fine line between true art and pretentious crap. Noise music pushes this abruptly to the very threshold, oftentimes going so far as to even blur this boundary and make the distinction unclear. That’s not to say that this type of music is necessarily of dubious merit, or even that it should be approached with caution; rather, the point is that it is often difficult to gauge the relative quality of a work of this nature and elicit this information to the a 3rd party. It is with this notion that I attempt to approach Brown Ring of Fury.
The musician behind the Brown Ring of Fury – Bård Torgersen – needs little introduction within certain circles, but for those who are not aware, he is one of the influential and pioneering musicians from the early days (read 1983-1986) of Norway’s experimental music scene, having been a part of or touring with the likes of Nemlig Hemlig, Masters of Møh, SUPERskill and Lord Bård. After having disappeared on a multi-year hiatus due to apparent depression and disillusionment with the scene, he has returned, presenting us with a multitude of sounds gathered whilst traveling throughout the world.
Thematically, Brown Ring of Fury is meant to convey the feeling of growing up in Rykkinn, Norway in the early 80’s, in what Bård apparently seems to view as a somber and melancholically profound point in time. The sounds contained within are metaphors for the occurrences of everyday life during this period, whether it be "quote some stuff from the booklet". At least, this is what I’d gleaned from the rather unusual message in the CD booklet describing Bård’s personal motivation for coming back to the scene and creating this release. The real question is whether or not it achieves this goal in the mind of the listener, or whether it falters and remains only a somewhat naïve and misguided attempt at creativity.
I suppose it is more the former case than the latter, though as I said before, it is somewhat hard to decide on exactly how to convey this feeling. Rykkinn certainly does provide for an interesting endeavor into crushingly brutal and laustrophobic waves of noise, hypnotizing and enveloping the listener. And there are quite a few moments of beyond-the-norm twists in the music, with short periods of semi-clean samples thrown in – perhaps for a mnemonic effect or two. There are even interesting regressions in the chaotic and unrelenting noise: at one point an acoustic guitar comes to the forefront to provide a delicate reprieve from the aural bombardment. However, when it’s all said and done, I can’t seem to put my finger on it, but somehow Brown Ring of Fury just doesn’t seem fulfilling in any particular sense. Perhaps that is the point though, and if so, it does work out fairly well for its purpose, but it does tend to make the entire thing much more difficult to listen to, even for those accustomed to this type of “music.”
In the end, it’s hard to say whether or not this is a release worth picking up – it’s simply just so hard to gauge, and ultimately my opinion on the matter becomes that much more subjective. I can say with certainty that it *is* something worth checking out for those who are familiar with previous works from Bård or who are into the Extreme Noise scene in general at least. The packaging and presentation of the content here is probably worth a look simply on its own. When it comes down to it, Brown Ring of Fury is something that simply has to be heard and interpreted on an individual basis. Suggesting anything particular beyond that would be misleading.
01) Extreme Sunlight
02) Glenn Kristoffersen Is Dead
03) Gilera 500 cc
04) Fields With Flowers In Crazy Colors
06) Best Boy
07) Buenos Aventura Tips noen om denne saken
1349 Rykkinn is:
SENTIENT (Middle Pillar Presents)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
So they label it guitar-based atmospherics with ethereal female vocals but that just doesn’t being to describe the sheer sensuality and shining brightness or autumnal shadiness of their creations, for this is an essential record for your collection, stuck halfway between the best work of The Shroud or Ataraxia, and a couple more pointed comparisons coming n the next paragraph.
Before the album ends with synth washes beneath sounds of water and gentle historical acoustic nudges, you’ll be hooked. The vocals are just a joy, and the music seductive. Almost haughty in ‘Lilith’ as the extraordinary vocals wind skilfully round pretty guitar they devastate you with ‘Shelter’ which is like a modern take on All About Eve’s ‘In The Clouds’ and ‘Silently There ‘ could be the sort of thing The Sundays were maybe aiming for if they hadn’t be so lazy.
You’ll find a darker, starker side in ‘Old Europa’ and a proudly rotating sauciness with ‘Pale’, a strange opalescence in ‘Dusk’, and Industrial flecks through ‘The Lighthouse’ reveal them as capable as virtuous Goth outburst. Guerrillas in the mist.
There are reflective, nocturnal whispers in ‘The Soil Stained Black’; which will crush you, and when they go somewhat basic, in ;Eclipse’ it’s like Inkubus Sukkubus ice-skating, and that’s their one faltering step in the whole affair.
Fucking stunning, make no mistake.
SHELTER FOR A LESSER GOD
RITES OF PASSAGE
THE SOIL STAINED BLACK
SONG TO A MOONLIT MERMAID
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Antimatter's debut, Saviour, was a very sparse and creepy trip through unusually emotional music. Music presenting emotion is not what I found unusual - Antimatter's emotion is... empty. Through strong bass lines, catchy electronic beats, occasional synth strings, and a host of talented vocalists, they managed to create music that was so intentionally lifeless, it could only be the result of tortured souls depleted of human emotion and hope. Lucky for us, they thought it'd be fun to share their sense of loss with the music world. Lights Out is the band's second CD, and you can be sure the group still hasn't discovered Prozac.
In some regards I find Antimatter's music very difficult to listen to. It's almost too minimalistic, too diminished of energy, and too depressive. Yet there's a certain power to the dreary soundscapes they create, and I continually find myself returning to them. Antimatter's songs are rather like lullabies by the mentally deranged. You can't always figure out what's going on or why, but you know it can't be good. And, more importantly, you can't deny the engaging sense of catchiness that just barely hangs on in each song. Compared to Saviour, the music is better developed and the song structures are noticeably deeper.
Lights Out features suitably excellent production that gently spreads apart the instruments. In the occasional songs that will feature guitar and drums and keyboards and vocals all at once, you'll never feel assaulted by a dense sound. Most of the time, however, the songs are kind of like three item omeletes. It's as if the band had made these ingredients: light beats, synthy ambience, uneasy melodies, catchy bass, and several talented but disturbed vocal styles. Then when it came time to put the songs together, they decided to choose only a handful of ingredients for each one.
If you enjoy music that can powerfully alter your mood and otherwise chip away at your will to live, what else can I say? Antimatter will be your best friend on those rainy, gloomy days where you can't muster the energy to get out of bed. If you fancy yourself a music collector, there is most definitely a spot for Antimatter in your collection. And if you're just an arm-chair psychologist, hey, it'd be fun to psychoanalyze the music in order to discover what individuals could possibly have created it. But if you're just an average music fan that enjoys inspiring, bouncy, or otherwise 'enjoyable' CDs, make sure you give Antimatter a listen before picking up their work. Their music is art, and save for a catchy beat or two, can only be appreciated as such.
1. Lights Out
2. Everything You Know Is Wrong
3. The Art Of A Soft Landing
5. In Stone
6. Reality Clash
Duncan Patterson - instrumentation, vocals
Mick Moss - instrumentation, vocals
Hayley Windsor - vocals
Michelle Richfield - vocals
Antimatter - Official Site:
The End Records:
The Horror Of It All (Another State of Mind)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
Even as you read this, Antiworld are being hailed left and right as heroes of the Deathrock scene. But it might be more accurate to describe the band as occupying the badlands of the border territory, where Deathrock stops and good old-fashioned punk rock begins. Going by their music, Antiworld's feet are planted firmly on the punk side of the line. Take away their spooky make-up, dress 'em up in old blue jeans, oxblood Docs, and Ben Sherman shirts, and Antiworld would effortlessly pass as a second-wave (circa 1981) British punk band. The noise they make is uncannily reminiscent of the countless ramalama punk outfits I used to see at the Sunday night alternative gigs at the Lyceum in London around that time. In fact, I'm almost convinced I *did* see Antiworld at one of those gigs, so note-perfect is their take on the sound. Were they on the bill one night between Anti-Pasti and Chron Gen, perhaps? Were they the opening band, the night Black Flag played? I know they weren't, of course - but it feels like they *could* have been.
The Horror Of It All is not a new release - it came out in 2001 - but it's the most recent Antiworld album available at present. There's a new one on the way, apparently, but until it arrives, this counts as the current state of play. The line-up has changed since these songs were recorded: neither of the two drummers credited on the album are now with the band. Antiworld do seem to get through a lot of drummers. Maybe they all die in bizarre gardening accidents.
