You might think an Eves song which mentions flowers in the lyrics is potentially hazardous to your ears, but this bolshy little bastard remains easy on alert ears while clearly a claw hammer wrapped in velvet. Compulsive and catchy, ‘Let Me Go Home’ has nagging guitar weaving inside, and out from, the chorus, and an imperious vocal performance from Julianne. The way she draws the music to her is so different to the past where she could almost be seen as ingratiating herself into the tune. Now she stands like a battle commander, moving the pieces on her melodic map. CD1 has ‘Aquamarina’ (Mesmerina mix) which does go back many years in its feel, but with greater texture: a logical development from the Eves’ past, it provides clear continuity but now done in a bold way, where less is more. Quite a blissful, filmic thing. Then you have a Manuskript and 999 mix of ‘Let Me Go Home’; the former a brash, pulsating beast, the latter (probably not done by the pot-bellied punk band, I suspect) going for the twinkling, twittering approach.
CD2 has the grim emotional dénouement of ‘Apart’, which trickles along majestically, as though garbage finally learned how to join the dots. A fragment of ruptured lives captured beautifully, this is in keeping with the way the Eves have been steadily building over the last few years to the point where they’ve done something patently absurd in the UK. They’re teaching the younger whippersnappers trailing in their wake just how it’s done! It's a fantastic buy, whichever CD you go for (or both) and it's just come out. Buy quickly and you will slam it into the top 20, and show up all the hideous shite which clogs our dire charts.
LET ME GO HOME
LET ME GO HOME - REMIX
LET ME GO HOME – REMIX
LET ME GO HOME
http://www.soundclick.com/pro/?BandID=182625 (5th in chart – described as ‘hot!’)
Sun (Self release)
~review by Uncle Nemesis
A three-track demo CD from a gothic rock band from Poland, and a fairly traditional-sounding bunch they are, too. They’ve got that ol’ Sisters Of The Mission Of Mercy sound nailed, and just to reinforce the message, The Act’s singer, if the photos on the band’s website are any guide, affects that early-90s Eldritch style, all aviator shades and hands draped over the microphone. It’s influences-worn-on-sleeve time, folks.
‘Silver Is Golden’, the first track here, grumbles along like ‘First And Last And Always’ -period Sisters, if they’d got out of bed on the wrong side that morning. It’s downbeat and mid-tempo, the singer giving it his best Eldritchian drone, coming to life only on the chorus: ‘I’m walking through the shadows...’ Yep, they mention ‘shadows’ in the lyric. That’s another box ticked, then. The only slightly individualistic touch here is the keyboard line - a rather cool, sixties style pop-punk buzz that sounds like it’s on holiday from a Brides song. It sounds weirdly incongruous amongst the portentous gothic rockin’ of the band’s overall sound, but hints that somewhere underneath the dead weight of their influences The Act do have their own identity.
Track two is ‘Sun’, and for a moment I think we’re going to move into goth-metal territory. The guitar revs up a metallic riff, but the song as a whole is another mid-tempo trad-goth workout. The keyboards, on this one, come over all ‘Phantasmagoria’, but the psychedelic wit of The Damned is, alas, absent. Again, the only point on the song where the singer lets go of his usual downbeat style and injects a bit of passion is the chorus, which makes much of the word ‘emptiness’. Ho hum. I realise The Act are writing lyrics in their second language, and I applaud them for that, but even so - do they have to dutifully work their way through *every* goth-cliche in the book?
And finally, ‘Take It Away’ sees the band embrace their native language, and the singer immediately sounds somewhat more at home - although ‘home’ in this instance seems to be the guest suite at Schloss Lacrimosa. It’s a slightly more adventurous tune, inasmuch as it features some rather nifty layers of electronics - this one, I’m willing to bet, is the song on which the band’s keyboard player really got to put in a few ideas. The guitar gets all metallic again, and although I can’t say I’m particularly grabbed by what I’m hearing here (it’s just too Lacrimosa-like for my liking) I have to say this is the one song out of the three where The Act sound at least vaguely contemporary.
The Act come across as a band which hasn’t quite managed to get out from under the shadows (see? I can do it too!) of their influences - they’re rehashing some fairly standard moves here, and while I dare say there’s an audience out there for their none-more-traditional gothic rock I fear I’ve heard too much of this stuff over the years to get excited by it now. If the band manage to nudge their general sound in the direction of the high-drama metallic style they explore on ‘Take It Away’ they’d immediately sound a bit more ‘now’, although I confess I still wouldn’t be inclined to join their fan club.
One for the trad dads, I
Silver Is Golden
Take It Away
Iza: Instrumenty Klawiszowe
Melancholik: Gitara basowa
The website: http://www.theact.gothic.pl
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:
COUNTERCULTURE (Oktober Productions)
~review by Mick Mercer
I’ve said it before, so I’ll be a repetitive old bastard and say again that I like Action Directe and their Attitude, which circles aloft among the ricocheting racket they call their musical home. Not for them the soft option, not for them the languid sentimentality of Goth’s tradition, or the obscure faux intelligence of Industrial. They have a political agenda, and they shake it in your face like a mandrill with piles.
Apparently this second album (I blame the press release) is conclusive proof of more melodic and compositional strength, and that the result is Goth being pushed cunningly towards the mainstream. Brave sentiments indeed, but not actually true. It does have a strong commercial curvature, usually ripped apart by the unnecessarily bellicose vocal style, and as nobody would see this as Goth the second point is irrelevant. This is surely seen by most as an Industrial offshoot? Too bold for electro shite, too orthodox for Industrial purists and too damn political for Goth, which places it nearer Indie territory.
But, to the record. You get the mournful Twin Peaksy opener, ‘Kul’turnost’ out of the way and you’re into a dazzling ‘Playing With Monsters.’ Ignore its second part later, which is pointless arty noise, and this first half is fantastic. The samples are sandwiched between layers of sound, which is a good idea. (Why bands fail to recognise that no-one takes a blind bit of notice of their samples, or that these clever spoken passages are a plain irritant after a while, escapes me.) The synth creates shapes for the truly excellent vocals to hang on, and they produce a moving an inspirational song. Okay, it is actually ‘Do They Know It’s Xmas?’ but we’ll pretend we didn’t notice.
‘Zealots’ has nippy guitar and tight beats closing like rabid jaws on the silky synth, which can fight back. The power isn’t so trenchant this time around, that much is obvious, and the vocals are more involving. The electro chatter of ‘Dissident’ isn’t great but it genuinely feels for opportunities to attack, which is why they’re head and shoulders, like an old Russian propaganda poster, above average ebm and electro outfits, because this bunch stand for something. You won’t see them slinking out to vote for UK Independence party. To them Europe in its entirety is a land rich in disposed peasantry, who need these songs to brighten their otherwise spotty faces. Of course play ‘Plastic Fatherland’ to anyone abroad and they’d probably say, ‘Ah yes, twerp-like students used to play moogs thirty years ago too, and they sounded shit then!’ Play them ‘Europe Is My Homeland’ and they’d ask, ‘what’s with the folk rubbish, are you some Lord Of The Rings re-enactment society?’ Ah, you just can’t win. ‘Compatriot Games’ would win them over though. It’s bleepy, but it’s ugly.
‘Oktober’ sees a flea circus take over the circuitry, cutely twitching throughout, and ‘Cossack’ is a bustling beast which I hoped would keep on growing ever more unruly, but they stepped back from the abyss and fiddled about a bit. ‘Hinterland’ has some very pretty moments, which is something they could more of, utilising their lyrical strengths to deliver blows with words as much as their rasping delivery which is holding them back.
The title track holds back from a dance outbreak hazily sweeping along, and they manage to be not quite hard enough with ‘Imperious Minds’ where the rhythm struggles for fluidity, and ‘Nemesis’ is twee but bleeds beautifully.
The end result is a positively puking spectacular overall, and the only real problem is this. They clearly know they’ve got good musical vision, and the singer is aware of how to unload melodically. If they don’t want to get too conventional on the grounds their credibility might be impinged upon that’s total bollocks. The music mainly comes from machines which can caress or curse, and the voice should do whatever is necessary to put their message over best, and sounding like a demented drunk isn’t always the most coherent method. With clever ideas to put across their attitude is what saves them and Attitude will work however they choose to convey it, as these songs can testify. They hang together on different gradients around a giant angry mountain made out of individual emotive molehills.
Viva their resolution.
PLAYING WITH MONSTERS
EUROPE IS MY HOMELAND
PLAYING WITH MONSTERS (PART TWO)
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
"Nicely produced but dreadfully unoriginal gothy powermetal ala Nightwish." That could be my whole review of After Forever's Exordium mini-CD, and you wouldn't be missing any information vital to your purchasing decision. You -would- miss my sparkling wit, though, so I will try and carry on... for your sake.
What's there to say? You have guitars, playing rhythms and melodies you've heard before. You have a sweet voiced female songstress, belting out the obligatory theatrics. There's a monster-voiced guy that pops in now and then. They sing. The music plays. On spins the millstone of genre regurgitation, endlessly grinding originality into mulch. At least the production is nice, and there's nothing overtly low-quality that will make you want to gouge your ears out.
The twenty-six minute long Exordium MCD is accompanied by a DVD that has a bunch of stuff on it for fans of the band, mainly. There's a video for 'My Choice' which is a bit tame as music videos go. You also get concert footage of 'The Evil That Men Do'. There are behind the scenes bits, and art, lyrics, and photos... none of which excited me even a little. It's all nicely presented, and I have no real complaints other than: "it seems geared exclusively to people who already like 'After Forever'... and I am not one of them."
So, fans of the band, buy
this and you will likely get your money's worth. Everyone else: don't
bother giving it a second look.
Disc – 1 After Forever - Exordium
01.) Line Of Thoughts 2.15
02.) Beneath 4.52
03.) My Choice 4.53
04.) Glorifying Means 5.00
05.) The Evil That Men Do 4.50
06.) One Day I’ll Fly Away 4.43
Disc – 2 Insights - DVD
01.) My Choice (Video Clip)
02.) Making of… My Choice
03.) Studio Recordings
04.) Slide Show
After Forever is:
Floor Jansen - Soprano
Sander Gommans - Guitars, solo, grunts
Bas Maas – Guitars, solo
Lando van Gils - Synths
Luuk van Gerven - Bassguitar
Andre Borgman - Drums, acoustic guitars
After Forever Official Site:
The End Records (US):
Days of Rising Doom
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
So... Aina. Well, I'll say this. They sure didn't hold anything back when making Days of Rising Doom. It's as if they ('they' being the 72 million musicians that make up this bloated super-group's guest star list) decided that it was all going in. ALL of it. Every shred of power metal nuance and character, every cliche, every single molecule of Powermetalium that they could find. In fact, the whole periodic table of Power Metal elements is in here. It is ALL contained in the distendedly swollen monolith of a rock opera that is Days of Rising Doom. And it's even occasionally sort of good... but mostly, it's rehashed ideas glorified to epic proportions.
I'll point out that I didn't even get to listen to it all. The promo sent for review contained a scant 68 minutes of its boundless expanse. Thank goodness. I couldn't have handled it otherwise. You know, I'm making it sound as if this album is some misbegotten abomination, and it's not. Not totally. Perhaps by telling you what's in it, I can illuminate the source of my chagrin.
First, you have the story. I don't know what the story is, due to my incomplete promo... but it involves maidens, and a siege, and rebellions... read the track list. You'll get the idea. So, to tell this story, you need a dozen wailin' powermetal singers of various pedigree. Michael Kiske is inovlved, so it wins some points there. Lots of other singers, male and female. Then you need bouncy powermetal guitar riffs, and some rockin' rocker riffs of rock, too. Check. Add to that synthesizers and synth orchestra, and perhaps some real orchestra, and other various instruments of various ethnic origins, and the sound is starting to round out. Now, toss in a children's choir (perhaps the album's only real original element). Finally, with that magnificent array of talent assembled and primed to go, hand them a massive stack of standard issue, generic power-prog rock opera songs, and have at it!
Fans of the modern powermetal
scene will probably like this alot. You Edguy and Hammerfall fanatics,
devotees of At Vance and Dionysus... the brothers in true metal... you'll
all find much to enjoy here. It is possible that fans of Savatage
and their offshoot Trans Siberian Orchestra will also like Days of Rising
Doom if they can stand the trappings of the powermetal genre.
Perhaps I've just been too saturated with music that sounds essentially
just like this to really appreciate it. Why, though, would you bother
collecting such a vast array of top notch musicians and produce so many
utterly banal songs that don't have an original or exciting note in them?
I wouldn't do that if I were in charge... and I won't listen to it, since
I -am- in charge of turning this off and relegating it to my massive stack
of 'promos that will never see the light of day again'.
01.) Aina Overture
03.) Silver Maiden
04.) Flight of Torek
05.) Naschtok is Born
06.) The Beast Within
07.) The Siege of Aina
08.) Talon's Last Hope
09.) Rape of Oria
10.) Son of Sorvahr
12.) Lalae Amer
14.) Oriana's Wrath
01.) The Story of Aina
02.) The Beast Within (Single edit)
03.) Ve Toura Sol (Rape of Oria) (Single edit)
04.) Flight of Torek (Single edit)
05.) Silver Maiden (Alternate Version)
06.) Talon's Last Hope (Demo)
07.) The Siege of Aina (Single edit)
08.) The Story of Aina (Instrumental)
09.) Oriana's Wrath (Alternate Version) (Bonus)
01.) The Beast Within (3D Computer Animation)
02.) The Making of Aina
03.) The Story of Aina – Moving Storyboard
04.) Slide Show
06.) Audio Settings
07.) Credits DVD
A gigantic supergroup with billions of musicians.
Or 30+ at any rate.
Here are some of them:
Glenn Hughes (DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH)
Candice Night (BLACKMORE'S NIGHT)
Tobias Sammet (EDGUY, AVANTASIA)
Marko Hietala (NIGHTWISH)
Michael Kiske (HELLOWEEN, SUPARED)
Andre Matos (ANGRA, SHAMAN)
Jens Johansson (STRATOVARIUS, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN)
Thomas Rettke (HEAVEN'S GATE)
Olaf Hayer (LUCA TURILLI)
Simone Simons (EPICA)
Emppu Vuorinen (NIGHTWISH)
Thomas Youngblood (KAMELOT)
T.M. Stevens (STEVE VAI, TINA TURNER)
Derek Sherinian (DREAM THEATER)
Erik Norlander (LANA LANE)
The End Records (US):
ELCTRK! (2003) (Gold Standard Laboratories)
SLMZK! (2002) (Action Driver)
~review by Mick Mercer
It’s that age-old story. Shoal of piranhas discover abandoned cache of rusting instruments, forms band in Canada, annoying the neighbours. Local record moguls take an interest and the next thing you know they’re releasing records, but by 2003 it’s all over. Well, plenty more fish in the sea, although not many reach my shores offering this sort of music.
I’ll start with the single, released during their last year of existence and so violently noisy that after just thirty seconds the vinyl itself had desperately daubed a message, ‘help me!’, on the underside of my record deck lid. I was powerless to intervene, because my mind was racing back through the decades to a time (’79-’81) when I was regularly lured to gigs where the brittle electronica of some bands crossed over into the birth of Indie. If you want the easiest explanation of where this band is coming from think Mekons, think Fall, and splutter Section 25.
I knew music like this carried on, but imagined it would be a murky mixture of modern electronics and Industrial espionage. Then French band Electronic Press Kit showed me how they’d delved backwards for individual inspiration, and so it seems did aLUnARED. On the single, ‘It Is Your Anthem’ gets stripped right down to the floorboards, and the wiring looks unsafe. A ranting singer/talker/stalker of the Mark E Smith firebrand variety holds sway, with stark, stomping drums, cackling keyboards and splintering guitars at his back. It has a shambolic, amateurish ending, but when they’re bashing hell out of the song’s framework it really does glow hotly. ‘The Electric Blood’ is similar with added guitar input, and twice the vitality as a result.
In small bursts music like this becomes a poisoned sorbet, sharpening taste buds dulled by well produced, harmonious records, but how do they fare when it comes to this album they insist is called Soul Music? For any band’s sound to work, regardless of genre, they need something which defines them, and here it’s the clattering drum style, akin to metal bashers of yore, and the use of the nagging, floating keyboards. These do intrigue, so it’s all down to whether they can introduce salivating schisms.
‘Blood And Muscle’ sees the drums big, the electronics bleeping steadily and the bass positively vengeful. Rabid staccato singing leads into a gentle sing-along followed by enough pauses to make you as apprehensive as you are anticipating delight. ‘Disco Track For Personal Films’ has a flaying rhythm, somewhere close to an orderly take on early Big Black, a bad-tempered Pop Group, or even 23 Skidoo, where they twist on the spot rather than running with rhythm. Added vocals and keyboard warmth both bring a soothing touch to the torment. The title track finds our vocalist barking faster while hurdling a jumble of percussion but this time the slower, echoey side is neutered by the rheumatic rhythm. Sadly, the fluidity isn’t there.
Moderating the tortured tone, ‘(eye)sore’ allows the synth to fester nicely, creating a spacious feel, then ‘Gun/Kerosene’ rampages along, with a thickening sound; a wave of quicksand in which de-funked guitar flickers. ‘This Machinery’ trips itself up when conventional vocals hop on board the crumbling moving walkway and in ‘The Shade’, where pretty electronics are helped by a layer of trumpet, similar vocals waft in gingerly to make it feel grand. Dual vocals work well in offsetting the rants, but nobody can control ‘Ear To The Church’, which is all but a brawl. Fun arrives in closing ‘The Cut-ups’, romping across sedate keyboards, where the rhythm steps up and they become engaging for all the abrasions.
What stops this being a major success is that second half, where some of the biggest impacts clearly come from orthodox ideas, which can’t have been their intention. However, it’s good to know there’d be many idiotic faux rebels that would be rather taken aback by this, even demanding an exclusion order against it, and fans of thorny music can rejoice that this is right up their street, like an ice cream van packed full of explosives.
BLOOD AND MUSCLE
DISCO TRACK FOR PERSONAL FILMS
EAR TO THE CHURCH
Smash The Superstition
~review by Matthew Heilman
Apocalypse Pow deliver a rousing, wicked style of Dance Punk from Richmond VA. Tight grooves, eccentric synths, loud pinches of guitar, percussive bass and vocals that volley between distanced wails and rhythmic snarling chants. The debut EP kicks off with “I Am Your Density,” a pummeling explosively restrained track that will immediately have your head bobbing and your neck swinging. Irresistible up-beat drumming and strong melodic guitar hooks characterize “It Makes Me Sexy When You Say That.” And indeed, I hope it does. “Diamonds Of War” sports a shuffling slinky rhythm cut through by some explosive guitar crunch. “Apocalypse Pow!” is a succinct and effective thrashing, while “Smash The Superstition” sounds like what would happen if Iron Maiden went Electroclash. Throughout the entire EP it seems as though Dan the guitarist graduated from heavy metal to play this kind of stuff. His riffs are just too melodic and similar in technique to metal…which is a great thing for it definitely sets this band quite apart from the vast amount of bands out there exploring similar territory.
Overall I quite liked this CD, its extremely listenable, has personality in droves, and is not afraid to unleash a bit of thrash-inspired muscle when necessary. The retro synths are used in moderation and the vocals work very well with the typhoons of noise they soar above. While my life hasn’t been significantly altered now that I have heard them, Apocalypse Pow is certainly worth investigation, perhaps checking them out live would be twice as rewarding. Like their songs, I will elect to keep my review short and bittersweet.
1.) I Am Your Density
2.) It Makes Me Sexy When You Say That
3.) Diamonds Of War
4.) Apocalypse Pow!
5.) Smash The Superstition
Apocalypse Pow is:
Dan – guitar, vocals
Vivian – synth, organ, vocals
Broox – bass
Andrew – drums
Pop Faction Records:
Der Schwartz Schmetterling, Teil 1 (Richterskala/Trisol)
~review by Uncle Nemesis
I have a bit of a mystery on my hands here. The programme from the Beyond The Veil festival, where ASP played their debut UK gig recently, assures me that ‘ASP’s rise from nowhere to one of the top live acts in Europe has been nothing short of phenomenal.’ Well, having seen ASP in action, I can vouch for the ‘top live act’ part of that statement. But before the band appeared before my puzzled gaze at that show, I’d never even heard of them. Maybe I’m just moving in the wrong circles. It’s certainly true that ASP’s music isn’t the kind of stuff towards which I’d normally gravitate, but the live incarnation of the band won me over, and, slightly to my surprise, I find myself rather partial to the the studio incarnation, too. Time to do some catching up, then.
The distinction between ASP as a live band and ASP as a studio project is worth noting. ASP isn’t actually a band: it’s the name of the shaven-headed, robe-clad vocalist and songwriter, the main man behind this music. I have no idea why he insists his name should be rendered in upper case like that, or indeed why he admits to no other identity. It seems we have a genuine rock ‘n’ roll eccentric on our hands here, a man whose persona is as quirky as his appearance. In cahoots with multi-instramentalist and producer Matthias Ambre, ASP has produced an album of weirdly dramatic, and often oddly funky, gothic electro-rock. The live band - five extra musicians who don’t appear on this album - are given a credit, but the material here is all studio-created stuff by Herr ASP himself and his collaborator.
Coming to the album after witnessing the ASP live show, I find myself momentarily nonplussed by the fact that the presence of the mighty guitar is less prominent here. Live, ASP is a full-on Wagnerian gothic rock experience: the studio version brings electronics, atmospheres and loops rather more to the fore. Yes, there are guitars, and they get heavy at times, in that wall-of-noise Rammstein-esque manner that, I have to say, is typically German. But elsewhere ASP (or, perhaps I should say, Matthias Ambre, since it is he who creates the music) builds up layered electronic grooves and soundscapes which act as a counterpoint to the guitar sound. ‘Und Wir Tanzten’ is a Medievalism-meets-the-future folksong which morphs into a distorted, manic thrash. ‘Imbecile Anthem’ is spooky minimalism: it has a Kraftwerk-like melodic restraint, but sounds like it’s coming from a very deep dungeon under a Schloss somewhere in Northrhine-Westphalia. ‘Teach Me War’ lopes into view on the back of a menacing bassline and a funky rhythm, then goes into a high-drama operatic chorus while synths wail like lost souls in the background. ‘Sing Child’ is a melodramatic romp, ASP’s vocal, a stentorian blare, foghorning out over the careering music. At times, the mash-up of electronics and massed guitars, ASP’s dramatic bellow of a vocal, the Valhalla-chorus of backing vocals, and the rhythms which are often more dance than rock, make for an oddly juxtaposed musical mixture, but somehow it all works.
What, then, are we to make of ASP? A strange man making strange music. I can imagine ASP wandering the corridors of his mad scientist mansion, clicking his fingers to rhythms only he can hear, cackling manically to himself, and at intervals rushing outside to conduct thunderstorms like they were orchestras. Give this album a couple of listens and I’ll guarantee you’ll be pulled into the atmosphere.
Where Do The Gods Go?
Teach Me War
Und Wir Tanzten (Ungeschickie Liebesbriefe)
ASP: Vocals, lyrics, music
Matthias Ambre: All instruments, programming & additional composing
Oliver Himmighoffen: Additional drum programming
The website: http://www.thetalesofasp.com
Revioewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
AMERIKAN GOTHICK (Alice In…)
~review by Mick Mercer
I hadn’t heard anything by this band since a tape in the mid 90’s so this was an interesting rampage for me. They say they’re Gothic/Deathrock, but they’re got that whole Pomp Goth thing going on, with various Rock stylings bursting through, which could be disastrous, or could be intriguing.
Here at Intriguing Central ‘Sodom Elementary’ is engaging fetish froth which drifts into ‘Alice In Gothland’ where post-Nirvana guitar lassoes Goth vocals and pulls tight. ‘Days Of The Dead’ has a massive Big Hair chorus slapped into the atmospheric surrounds, and ‘Mardi Gras Masqurade’ gets lovingly skittish and bouncy. They have lifer and lift.
‘Vampire Circus’ is thickly clotted, rousing stuff, the slow, and moody ‘Blue Melancholy Death’ swings on twisted orchestral hinges as an anguished ballad truly should, and then they start creeping uphill. First it’s the portly ‘Lament Of The Undead’ full of ghastly rasping, then ‘Transylvania’ is a clattering behemoth, hacking at you deliriously, and ‘Everyday Is Halloween’ is a heated Ministry cover given a rawk twang. ‘Black Dahlia’ is a magnificent, seismic Gawf Rawk romp, with strangler’s hands operating the guitar and a wonderful vocal display sucking you into the morass, and ‘Mr Styx’ is equally torrid, with coquettishly clunky guitar strains, quivering vocals and a sensationally corrupt chorus. (It’s worth buying this for that alone.)
‘Vincent Price’ is a fairly sloppy punky outing, and ‘Skull Love’ doesn’t seem much, being straight ahead punk guitar-basted mania, but has another precocious chorus, and by the time ‘Ghoul Parlor’ gets fired up you realise this is the sort of thing LAM might do, if they were harder, or DeSade must aim towards. They have influences galore in their guts, but have crafted something you can’t simply compare to any bigger band. Often the rockier side threatens to dwarf their personable touches, but then the keyboards will set off like early Blondie on fire, or the rhythm becomes too adventurous for plain rock castigation, and they step up another gear and grind relentlessly.
Sure, ‘Ghost Parade’ starts fairly feeble, comparatively, but it creaks in a sub-Alice Cooper vein and crackles filthily. ‘Boris Karloff’ is simple-minded drivel, and ‘Dead Lover’s Blues’ takes forever to do little more than sound angry over grandiloquent guitar (showing why Myssouri are so good at what they do!), and it doesn’t matter what you do with ‘Paint It Black’ in my opinion, it’s a shit song, and at best it could be said they tickle it playfully
A live ‘Lady Death’ sends this off with a scalding eruption of vomit, and yes, I’m impressed, because despite those lapses towards the end into traditional rock sewage, the main body of work reeks of heady perfume and seriously seedy intentions. Don’t expect fragrant, sensitive fare and you’ll be fine.
They’re total turmoil.
ALICE IN GOTHLAND
DAY OF THE DEAD
MARDI GRAS MASQUERADE
BLUE MELANCHOLY DEATH
LAMENT OF THE UNDEAD
EVERYDAY IS HALLOWEEN
DEAD LOVER’S BLUES
PAINT IT BLACK
http://www.darkdimensions.de – label info
http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Lounge/5356/index2.html - older site
~review by Matthew Heilman
It has been just shy of five years since Attrition’s last studio album The Jeopardy Maze was released. In the interim, several remixed, live, and compilation albums and EPs surfaced, so it never seemed as though the band had fallen under the radar or anything of that sort. Dante’s Kitchen, the latest and tenth studio album set for release in July, is a triumphant and extraordinarily consistent album that keeps the torch of classic Darkwave fiercely burning.
This is dark, atmospheric electro in its purist form, from the very band that practically laid the landscape for Darkwave music years ago. As well, it is shivering, spine-tingling Gothic in its literal and atmospheric sense. Ancient decay and putrefied eloquence is fused with a stark, nightmarish vision of the future. Fans of Attrition are already familiar with their sparse and shadowy sound, which on this release, is comparable to an even darker and spookier continuation of the excellent 3 Arms & A Dead Cert album from 1995, and it honestly blows away The Jeopardy Maze in my opinion.
Dante’s Kitchen is concentrated and determined in its focus, achieving an admirable balance between the pulsating, electronic beats with organic and more traditional elements. Martin’s gristly baritone is downright sepulchral in its grumbling depth – securing his sovereignty as one of the smoothest and distinctive vocalists in all of Gothdom! He sounds positively menacing on this record, and when paired with the operatic female vocals, the effect is scarier and more sublime than any other co-ed vocal duo. In particular, longtime companion Julia Waller appears on this disc and her bewitching, frigid vocals echo with wraithlike brilliance, perhaps the most ghostly and effective performances since her earliest days with the band.
Frank Dematteis’ devilish viola is a constant otherworldly presence throughout the disc, alternating between fluid conventional passages and scraping, shrill and spidery forays into brittle dissonance. The viola’s presence is vital and integral to the bands sound, always appropriate, always adding an additional dimension of emotional depth to the ominous soundscapes. It pushes this material into preternatural and unsettling realms, where a sinister magic is produced as it continually reverberates throughout a yawning void of mesmerizing electronics. This not a peppy synth pop record designed for the ignorant masses to dance around to drunkenly at their local ‘goth’ club. No, though the structures and arrangements are accessible and orthodox enough, it is meticulous and hypnotic music that is intended to seep into your mind and heart, and haunt you with its gripping minimalism. Technology and traditional instrumentation are fused in order to evoke the unknown and the familiar simultaneously. Well-timed and strategically placed samples of odd dialogue appear throughout, successfully contributing to the disorienting, dreamlike atmosphere. Paranoid and faceless female characters appear and disappear, shedding light into their unstable psyches. Glimpses and snapshots of strange places, misplaced memories, and uncertain journeys submerge the listener into mysterious and lucid depths.
Subdued, nocturnal pulsations ebb and flow, predominantly restrained but rich in tension and the threat of a sonic explosion. The rhythms crest with frantic techno breakbeats such as those that appear in “The Long Hall” or the striking title track, but slower, heavier percussive elements appear, as with the slinky eroticism of the exceptional single “Two Gods Are Better Than One.”
“The Ladder” is steeped in contemplative melancholy, as a collage of beckoning sirens mournfully harmonize with dreary, ghostly grace atop swelling synths and a throbbing elastic rhythm and dry snapping snare. “Dreamcatcher” creepily unfolds atop a subtly funky arrangement, bobbing angular viola and more chilling vocals, ultimately flowing toward a jagged, sprawling crescendo of found sounds and swirling noise. The final cut “Still Life?” is a creeping instrumental, utilizing the ordinary sounds of a child’s playtime interrupted by an imposing storm. The album ends in abstraction, on a note of quiet unease and above all, a desire to repeat the same aural journey several more times.