So, what d'you get? Sixteen songs, each one of them a mad dash through the punk rock undergrowth. Antiworld songs are brief bursts of punk energy which don't fart around. Many of them are only slightly over a minute in duration. The longest song on the entire album is 'Phantom', which clocks in at a massive three minutes and twenty seconds - by Antiworld's standards, that's practically a rock opera. The subject matter is cartoon-horror stuff, zombies and spiders, flying saucers and dead men walking. This is one area where the band deviate quite drastically from their Brit-punk blueprint - their lyrics conjure up an all-American world of cheesy movies at the drive-in, trash culture gone bad. The kind of broad-brush political rants barked out by latter-day UK punk acts don't get a look-in here. That's just not Antiworld's territory.
Grandma Fiendish, the band's singer, rattles through the lyrics in a curiously detatched, almost careless, manner, sometimes employing only two notes throughout an entire song. She'll rush through a line on one note, then go up a bit for the next line, then go down again to the original note for the following line, then up again, then down again...and so on, until the end of the song. This weirdly to-and-fro, see-saw style of almost-singing is actually rather frustrating after a while: I'm sure she can do much more with her voice than she allows us to hear. On 'I Walk', for example, she lets out a sudden scream, which is quite a shock coming as it does in the middle of an offhand, deadpan lyric - and I find myself thinking, why doesn't she let rip like that more often? Later in the album, the band throw in a cover of 'Somebody Super Like You' - a fine old slice of cheese from the rock musical 'Phantom Of The Paradise' - and here, again, she lets go a rising scream which hints at vocal abilities beyond the general run of the album. It's interesting, too, that 'Somebody Super...' is written in a very different style to Antiworld's own songs, and Ms Fiendish handles the more expressive nature of the lyrics, the light and shade, very well. So why does she zip through so many of Antiworld's songs like she's singing the telephone directory? I think she's selling herself short. She can do more than this.
Antiworld are a curious experience for me. I understand where the band are coming from, because I'm coming from that same place myself. But I was there at first hand, and now, although it's nice to dip back in occasionally, it's not like I want to permanently live in the Lyceum of 1981. I suspect Antiworld don't have that first hand experience: they're filtering their old-skool influences through Deathrock-tinted spectacles, and as a result they tend to treat those influences with a bit too much respect. I want to hear them cut loose, show us what they can do when they throw away the blueprint and let their imaginations get to work on the music. Apart from a few little glimpses, they just don't do that here. They're a fine band if you're in the mood for some some buzzing retro-punk with some entertaining spooky-dooky larking about thrown in, but I want to hear what they could do if they pushed things beyond that point.
Now...where *did* I put my 7" single of 'Another Dead Soldier'...?
The Day It All Went Wrong
Frances Of Death
Brain That Wouldn't Die
Somebody Super Like You
Grandma Fiendish - Vocals
Forty Five Frank - Bass
Ravenscraft - Guitar
Dr. Jack Nowhere - Drums
Tim Slapper - Drums
Antiworld's website: http://www.anotherstateofmind.net/antiworld%20home.htm
Antiworld's page in the Deathrock.com site: http://www.deathrock.com/antiworld
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:
~reviewed by chris parasyte
What we’ve got here is a four song EP from Chicago’s aLLUring EVE, titled Random Acts. aLLUring EVE (what’s with the random capitalization in the band’s name?) rose out of the ashes of Emeralde Fear, the solo gothic project of vocalist Andree Geneva. Geneva first teamed up with Devin in 1999 (he was playing in a band called Vampyre at the time) when she needed a guitarist to take her solo project live, and the two went on to continue working together and started writing new material, forming as aLLUring EVE soon after. Random Acts marks the band’s debut in recording, and a quick visit to their interweb site tells me they’re currently working on a full length album release.
Despite the member’s roots in gothic rock, aLLUring EVE can’t really be called anything other than an industrial band. Andree and Devin have worked with members or Pigface, My Life With the Thrill KIll Kult and the Electric Hellfire Club, and it shows in their sound. Random Acts was almost a nostalgia trip to listen to, as it sounds like it came straight out of the mid-1990’s peak of Wax Trax-style industrial music. It’s not really a sound that a lot of musicians are working with these days - most of the artists who pioneered the style have either retired their samplers or sold their souls for club dancefloor play.
Don’t let the galleries at the website fool you - Andree Geneva is more than just a pretty face. The photos of her groping her cleavage on the back of the CD cover and website didn’t instill a lot of confidence in her merit as an artist, but such fears were gladly proven to be unfounded. Her voice is at times part demonic snarl, part scream, and at other times can be described with a long string of ‘S’ adjectives: silky, smooth, sultry, seductive, and dare I say it, sexy. She wouldn’t be out of place in a slinky dress, lounging on a baby grand piano in a classy jazz bar where mobsters smoke cigars... I think she hit the Chicago scene about 80 years too late - she belongs in a fictionalized 1920’s Chicago crime movie.
‘artist & disciples’ opens the EP with a bang, with a sound reminiscent of The Young Gods or even Mussolini Headkick. There’s a fair amount of anger in the music, and Geneva’s voice tears through the song with rage. I don’t hesitate to use the ‘G’ word when discussing aLLUring EVE’s music; heavy melodic guitar makes its way into every song, and on the opening track, drives the point home. As with the other songs on this EP, though, the ‘artist & disciples’ seems like little more than a sampling of a song - it’s barely more than two minutes in length.
‘Midnight Homicide’ and ‘floW’ have the sound of early My Life WIth the Thrill Kill Kult nailed. aLLUring EVE’s press material compares the to the TKK, and being a fan, I looked forward to hearing this EP with a mix of anticipation, hope, and skepticism. I was glad to see my skepticism was wasted - these two know what they’re doing.
‘Brandywine’ is a sleepy lullaby of a song, with eery keyboards and distorted guitars arranged in a flowing harmony. Geneva’s voice takes on a very drowsy tone in this song, showing her range as a vocalist once more. Also embedded in the EP’s last track is ‘Sky’, a remixed version of a song called ‘Apparition Sky’ from the Emeralde Fear days. The new version of the song smacks of Rammstein’s ‘Du Hast’, especially the guitar work, but the heavier sound works surprisingly well as a backdrop for Andree Geneva’s hypnotic voice.
My one complaint with the EP was that it was over so damn quickly. Of the five songs included on the EP, only one breaks the four minute length mark. The entire EP, including the dead air time between ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Sky’, is a scant sixteen minutes and twenty-seven seconds. It’s one of those cases of not nearly enough of a good thing. But still, it is a good thing, and I look forward to hearing more from aLLUring EVE in the future.
1. artist & disciples
2. Midnight Homicide
aLLUring EVE is:
Official Website: www.alluringeve.com
PO Box 257552
Satanic War In Jerusalem / The War On The Wailing Wall
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Out of the blue one day, I found this two-album compilation promo release from Israel's Arallu resting innocuously in my mailbox. Since 'receiving strangely marked packages from the middle east' isn't exactly commonplace here in western Pennsylvania, I was a bit apprehensive about opening it... but then I remembered that I'd previously had some correspondence with Israeli death-metal act Salem's Ze'ev Tananboim, who - as it turns out- is the producer on Arallu's newest album Satanic War In Jerusalem. Emboldened by this revelation, I slapped the album into the CD tray and spun 'er up, and was rewarded with seventy four minutes of Satan-lovin' black metal.
First off, lets get the Satan issue out of the way. I regularly blast bands for the all too trite practice of invoking the dark underlord in poseur-ish fashion. I'm bending the rules here, though, since Arallu hail from Jerusalem, which is the world's epicenter for religious conflict these days. If anyone has a right to reject the Judaeo-Christian and Muslim gods, it's someone who's sick of being shot at in the name of said gods for as little as walking down the wrong street. Such is the case in Jerusalem, so if Arralu wants to turn to Satan for solace, I won't argue (though thematically I still find Satanic lyrics passe, kind of goofy, and borderline offensive at times).