Dante’s Kitchen is a superb and enveloping album, a trip through a shadowy house of mirrors, spacious and reflecting blackness and your most unconscious thoughts. The album is crafted around the principle that less inevitably offers more, as only the strongest and most effective ideas have been executed. Though there are no immediate, pounding club hits, it is a more subversively powerful and demanding album, and as Attrition has always managed to do so successfully, they accompany the listener along the cobwebbed corridors of their own untapped revelries and they invite their fans into the nether regions of their own blackly vivid minds. Ultimately, Attrition has not wavered in their constancy for delivering the very best Darkwave music available. They have not compromised their longstanding visions of the strange and obscure to coincide with trends, but rather enhanced their art, forging ahead into new contemporary dimensions of their familiar style.
Fans of the band will devour
this whole, and I recommend this release to anyone that appreciates music
in its darkest, shadiest forms – fans of classical and dark techno will
delight in hearing these genres crossing by such effortless and appropriate
means. Dante’s Kitchen is another excellent addition to Attrition’s
immeasurably valuable discography.
2.) Dante’s Kitchen
3.) The Head Of Gabriel
4.) Two Gods…Are Better Than One
5.) The Ladder
7.) Feed The Crow
8.) The Long Hall
10.) Still Life?
Martin Bowes – lyrics, vocals, electronics
Julia Waller – female vocals
Frank Dematteis – viola
Attrition – Official Site:
Projekt Records (Attrition’s
Essential Back Catalogue)
Dante's Kitchen (Underground Inc.)
~review by Uncle Nemesis
Now, here’s a conundrum. Attrition have a history which stretches back to the 80s proto-industrial movement, where they helped to pioneer the early scene’s ventures into art-fuelled and artful electronics, always with that essential, punk-inspired attitude that the only rule is that there are no rules. They’ve been favourably reviewed everywhere from fanzines to the mainstream music press; they’ve recorded a session for John Peel, shared a stage with Coil, and they’ve been remixed by Chris and Cosey. In short, by now Attrition should surely be lauded elder statesmen of the left-field electronica, as revered as Throbbing Gristle, basking in the kind of esteem that Coil currently command. And yet, they’re not. Somehow, Attrition seem to have missed out on all the bouquets and the prizes, and certainly they’ve missed out on the large, enthusiastic, and varied audiences their one-time contemporaries can rely upon to this day.
Only the other weekend, I saw Coil play the Ocean in Hackney, a large, well-equipped theatre venue, to a large and ebullient crowd that encompassed everyone from old-skool industrio-heads to art-rockers and avant-guardists, full-on fetishists and all-purpose indie-weirdos. On that same weekend, I saw Attrition play a small pub venue to a smattering of goths, whose level of enthusiasm never really rose above ‘politely interested’. Here we have two bands, which once seemed to be forging ahead together, and which both still work in broadly equivalent musical areas, while creating intriguing and attention-grabbing new material - so tell me: how did their fortunes diverge so drastically? I reckon I know. It’s The Curse Of The Goth Scene at work again. A few years back, Attrition found themselves diverted from the main line into the dead-end siding of goth, and as a result have substantially missed their natural target audience.
I don’t know how Attrition themselves feel about this situation, of even if they’re aware that it’s happened, but I find myself seething with quiet frustration on behalf of the band, for Attrition really deserve better than a smattering of goths in a pub. And, if you require proof of that assertion, here it is: ‘Dante’s Kitchen’, Attrition’s ninth album, not counting compilations, of which there have been a bewildering variety over the years. As you’d expect from Attrition, it’s an utterly confident collection of cerebral, other-worldly grooves; clearly a band on top of their art and brimming with ideas. It’s cool and surreal, as dark as chocolate, as spacey as the ionosphere. It is, as if you hadn’t got my drift by now, *good*. Fans of avant-electronica would, I’m sure, love it to pieces - if they ever got to know it exists. Meanwhile, Johnny Average Goth will probably treat this album with, by and large, bemused disinterest - but you know what? That’s his loss.
‘Andante’ - a neat little music-terminology pun, for those who care to pick up on it - eases us in on a hum of electronics and treated, squalling strings. A solo violin at the front of the mix stalks carefully through the sounds, as if it’s walking on glass. And then, a synth-bass pumps itself up, and we pitch headlong into the title track, a rush and a push of rhythm with Martin Bowes, Attrition’s all-round main man, enunciating the lead vocal in his trademark down-in-the-cellar voice. His words form an effective rhythmic counterpoint - essentially, the vocal is the bassline here - to the pell-mell drumbeats as he slo-mo raps: ‘Took a part time lover/Like Dante’s brother’. Julia Waller’s operatic agonising provides the punchline to every chorus - ‘Heaven help us!’ - as the song surges forward like a tea clipper running before the wind.
‘The Head Of Gabriel’ munches up another of those phat, phunky synth-bass sequences, the violin wailing like a wraith in the background. Julia Waller’s voice weaves around the rhythm, keeping its distance like a choral solo half-heard from the far end of an empty cathedral. Meanwhile, Martin Bowes mutters in the foreground like a Bishop gone bad - ‘Give me Gabriel’s head! - as the atmosphere of the song swirls and builds. We stay in church (well, sort of) for ‘Two Gods...Are Better Than One’, a funeral march from a cyberpunk New Orleans, with lyrics that read like a Peter Greenaway film treatment: ‘I’m naked and I’m hungry in my room/I’m tearing arms from deities for fun/This hell is like a holiday with guns’
‘The Ladder’ is gloriously baffling as only Attrition can be, punctuated as it is by a sampled exclamation of (almost) the title: ‘A ladder!’, as if someone’s just found an unexpected piece of domestic hardware in the shed. Fans of Swarf might like to note the presence of Liz, Swarf’s singer, on this one, drifting through the backing vocals like a ghost at a party. ‘Dreamcatcher’ is an quasi-ambient thing, with a rhythmic rumble in the stomach of the song and the violin chuntering to itself. A snare-chunk comes in half way through, giving the offbeat a bit of oomph and revving things up a bit as the song snakes towards the end, but this is, nevertheless, Attrition in subtle mood.
‘Feed The Crow’ sees Attrition investigating inner space with a downplayed, downbeat drift through electronic and organic cross-currents. Then we hit the accelerator once more for ‘The Long Hall’, where fast, jazzy drums rattle like ill-fitting sash windows in a gale as Attrition’s virtual opera company do their stuff in the background, seemingly oblivious to the rhythm, but always hitting the right note on the right beat. ‘Crash’ is a little analogue interlude, a swelling hum and rumble of electronica, which gives way to Attrition’s parting shot, ‘Still Life?’ as the sounds of children and thunderstorms ease in to the mix. No words, just sounds. A simple, but effective, idea that also manages to be oddly disturbing, and leaves you thoughtful and pondering as the album draws to its close.
Attrition, here as ever, celebrate the cerebral and the visceral. Instinct and intellect are at work in equal measures in their music; atmospheres collide with beats you could - given a certain suspension of the norm - dance to. They’re one of the most individual and innovative bands we have, and I’m sure a healthy, appreciative audience awaits them in the left-field electronica zone. Whether Attrition ever touch base with this audience is, of course, another thing. Meanwhile, I dare say they’ll just go on confusing the goths.
The Head Of Gabriel
Feed The Crow
The Long Hall
Martin Bowes: Vocals, electronics, programming, production
Julia Waller: Vocals
Philip Hickman: Flute
Catherine Mosey: Double Bass
Simon Stansfield: Guitar
Christine Reid, Julie Chambers, Liz Green: Backing vocals
The website: http://www.attrition.co.uk
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:
DANTE’S KITCHEN (Invisible/Undergroundinc/Big Blue)
~review by Mick Mercer
A curious album this, taking in the filmic side of Industrial music, fuelled by subtle electronics, captained by grave male vocals, and given holistic support from able, histrionic female vocals that feed off an Ethereal bloodline. So there’s your basics, and it’s either where you’ll dip your diseased toes or no, from the elders of a scene who, unlike many contemporaries, can achieve a sense of mystery without needing to have their tracks bloated with technology. In Attrition’s world nothing is particularly clear despite the songs being open and exposed.
Martin Bowes has superb vocals which don’t, curiously, dominate anywhere, but sidle up to us like a disturbing messenger, while a steady beat and winsome strings wilt in damp surrounds. They kick off with a retching instrumental, ‘Andante’ and the shove out both the interchangeable title track and ‘The Head Of Gabriel’ which suggests a tense dance direction but never actually gets above comfortable undulations, with airy female vocals ululating, opera-style.
They can be fairly annoying, with too much of the backing vocals seeming overly dramatic within such sedate numbers, but the male vocals sting with clever lyrical snatches, so ’Two Gods’ remains dramatic, ‘The Ladder is silly and syrupy, ‘Dreamcatcher’ a slow, ticking bomb. ‘Feed The Crow’ seems like the one which might finally raise itself above a polite crawl, to build and bulge, but gets caught up in morose strings instead, and it isn’t until the eight track ‘The Long Hall’ where you finally encounter some active dynamics. That they don’t actually go anywhere with it, ending among scratchy strings again, clearly indicates they’re not going for the upright excitement. It’s about mood, which they instil well, until ‘Still Life’, an exercise in blatant ambient reality.
I wasn’t bowled over, because I prefer it when background music of perverse aesthetics comes in the form of songs, and what we have here is actually very predictable in that the first minute tells you all you really need to know, but here’s the weird thing. This is a strangely compelling record, because it does what it does intentionally. With vocals that would make Rutger Hauer envious, I wanted something a bit starker, or livelier, yet what we have is happy to be remote. As if stupefied on creepy rhythmical insinuations, this is ticklish, provocative noir.
THE HEADS OF GABRIEL
FEED THE CROW
THE LONG HALL
~review by Matthew Heilman
In the simplest terms, Aurora is basically Poland’s answer to Nitzer Ebb, early Project Pitchfork, and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. Originally recorded in 1988, this release was remastered in 2002 and has miraculously made its way to me to present to you. A few years ago, a Polish record promoter contacted us at StarVox and he has continued to service us CDs of some of Poland’s leading dark metal projects. Some of them, in particular the oppressive angst of Variété and the swirling post-punk of D.H.M. were wonderful discoveries that I would never have had the pleasure to learn about, and I am eternally grateful for their music.
The problem is that I often wonder how feasible it would be for US readers to get a hold of this stuff, or perhaps more directly, I wonder if any of our US readers would actually TRY to get a hold of this stuff! I hope that there are a few more adventurous folks out there that may very well have looked into Poland’s dark music scene. Whatever the case, its very interesting to see how other countries have interpreted the styles of music that flourished in the UK or US, but unfortunately, with Aurora, I am not so sure that this is worth investigation or import prices.
The overall sound of the band is a kind of proto-agro style, with loud squealing rock guitars and clipped power chords ringing out over punchy uptempo beats. The vocals are rough and ragged (which led to my earlier comparison to Project Pitchfork), and are distinguished by what, to our ears, are a dense and garbled kind of accent. It predictably works well with the near-militant marches that constitute for the songs, and since the lyrics and song titles are Polish, it’s rather futile to make heads or tails regarding what Aurora is going on about.
It’s not a bad release, and I would rather listen to this as opposed to whatever contemporary EBM or new future pop project that is currently all the rage. Aurora’s style of Industrial dance runs parallel with the seeds of the EBM genre, sporting anthemic, powerful choruses. It also shows how at one time, electronic musicians weren’t quite as lazy and could come up with some relatively intricate or catchy rhythms. Not to mention they would condescend to play guitar or bang on real life things with real life objects.
The problem with Aurora is that despite how intrinsically dark most Polish bands I have heard tend to be, this particular group lacks the murky undertone of urgency that characterized more familiar classic EBM bands like Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb, and instead come across as somewhat too quirky. I don’t suspect that seeking out Aurora will reveal any kind of hidden exotic gem for hardcore Industrial record collectors, nor will it demonstrate any unique aspect of the genre in its more organic heyday. Truthfully, it’s probably best for American or British readers to just stick with the canonized classics, and not worry too much about Aurora. But know, however, that EBM did indeed reach as far as Poland when it first raised its fist to the world and Aurora more than likely were responsible for bringing the sound to the country.
Piotr Wallach – guitar
Maciej Miernik – bass
Roman Rzucidlo – vocals
Jacek Palys - keyboards
Aurora – Official Site: (in
Into Shadows Act II: Through Horned Shadows Glimpse
~reviewed by Goat
“Post Modern Black Metal”? Perhaps Varg should’ve started burning Universities as well as Fantofts. The Church of Self-Important Intellectual Wanking is just as bad as anything any Christian ever did.
Despite the typically ridiculous press release, the album itself is *partially* a delight. It varies between individual pieces that are a blend of traditional black metal and vast black noise, to experimental interludes which I would compare to say, John Coltrane’s Om album, (but of course from a black metal cold-void sort of perspective). ‘Kind of like if Sun Ra were a white guy who’d been thrown out on the Siberian plane with recording equipment. The first few tracks of the album are wholly more enjoyable than the last.
You see, for being someone who enjoys experi-mental noise, I’ve never been impressed with the “avant-garde” or with progressive metal. Parts of this album are both of those things. And more. Yes, it can be argued that jazz-fusion and certain aspects of black metal are similar. But when it gets to the point that black metallers are trying so hard to be the “next big thing” of the genre that they’re polluting the genre, that’s when I pull the lever to get off at the next stop. Which is frankly what many of the tracks on last part of this album make me want to do. It was work making myself listen all the way to the end without skipping forward on the last few pieces. Tracks 5 through 7 are the sounds of musicians mentally masturbating, in my opinion; a collective yawn that doesn’t go anywhere, but probably impresses chicks who think the Equator is a country in South America.
[I would include the track names for you, but of course, in the “avant-garde” it’s cooler not to name things than to name them. Whatever.]
What you want to know though is, “Should I buy the darned thing or not?” Well, sure, if you have the money to buy CDs just out of morbid curiousity, to see what they’re like. But if you want to know if I think this CD is worth parting with hard-earned cash for, just due to its brilliance or inherent value as a “so negative it’s positive force” in your life, no. I’d say wait to find it used, or buy yourself the Neptune Towers CDs which are experimental without being “avant-garde”. Or, if you’re not into the spacey way-out sister of black metal that Neptune Towers represents, go for some purely ambient black metal that isn’t trying so hard to be something other than itself. (Refer to the Blut Aus Nord review in this issue for recommen-dations, if you wish.)
No track listing. (Tracks are not named.)
Came Out of the Grave
~review by Basim
The esteemed 18th century French author Balzac once said, “"All happiness depends on courage and work, I have had many periods of wretchedness, but with energy and above all with illusions, I pulled through them all." Pretty upbeat for a man whose thankless task of defining literary movement left him enduring a life of poverty, don’t you think? Similarly, we have Japanese punk rockers, Balzac. This is a band that really strives to do the best they can. Their live shows are so great, I know people who’d actually sit through a set of the Merchfits to see them. The band even learns their English lyrics phonetically, because they honestly don’t know more than a few words.