On to the music itself. Arallu plays straightforward thrashy black metal with raw production and aggressive delivery. The vocals are garden variety rasping, but occasionally Mr. Butchered's delivery morphs into what sounds like several raspers rasping evil jokes at each other and having a good spine-chillingly raspy laugh at our expense. The effect is unsettling and feels like the forces of darkness are mocking we poor saps who will soon be burned to cinders by their fiery hatred. The guitar work on both albums is good (if unexceptional) and on the more recent offering, 'Satanic War In Jerusalem', hooky dark riffs abound.
Occasionally, Arallu employ ethnic percussion instruments native to the middle east. These passages are easily the most interesting on the album, and I wish the band had included more of them. They give the music a real identity that seperates Arallu from Nordic black-metallers, whom the band angrily dismiss as "virtual warriors" in their press release. I guess Butchered & Co. figue you're not hardcore unless you're getting shot at during your gigs.
If you are a fan of raw black metal, you'll find alot to like on Satanic War In Jerusalem. It's well worth seeking out, and shows a marked improvement over The War On The Wailing Wall, which tends to drag on a bit. The songs are tighter, the production is more punchy, and the riffs are more interesting on Arallu's 2002 release than on their earlier material. If you're interested in black metal bands with a message, or are just an insane hater of Christianity and Judaeism (Saddam & Osama, this one's for you!), you won't go wrong spending your hard earned zionist-pig supplied dollars on Arallu's latest release.
Satanic War In Jerusalem (2002)
01.) The Sons Of Darkness
02.) Jewish Devil
03.) Religions Are Dead
04.) Arallu's Rage
05.) Evil Has No Boundaries
06.) The Butchered Attacks Again
07.) Jerusalem Gates
08.) War Of The Genii
09.) King Of Bloodcave
The War On The Wailing Wall
10.) Arallu's Warriors
11.) Sword of Death
12.) Morbid Shadow
13.) Warriors of Hell
14.) Mesopotamian Genie
15.) Barbarian Bloodshed
16.) Satanic Birth In Jerusalem
17.) Messenger Of Evil World
18.) My Hell
19.) Satan's War
20.) Kill The Traitor
Butchered: Guitar, Bass, Vocals & Arrangements
Yonatan - The War Machine: Drums
Arallu Official Website:
KMG / System Shock Records:
Mon Seul Desir (Cruel Moon)
~review by Mick Mercer
More beauty, with less of the grand constructs of some of their earlier works, because as they get ever better at weaving rich concoctions from the simplest of ingredients, the mystery is intensified when it appears to be in such a conventional setting. Although the synth can provide certain teasing sounds, we’re mainly talking about vocals and acoustic guitars, with the old bodhran filling in the percussive density. Yet out of these basic elements they make the most extraordinary moods come alive, far more arresting and enveloping than your typical Ethereal, Ambient or Industrial bands with a full arsenal at their disposal. It’s crazy!
There’s only two traditional pieces of music updated here, the rest being modern, but all very quiet and enigmatic.
What is most noticeable here is the richly warm, aromatic acoustics. Yesterday I pointed out how the vocals can seem to dance around the guitar, but on this album it’s like they’re serenading it, and swimming around it. In ‘Aliscon’ the simple sounds even drops down to a sparser feel where they sing about things with a sense of absolute wonder in the voice, and when they coast into the traditional ‘Jarem Gitti’ which doesn’t put over a stereotypical Eastern promise, the tiny ululations scamper through like naughty shrill ghosts.
It’s Vittorio Vandelli’s acoustic on ‘Sendero En Lago Verde’ which is the stunning musical star here, being chunkier, steadier, and more beautiful than ever! just as he uncoils elegantly throughout ‘Eaudelamer’, and there’s another thing. How come they do this so much better than others? Think what a boring thing acoustic and vocals can be and dredge up whatever hoary old Hippy Goth memories you may have. Ataraxia are nothing like that. They make it all seem intoxicating. I remain mystified.
On the final two tracks they have more modern moves, but still keep it under control. Where previously they’ve shown some wilder racketeering, here they are warm and cosy, with a hint of the sour and sinister. The final track actually starts as a medieval thing, with severe cooing and chirping, but then a gap appears, whereupon it seeps back in with synth and percussion stirring up the mix and guiding us out on the same tone but in a wholly different way, which is a clever idea.
More hugely captivating material. You have to love them.
SENDERO EN LAGO VERDE
MUNDUS EST JOCUNDUM
Suenos (Cruel Moon /Cold Meat)
~review by Mick Mercer
This is one of their more unusual albums, taking distinct olden day styles and separating them into sections, which evidently means something to them but leaves me happily baffled.
As their medieval styles have come well to the fore in recent years so the album opens with a section of four songs with deft thumping drums, lowing recorders, some twiddley guitar and vocal frills, initially male led, then female, moving gradually from lightly sombre tunes to frisker ones, without ever putting the mad into madrigal.
It’s on the second section where they start to purr. The soothing and sweet Parisian boulevard sounds of ‘Mon Ame Sorciere’ is captivating, and then in ‘Eleven’ the darkness gently enters, and here we get their classic trademark vocal sound, where with just ever so slightly stilted English the vowels are carefully rounded, and behind the dark lead voice the backing vocals are always wafted, high-pitched and rising. It makes for a delicious mixture, like a lucid operatic dream.
Changes continue with ‘Mnemosine’ with Mediterranean guitar washes seeping beneath the weird harmonic effects of these voices, which wrap themselves around the guitar then bounce away from it, almost as though dancing with it, before the spoken words of ‘I Love Every Waving Thing’ make your hearty beat slower for what is simple, exquisite beauty. They often concoct a unique verbal rhythm, and this, another trademark, works in all situations.
They move out and close the album with more modern touches, from the weirdly mystic sounding ‘Encrucijada’, the moody ‘Funeral In Datca’ with flighty vocal flourishes, and then something almost orthodox. The vocals in ‘The Corals Of Aqaba’ are conventional harmonies, with the curious pipework lending a wistful air, which is then taken up a notch into purely modern celebration with ‘Nemrut Dagi’.
I don’t know what any of it means, but it’s a journey you sink into light a huge bed, as warm evening breezes make everything soft to the touch. As magical as ever.
Yep, it’s old, but they very kindly sent it to me the other day, along with their Mon Seul Desir album which I will review here tomorrow, and as they remain the greatest artistic and emotionally spellbinding band alive I’m hope you’ll want to read about it.
PARTI DE MAL
MON AME SORCIERE
I LOVE EVERY WAVING THING
FUNERAL IN DATCA
THE CORALS OF AQABA
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
A debut album from a new band from Germany, although you may recognise one of the people involved. Matthias Dopp is the bass player in Passion Play - this is his own band. Avaritia is a duo; Matthias does the music and Dorit Karstedt the vocals, although there's a bassist (the enigmatic Zwigg) on board for live work.
If you've ever wondered what happened to that classic guitar-goth sound - the kind of stuff the March Violets used to do, or perhaps All About Eve before they went all hippy on us and started playing folk festivals - wonder no more. This music is alive and well and living in the heads of Avaritia. Now, that doesn't mean that Avaritia a retro band: quite the reverse. Pulse has a freshness about it that's entirely 2003. But you can tell where the band are coming from. They're definitely graduates of the old skool.
There are seven tracks of nimble, guitar-driven gothic rockers here, ranging from the urgent, forceful 'And Here They Are Again', upon which several layers of guitars jostle for supremacy, to the almost country-ish stroll of 'Summer's Gone', which almost sounds like vintage Mekons. 'Strangers' is a slow-building spiral, while 'Your Inability' has some neat, delicate, touches of guitar underpinned by dramatic, slashing, chords. Dorit's singing is relaxed, effortless. She never strains for a note, or finds herself in difficulties when the vocal melody heads into uncharted territory. She sounds completely at home in the songs, and it's actually quite rare to hear that kind of easy confidence in a vocalist. So many singers these days are only just getting away with it; to encounter a singer who has a certain no-fuss assurance is less common than it should be in these troubled times.
Avaritia has the feel of a guitarist's band. In every song the guitar is always the principal instrument. The bass keeps itself at a respectful distance from the swirling guitars, quietly going about its bottom-end business and allowing the guitar sound to assert itself. The guitar is organic, chiming, gritty, physical, a dominant presence in the mix. By contrast, the programmed drum sound is immaculate and precise: the drum machine never lets you forget that it *is* a drum machine. The chik-chik-chik hi-hat sounds squeaky clean, as if it had been scrubbed and laundered before being allowed out to play, and when a vintage drum roll effect comes up in the intro to 'Hour-glass' I was transported back to the mid-90s when such drum-machine driven bands as Vendemmian would sprinkle these effects throughout their music. I'd like to hear a fully organic Avaritia line-up: I think a human drummer would beef up the rhythm section and give the band that vital sense of grit in the gears which the polished drum programs don't really provide. But for all that, if you're hungry for a fresh take on a classic sound, here's a band which proves that old-skool gothic goodness never dies.
And Here They Are Again
Days Like This
To Preserve And Never To Forget
Matthias Dopp - Instruments
Dorit Karstedt - Voice
Avaritia website: http://www.avaritia.net
Equinoxe Records website: http://equinoxe-records.com
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
Haunted Box Of Switches (shriekback.com)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
(photo credit Joe del Tufo)
Who is Barry Andrews? You've almost certainly heard his music, perhaps even danced to it in your local club. Barry Andrews is the vocalist, keyboard wizard, and all-round main man of Shriekback, the British post-punk group originally formed when ex-members of XTC, Gang Of Four, and Out On Blue Six got together in 1981. Shriekback's lengthy and chequered career has taken the band from the angular punk-funk excursions of their early releases, through the sleek, chrome-plated electronica and left-field rock workouts of their major-label mid-period, to the strangely shaped acoustic other-world music of their 90s incarnation. And along the way, the band just happened to come up with that towering anthem of proto-goth, 'Nemesis' - to this day, a guaranteed floor-filler whenever a club DJ feels the need to burn up the night with something big and bad and loud.
There's a new Shriekback album in the works, but these days the band operate entirely independently in the time-honoured spirit of punk rock DIY. In order to keep the Shriek-pot simmering until the new material is ready to go - and also to raise a bit of money to cover recording and manufacturing costs - a variety of Shriekback rarities, live sets, side-projects and official bootlegs are being offered for sale via the shriekback.com website. Most of the music on offer is vintage stuff from the vaults, but here's something entirely new: a solo album by Barry Andrews.
This is about as stripped-down as it gets. Just Barry himself and a piano, in his London living room. When he opens the vocal mic, you can hear the ambience of the room, street sounds, police cars going past. It's almost as if you're right there, sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea, while Barry runs a few songs by you to test your reaction. A couple of old songs from Shriekback's past, a few newies which will re-appear in due course with the full band treatment, some previously unheard songs which never made it into the studio, and some musical jottings from the here and now. If you're a Shriekback fan, this is like being allowed into the inner sanctum. And even if you're entirely unfamiliar with Shriekback, there are songs here which will capture your attention as surely as if Barry threw a net over you.
Shriekback afficionados will doubtless appreciate 'Faded Flowers' and 'This Big Hush', two refugees from the Oil And Gold album, which appear here entirely bereft of the lush production of the originals. And yet this only serves to bring out the essential strength of the songs: 'Faded Flowers', an oblique muse on the subject of loss, is perhaps even more moving in its no-frills version. Of the new Shriek-tracks, 'God's Gardenias' seems to be an appreciation of Good Things:
The mist is on the river, the drinks are on the barBarry's lyrics, as ever, make little literal sense, but he has the odd knack of allowing meaning to seep through the song as a whole. You might not have the faintest idea what the hell the he's on about, but somehow, you understand what he *means*.
Pleasure's not a dirty word to me
I say chat me no more yoga, show me no more signs
Read me no more catalogues of all my crimes
The fruit is flowing and the beast feels fine
God's gardenias rain on me
'Licking Honey From A Razor' helps us out with a brief explanation in the sleeve notes: 'Inspired by the statement by a Tibetan Buddhist guru that if you were to plummet from a high building to certain doom it would be a shame not to enjoy the view' - armed with that small crib, it's possible to sit back and enjoy the lyrics, as Barry cranks up the tension: 'On the 25th floor/Shouldn't try to make sense/Gravity's something with nothing to prove and the smells are intense'. Only Barry Andrews would introduce gravity to us as if it were a character in a story. 'Awake Too Long' has the feel of a pub singalong, and is apparently a song written on one of Shriekback's never-ending 80s tours, when it seemed like the rock 'n' roll juggernaut would never stop. It's a glorious pean to excess which captures the moment when the rampant pursuit of pleasure slides into the surreal:
My reason's gone for a burtonHmmm. If Barry ever throws a party, I think I'd like an invite...
Chewing the curtains
Saying yes to everything that comes along
We discuss nuclear fission
Make up some new religions
Put my mother's knickers on
And have a bit of a do since I don't know when
I've been awake too long!
But it's not all partying until you weird out. There are odd little improvised pieces here, strange interludes in which Barry takes his random thoughts for a walk along the keyboard. There's 'The Contract Song', an examination of the artist skewered by the twin prongs of the bad old music biz and his own ambition. There's 'Incredulous', a song apparently written '...in the first flush of joy at having my own studio again, wherein I could make up daft little things which I need justify to no-one':
They said that he was cerebral, though he rode the bogus trainThat's the kind of tall tale which has made novelists such as Peter Carey famous - and Barry Andrews knocks it off in a three-minute song.
He fucked the monkeys like in the film
Though they changed all of their names
And he had a sheep sewn into him for a bet in Singapore
I don't believe that, I don't believe thatI don't believe that any more
It occurs to me that for anyone used to the full-on rock 'n' roll experience, getting inside the head of Barry Andrews in solo-piano mode might require an alarming leap into the dark, but there's a strange genius at work here, and this album is a wonderfully engaging document of what that genius can do. Take the leap!
Licking Honey From A Razor
Down The Coal Hole
Awake Too Long
This Big Hush
Going Through the Old Diary
Down The Pyramids
Barry Andrews: Voice, piano
Barry Andrews' website: http://www.barryandrews.net
The Shriekback website: http://www.shriekback.com
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Quorthon is one of viking metal's luminaries, and although not a particularly consistent songwriter, his two-part Nordland series is very good. Last year's Nordland I showed a movement back towards his viking roots, and Nordland II is a suitable sequel. Instead of roaming vast icy expanses and dense forests, this time Quorthon has taken it upon himself to go sailing. Nordland II captures the feeling of being out at sea with rhythms set to the pace of a ship rocking in water, interludes with the gentle sweeping of water over sand, and vocals with a rasping pirate-like cadence.
Er... pirate-like? Instead of the traditional viking metal rasps, Quorthon really does sound a lot like a pirate out on the high seas looking to pillage and plunder in proper pirate fashion. The rasps are sort of slurred and offbeat, not hate-filled, but more "avast ye matey"...ish. It's amazingly hard to describe pirate vocals, but if you can imagine ex-Skyclad vocalist Martin Walkyier joining a band of reasonably well meaning pirates and eventually returning to the world of metal with an eye-patch, you wouldn't be too far off.
Other than that, Nordland II is pretty much a straight continuation of Nordland I. The clean vocals are somewhat less prominent, but present the same viking chants and melodies that Bathory's viking vocals have always managed. The epic viking nature of Bathory's recent approach prevails over his pirate leanings, so you can be sure that Nordland II is first and foremost a viking album, and worth looking into if you dedicate your battles to the All Father. The riffs are essentially the same as Nordland I: bouncy Norse rhythms with soaring melodic leads.
I think that's about it, really. If you like Bathory's viking moments, especially on Nordland I, you'll enjoy hearing Bathory exploring new bounds out at sea. The music feels a bit less fresh this time around, in the way that many sequels tend to, but is still highly listenable. I suppose I ought to mention that the opening melody is a near exact copy of the main theme from Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. I don't know if that is intentional, but it's a little funny nonetheless. Perhaps Quorthon was in a jovial mood when he wrote it, or he's just mocking us all for taking him seriously. Who knows! Other than Quorthon.