But I should really be getting to the music. If you’ve heard of Balzac before, you’ve probably seen them described with unfair words like... “Misfits clones”.
Unlike most horror punk bands, this music isn’t just kitsch or formulaic. You won’t find the obligatory 1950s “ironic” anthem dedicated to the undead. What you will find is an interesting mix of bleak noise dirges vivisected with throat blistering sing-along punk anthems. Certain albums, like The Damned’s Phantasmagoria, or TSOL’s Change Today, have a song for every mood. This is one of those timeless masterpieces.
What really impressed me was the approach to their noise/industrial songs. Noise is one of those genres that leave me floundering, wondering “why?” when I’m stuck listening to a “song” of it. The Balzac species of it is an evolution of their dark punk style. There’s just enough grinding rock in the noise pieces to give them momentum, but not enough to degenerate it into “Industrial Rock”. The overall effect is either grating in that grisly post-punk way I know most of you like so much.
The top of the food chain is ruled by their predatorial punk anthems. I don’t think I’ve heard murder music played so gleefully in my life. You know those Exploited gutter anthems about Brotherhood? Well, imagine songs like that, but interesting to listen to. There’s some blazing guitar work that borders on being metal in that happy Maiden/Helloween way. This album’s chock full of pinch harmonics, and dazzling solos. Guitarist, Atsushi, is great at veering out of the way when the rock songs need tension, and hitting you like freighter when the digital noise needs structure. There’s some neat, and pleasantly brief shredding here and there, which works ALOT better than it sounds. Drummer Takayuki and Bassist Akio form a formidable rhythm section. These players know the virtue of exploring the thematic possibilities from song to song. You get tempo changes, and Akio has that magical sense that cues him into sliding his bass notes at the perfect moments. You know, when the bass slides and you wince because you can’t imagine how awesome it sounds? You’ll be doing alot of wincing when listening to this album.
Oh, and the vocals.
The vocals will destroy you. This band can contend with punk rock royalty when it comes to big, three part vocal choruses. Buy this album, if your tastes can be plotted somewhere between the Punk and Gothic spectrum, you will find something to love here.
1. Grave- Dreizehn
2. Japanese Title
3. Season Of The Dead
4. Inside My Eyes
5. Japanese Title
6. Pain Is All Around
7. Came Out Of The Grave
8. Beyond Evil 308
9. Art Of Dying
10. World Without End
11. Pain Is Not Around
12. I'm Losing You
13. Beware Of Darkness
14. I Know
Vocals – Hirosuke
Guitar – Atsushi
Bass – Akio
Drums – Takayuki
BATZZ IN THE BELFRY
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
They must be new, going on the Spartan website, but I can well see this bunch growing on people and enjoying a fine reputation for the gentler side of Goth with some highly artistic constructions. From opener ‘Ur Of The Chaldeans’, whatever that might be about, their use of winsome keyboards works to their advantage in creating a gentle song, will fills out weirdly like some kid’s xmas film, then they cut back with ‘Shinar’ displaying deep dark vocals, a mean guitar riff and Great Big Drums, and that severe beast keeps going, as the vocals turn into a grim mist, with an abrupt ending that I suspect was a mistake. The clash between the two styles shows they have depth in abundance which they are only experimenting with right now.
The understandably emotional ‘Sunday Mourning’ has slow, beautiful keyboards, and soothingly reaches a sedate end, but with weird pomp trills throughout that seem jarring and quite mad. The ‘Aspire To Heaven’ instrumental may remind some of Laurie Anderson’s biggest hit initially but in its soft and twinkling icing there is something deeply uplifting, then they take a grave religious tone for their ‘Emmanuel’ item, and it becomes an ominous malaise, with disciplined drums. It is unusual and refreshing.
Easily a band to watch.
UR OF THE CHALDEANS
ASPIRE TO HEAVEN
O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL
BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE
TARNISHED - SINGLE (Projekt)
~review by Mick Mercer
I daresay those of you who like your music mysterious in richly tantalising ways will already have your coy of The Scavenger Bride, the extraordinary 2002 album by Black Tape For a Blue Girl, which was a stunning work of diseased picturesque brilliance, that creaked with meticulous detail and crafty old sounds. The new album, Halo Star, from which this single is a taster, may surprise you a lot.
It is still not conventional but windows have been flung wide, letting the air in, and all gauzy curtains have been binned. There’s not much sunlight visible, because it appears to be dark everywhere, but the layering has been avoided. Things are clearer, more direct. Ostensibly detailing the importance as a character central to the album’s tale of a fallen idol this ‘Tarnished’ track is up, as ‘Damn Swan!’ will be down, but it’s just as intriguing and demanding as the Bride album. You’d imagine I might be talking of some jolly romps if the ‘difficult’ sounds are absent, but this is still disturbing music. Pinched strings slither beneath the strong vocal narrative given by Bret Audra, and the percussion is knottily abrasive, providing a sense of hovering horror. It’s like travelling a moving walkway, flanked on either side by gruesome Goyas.
‘Remnants Of A Deeper Purity’, in which Bret appears to have no nostrils, actually is a straightforward tale of some lost, enigmatic woman, details of which come back to haunt the sedate protagonist. Pretty, but inconsequential. ‘Damn Swan!’ is prettier by far, with Elsyabeth Grant’s voice stretching out over a slowly distended bass line, and it’s off-centre enough as a piece to keep you guessing what this involves.
The collective vision of
such musicians should guarantee recorded magic, as well as your interest,
and the album (Aug 31 release date) is special, I’ll tell you that much.
It’s on a par with The Scavenger Bride, but entirely different,
in most ways, which was the intention after all.
~review by Mick Mercer
I loved the instant rush
of warm guitar and sudden pauses, which had them down as flamenco rebels,
but it goes badly awry after ‘Traces’ because when they’re slow they’re
listless and dull. ‘Medicine’ sees them being so sensitive they’re Big
Gurls, and while the choppier approach and inventive percussion in‘Desiree’
gave it all a spruce feel, and they are genuinely unusual, it’s still very
mild rock, and I can’t see who that appeals to, or why.
Blut Aus Nord
The Work Which Transforms God
~reviewed by Goat
Hybrid vigor. You remember it from Intermediate Biology, right? In plants, cattle, dogs, etc., the judicious crossing of two purebred parents may result in hybrid vigor in the F1 generation. Further crossing of the hybrids results in a decrease of vigor in the subsequent (F2, F3, etc.) generations. F1 generations then, while showing hybrid vigor, are useless for further breeding. Remember this.
There was metal. There was dark metal. There was black metal. And, there was machine metal music. There was dark ambience. There was black ambience. Two purebreeds. The F1 generation was probably Ulver back in... well, whatever year it was the Blake recordings came out, and then began the true and irredeemable downward spiral of Ulver. For all of the grandiose press releases surrounding Blut Aus Nord, they are hardly the first generation hybrid of black metal and black noise. If the Ulver comparison isn’t proof enough that it’s been done before, then perhaps Ved Buens Ende? I’ve heard other black metal black noise/ambient variations, but I don’t recall the names of the albums. I didn’t keep them. If there is any diligent investigation into the matter, it is simply not true that Blut Aus Nord are the first band to unveil such a hybrid. I grow weary of such wanking and clanging in press releases. This is *definitely not* a “new form of black metal”. Black metal is a form unto itself which cannot be transformed, else it becoming something else. Black metal cannot be “transformed” any more than God can be transformed, but that’s a whole ‘nother philosophical discussion, innit?
I’ve digressed so quickly! To be fair, there are places in The Work Which Transforms God where the crossing is really impressive. Where the vehemence of pure, beautiful black metal, and the resounding chaos of black ambience work wonderfully well together, and with stunning, scintillating results. Other times however, the blend veers dangerously close to artschool wanking and self-congratulatory prog rock. Mainly, also, the album is not so much a blending of the two forms, black metal and noise, as it is a bit of one form, and then a bit of the other, and then a bit of one and a bit of the other, track to track. On tracks such as “The Fall”, where there is an attempt to blend several styles and types of music together, it just begins to seem to me like Cookie Monster meets Endura with echoey layering, or some shite. I remain unmoved. However, on the very next track, “Metamorphosis”, there’s some exquisitely peculiar music. Black ambient prog metal, maybe? Is black ambient prog metal a transformation of black metal? Perhaps, perhaps. Not being a big fan of semantic discussions on the first place, I will simply say that the track “Metamorphosis” is a hybrid of black metal and black noise and is progressive in nature. It’s a delight to behold, and such tracks make the album worth finding used. Unfortunately, they are the exception of the album, and not the rule. Another example of when it works is track 9, “Devilish Essence” which then moves right into the profoundly ridiculous “The Howling Of God”.
Overall my feeling about The Work Which Transforms God is rather ambivalent. I will probably listen to the CD again a few times in my ownership of it. I would imagine it will happen twice, maybe three times a year. There are a lot of allusions to Godflesh in the press releases; note made that Blut Aus Nord appeared on a Godflesh tribute album, and the like. When I’m in the mood for Godflesh, I’ll reach for Godflesh. When I’m in the mood for black metal, I’ll reach for Krieg, Averse Sefira, Burzum, etc. When I’m in the mood for a blend of black noise and black ambience, I probably won’t reach for Blut Aus Nord The cheesy bits ruin the whole of the work for me. I resent having to skip through parts of an album when I’m listening to CDs on my stereo. Generally if a CD has shite bits in it, it simply never gets played. So, if we’re judging by thumbs, I would give this Blut Aus Nord piece a one thumb up and direct your attention back to the purebreeds or the first generation hybrids. Lustmord, Brighter Death Now, Neptune Towers, Manes “Under Ein Bloraud Maane”, Zoviet France, O Yuki Conjugate, Ildjarn, Lord Wind, Sleep Reasearch Facility or pretty much any and everything that Cold Meat Industry, Cold Spring Records, Soleilmoon and Spikefarm have ever released. This album isn’t awful, it’s just not the new and un-charted territory it claims to be. We’re talking F2, F3 generation here. Dig? And for the person who just said, “You forgot PsychicTV and Whitehouse”, well, there you have ‘em.
3. The Choir of the Dead
5. The Fall
7. The Supreme Abstract
8. Our Blessed Frozen Cells
9. Devilish Essence
10. The Howling Of God
11. Inner Mental Cage
12. Procession Of The Dead Clowns
The Original Motion Picture
Lucifer Rising, A Film by Kenneth Anger
~reviewed by Kirin
Things have a way of coming unburied.
Take, for instance, the Liberty Bell 7, retrieved from the ocean 38 years almost to the day, from when it went down. On July 21, 1961, the Liberty Bell 7 went down, and astronaut Gus Grissom survived. The craft was brought to the surface on July 20, 1999. Gus Grissom did not live to see it raised. Ironically, he died in a fire on the Apollo launch-pad six years after his crash at sea, not in the water that had swallowed the Liberty Bell 7. That year, 1967, the first strains of this soundtrack were set into motion.
The soundtrack, and these recordings too, have had a life of liftoffs, crash landings, burials in dark waters; discoverers traversing the depths to bring them up again, and perhaps, eventually a resur-rection by fire. It might even be well argued that the man behind the sounds has travelled the same or similar paths. Travails. The labor of childbirth.
Without retelling the entire wonderfully written liner notes, I will make a skeletal recapitulation here: 1967 found Bobby BeauSoleil in San Francisco, where he met filmmaker Kenneth Anger, who was working on the film “Lucifer Rising”. Bobby was to star in the film (as Lucifer,) and write the soundtrack. Life happened, and 1969 found Bobby headed to Los Angeles, and Kenneth Anger headed to London. For all intents and purposes, the project had crash landed. The dark waters rushed in.
Bobby BeauSoleil though, did not give up on, nor did he forget about the project. He did, how-ever, have to remember it from a jail cell, facing a life sentence and in truth, what most people would consider a hopeless situation. Rather than collapsing under the weight, BeauSoleil formed The Freedom Orchestra in prison, and from the years 1977-79, recorded the soundtrack found on the first disc of this set.
Listen to this disc, and think about the fact that it was made on a budget of $3,000.00, in a studio built from scratch. In prison. Facing a life sentence. It is not possible to hear this music and not be deeply moved by these facts.
In 1980, due to the unrelenting spirit of Bobby BeauSoleil, the film and BeauSoleil’s soundtrack for “Lucifer Rising” were experienced together for the first time at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
When I hear this music, when I sit with it, when I let it sink in, it almost always leads to weeping. And then, eventually, to laughter. I know of the recordings that came after. Of the spirit of this man that flies, that soars, that neither began nor ended with these recordings, and cannot be defined only by them. This work is beyond words, but if it moves you, please, for the sake of your heart, and your mind, and your ears, seek out his other recordings as well. (You will find a little sampling of them on Disc 2.)
Even if you happen to have previous recordings of this soundtrack, this particular one is special. Maybe because, like the Liberty Bell 7, it is nearly 38 years to the summer, when the Lucifer Rising project sank. This summer, it is raised again.
Furthermore, the treatment of the project by Arcanum Entertainment is stupendous. The packaging is fantastic and the liner notes extremely well-written. There could be no tribute better to Bobby BeauSoleil, than a re-release so beautifully befitting as this one. Except perhaps, his physical freedom. That would be a Jubilee, indeed.
Also, I might add, the works have been remastered by one of the wizards of recording studio technology, (the George Martin of the Apocalypse?) Robert Fer-brache. Some of you may recognise his name if you are a fan of Blood Axis, Human Head Transplant, Soul Merchants, or Changes. His touch adds to this material yet another layer of beauty, irony, and serendipity. Another indomitable free spirit adds to the flame.
Really though, besides all my caterwauling about one thing and another, this music, these sounds, to this day, have no real peers, and can have no com-parisons drawn. They are an entity, a legacy, and a landscape unto themselves. They have to be heard to be known. It is not possible for me to simply tell you. You must hear them for yourself and feel your heart be lifted. The dregs of the past, the disappointments, the crashes, the burns, the dark waters roiling in... all of it is left behind. The Earth grows small as you rise. The Light lifts, it burns, it cleanses, it makes new again. Come with it. Hear for your self. Make these recordings, your own.
Disc One: Lucifer Rising
1.) Part I
2.) Part II
3.) Part III
4.) Part IV
5.) Part V
6.) Part VI
Disc Two: Lucifer Rising
1.) The Orkustra: "Punjab's Barber"
2.) The Orkustra: "Flash Gordon"
3.) The Magick Powerhouse of Oz:
Lucifer Rising recording session (1967)
4.) The Freedom Orchestra: Lucifer Rising
Released through White Dog
Music and Arcanum Entertainment:
Other sites you may enjoy/find
Other music you may enjoy:
Distro's to check out:
Other good sites for electronic/ambient
THE BRIDES (Hell’s Hundred Records)
~review by Mick Mercer
Progress is always good to see with bands and after a slew of bristling post-Cramps, post-Garage, post-Punk CDs, The Brides have gone onto a fine label, where they’ve wildly ratcheted up the gears until their wheels are burning.