2) Blooded Shore
3) Sea Wolf
5) The Land
6) Death and Resurrection of a Northern Son
7) The Messenger
8) Flash of the Silverhammer
9) The Wheel of Sun
Quorthon - music, lyrics
The End Records (US):
Beyond Salem (Canada)
Welcome To Machine
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Welcome To Machine, which could use a good 'the', is Beyond Salem's newest offering. The album is a schizophrenic collection of songs that don't meld styes like classic rock, goth, and soundtracky instrumental passages, but rather jump jarringly between them. This odd bout of random genre hopping makes the album a very uneven release... mainly since the band is definitely more adept at some styles than others.
The main stumbling block I kept tripping over while trying to tolerate this album is the gratingly baleful vocalizing of John Stuart Campbell. His strained wailing sounds terribly out of place in the context of Black Sabbath-y classic metal numbers like 'Witch On The Mountain'. The only time his singing ventures into acceptability is when he adopts a Peter Steele-esque theatrical goth tone... and even then it's nothing to write home about.
The songwriting, on the whole, meanders aimlessly and is often punctuated by lengthy bouts of dull nothingness between any catchy riffs that may accidentally crop up. Much of Welcome To Machine sounds like a classic-radio-rock jam session rather than an album of carefully arranged songs. Maybe that's something others will appreciate, but I found it boring and pointless. It's not as if this sound hasn't been covered similarly (and more skillfully) a hundred times before. The only marginally worthwhile tracks on the album are the three instrumental compositions that conclude it. They are mercifully devoid of garish vocals and present ambient soundscapes filled with synthesizer noodling. If the band focused in this direction and improved the quality of their electronics, I could see them eventually entering more listenable territory.
I hate belittling other people's artistic endeavours (actually, that's a lie... occasionally I rather enjoy it), but when presented to me in the context of an album for review, sometimes it can't be helped. I can find nothing on Welcome To Machine to recommend it for purchasing. I hope the band continues to refine their sound and eventually arrives someplace where they sound less amateurish and more interesting. Until then, when someone asks me if I want to go Beyond Salem, I think I'll just stay in town.
01.) Intro - 13 Bells
02.) Witch On The Mountain
03.) Last Dance
04.) The Crow
05.) Welcome To Machine
06.) First Days of Mourning
07.) Nordic Storm/500 Years
08.) Farewell & Goodbye
09.) Lost In The Towers
10.) After Midnight
Beyond Salem is:
Michael Cannon: guitars, keyboard, bass
Matte Black: lead & electric guitars
John Stuart Campbell: lead vocals, bass, guitars
Luci Ferr: studio & live drums
Beyond Salem Official Website:
The Ceremony of Innocence
~reviewed by BlackOrpheus
Jonathan Sharp is prodigious in his shere number of interests and musical undertakings. If he wasn't already familiar to most through his work with Bio-Tek; he might be familiar through his work with New Mind or Takshaka.
The Ceremony of Innocence is the long delayed album from his Bio-Tek project. It is a work of challenging contradictions, not the least of which is the album cover's diverse visuals. The album is pretty evenly divided between brilliance and depth, and being flat, derivative and bloated. Below are a few cursory observations from my listening experience.
"Scarlet Tracings" possesses a certain subdued, almost savage grandiosity. It rises and falls with all the drama and pageant of Wagner. The female vocal was an addition to the music, that I thought fit very well with the overall feel.
"Sorrows of the Moon" was based on the Baudelaire poem of the same name. It opens with tolling bells that herald the spoken word poem in it's original French. It song construction was restrained, and that very restraint was what made it such an effective piece of songcraft.
"Profession of Violence" uses the textures of the music and vocals to telling effect. The beat of this piece, punctuates the palpable menace inherent in the song. The vocals are delivered with a low snarl that exagerates the growing feeling of unease.
In closing, I'd like to say that I did enjoy this album. I believe the songs I mentioned, cast Sharp in the best possible light. He is an undeniable talent, I only wish he would explore and build upon these obvious strengths. His forays into the sped up, beat heavy, dance "friendly" songs such as "Reborn," "prayer," and "Caller of the Black" only served to detract from an otherwise perfectly listenable album. Those kinds of displays usually meet with middling success, and at worst are just crude and vulgar displays of synth-sequencer prowess that have been done a thousand times before. Having said all of this, I still recommend giving it a listen. When Sharp shines, he really sparkles.
1. Scarlet Tracings
3. Sorrows of the Moon
5. Caller of the Black
6. Profession of Violence
7. Victory Not Vengeance
8. Un Coeur En Hiver
9. Lucifuge Refocale
10. The Last Ritual
Bio-Tek is: Jonathan Sharp
Official Website: WWW.Anti-Statik.Com/BioTek/
Black Label Society
The Blessed Hellride
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Stoner rock is a peculiar genre, particularly when Zakk Wylde is the man interpreting it. Known best for his work as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist, Wylde has also done some interesting solo projects, along with full-on beer fueled rockin' via Black Label Society (BLS). Today we're going to look at the rockin'. The first and only time I saw BLS live, I didn't realize that Zakk Wylde was the guitarist/singer. I thought "now there's a crazy man." Wylde stood tall with his signature black and white spiral guitar, and he was yelling in a manner that led me to believe fire ants had invaded his socks. He looked to be a Harley riding kind of man that wanders around in search of gigs and beer. His music with Black Label Society is kinda like that. All fire ants, Harleys, and beer.
I'm not a big fan of stoner rock, but for the most part Zakk Wylde gets groovy and keeps the music enjoyable. The first song opens with a dramatically themed riff that demands attention - but then the lyrics kick in and start going on about lots of drinking and smoking. Truthfully, I still don't know what to make of the combination. Zakk Wylde blasts through fiery solos ("Stoned and Drunk"), rocks out with Ozzy ("Stillborn"), and uses piano and bluesy guitar to show his soft side ("Dead Meadow"). BLS songs come across as just short of what Wylde is clearly capable of. It's nice that he can play down to earth music, and his guitar technique has improved, but when will he challenge himself musically?
I'd like to see him go all out to create a real metal album with intelligent lyrics, varied riffing and, most importantly, more feeling besides "I like beer." For The Blessed Hellride, Wylde simply visited his local recording studio, camped there for some six weeks, and without any prior planning, made this CD (really, the press sheet said so! Except for the bit about camping. And I don't really know if the studio was local). All the songs are suitably jammin' and probably quite cool in a live setting, but most of them fail to rise above the "beer drinkin' head banging" rating on Depth of Entertainment rock measures.
If you're a strict Ozzy fan looking to explore Zakk Wylde's other endeavors, don't be fooled by the hit single "Stillborn", featuring Ozzy on vocals. The rest of the CD has Wylde singing like he belongs in Monster Magnet, and occasionally doing his own Ozzy impressions - but the focus is clearly on cars, drugs and rock 'n' roll (apparently the preferred motif for metal men who don't feel it necessary to advertise their sexuality). For everyone else: give it a listen if you like your rock hard and groovy, and you might just find yourself enjoying Black Label Society's straightforward and fun romp through abandoned race tracks, biker bars, and smoke-filled concert venues.
1) Stoned and Drunk
2) Doomsday Jesus
4) Suffering Overdue
5) The Blessed Hellride
6) Funeral Bell
7) Final Solution
8) Destruction Overdrive
9) Blackened Water
10) We Live No More
11) Dead Meadow
Black Label Society is:
Zakk Wylde - vocals, guitars, bass, piano
Craig Nunenmacher - drums
Black Label Society - Official
A World To Drown In
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Blazing Eternity's music could be described as a sad memory on a warm summer day. A World To Drown In is filled with songs that drift along like terminally ill butterflies... pretty things floating on a tranquil breeze that nevertheless have a depressing undercurrent trying to tug you into a sea of maudlin gloom. Oh- hey, I should probably mention that anyone who expected this to be black metal (as Blazing Eternity's demo releases apparently were) will be either confused, disappointed, or angry. Probably angry, knowing black metal fans. Angry and ready to burn things. But, I digress. A World To Drown In is definitely not black metal, but it -is- dreamy alterna-goth rock. Take that how you will... and please don't burn me.