The wicked good humour coursing through their polished veins is still here, but it hasn’t the inventive feel of earlier releases. Part of this is down to producer Jacques Cohen, who has worked with Mercury Rev. He has fashioned something of real power, more likely to create serious impact with the people who haven’t heard them before, which makes for good common sense, and the fact a little of the volatile character has been reduced simply means you have to dig a little harder.
It starts brilliantly and ends almost bizarrely. ‘Whore Money’ gets us underway with indecent glories. ‘Whoooooo!’ they gush, with hugely melodic punk and a heavenly pop chorus, whose shining teeth covers up the lyrical filth beneath. Then ‘Death Wears Red’ is contrarily tough punk, and that’s where the difference on this album becomes so noticeable. They’ve sharpened the brevity but given a rough modern feel to it. The kitsch elements remain distinct strains throughout the album, but the melodic combustion is similar to modern bands who don’t know much about the past. It allows guitars and vocals to dominate, with the organ circling behind. ‘Black Market Rebate’, replete with creepy organ and rumbling bass, sees the happy marriage of demure Blondie sauce, led astray by Stranglers grit.
The drums force ‘Normal’ to run wild, and played live it’s probably riotous, but here is ordinary, as is ‘Hags Of Old Broadway’; not a Courtney tribute, but moodily offering a vague sense of dread. ‘Hoity Toity’ has a touch of Ausgang in its bass rawness, but fast becomes their own with weirdly ladled vocals over the bumps and humps of a mesmerising encounter. What you lose on the roundabouts you gain on the slow motion swings, and I was shocked to realise that ‘Pleasure Of My Company’ really does appear to be The Carpettes, with organ added. A rising riff, catchy vocals and rolling rhythm make another snappy hit; indignant and frothing in equal measure.
They’ve definitely grown, but haven’t yet achieved balance between sharpening the good parts and avoiding some of the duller nuances. The songs which don’t carry the previous zest make do with deeper twists. ‘Pink Purple Blue’ is a twitchy detour, ‘Measure Of Caution’ has more tension, with swelling organ and thin guitar whisking you into one of their pause-caressed passages, but it also has almost rocky rather vocals and that’s a touch alarming. ‘Brooklyn Gothic‘ has a kitsch opening and welds a rough and tumble to their traditional punchy, skipping rhythm. This is a fantastic song, scolding more than scalding, and nicely intense. Then ‘Lovesick Minority’ reminds me vocally of something quite plain, showing they’re prepared to sail close to the foul-smelling wind of the purely conventional, but only a touch of drumming and clanging keyboards offsets the normality.
Digging deeper, the starker, funereal ‘Centorplex’ is a seething slasher which takes them even more strongly into Stranglers territory, given the gruff vocals, and it’s got the attitude trapped within to make it ugly as you require. ‘Overpower’ is a slightly dementoid punk jumble with vocals sprouting up to provide disciplined excitement
Then, with great charm, they go mad, and that’s reassuring. ‘Marchinha’ twinkles with luscious keyboards and unexpectedly restrained guitar. ‘The Strange Passing Of John Coal’ has stone chippings on guitar, as a swing lament from a parallel dimension staggers by in alarmist fashion, bloody and snotty. Finally, ‘Audience To The End’ sounds like a different band, bringing us double-barrelled female vocals and Cabaret sociability , introducing a cool demeanour.
I can only find fault with a few songs, so it’s a swaggering album, make no mistake. The next one ought to be exceptional.
DEATH WEARS RED
BLACK MARKET REBATE
HAGS OF OLD BROADWAY
PLEASURE OF MY COMPANY
PINK PURPLE BLUE
MEASURE OF CAUTION
THE STRANGE PASSING OF JOHN COAL
AUDIENCE TO THE END
http://www.hellshundred.com - label
http://www.middlepillar.com/brides - order
The Can Utility
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman
The Can Utility is another Richmond based Indie band on the Pop Faction label, and compared to some of the other artists on the label that I have been fond of, I wasn’t as into these guys. Primarily because there is a much lighter and dare I say, Emo vibe to what the band is doing. “Merlin’s Blade” is the first proper song, and despite the cool bass lines and tribal drums, Noelle Schintzius’ hiccupping alto vocals were hard to get used to. The melodic, angular guitar breaks are well placed and give the song an additional edge. On the surface, it’s just too happy for me! “Blood For Heroes” offers a tight rhythmic bounce and sweet floating guitars, with Noelle’s voice sounding much better here, as a more honeyed and natural alto. There are some back up screams that expand the dynamics but again, the vibe is still relatively on the lighter side of things and leaves me kinda cold. “Fish Don’t Drink H2O” is probably the song that I enjoyed most, with its low-key groove and variety of guitar sounds and stirred up rhythms. “Ronald Miller” and “Paddleboat Pond” continue down similar melodic paths, but at this point, my interest has waned even further. Nothing really catches my ear on this EP, and nothing really tugs at my black heart either. While there are many bands in the Indie scene that have the potential for crossover with fans of early Goth, the Can Utility is not one of them. Obviously, this does not mean that they are a bad band, but from my perspective as a dark music fan who primarily judges music on how deeply my emotions have been stirred, I am unable to comment much on what this band is doing. And I am not sure what merit they would have to a dark music audience. It was sort of cool to hear something different, but I was reminded why I so thoroughly enjoy the usual kind of music I listen to.
1.) Power 0.42
2.) Merlin’s Blade
3.) Blood For Heroes
4.) Fish Don’t Drink H2O
5.) Ronald Miller
6.) Paddleboat Pond
The Can Utility is:
Billy Davis: guitar/vocals
Noelle Schintzius: bass/vocals
Sammy Ponzar: drums/vocals
The Can Utility:
~reviewed by Goat
Basically a collection of not-unpleasant albeit forgettable electronica. Nothing awful about it. Nothing to jump up and down about, either.
It’s sort of like ultra-groovy experimental techno/trance with sample bits, splatterbeats and noodly happy sounds throughout. Actually, for me, it’s so darned goofy it’s annoying. I would call it art-school wanking, except for that I don’t think it’s ever even considered art school. *Yawn*.
Run time: (32:56)
~reviewed by Goat
One thing I hated about a lot of the bands I liked in the 80s was that the lyrics were so insipid. I loved the sounds, I loved the voices, but oh, those horrid lyrics. I remember sitting in a dorm room near U.C.L.A. hearing a poor sod go on and on about how deep Depeche Mode lyrics were. When I finally ran across the quote “Never confuse lack of talent for genius,” I had my expla-nation for most of the music I’d ever listened to.
Now, if you can, close your eyes and imagine if you could transform a band like Depeche Mode or Rammstein into a band that sang lyrics which, for better or for worse, made you face the various stark and ugly realities that surround you. All the while, still sounding like Depeche Mode or Rammstein.
This is extremely proficient electronic music. No sloppiness or half-assedness about this. Precise as a Scottish tattoo. And the lyrics, I promise, don’t suck. Unless of course you actually do think the destruction of the human spirit and the Earth is groovy and cool.
What I also enjoy is that while the best elements of 80s electronics are present, so too is the dark shuddering shadow of 90s discontent. Bits of Skinny Puppy and Godflesh sneak in. The whole thing is pleasurable in that, “Dear God, look what we’ve let them do” horrible sort of way. The music is quite beautiful. The truths it articulates are the abominations of humankind. Mix them together and you have the sounds of hell on earth, made by some of the last conscious people to live here in this Age.
Perhaps, we do not make order from chaos.
Perhaps we have always
undone the perfect,
of the universe.
are the cause
2.) Another Chance to Kill
6.) War Cry
7.) Violence in Your Eyes
8.) Damage Incorporated
9.) Pugnacious Fallacies
Tsunami (album) Hypnotized (single) (Thunderdome)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
An unusual band, as the picture reveals, with stylistic differences and a big age range, and obviously not the hardest working outfit around, creating only their second album in nine years! It’s no classic, but you might be entranced, pitching them halfway between an orderly Sugracubes and a less rocktastic Garbage.
The main plus point is the kooky-spooky vocals of Gelgia C, who’ll mew then snarl, and dictates the ebb and flow of their impact, which is important for a band who aim to be sombre but with great choruses. More often that not they succeed, which is a commendable achievement, because it’s harder than you’d think. ‘The Limetrip’ is an engaging opener, positive and pushy, ‘Anodyne’ swoops languidly, and with guitar set on Rawk ‘Hypnotized’ is a fabulous single, wiggling wonderfully as the sticky vocals keep it upright and the beat cajoles us. There are some disappointments, in the standard crunchy dark rock of ‘Ra’ and pleasantly idle Goth slumber of ‘Fingerprints’ but Gelgia usually comes to the rescue in their lighter moments, with her playful and precocious ways, so it’s an interesting collision, but feels lightweight. The single is definitely recommended, for anyone with a taste for the tasteful with a gleeful sense of backbone, and then you might want to get the grips with the album?
Alleviation of Pain
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Chastisement plays straight forward Swedish melodic death metal; not particularly in any original fashion, but with enough conviction and energy to make some neat songs (particularly the instrumental, “Another Pace”). Yet, one can’t help but notice that Chastisement’s image is a bit... well, passive. I mean, the band’s name is “Chastisement.” The album title, Alleviation of Pain.
One gets the sense that the group is afraid to be too direct about anything. Even the song lyrics include lines like “annihilation of mankind will occur.” That’s great, but shouldn’t the band help bring it about? Are they not metal enough to be openly aggressive? So... yeah. I can’t seem to reconcile the obvious differences between the band’s chosen style of aggressive music and their blatantly passive name/lyrics. While the music is busy kicking my ass, the band is calmly informing me that listening side effects may, to their heartfelt sorrow and against their best wishes, incur mild discomfort.
But speaking of the music, it is pretty good as far as straight forward Swedish death metal goes. It’s got some neat riffs, a growly guy who mercifully takes a break on not one, but three -three!- instrumentals, and a standard drum/bass rhythm section. I think Chastisement ranks somewhere just below The Duskfall, which is somewhere below Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, and Soilwork, but still neater than current In Flames, or (random NWOSDM band like Enter My Scythe, or that one with the name I can’t remember).
However, not all is apathetic
or unspectacular in Chastisement land. The band shows a heck of a
lot of promise, and the songs are varied enough to make me think that,
on future releases, the group will actually progress and make original
music. This is a bigger deal than it may sound, because the average NWOSDM
band simply repeats decade old music for the entirety of its pitiful career.
Chastisement is fated for greener pastures, me thinks, and when the tide
comes in we’ll see that they haven’t been laying their eggs in a single
basket. Which is to say... um... I can’t write sentences in improperly
used cliches. In any case, give Chastisement a listen if you like new NWOSDM
that doesn’t suck.
1. Another Pace
3. Soul Evasion
4. The Journey
5. Tsavo - The Land of Slaughter
6. Time Zone Zero
8. World Beyond
9. Joie de Vivre
11. A New Dawn
Johan Klitkou - Vocals
Marcus Edvardsson - Guitars
Tommy Larsson - Guitars
Nicklas Linnes - Bass
Nils Fjellström - Drums
Chastisement - Official Site:
Rage of Achilles:
The End Records (US):
Anthology 1979 – 1983
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman
I have always seen the name Chrome alongside other Industrial luminaries like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. I was very curious to hear them, and the CD version of the legendary Chrome Box (which collected all of the band’s early material) was in my Amazon wish list for almost two years. It was just never in stock, nor was anything else that fans recommended. I figured one of these days I would eventually hear them and finally, Cleopatra had enough foresight to release a more concise collection of the band’s material this past April. I immediately purchased it and the wait was well worth it. With a total of eighteen tracks, this anthology collects the very best material from the band’s formative and most explosive, impactful years. As clichéd and as predictable as it will sound, Chrome (the classic line-up consisting of founder Damon Edge and Helios Creed developed in late 1976 San Francisco) was extremely ahead of their time. When the first few chaotic tracks ripped through my speakers, I could not believe how powerful and relevant it all sounded.
While much of the material does sound like it was produced in the late seventies and early 1980s, the ideas themselves and the way in which they are executed were completely innovative. The music is a brilliant integration of bizarre experimental cut ups, white noise assaults, and crunchy psychedelic punk rock, produced with shrill screaming high-end guitar noise, funky percussive bass, and in your face drumming. The drums were especially what sold me on Chrome, for you can hear how the patterns of the rhythms were the very blueprints of modern day breakbeat and trance techno. The only difference is they are played by a human being (save for a few of the early 80s tracks that do in fact use a drum machine) and are therefore instantaneously better! That does indeed make all the difference.
To me, the music of Chrome sounds like more exciting, focused and frantic cyber punk, but to this day I doubt that anything could even touch the organic intensity presented here. Whatever the case, the extremely tight and addictive rhythms crash and bash at the core of this material. The vocals are all over the place, sometimes distinctive chanted punk rock howls, agitated screams, Stooge like snarls, or more commonly, aggravated processed or garbled vocals.
Above all Chrome was frantic and uncompromisingly noisy, their atmospheres encompassing, extremely diverse but the varying moods always explored a new dimension of the strange and unusual. The way the songs unfold are very unpredictable, often stopping or changing into something altogether different, but usually a notch or two more intense than the previous explorations. While always edgy and chaotic, the latter half of the disc reveals a band more conscious of song structure, with slower, slinky and sleazy type songs that definitely have an early Goth Rock appeal. You can detect Chrome’s influence in the decayed visions of the future that characterized Cabaret Voltaire’s “Mix Up” and “Red Mecca” releases, the angular art punk of Wire and Gang Of Four, and certainly in the latter formative Industrial of SPK and eventually, Big Black and Ministry (especially Al’s vocal approach). Along with Suicide, Chrome tracks like “Firebomb” with its palpitating metallic bass and the dizzying gloom of “In A Dream” probably had a huge impact on early Sisters Of Mercy, Specimen, Lorries, and March Violets singles. Hell, after hearing “Zombie Warfare,” I wonder if even Judas Priest lifted the riff of their classic “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” from these guys!
So in short, Chrome was an extremely important influence on underground music as you and I know it and this is without question the most valuable release from Cleopatra records in several years. As the little blurb on the back of the CD case attests, this is indeed “a must have addition to the collection of any self-respecting punk or rivethead worth their salt.” Unquestionably essential!
1.) Chromosome Damage
2.) TV As Eyes
3.) Zombie Warfare
4.) March Of The Chrome Police (A Cold Clammy Bombing!)
5.) You’ve Been Duplicated
6.) Abstract Nympho
8.) I Left My Heart In San Francisco
9.) Meet You In The Subway
10.) New Age
11.) Electric Chair
12.) In A Dream
14.) Future Ghosts
15.) 3rd From The Sun
16.) Gehenna Lion
17.) Half Machine Lip Moves
18.) Perfumed Metal
Damon Edge: guitar, synths, drums
Helios Creed: guitar, synth, bass
Mike Low: guitar, bass, synths
Gary Spain: vocals, guitar, bass
John Lambdin: vocals, guitar, bass
John Stench: drums
Hilary Stench: bass
John L. Cyborg: drum machine (Doktor Avalanche’s older brother)
Chrome – Official Website:
Selvaggina, Go Back Into The Woods (Threshold House)
~review by Uncle Nemesis
Here we have a self-released live CD from Coil, documenting a gig in Italy on June 11 2004. This CD provides a snapshot of the band’s current live set (give or take a few songs) while at the same time providing a record of a unique event - for Coil famously never play their songs the same way twice.
As it happens, I saw Coil play an essentially similar set the other week in London, during which the band appeared manic and fired up, investing the songs with a flavour of danger that was strangely exhilarating. Here, they seem in a more mellow mood: this is, to an extent, a ‘Coil lite’ set. Songs which, in London, were baleful, yellow-eyed beasts, all electronic snarls and jaundiced, sardonic vocals, are here rendered with a curious kind of polite restraint. There are, fortunately, flashes of the true fire along the way, but there are also moments here where it seems as if Coil are on cruise control.
Perhaps the feeling of restraint is caused by the fact that, apparently pushed for time at this gig, Coil play shortened versions of their songs. John Balance remarks at one point ‘We’re truncating things tonight because we haven’t got enough time to do the long versions...but maybe you’re being saved from our indulgences.’ It’s certainly noticeable, for example, that ‘The Gimp/Sometimes’, which relies for much of its power on a long, slow, build-up that just keeps winding up the tension, and an equally long outro that frequently continues to the point where you just don’t know if the song has actually ended or not, is here disposed of with almost indecent haste. The vocal - ‘Sometimes I help myself/And sometimes I just hurt myself’ - really should be (and usually is) a self-absorbed musing which gradually, disturbingly, turns into a bug-eyed rant. On this version John Balance starts off sounding quite matter of fact, and then goes up to eleven so quickly that it’s almost as if Coil have put themselves on emotional fast forward.
The songs upon which Coil bring their marimba to the fore have a jazzy, supper-club feel, the kind of Coil numbers which you could play to your beatnik uncle who likes the Modern Jazz Quartet and get him stroking his goatee in appreciation. I confess these are not my favourite songs from the Coil repertoire - I tend to prefer Coil when they cut loose with the freaky electronics, man - and here, played with the restraint which informs much of this set, they pass pleasantly, but without great impact. ‘Sex With Sun-Ra’ is a smooth croon, the surreal lyrics (which, I don’t doubt, make perfect sense to John Balance himself) calling for attention in a way that the music itself doesn’t. ‘All The Pretty Little Horses’ is a nice little jazzy ballad, which is all well and good, but frankly it’s the ‘nice, little’ bit that bothers me. Fortunately, ‘Tattooed Man’ (the best torch song-noir Jaques Brel never wrote) ups the ante somewhat as Peter Christopherson and Thighpaulsandra bring in great shuddering swoops of multicoloured noise, while John Balance agonises his way through one of his trademark love/hate lyrics. Classic Coil, in a way, and a song in which all the elements of the band’s sound are neatly brought together.
‘Teenage Lightning’ - ‘A natural phenomenon where you get two teenagers and you rub them together’ - sounds like the aforementioned Modern Jazz Quartet being strapped to a James Bond villain’s ray gun, while ‘Wraiths and Strays’ has a miasmic soundtrack groove to it, as if Coil are trip-hopping through ectoplasam. After this, the band ease into the greatest hits sequence, as ‘Black Antlers’ fires up - and here, again, it’s a shortened version of a song which is usually allowed to unwind with a slow, threatening menace. However, although drastically re-arranged, this one actually works rather well as a no-messing, punchy slice of prog-punk. It kicks off almost immediately, with John Balance getting dangerously funky on the vocal, putting in little Michael Jackson yelps - ‘Where’s your child-owww!’ - as the whole thing rushes to a climax of free-form electronic-mangling. Following this, ‘Bang Bang’ is all overwrought emotion and assertive piano, Coil’s idea of a power ballad, if that’s not too much of a frightening thought. And then, right at the end, Coil finally allow themselves a little time to extend themselves, as ‘Amethyst Deceivers’ slinks into our ears on a warm, mid-tempo marimba rhythm, and stretches out into a long, haunting lope. It’s a slightly odd way to end a live show, perhaps, as the song doesn’t really come to any proper climax, the surges of electronic noize that muscle in towards the end notwithstanding, but the audience cheers the band to the echo, and even John Balance’s slightly apologetic sign-off - ‘Thank you for coming - we’ve had quite a few difficulties - don’t know what we’ve done with them...’ - can’t dampen their enthusiasm.
This CD is obviously intended as an optional extra for the fans, rather than the latest ‘proper’ release in the Coil oeuvre, and on that level it works. I dare say this gig probably didn’t go down as the greatest Coil show ever: the time restrictions, the unspecified technical hassles, and the (understandable, in the circumstances) cautious feel of the performance blunts a little of Coil’s usual edge. But there are some good moments here, and the first recordings of some new songs, too, which will make this CD a must-have for the diehards. But personally, I rather wish Coil had opted to record the London show. Who knows? Perhaps they - or someone - did. If so, let me know...
Sex With Sun-Ra
All The Pretty Little Horses
Wraiths and Strays
John Balance: vocals
Peter Christopherson: Electronix
Plus others not credited...
Coil's own website: http://www.thresholdhouse.com
The Coil pages at the Brainwashed site (most comprehensive info, but not necessarily up to date): http://www.brainwashed.com/coil
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
Like Sheep Led To Slaughter
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Yeeagh. This album has my gut twisting in knots and has left me jittery and vaguely uncomfortable. Which is to say, it's pretty great... but may freak you out. Crisis is labelled 'experimental metalcore' in the press release, and that's a better genre name than I can come up with so I'll run with it. Karyn Crisis's decepticon-like voice is constantly morphing from one form to another... from gruff to sweet. From Shredded larynx to creepy whisper. From death blurts to angry yells. It is a devilish gamut she runs.
Ms. Crisis's schizophrenic fits of rage rest atop raw, unpredictable metal the likes of which you have not yet heard, and may not survive listening to. The unprocessed, buzzy guitars give the feel of being in a gritty club where 68% of the patrons are thinking about mugging you, and 12% already have. The vocals shift gears like a junker with a manual-transmission gearbox that randomly jumps every time you hit the gas pedal. Is it deathmetal? Is it doom? Sludge? Hardcore? Grindcore? Sludgegrind? Mudpuddle? Gorefest? I have no idea. I may have made some of those up, but 'Like Sheep Led to Slaughter' is all those and more.
Brutal is what this is. Brutal and kind of scary. Ok, not 'kind of scary' - just plain scary. Especially when Ms. Crisis emits strange yelps and quavering whines that will seperate you and your skin. The rest of the time, she's just downright mean and angry. If you think all metal sporting a female singer is fruity flowerpots and butterflies, you're really in for a life-altering shock. Crisis eats spines like yours for breakfast.
It is a testament to the
band's skill that this album isn't an incomprehensible mess. It is
also kind of amazing that sounds so grating and horrific can be brought
together into a grim sandpaper symphony that will hold your attention the
whole way through. The mostly untapped subgenre-of-a-subgenre that
is 'ass-kicking female-fronted unclassifiable metal' may only have a few
members (Cadaveria and Crisis are the only ones I can come up with) but
it is one to watch if you find entertainment in music that will chill you
to your very core and beat you up while you thaw.
02.) Waking the Dead
03.) A Graveyard for Bitches
05.) Politics of Domination
06.) Blood Burden
07.) Rats In A Maze
08.) Secrets of the Prison House
09.) Corpus Apocalypse
10.) Study In Cancer
11.) Exit Catacomb
12.) The Fate
Karyn Crisis - vocals
Afzaal Nasiruddeen - guitar
Gia Chaun Wang - bass
Jwyanza Hobson - guitar
Josh Florian - drums.
Crisis Official Site:
The End Records:
~review by Matthew Heilman
As always, there was a great deal of anticipation for the newest release from The Cure. However, this time fans weren’t subjected to the frequent ‘final album’ threats that Robert Smith has made over the years. Instead, it seems as though the band has been reinvigorated with a new sense of creative excitement, an apparent eagerness to be back in the swing of things. Those that have seen the extras on last years “Trilogy” DVD were privy to some of Robert’s early ideas for the next album. After revisiting the three most emotionally charged albums of their career, and the three best according to him (on that occasion, at least), it seemed as though Robert was evaluating what aspects of the Cure appealed most to their diehard fans, and he concluded that it was the less poppy of their work. With that in mind, he envisioned a “darker, heavier” record to follow “Bloodflowers,” both thematically and musically. And though it’s not the Doom metal with Robert Smith’s vocals that I was secretly pining for and imagining, it is loaded with some of the band’s most insistent and fierce material in quite some time.
Many Cure fans were prematurely alarmed to hear that Ross Robinson (Korn, Slipknot) was going to be producing the record. Whatever erroneous fears fans might have had, the album is not The Cure gone nu-metal. The album definitely has an immediate edge to it and there is more than just a hint of aggression in some of the album’s finer moments. The guitars are boosted high in the mix, still with the signature overdrive and flange effects all in tact, but with a sharper and thicker bite and punch, undercut by Simon’s lumbering distorted bass lines and Jason Cooper’s hefty, sometimes Bonham-esque drumming. However, the more aggressive elements are perfectly tempered by the band’s timeless gift for producing sweet and alluring melodies and delicate rhythms. It’s still very much The Cure.
There are the expected shades of their past, for a band with such a definitive sound and unique vocalist can’t help but have a thread of continuity throughout their discography. There’s a bit of the expletive laden, wah-pedal driven angst of “Shiver & Shake” and “The Kiss” from the “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me” era that resurfaces on a few tracks, and many of the guitar tones that defined “Bloodflowers” are still crisply chiming and ringing throughout.
The heart of the album however is Robert’s voice. His vocals are gigantic on this record. He projects and sings with a renewed passion that fans really haven’t heard since 1987 or so. There is a lot less moping and wistful mumbling, but rather clear, defined and articulate vocals. He sounds quite pissed on the disorienting and sublime opening track “Lost” and his anger carries through on “Us Or Them” and the epic closer “The Promise.” He screams, echoing and tormented, shot through with an electric defiance and confidence. He might be looking his age these days, but his voice sounds absolutely timeless, alive, and brilliant.
Each song has its own hook or three, and the album as a whole is very engaging and coherent, moving through the tracks seamlessly and somewhat rapidly. There is a lot of jamming going on, as in the appropriately titled and Middle Eastern tinged “Labyrinth,” which winds through a claustrophobic corridor of sound, cresting and rising in its intensity until the walls finally implode inward. “The Promise” is a dense and rhythm heavy powerhouse that builds on a melodic slithery bass line into an all out barrage of wailing guitars and a wailing Robert who has lost his faith and patience in the words of others. Deceived and enraged, the song seems to suggest that the wound is yet raw, and wonderfully captures a sense of bitter, active disappointment.
There is not much ‘Goth’ going on here though. But there is a good bit of fashionable post-punk noise, angular rhythms and intensity that reveal the band’s frayed roots and remind everyone who first made this sound fashionable. “Anniversary” serves as the album’s most atmospheric number, with swelling guitar effects that whirl about with ghostly grace atop subtle electronic percussion. There is a bit of Depeche Mode going on in this track, and the kind of imploring sadness that The Cure is most often noted for. Still, it is not merely a recreation or Shoegaze by numbers kind of track – its one of the album’s most memorable and poignant moments.
The weakest track is probably the first video and single, “The End Of The World.” I will admit I was a little nervous when I heard the track for the first time (performed live on Jay Leno in May) and I wondered if all the talk of doom and gloom on the DVD was cast aside. The album version isn’t quite as light as the single/video version, as the chorus’ quirky retro synths are much deeper in the mix while the overdriven guitar jangle is pushed more to the forefront. It’s a nice pop song, and a great video, but it is actually the odd song out in terms of the rest of the album. The gorgeous and enveloping warmth of “Before Three” would have made a more promising and revealing single, and illustrates the band at their accessible yet yearning best. “I Don’t Know What’s Going On” is another catchy and uplifting number, bittersweet and full of uplifting harmonies (and even a Moz like falsetto in the chorus). A number of these songs have enough of a sugar glaze to them to appeal to more casual fans of the band and get some radio play, but they still finely illustrate Robert’s genius at creating pop songs with real substance.
On the other hand, “Us Or Them” is an acidic and aggressive retort against ultimatums, and presents the band at their most bottom-heavy and more rumbling than ever before. The song is like a whirlwind, with tense, anxious verses that feel as though they will explode at any moment. The surprise, I suppose, is that they do unleash and the result will definitely raise the skeptical eyebrows of folks who think of The Cure as a sulking wussy synth band from the ‘80s. Right off the bat, the band challenges those myths with this album. Ranking up there alongside “One Hundred Years,” “Want,” and “The Kiss,” “Lost” is one of the most urgent and immediately arresting opening tracks the band has ever done. A twitchy, disharmonic dirge comprised of slapped bass lines and thick discordant guitar chords that seem to play behind the pummeling drums, simultaneously suggesting that the band has completely cracked, even while they never sounded so sure of themselves. It’s a discomforting and raw song, and Robert’s shrill yet unmistakably powerful bellows and wails will cause you to break out into gooseflesh time and time again.
Fans are more than familiar with The Cure’s lyrical content, obsessed with time and the past, lost chances, nostalgia, revelry, restlessness, loss, coming to terms with oneself, and above all, love and its inevitable side effects. It’s all here as usual, and maybe its because I am getting older, or maybe because I am just into so many introspective bands, but for the first time, I think I have been able to see these songs as merely songs – not necessarily Robert’s personal accounts of his own love life’s disintegration. It seems to me that Robert’s energy on this record is one borne out of creativity itself, the actual process of making music and weaving stories, and because he is working with such universal themes that nearly every human being will or have experienced, it continues to work. I am sure there is a great deal of personal meaning to him, but at the same time, he seems to emerge more as an author or lyricist than as a spokesperson for the disenchanted and lovelorn, a man who has walked through the fire and sank to the depths and lived to tell about it. These are stories, set to music, emerging ultimately as art, much like the children’s watercolour paintings that adorn the album’s sleeves. They are random snapshots into creative and imaginative minds. This album is The Cure’s collection of aural watercolours, a palette of moods and impressions. And on that level, it succeeds wonderfully.
Therefore, as the liner notes suggest, play this album loudly, and you will hear the sonic triumphs of a band that has endured for years, and still has much more than just a spark of vivacity.
3.) Before Three
4.) The End Of The World
6.) Us Or Them
8.) (I Don’t Know What’s Going) On
9.) Taking Off
11.) The Promise
The Cure is:
Robert Smith – voice and guitar
Simon Gallup – bass
Perry Bamonte – guitar
Jason Cooper – drums and percussion
Roger O’Donnell – keyboards
The Cure – Official Site:
David E. Williams
Hope Springs A Turtle
~reviewed by Goat
Not long ago I was looking through a dark corner of my Stuff, and ran across my beautiful red Triumph of the Williams vinyl. I wondered to myself what David has been up to lately. Synchronicity intact, his latest CD arrived for review not much later. This release finds David’s voice more beautiful than ever.