I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing, but vocalist Peter Mesnickow reminds me alot of 'Morrissey + a slight Danish accent'. His voice is well suited to accompany the music, which in it's lighter moments is suggestive of R.E.M. and in the heavier bits... perhaps 'Nighttime Birds' era The Gathering. Or a less metallic latterday Katatonia. Maybe even a little like The Cure, really. If you're getting the idea that this particular sound isn't altogether unique, you're right. At least the band executes it well. The production is fine, lending the gloom a crystalline clearness that, well, doesn't make it gloomier but does make for a nice listen.
Maybe that's my problem with this album. It's too nice. Its like a lengthy sigh, wistfully wishing you'd pay it more attention... but it can't muster the energy to do anything truly memorable. If, however, you're too happy and need to be brought back to earth, A World To Drown In will dampen your spirits. Where it succeeds is in painting glum pictures on your wall that turn the room's atmosphere bittersweet and melancholy. It never really wallows in the sadness enough to make things truly hopeless, but it does manage to generate a pervasive feeling of unrequited longing for better times.
I won't lie - A World To Drown In doesn't excite me... but then, it wasn't really meant to, I suppose. If you can't get enough music that exists solely to depress and de-stimulate listeners, you might want to give this album a try. Sadly, however, the songs on A World To Drown In are insubstantial gossamer trifles, as fleeting as a rain shower in the spring. They might bring you down while they're happening, but they pass quickly and are soon forgotten when the sun comes out again.
01.) Cover Me With Your Eyes
02.) To Meet You In Those Dreams
03.) A World To Drown In
04.) Stars In July
05.) (Don't) Tell The World
07.) En Nat Bliver Det Sommer
Blazing Eternity is:
Peter Mesnickow: Vocals
Morten Lybecker: Guitars
Kim Larsen: Guitars
Anders Kristiansen: Bass
Lars Korsholm: Drums
Blazing Eternity Official
The Blue Season
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
I think I will now invent another official category for classifying music (my previous best being YAPMA: "Yet Another Power Metal Album"). This new category shall henceforth be known as BTSLOBBDIW, or "Bands That Sound Like Other Bands But Do It Well". Ok, so it needs a little work. I'll try and pare that down a little before adopting it into everyday use. The inspiration for that unwieldy moniker is The Blue Season's new album, Cold. If I had to review it in one sentence, I would say "Like old The Gathering, but with a guy singing, too." Perhaps fortunately for you, I do not have to so limit myself, and you get three more paragraphs of my earnest reviewing.
There are times when direct comparisons of one band to another are unfair. This isn't one of them. If The Gathering had decided after Mandylion (so many years ago) to veer into slightly more progressive territory and add in clean male vocals, Cold is pretty close to what would result. For those not in the know, the style of which I speak is lightly gothic, loosely metallic dark progressive rock. It's largely guitar driven, filled with synths, has some exotic percussion (congas, to be exact), and yields a somber yet propulsive sound. In fairness to The Blue Season, they do diverge from Gatheringdom occasionally, with the odd upbeat number like 'My Own Spring'... but the comparison holds true across the rest of the album.
Making things even more Gatheringy, singer Natalie Pereira Dos Santos (whose name is impressively long) even sounds much like The Gathering's Anneke van Giersbergen. Ms. Santos's voice is powerful and clear, and she sings with convincing emotion... but -for me, at least- the magic's just not there in the same way as it is with Anneke. It's a purely subjective position, and I don't wish to belittle Ms. Santos's efforts, as she is a fine singer. Perhaps she's at that point in artists' careers where they are technically proficient, but haven't quite found their own identity yet. For now, if Anneke ever gets sick and they need an emergency fill-in on tour... well, they should jot down Ms. Santos's phone number.
What we're left with, then, is a prime example of BTSLOBBDIW. Ok, that's never going to catch on. Still, my point stands. The Blue Season is more than superficially like The Gathering... but that doesn't mean their music lacks value. Cold is an engaging album of dark progressive gothic-tinged rock. If you wish The Gathering hadn't veered so far off the path they walked on 'Mandylion', this album is sure to appeal to you. If you just like atmospheric dark music with expressive vocals and well played instrumental parts, this is right up your alley too. I suspect, though, that if The Blue Season sheds their influences more on future releases, we'll leave the cold behind and head into a bright, warm summer.
04.)Hours And Hours
06.)When I Fall Asleep
07.)My Own Spring
10.)Body In The Pool
The Blue Season is:
Natalie Pereira Dos Santos - Vocals
Oliver Zillich - Vocals, Keyboards
Jochen Laser - Guitar, Piano
Bernd König - Bass
Oliver Waibel - Congas, Percussion
Christoph Semmelrodt - Drums
The Blue Season Official
Forgotten Anthology 1995-2002
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Some people would argue that madness and genius are inseparable. If any of these people were looking to prove their point with modern musicians, there's no finer example than the man who wields a guitar that is shaped like a bumblebee. A bumblebee that looks like a human foot. His very name is enough to strike terror into the hearts of all who hear it. Or confusion, in any case. Bumblefoot is a guitarist and singer who crafts the most absurdly original and inventive songs that all fans of music need to listen to. That's my personal bias speaking, but it's a respectably intelligent bias, and you ought to follow its advice.
Forgotten Anthology is kind of like a Bumblefoot greatest hits album. And it's a really good one, too, with tracks representing four eras of his music: depressing grunge, quirky rock/metal songs, modernized 70's lounge music, and er... the most recent era. Which happens to be quite a remarkable era, if largely unclassifiable. "This is all well and good," you may be thinking, "but what's so special about a greatest hits CD?" Forgotten Anthology is defined by the fact that its songs were (mostly) never before released. And it isn't some attempt to make easy cash off outdated material: the songs are all excellent, and any one of them could have easily fit onto Bumblefoot's albums (in fact, tracks 8-12 were on the French release of Uncool).
The first four songs chronicle Bumblefoot's unrealized attempt at sullen grunge. The tracks are rather serious, and Bumblefoot's emotive vocals and zany guitar antics give them a highly unique and powerful quality. Tracks 5-7 might have made a follow-up to Hands, and they continue that album's tradition of warping alternative rock styles. Songs 8-15 would feel right at home on Uncool, and they feature similarly wacky lounge meets metal stylings. "A Way Out" and "Wasted Away" take the CD back to its more serious direction. "Wasted Away", in particular, is a very expressive song with a downcast main theme and appropriately lethargic and depressed singing. The final track is "Mafalda", an imaginative instrumental and scary fretless guitar workout that will convince aspiring guitar students to give up guitar and invest in a recorder.
When I say Bumblefoot is top-shelf material, I mean it literally. His CDs are on my exalted top shelf, and I listen to them all far more than any mental health professional would consider healthy. Forgotten Anthology lives up to Bumblefoot's usual high standards, and all fans of insane, honest, and wacky music need to give it a listen. It continues to amaze me that Bumblefoot can communicate as well with his voice as his guitar, and the combination of the two is unbelievable. Guitar fans can listen just to marvel at the amazing sounds Bumblefoot squeezes from his guitar, but anyone else can appreciate the innovative melodies, catchy choruses, and solid songwriting. Head to www.bumblefoot.com or http://artists.iuma.com/IUMA/Bands/Bumblefoot/ to listen!
2) Thought I Could Fly
6) Day to Remember
7) Bagged a Big 1
9) Heart Attack
10) Girl Like You
14) She Knows
16) A Way Out
17) Wasted Away
Bumblefoot - guitars, bass, vocals, pretty much everything else
Bumblefoot - Official Site:
Bumblefoot mp3s at IUMA:
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Some music is so different from what you're used to that maintaining your interest becomes a difficult challenge. It's easy to become discouraged and write an album off without giving it a proper chance to sink in and take hold of your subconscious. I almost let that happen with one-man-band Carrier Flux's In Waste, but I'm quite pleased that I took the time to give it a few thorough listens. As it turns out, this is one of the more artful and creative albums of heavy music I've come across in a while.
Jeff Phillips is an ambitious man. Solo projects are hard enough to complete, let alone when they feature arrangements as dense as those on In Waste. Loosely combining elements of black metal, ambient, goth, techno-industrial, and electronica, Phillips has forged a strong amalgam that bears little direct resemblance to any of its building blocks. Blazing crunchy guitars and blindingly fast drum machine patterns form a bed beneath an unusual choice of vocal styles that nonetheless creates a strange and not unwelcome mood of disquiet. Phillips sounds full of resignation and grim fatalism as he delivers his lyrics in a style not unlike that of many a teutonic gloom-metal (or techno) act. The monotone, nearly spoken-word stylings perhaps recall Depeche Mode right after they've returned home from a funeral, or a less angry, more acquiescent Rammstein.
Synth lines wind through the tremolo picked guitar fuzz with regularity, and no instrument is safe from electronic manipulation (or mauling). This gives the album a progressive tinge and a bit of a science-fictiony feel. The lead lines trade off between guitar and synthesizer, zipping and blipping along at breakneck speeds, but the music is primarily driven by the relentless drum machine ticking away alongside buzzy rhythm guitar riffs. Combined with the morose vocals (and a sporadic black metal rasp), the music creates a singular sound that gives Carrier Flux a clear and unique identity.
Anyone who enjoys experimental metal and has an open mind willing to explore a new take on the genre will find In Waste a valuable addition to their collection. If I had to compare Carrier Flux to another band (and it's in the "Metal Reviewers' By-Laws": I do!) I would say that it is in the same ballpark that ...And Oceans has been playing in, though AO is out in left field and Carrier Flux is somewhere around second base. Interpret that however you like. Do not be put off by my glaringly ineffective analogies, though... In Waste is no waste of your time if you have the patience to appreciate challenging art.
02.) Ghost In The Machine
06.) False Projection
08.) Above The Crippled Earth
09.) The Enemy Within
10.) Alone In Waste
11.) Am I One Am I
Carrier Flux is:
Carrier Flux Official Site:
Black Lotus Records:
The End Records (US):
PARLIAMENT OF ROOKS (CS)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
When I was reviewing this a small moth actually landed on my nose! He asked what I had on because the headphones were irritating him, and so I told him of this album, in an encouraging, heartfelt manner, for while I generally have little time for the male angsty side of Goth where treated vocals mix with the Industrial undertow, and Rock threatens to overwhelm all, with Caustic Soul, I’m intrigued.
I wouldn’t say this is utterly fantastic, because of one simple thing which is apparent right from the start. They have so much talent, they make the album genuinely varied throughout and any clichés which seem to be forming soon dissipate, but they can’t really explode. Many a track builds with such spectacular ease, you think we’re heading for truly epic territory, which would easily set them on top of the thrusting industrial Goth heap, only for their riffology to get stuck in third gear. At some point they lack the glycerine fluidity which is required to stoke things up and take off with breathtaking power. They get so far, then stop, teetering on the edge of potential greatness.
Another bad moment comes when you realise they have not only covered ‘Scarborough Fair’ but done nothing to invert it, meaning that it remains an utterly shite waste of your time, but that’s the downside over and done with, and the rest of the album, even without their inability to truly achieve lift off, is the unexpectedly attractive vocals, which have gravitas aplenty, and the richly imaginative musical tapestries they urinate against with such pleasure.
And I confess, I don’t recognise this quote, but they start ‘Trine’ with my favourite sample yet hard on a song, as some madman rants, “I believe in cruelty and infidelity. I believe in slime and stink, in every crawling, putrid thing, every possible ugliness and corruption, you Son Of A Bitch!!!” Is it Rumsfeld’s video diary? I know not. Then the songs somersaults away, riffing madly.
‘Eryux’ is Pained Goth par excellence, ‘Dead Doll’ an aching ballad which become a rabid monster, and ‘Goodnight’ an exquisite floaty thing, with the gentility bracing. Yes it goes mental towards the end, because that’s what these bands do, but it’s still lovely. Curiously, you also get to imagine Abba running around with intestines hanging from their mouths during the opening to ‘Sick’ and then the bowel-scraping really begins.
Before I’d finished reviewing Shelly (tortoiseshell and yowly) came and sat on the info sheets they’d included, and swished her tail about to the magnificent autocratic vocals, and frosted brutality in song, proving they appeal to man or beast alike.
confessions of a man (mad enough to live amongst beasts)
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Every so often a metal band makes its debut and defies all expectations. Charger is one such band. With the relative hype behind them, and their somewhat interesting album title, I expected them to be far more compelling than they are. On their website, it is said that Charger's style is "impossibly heavy, punk-fuelled sludgecore noise." I'd say that Charger play screechy crap music, or SCM. In reality, Charger are probably somewhere in between the two, playing music not altogether different from The Great Deceiver, and somehow mixing Nirvana-ish grunge grooves with screeching throat-ripping shouts.
I'm under the impression that Charger desired to make music that would scare the living daylights out of sane people, and even annoy hardened metal fans. Mission accomplished. Way to go, Charger. Their debut will be well received in circles where people like to blast lots of noisy music and headbang frequently. Charger's music is certainly suited to headbanging primarily because it's a lot harder to hear clearly when your head is rapidly bouncing up and down, and if you get lucky, you might just connect with a solid surface and knock yourself unconscious.
Ok, so that's the negative view of confessions... on the positive side, Charger can get a good groove going, and the music is certainly heavy and angry and all that fun stuff. Also, there's a nice respite from the screechy vocals during tracks 6 and 7. If you've ever found yourself listening to something called sludgecore noise, and more importantly, enjoying it, Charger is for you. By most outward appearances, they seem like a band I should like. Since I don't, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in that they're probably respectably well-versed in their style of choice.
If you're not into metal that involves lots of hardcore-ish screaming with repetitive power chord riffs and absolutely no melodic content, you'll probably be on my side when it comes to labeling Charger SCM. But if you are into aurally offensive sonic madness, perhaps to deter would-be burglars or door to door salesmen, you'll find a lot to like in Charger's painful debut.
1) ultra violet flyer
2) god made us in the image of his ass
3) pennies for soil
4) chide and harmonize
5) carbon wings
6) airtank face pincers
8) a ventilation system for cooling poultry
Tim Machin - vocals
Jim Palmer - guitar
Jay Woodroffe - guitar
Tom O' Brian - bass
Paul Sanderson - drums
Charger - Official Site:
SOME KIND OF STRANGE (Noiseplus Music)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
I’ll do the relevant comparisons now if you don’t mind. So, that’ll be Garbage with extra art but no actual commercial sensibilities, descendants of either KaS Product or Curve (depending on your age), and consider Kate Bush, providing she went Industrial.
Okay, so where are we, now they’ve hit their fourth album and started getting publicity? We can see them as sleek and combustible, and naturally we can appreciate their quality, recognise their beauty and also just fail to hide our disappointment that they’re not slightly more conventional. The album, which hints at an overt sense of tremulous danger, also sees them stuck in a delightful but doomy rut. That might be hard to swallow, when you think how well they’re doing, but if you acknowledge their own description of their music as soundscapes, you must also accept these aren’t songs, per se, but tracks.
Like many bands, Collide have great points. Being just two people, we have here a pair of weirdoes in perfect harmony. They pitch in together and make it sound grand with exquisitely breathy or fiery vocals, and layer upon layer of restless, polished musical daggers aimed straight ay your mental heart, but what there isn’t, is songs.
It may be more reverie than background, but when not one single song has any demanding pace to it, where we are dragged along, breathless with anticipation and excitement, they have to either come up with astonishing musical tableaux of varying complexity, or have such lyrical profundity we sit and follow the tale. Neither elements occur. Collide songs are a stunning jumble, but it’s pretty much the same kind of jumble. Halfway through the album you really shouldn’t be expecting any surprises, and you certainly don’t get any. You also lose track of what the words are supposed to be about, if they are actually about anything. Sometimes it’s like observing a lunatic dirty-dancing, solo, as the words are rolled meaningfully around the mouth and released in a relaxing manner, and behind the voice the music see-saws dramatically, but following a set pattern.
And that’s a problem, because we’ve all seen bands just dwindle away after bubbling up, and Collide could be one of those.
Some Kind of Strange
~reviewed by Jezebel
I think Blu still loves me, despite me being MIA the last few months. Really I do. Because she sent me Collide.
I had a feeling that she did when my husband picked up the then still unopened CD and said “Collide? I like them. I have heard some of their stuff. Mind if I take a look?” Hey, it was 9am on a Monday Bank Holiday, I didn’t give a flying fudge.