The music is as always, fantastically eloquent and elegant. The lyrics? Once described as “gas chamber humor”, have gotten even darker. It’s rather like Adam Parfrey’s “Apocalyse Culture” books set to neo-classical electronic symphonies. A dark, ugly nightmare that transcends beauty into a realm of awe-struck silence and smug acceptance. A knowingness that gluts itself to the point of innocence.
I suppose I don’t recommend his recordings to the easily offended or the self-righteously correct. If however, you enjoy the fantasies of Joe Coleman; if you’re off your meds; if you know you’re not even human; then, yes darling, this one’s for you.
1. A Man Needs a Man Friend
2. The Ballad of Bob Crane
3. The Curious Pediatrician
4. Game Warden
5. Teddy Bear Laser Speculum
6. First Time Offender (Prequel to Altar Boy)
7. Seizure Dream Believer
8. The Girl from the Dn' D
9. The Need for Less Sex in the World
10. Grey Balloon Masquerading
11. Stalag 69
12. The Unbearably Important Lightness of Being Earnest
13. Carmina Melanoma
15. Improvisation on a Very Sad Theme
THE DRUG EP (Future Records)
~review by Mick Mercer
Finland seems a weird place where bands like Rasmus get to the top of the charts and then it carries on Internationally. Dead Babes, who have the gall to claim to have been inspired by the Alice Copper song ‘Dead Babies’, are another Dark Pop band from Finland, who have enjoyed national success there and have even been the first band to be put on a first class postage stamp there. So the world is now their oyster and with "The Drug" it isn’t hard to see why, because they have a hovering guitar style, and clearly love instilling an adroit change of mood with pauses, plus there is a gently insistent chorus.
They’re like a serious version of Placebo, but the rest of the EP is soft, vacuous crap with simpering keyboards.
Still, when the band fails they can always fall back on being postmen.
MY FAVOURITE PASSION
COME TO ME
In Human – 2004
~reviewed by Jyri Glynn
The French, electronic duo Die Form, is back once again painting harmonious soundscapes that finely interpret the boundary between music, beauty and pain. Their latest release, In-Human is the first part of a diptych which will be completed by a second follow-up album, Ex-Human. In-Human is described by the band as a pact between the human and the animal, the agony of the soul, forbidden loves, murderous madness, the spirit of the forest, and the sacrifice of nature. Éliane’s beautiful and operatic vocals resemble that of Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) yet with lyrics that clearly illustrate songs of erotica and S&M themes. The music is primarily that of a modern, electronic, dance persuasion which at times is a just bit too techno for my fancy, but over all this is a very listenable album. The band's imagery within their covers, as with all of their previous releases, is one of the most noteworthy elements. Displaying artistic images of bondage and sadomasochism, yet presenting them in exceptionally fine taste. In-Human will certainly prove to be a dance club favorite.
Track Listing Lyrics Audio
1 The Supreme Vice
2 Ad Libitum
3 In The Depths of Mania
6 Amnestic Disorder
7 Natura Obscura
8 Psychic Colours
9 Diktat (Savage Peace)
10 Fossilized Light
11 Disjointed World
~reviewed by Goat
This is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful CDs I’ve heard all year, maybe ever. Everything I said in the Mabou review about how the music didn’t take me anywhere is counterpointed by this other work from Skean Dhu Recordings. This music takes me everywhere.
The journey is inexplicably emotional. I found tears welling in my eyes for no apparent reason partway through track 2, (“clouds of a christ”). Really from the moment the CD began, it had my attention and kept it, by dove-like whispers and dark, spacious forebodings. It has always astonished me how some experimental music can seem so soft on its surfaces, but remain so deeply captivating and intriguing as it floats and bobs and swirls along.
I had said in the “Mabou” review that I hoped the musicians wouldn’t give up. Not because of my silly review, (God forbid!) but because it just felt like they were so CLOSE to something on that album that they’d simply somehow missed. The two projects, Mabou and Dolmen, have Steven K. Smith in common, and so I am beyond delighted to see that no, he didn’t give up. He found the masterpiece.
This work is almost unbearably beautiful. Profoundly affecting and emotive. Bafflingly so, really. I am astounded by the range of sensation, thought, and emotion these sounds brought up from the still depths of my brain as the CD played. I’ve experienced a great number of CDs and albums in my life-time, (8-tracks, even!) and never felt one quite like this.
The home page of Skean Dhu Recordings mentions that Dolmen are finishing up work on a new album, ‘working title of “Terra Firma”. I definitely look forward to hearing more from Dolmen and Skean Dhu, and in the meantime, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to purchase for yourself a copy of “Ritual Awakening”. The CD is a mere $10.00 (not including shipping) from Skean Dhu, but it’s actual value is so much more. Thank you, Steven K. Smith and Jason Sloan.
Really, thank you.
1.) in the heat
2.) clouds of a christ
3.) ritual awakening
4.) conversations with ghosts
5.) i call for you at every corridor
6.) storms of earth
7.) white mornings
TEN SONGS (Black Flames)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
As with Radio Berlin, who I reviewed earlier this month, Droom came from the uproarious Canadian indie hurricane they called aLUnARED, and have also settled upon more orderly music, pitching a perilous tent on the shifting plains of electro rock.
It’s electro songs (not merely tracks), with guts basically, right from the starting ‘Flowers’ where fiendish guitar flays the bass-substitute keyboards, both bolstering oblique vocal charm which might have you imagining a cross between Xymox and a populist Rosetta and you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
It all pounds rather than gyrates, because it’s a mature sound. There’s not much twinkling delicacy, or frantic club-drenched mania. Bleeps and doof barely register, because they have solid cross-currents whereby guitar and keyboard patterns splash against each other to ensure there’s rarely a dull moment, and it’s very, very lively.
On ‘Drown’ and ‘As If Alive’ they’re much softer, nicely despondent as the sorrowful voice moves like a spotlight across the grey waves. If anything, the songs remain a little too full, with their percussion restricting sensitive atmosphere. Fortunately they bounce back in ‘If’ like a supercharged Cure, sticky and sizzling. The nicely glowing guitar smoothes the kinks out of ‘Everything’, a wonderfully doomed romantic songs with beautiful lyrics, exquisitely moving and involving, and then they truly run rampant in ‘Asleep In Your Arms’ with a sharper beat, and a starker vocal delivery, which makes a nice change.
The problem with their sound is its fullness, which is relentless at times, and just a touch overbearing for the promise of some songs, and the vocal delivery barely alters in its approach throughout which means that both ‘The Record Company’(not the greatest song title, I think you’ll agree?) and ‘Surrender’ are simply what we have already heard , although the guitar in the latter does appear to be orgasming. After that things perk up again with a slow burner called ‘Lights’ which has more gaps in, thereby bringing respite and intensifying the effect when the guitar smashes back in later. A few more touches like that throughout the album would have accentuated many of their more obvious charms to create greater depth, but overall this is a modestly deployed stunner, seductive and highly satisfying.
You’ll have no complaints.
AS IF ALIVE
ASLEEP IN YOUR ARMS
THE RECORD COMPANY
NO PRAYERS FOR NOVEMBER (Antidote)
~review by Mick Mercer
I apologise to Boo Gruesome, the singer who sent me this entertaining package of CD, photos, biog and dayglo flyers, but his beard looks so strange I thought his head was upside down. This, I am happy to report, is not the case, although by the time I’d finished listening I am convinced mine is. Having mentioned only a few days ago that I wasn’t too sure what Horror Punk was, along comes a rascally example, and it sounds magnificent.It’s punk, with metal scrapings, rolled up in a kitsch and loveably lyrical amalgam of horror-related imagery, and it roars, which is good enough for most of us, I’m sure. Although I was surprised when my ornamental nodding dog started yelping, ’turn it up!’ halfway through ‘Are You Afraid?!’ I got the point, and you’ll continue turning up it up throughout. Boo sings like he a mouthful of maggots, the rhythm is of the sledgehammer on the foot variety, and their riffs are so big mountaineers tremble.
‘Cast The Bones’ has mean guitar, sore bass, and although Boo sounds mental as all guttural thrashers tend to, you start to decipher him quickly, because he uses his voice vocals well, which creates superb waves of impact. As the riffs roll in, the voice can stamp emphatic points, and with the guitar being so brilliant in this track, as opposed to merely powerful, it means it’s all overheating, yet air-conditioned, hard and lean. Of course protocol insists I don’t merely cast superlatives around, so even though ‘Terror Moon’ is manically magnificent, with the fairy-like guitar running naked through a valley of trolls, before Bo munches on an ugly riff, I can tell you this song isn’t long enough. I too can be judgemental. Oh, yes. ‘Not Of One Skin’, slower, with rumpty-tumpy drums unleashes a riff combined harvester which advances through the track, churning the air. It’s their darkest, thickest song here and verges on Metal in places, and, being picky, doesn’t change enough. Ner!
‘By Firelight’ isn’t deceptively picturesque, it’s genuinely pretty and quiet. Is that a clavinet? Is Boo no longer singing like a man allergic to his own tongue? Why, yes! Then it’s on with the Texan chain store mascara for ‘Sex Or The Saw’, which goes from scrawny punk cackling to a burlier thrash style, crudely catchy, until it speeds up like a wanking helicopter. ‘Hail To The King’ builds monstrously, with vicious fast rock riffing and apoplectic bass trying to outdo each other in their rage, while Boo is chanting insanity, and they ought to watch those frilly metal tendencies towards the end, the big gurls. Finally, it ends, with ‘Creepy Crawl’, Boo singing as only a man who finds himself turned inside out can. ‘Mwaaaaaaahhhhhhduuurggghhhhhhh!’ (What’s that Lassie, murder you say?) And how can you not love a jabbering slugfest which ends with a chortling “Red Rum!” It should make you scamper along, as I soon did, to their website, to check out even scarier pictures, then get a copy of this when it comes out.
You have nothing to fear but ears themselves.
ARE YOU AFRAID?
CAST THE BONES
NOT OF ONE SKIN
HAIL TO THE KING
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/skullomaniacs/ - group
http://www.antidoterecords.net/newboard/ - label board, with eerieln section
WATER TO THE DEAD (NOIR/Dancing Ferret)
~review by Mick Mercer
It s always intriguing when records turn up, minus any press release baggage, with precious little detail on the sleeve, but you just know from the way it looks that it’s good. The tell-tale marks are in the implicit poise rather than simple presentation, and it’s almost the restraint is what marks this record out as worth buying. With the instruments and musicianly duties listed mainly being keyboards and programming, you’d expect something bland or torturous, but you get quite the opposite, marooned happily between divergent currents of Industrial, Ambient and Ethereal (they call it Industrial trip-hop, but the beats aren’t curdled enough), where the voice cries and sighs over a hotbed of skilled filleting.
The title track is refreshingly powerful in its skittishness, lightly resigned vocals and lashings of guitar, and it’s reassuring to find so many pauses, changes and attention to detail, which also ensure nothing is overtly fussy. Then the album opens up to continually deliver more of the same, but in many different guises, with ’16 Miles’ being guitar slurry on which slow, tense vocals float, making it nicely dour pop, and ‘Above The Soil (Isobel’s version)’ is grander, with a sombre mood bashed out on piano.
There are subtle differences in Donna Lynch’s artistically teased vocals on each track and with the whisked activity of the band behind her purposeful presence ‘Isabel’ is like an underground Berlin. ‘Mandala’ (a Stu P. Didiot/Ohtagaki composition!) is emptier, often quite still, where the mood creeps up from such gentle components to weave a powerful spell, and then they prove they’re not quite there yet when in ‘The Breach’ we get synthy trails and airy vocals, then the exciting darting musical spasms of ‘Hurricane’ are flattened by Lynch failing to rival their sharpness, but she’s cleverly exposed in ‘Axis’ with its relaxing, quaint keyboard patter.
‘Traveling Son is firmer, and even more traditional with its emotional glaze, and turbulent waves of energy, the lyrics burn through the soft mucus of ‘Wolves’ as the haunted vocals dominate, leading gently into the morbid end of ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, with quavering vocals creating an echo of their own in a stripped down Clannad way.
A beautiful series of songs to end a gorgeous record.
WATER TO THE DEAD
ABOVE THE SOIL (ISABEL’S VERSION)
http://www.archer.angelfallstudios.com/ - archer artwork
http://www.archer.angelfallstudios.com/donna/ - lynch artwork
http://www.ferret.com/noir - label
THE EMPIRE HIDEOUS
SAY YOUR PRAYERS (Hell’s Hundred Records)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
Goth musicians can be fairly wilful and stupid sometimes, and the way Myke’s book showed how band members would just wander off and away from him clearly indicates he was surrounded by morons half the time. Why he should still be having trouble finding committed musicians who would want to work with him is something bordering on urban myth right now, because if this record is anything to go by he is the man in Gothic Rock circles there with the clarity of vision, just like the Audra boys write the best lyrics, and Projekt has the best collection of artists.
Myke has got the sound together and the doomy lyrical menu which makes something cohesive. He is a real figure who other bands could learn from, and this is a very special record indeed. Massive drums and luminous guitar whisk up our opener and some bloke is droning away, no doubt meaningfully. The fact a record seriously deals with the future state of the world has never been of great interest to me, I just like the noise, and given that this sounds like primetime Mission playing Rollerball it’s a self-destruction derby of finesse.
‘Art Is Dead’ is merely chilling samples and static, but ‘Two Minutes ‘Til Midnight’ sees steadfast vocals rasping over a deep guitar ravine, and is a perfect example of where a melodic style can be directly identified as Goth, because it’s a maelstrom within a rock genre; the guitars chugging happily and circling around sonorous vocals; cleverly reined in, operating as a pincer movement around the salivating singing. Cross The Bolshoi with Flesh For Lulu, then give it some balls.
‘Interlude’ is more samples rubbish but it provides a breather before ‘My Mind Plays Tricks On Me’ which sees a guitar used as rapier, as Myke fights alone with his deepest, wobbliest Goth vocals. It’s a fairly standard song but zips along, happily demented. ‘Heaven Raining Bullets’ suffers somewhat from insufficient bass boost, but the vocals have real presence and there’s a riff assault so heavy you could bring charges. It’s also got a ringing, stinging, almost joyous chorus and a roaring convergence to the end.
Myke remains king of all cesspits he surveys in ‘If Only I Kept Dreaming’ but is barely irate, making it all somewhat conventional, and he becomes a bit of a gurl during the acoustic ‘Bound To Happen’ sounding positively hopeful. Going all vulture on us, the guitar hovers and the vocals flap throughout ‘Post Hell’ and it’s like a more involving, malignant version of what Valor tries so hard to do; a slow burning powerhouse of a song which is beautifully produced, rising to a tempestuous ending. (Wait long enough and you also get some spacey howling, artful delay, nice suspense and another epic almost ten minutes long which is urgent and bristles.)