“Cool, cEvin Key and Danny Carey.”
“Huh? Skinny Puppy and Tool? Oh shit, it’s industrial.”
“Give it a listen. You might be surprised. I don’t remember them being industrial.”
So after editing down Turning Japanese and choreographing the CanCan (Hey I am a dance teacher), I found myself a glass of wine, settled into my bedroom and gave a listen.
Thank you Blu.
I love atmospheric music. I love music that seems to paint a canvas with sounds that create visions and landscapes of ideas, fantasies and mysteries. Collide does just that. This is no uncharted territory. Many bands attempt and usually fail at this genre and idea. There are a few that succeed. The Changelings are one of these bands. Black Tape for a Blue Girl, especially of their latest album are icons to me in this kind of musical painting. Collide is definitely one of those bands that are to be respected and to be taken seriously.
But different to the aforementioned bands, Collide adds something a bit more. They add grit. They add dirt to the landscape. They add the grime and the dark, dirtier undertones…even sexual and erotic undertones to this kind of music that I don’t believe the others have. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying The Changelings or Black Tape for a Blue Girl are goody two shoes. But these two, kaRIN and Statik are the black sheep, the dark cousins of the family of landscape artists (hmm, have I just created a new label for a genre of music?)
I am now, as I type this, at the end of the third track off the album, that being "Modify". It ends almost, well, forgive the ugliness of the wording, snorting. And then a soft lovely sound brings in "Somewhere". kaRIN’s voice is lovely, with a touch of Kate Bush to it. Pushing and diving throughout and within the notes finding new depths and heights to go almost simultaneously. How that works and happens, I don’t know. Somewhere floats among the waves finding their peaks and valleys taking you on an oceanaic journey that leaves you satiated and questioning. Another strange combination.
And perhaps that is what Collide is all about. A strange combination. Their representation of themselves through their press pack sure does echo my feelings. They admit that they are opposites, trying to find a middle ground from where their music can soar. But middle ground is the wrong phrasing because that can mean something of a mediocrity and Collide definitely doesn’t know the meaning of mediocrity.
So back to kaRIN’s voice. It is not only Kate Bush I hear. (wonder if she is an influence to her?). But I hear a bit of Siouxsie in there. A bit of Monica Richards (who is thanked on the album). But what is the best part of it, is that it is like a really fine dish. You can taste the essence of the ingredients, but when put together well, the dish takes on its own identity and can be compared to no one.
The engineering on the album is masterful, the balance of instruments and voice incredible. Now Statik, who mixed and engineered album is in charge of noise. I don’t know exactly what instrument that would be, but it makes him a damn good engineer. I find that if a member of a band mixes and engineers an album, there is always a imbalance either away from or too towards the instrument of the engineer (Belisha, Killing Miranda and Faith and the Muse being fine examples of exceptions to that perception). I am interested in hearing exactly what “noise” playing is. I suspect it’s keyboards but I don’t want to put my two cents in…just yet.
There is a problem with reviewing this album and it goes back to the analogy of the fine dish. This is just a fine, excellent produced and created album….oh jesus, I just got to track 6, "Inside". Can I say wow? I think this slithers more than preceeding track called "slither"? This just wraps itself away in that breezy way of a summer day. The first song I have ever heard in this genre that calls for a white wine? Light chardonnay. Or perhaps a reisling? But again, it’s guttural. It’s sensual and erotic…but doesn’t make you feel guilty, dirty about enjoying it.
Wait a second, let me go back to what I was saying. Yes. A fine dish. You don’t taste individual ingredients, just their essence which makes it taste so good. Not too much pepper or basil. The meat done to perfection. So you can’t pick out one thing. You can just take it as one dish to savour and enjoy.
Damn, this is an album for a bubble bath for two.
So I have gushed and guffawed over this album (and it’s now on it’s second playing in a row by the way)…..okay, I have to say something of constructive critiscm. Hm. Um. Okay. Here goes.
The press release enclosed jumps from first person speaking (kaRIN) to third person quoting kaRIN. That was a bit unsettling. I hate all these strange spellings of name. They not only are a pain in the bum to type, and make my spelling check have fits, but they are a bit silly.
There you go. My constructive criticsm. Fix your press release and spelling your names correctly. Consider your knuckles slapped.
Now the rest of you – go buy the album.
kaRIN: words and voices
5. Slither thing
11. So Long
Tears from the Moon
~reviewed by Jyri Glynn
Considering myself an enormous fan of Front Line Assembly and Delerium; as well as, a vivid admirer of all of Rhys Fulber’s additional side projects, how the hell did I miss his solo debut, Conjure One?
This album should have been the follow up to Delerium’s 1997 release, Karma with its excellent blend of electronic and acoustic instrumentation. 'It's ambient, epic music with a pop structure,' cites Fulber. Self-titled, Conjure One draws from a full array of international influences ranging from Mediterranean to Middle Eastern. I was also pleasantly surprised to find female guest stars Poe and Sinéad O’Connor singing on this album; as well as, Jeff Martin from the Tea Party lending his vocals to the track, Premonition (on the limited edition cd). Israeli vocalist Chemda, Argentinean singer Marie-Claire D’Ubaldo and Melanie Garside also contribute beautiful vocals throughout this refreshing cd.
The album is available in both a single and double cd release version with the additional double cd having more danceable remixes of some of the tracks off the full album. If you enjoy dance mixes these are superb and have a much more upbeat feel than the original tracks.
The album opens with a short track titled Damascus. It is very nice opening song, with melodic synth lines, which blends beautifully with Chemda’s vocal chatting.
Center of the Sun is probably one of the most radio-friendly songs presented on this album. It is also the first of two songs where singer, Poe makes her vocal appearance. The piano and strings flawlessly carry this beautiful melody.
The third track titled Tears from the Moon features Sinead O’Connor who provides the perfect, sorrowful, reflection for this track in her own unique vocal style. And even though I am told this is a cover song, it is by far the best thing I have heard from O’Connor in years. I particularly enjoy the presences of acoustic guitar and violin on this song. The song portrays the emotional loss of one’s love for another.
I feel something falling from the skyTidal Pool conveys a more ambient tone mirroring previous work from Fulber in his earlier projects. This track is so similar to some of his past material that I found myself questioning whether I had heard the tune previously or not. Nonetheless, it is a very beautiful track and Chemda’s vocals add to the melodic flare.
I’m so sad I made the angels cry
Tears from the moon falling down like rain
I reach for you
I reach in vein
Stop haunting me
It should be easy…
As easy as when you stopped wanting me
The album continues with the song, Manic Star, which features the vocals of Marie-Claire D’Ubaldo. Ironically this track sounds much like a song from the album, Poem, which was the Delerium release after Fulber left the band and his partner Bill Leeb. Poem was Leeb’s "solo" Delerium debut and it certainly had more of a mainstream pop feel to it.
Chemda once again echoes her powerfully melodic vocal chants on the track Redemption, blending both middle-eastern and dance textures. If you are a fan of Delierum’s Karma album, you will enjoy this one as well the next track, Years.
Make a Wish again features singer, Poe who illuminates this track with her gentle, lounge vocals. Musically the song blends trip-hop beats with a lovely classical piano piece. I also very much enjoyed the synth textures which flow through out the song.
Marie-Claire D’Ubaldo sings an innocent love song over peaceful electronica on the track, Sleep. This track reminded me of Opus III’s 1994 release, “It’s going to be a fine night”.
The album closes with a short outro titled Premonition, which is an great song, but right when you are getting into it, the track seems to come to an abrupt end. If you are lucky enough to find a copy of the limited edition cd, Jeff Martin (Tea Party), who provides most of the guitar work through out this album, is feature vocally on this track. Unfortunately the version I have to review does not contain this exclusive track so I have no idea how it sounds.
Overall, Conjure One is a
breath of fresh air in todays over exhausted electronic based music scene.
Utilizing a nice blend of both acoustic instruments as well as synths,
it is a very well written, composed and produced album. Fulber clearly
exhibits his talents; which I'm sure are noticeably absent from his former
2. Center of The Sun
3. Tears From The Moon
4. Tidal Pool
5. Manic Star
8. Make a Wish
11. Premonition (Reprise)