An utterly fantastic album, aside from those pointless sample segments which could have been replaced by another proper song, this truly puts them on the map.
Buy this atlas.
ART IS DEAD
TWO MINUTES ‘TIL MIDNIGHT
MY MIND PLAYS TRICKS ON ME
HEAVEN RAINING BULLETS
WELCOME TO THE HERE AND NOW
IF ONLY I KEPT DREAMING
BOUND TO HAPPEN
DEATH OF THE AUTHOR EP (Emulsion)
~review by Mick Mercer
With John Bergin artwork I guess it doesn’t surprise anyone that they do the dark soundscape thing, and their cover of ‘Pornography’ is well Twin Peaks in attitude, and their ‘In Lust’ is like a disturbing, inverted Techno nightmare, ugly in a gutted 2 Unlimited manner, and would have been strangely invigorating had they done something more with it than simply being repetitive. ‘Undone’ is remote twinkling which is deliciously odd, and ‘Sonido Negro’ disorientating and empty, like having an ice cave sing to you. ‘Every Machine’ is simply more of the same, only mopier.
Would an album excite me? No, because I can’t see what this is for, exactly.
EVERY MACHINE MAKES A MISTAKE
The Phantom Agony
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
If you’ve been around the musical block, you’ve only got to take one look at Epica’s latest CD to guess the style of music they play: overdone powermetally stuff with fancy female vocals and a growly male ass. The music is full of choirs and epic string movements and power metal riffs, and the aforementioned vocals. Except for the middle eastern vibe on “Seif al Din,” you’re basically getting rehashed Nightwish and After Forever.
Except, where Nightwish has neat album titles, Epica chooses CD names like The Phantom Agony. Note to bands: try to pick titles that make some coherent sense. What’s a phantom agony? A phantom named agony? An agonizing phantom? Or is it agony that you don’t feel, rendering it, in essence, non-agony? No one knows! Not even Epica, I’d wager.
I’d feel bad spending a whole paragraph complaining about their album title, but Epica’s music is so terribly generic that I’ve got nothing new to report. Most of the songs are well conceived for the style, and reasonably listenable. The only notable exception is the awful vocal melody on “Run for a fall,” a song which, in addition to having another stupid title, makes me cringe.
If you absolutely cannot
get enough of this style, by all means listen to Epica. Mark Jansen is
an experienced songwriter, and there’s really nothing noticeably “wrong”
with the music by the standards of epic power metal with beauty & the
beast vocals. For my part, however, I’m ready to move on. Enough is enough;
I already own several copies of this CD by other bands, and done better,
"The Neverending Embrace"
03) Cry for the Moon
"The Embrace that Smothers - Part IV"
05) Illusive Consensus
06) Façade of Reality
"The Embrace that Smothers - Part V"
07) Run for a fall
08) Seif al Din
"The Embrace that Smothers - Part VI"
09) The Phantom Agony
Simone Simons - vocals
Mark Jansen - guitars, vocals
Ad Sluijter - guitars
Coen Janssen - synths, piano
Yves Huts - bass
Jeroen Simons - drums
Epica - Official Site:
The End Records:
EUROPE IN DUST (Thunderdome)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
I am not an angry man, but when surrounded by a surfeit of electro music you can picture my reviewing experience as a well known scene from The Exorcist. The head spins, eyes distort and the vomit flies. I demand the audiences for this kind of music suck cocks in Hell.
And….relax! I am reliably informed, and partially convinced, by the press release claiming Eurocide have higher intentions. They even have a term for this gloomy music, Morgue Beat. I am convinced that won’t be catching on, because what we have here is a stern form of Electro already heard on many a European Electro/Industrial encounter, and is simply a dancier version of what Midnight Configuration were doing in the 90‘s, without so much vocal distortion.
12 tracks, if you’re going to include the ridiculous final remix, which brings you well crafted, despondent dance tunes flattened out and garnished with pompous, secretive vocals that imply they’re trying to convey a dramatic story. Vocally they hide behind effects because none of them can really sing, and lyrically it’s garbled signals acting as fatuous ciphers for electronic sterility.
Unlike a lot of the electro I have been subjected to this manages to retain its dignity well, with just the occasional track drifting off into standard bleepy club fare, and I am sure people who enjoy scuttling rhythms and stern beats will find this a change from sweeter sentiments, but it’s all as faceless and predictable as you can probably tell from the record sleeve. On top of that, if you want aggressive music with suggestive, doomy lyrics go with Action Directe. They do this sort of thing ten times better.
BLOOD OVER THE RED DESERT
EUROPE IN DUST
GATE OF TEARS
PATRIOT(IC) ACT (FBI, CIA)
INFOWAR (CHEMICAL MILK MIX)
DESTINY FALLING 2003
DREI TAGE FINSTERNIS
FALL OF ELYSIUM
‘DAS ICH – DER SCHREI’
FAITH & DISEASE
PASSPORT TO KUMMING (Projekt)
~review by Mick Mercer
An old release, yes, but when Eric suggested sending it I was happy to agree, because I use this journal to write about music, mainly. That can be brand new, that can be old. So, any bands with post 2000AD releases, may feel free to send them (Address details on my homepage). The only distinction I would make is that new releases will get priority.
What we have here is more from the Ethereal side of Goth, but with a bolder remit to strip sound down, but still keep things solid. In many ways they remind me of how different Bang Bang Machine sounded in the UK during the Shoegazing era. (Remember the enthralling ‘Geek Love’?) They have that lightness of being, but quite a mad, angular approach to some of the background sound, and unpredictable guitar. Soft vocals inflate as they make their dangerous journey over poisoned obstacles.
‘She’s Got A Halo’ could be what Joy Division might have sounded like if they had been a Goth band, with burning bass. The remix at the end is worth the price alone. ‘Dyslexia’ shows their usual knack of being slow without just resting on dreaminess, because they assume their form so strongly, with intriguing percussion.
‘How Far Does The Sky Go’ sees piano softening dark, morose passages, and if anything I guess this album sounds a little more mature than most Ethereal music, without becoming pompous. The guitar fuzz in ‘Between The Folds’ is strange; vocal fingers waving over some swooning bass, and the exquisite ‘Lost In Translation’ reminds me a little of the early 80’s bands, but without lyrical frills.
Strangest track is ‘Impermanence’ that seems almost Scandinavian art-rock, from the time of Bo Hansson, scraping a mood off grim guitar and nervy vocals, and then we have the tinkling historical feel of ‘Girl At The Window’ where Butch Cassidy & Sundance finally retreat into the shadows when Dara’s reflective singing takes hold.
The cover of ‘Made Of Wood’ is also a bit odd, because we’re suddenly introduced to a different lyrical structure and more of a folk-rock style, and then it’s remix time.
Not a huge album, maybe, and almost modest in tone, it is nevertheless very high quality, and if you missed it first time round go sleuth like mad things.
SHE’S GOT A HALO
HOW FAR DOES THE SKY GO
BETWEEN THE FOLDS
LOST IN TRANSLATION
GIRL AT THE WINDOW
MADE OF WOOD
HIS FADED MUSE
Fall of the Leafe
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Bands, I beseech you! If you are recording your album, and the music you are playing sounds like it could be coming from Generic Genre Band X... STOP! Record no more! Cease! Desist!! Don't make any more dull and pointless albums. Or, at least, do so in a genre I don't review. Like 'Country Music'. Go be a country music band. I won't care, as I will not have to hear it. I did, however, have to endure Fall of the Leafe's Volvere... a tepid and meandering slab of dishwatery metal-ish mush.
If Creed recorded a cover album of pre-gothy Paradise Lost songs, it would sound something like Volvere. Imagine booming guitars, unintelligibly bellowed vocals, and a band with a staunch dedication to providing listeners with no memorable melodies whatsoever... that is what we have here. Formless, lifeless music pitiably bereft of a single interesting musical idea. Fifty three minutes of it. Doled out in five minute chunks that all plod along at the same mid tempo pace.
The guys in this band, all six of them, seem competent enough on their given instruments. Maybe they should hire an arranger to provide them with music worth playing. Maybe they should all take up new careers, like playing at weddings, or digging ditches, or burning churches. I don't know. Anything to spare the world another hour of meandering blah-metal... and to spare me from having to review it. Stop the madness!
01.) A Waiting Room Snap
02.) If Mirrors Leave Men in Crumbs
03.) Enemy Simulator
04.) Pillar of the Sun
05.) Song From the Second Floor
06.) More Like a Situation
07.) Hell's Silence
08.) Big Ol' Fat Rain Inside
09.) Security Locks Are Good
10.) Guilt Threat
11.) Cut the Smoke
Fall of the Leafe is:
Jussi Hänninen - guitar/compositions
Kaj Gustafsson – guitar
Matias Aaltonen – drums
Miska Lehtivuori – bass
Petri Hannuniemi – keyboards, and myself
Tuomas Tuominen – vocals/texts
The End Records (US):
Rage Of Achilles Records:
Frank The Baptist
Beggars Would Ride (Strobelight)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
(live photo by Blu)
It seems like only yesterday that Frank The Baptist’s debut album, Different Degrees Of Empty, was released, but his second album is here already. I say ‘his’ rather than ‘their’ because, although Frank The Baptist was (and, as far as I know, remains) the name of the band as a whole rather than just the main man, the promo photo which accompanies this CD hints at a slightly different state of affairs. It shows Frank himself, standing outside his house, gesticulating wildly at the night, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his laundry is blowing out of the window behind him. And...he’s pictured alone. Of the band, there is no sign. Is this significant? Only Frank knows for sure.
Closer inspection of the CD itself reveals that the band are present and correct, and the music is still that classy, confident, contemporary rock swirl and tumble that we discovered with such delight on the first album. The songs here are intricate and energetic; they pack a punch and yet contain detail and subtlety. Again, I’m struck by how much potential Frank The Baptist has in the general alternative rock area - it seems bizarre that he’s been restricted (or restricted himself?) to the deathrock scene, a sub-section of goth which, for all its marvels, is hardly the stuff of which genuine career progression is made. There’s such potential in this band that it seems positively criminal to hide them away in goth-scene obscurity. I want to hear Frank The Baptist blaring out of my radio, via such alternative stations as XFM. I want to hear Zane Lowe on Radio One’s Evening Session waxing lyrical about this cool new Californian outfit. The band is easily good enough to hold its own in such areas: I really think that the way forward for Frank The Baptist is to go a-knocking on some of these doors, rather than simply sticking with the goff-stuff.
But enough of the music biz lecture. Let’s take a listen to the music itself. If there’s any overall difference between the first album and this one, here it is. Beggars Would Ride is, perhaps, a little more restrained, dare I say mature, than its predecessor. The instruments are arrayed just so by the arrangements and production; there’s a sense of more control than abandon. For example, there’s no equivalent on this set of songs to that swaggering, slashing riff that so memorably opened up ‘Silver Is Her Color’ on the debut. The guitars certainly break out and rock on this album, but they’re always on a leash. Frank’s voice, curiously enough, is frequently set back a little in the mix, which creates a rather odd effect when he really lets rip on some of the choruses. He’s obviously giving it loads, but the production keeps his vocal down to a respectable level, which sometimes makes it sound like poor old Frank is simply trying to yell above the noise of the band.
The opening track, ‘Signing Off’, starts off almost inoffensively, the band chuntering away on the rhythm, a nice bit of keening lead guitar, Frank himself coming in with a casual, laid-back vocal, almost as if he’s talking to himself. It’s an odd intro for an album - surely something with a bit more of the ‘Kapow!’ factor would’ve worked better? Everything kicks into a higher gear after a few bars, however, and there are some rather nifty ‘Wooo-oooh’ vocals towards the end. The song seems to be about contemplating suicide (and deciding not to do it after all) which perhaps explains the thoughtful, musing quality of the vocals, the lack of a massively rockin’ out feel. A good song, but placed rather counter-intuitively in the track listing, I feel. The second track, ‘Queen Frostine’, would perhaps have made a better opener, since it has an exotic, loping intro: you can imagine this music on the soundtrack to a sixties James Bond film, when he goes looking for the beautiful Russian agent in a Moroccan nightclub. Then it all takes off into one of Frank the Baptist’s trademark spiralling rockers - marred only by the curiously down-in-the-mix vocals. When the band piles in on the line ‘In her palace of broken dreams’ the final word of Frank’s vocal is utterly swamped by the sudden surge of music: ‘In her palace of broken - BAM!’
‘Faithless Aloysius’ sounds like the title of an Edward Gorey tale, and even contains some lyrics that might have been Gorey’s couplets in another universe: ‘We brought it out/and put it up against the light/To see what it was made of/And now we can’t go back’. Musically, the song introduces itself with some precise, REM-esque guitar, before flaring up into a good old rock ‘n’ roll kickabout. A little further down the tunestack, ‘Different Degrees Of Empty’ appears - the title track of the previous album, here making a belated entrance to the party. It’s a good ‘un, Frank’s vocal striding relentlessly forward over some pounding tribal drums while the guitars throw the riff to and fro. The song changes gear completely on the chorus, going into an altogether different tune - a very Franz Ferdinand moment, that.
Having mentioned REM in passing above, hold onto your, er, hat here, because ‘Old Hat’ warrants a closer comparison. This song has that lilting, melancholy, country-rock feel which REM - at least in their latter days - have made their own. This could almost be Frank The Baptist’s ‘Man In The Moon’, and I mean that as a compliment. There’s a wistful little keyboard line - almost a cello sound - weaving its way through the tune, an element which really gives the song a lift. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion this is my favourite song on this album, and I say that as one whose appreciation of REM themselves has been knocked about by hearing ‘Everybody Hurts’ far too frequently on every AOR radio station in town. How ironic it is that Frank The Baptist can take a step or two into this same stylistic area and make it work. Frank’s lyrics, as so frequently, blend a downbeat, jaundiced view of the world with a residual optimism. If there’s a theme to Frank’s lyric writing it’s this - he’s down, but he’s not quite out:
I threw my hat over the wall this time
It’s time to see what’s on the other side
That old hat might lead my way out
That old hat might consume the childhood doubt
‘Vines On The Victrola’ is a Robert Louis Stevenson novel encapsulated in two verses and no choruses. Frank The Baptist frequently throw conventional songwriting structures out of the window, an interesting aberration for a band which, in other respects, maintains a traditional rock ‘n’ roll set-up. And then, right at the finish, the band pull an epic out of the bag - ‘All The Faces’ is a slow-burning spooky anthem, somewhere between ‘Riders On The Storm’ and ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’.
This is a very fine album by a very fine band, although I think if you’re new to the world of Frank The Baptist it might be better to start with the first album, which offers slightly more in the way of immediate, instant-connection stuff. This album is one for the aficionados, containing as it does a few tracks which need a little time to grow on you. The songs here tend to sneak up on the listener, rather than doing the ‘Kapow!’ thing. But there’s real quality here, songs which, if there’s any justice, should be known far more widely than simply in goth-scene circles. Sure, the production is a little over-cautious at times, but that’s really the only gripe I have. I’d like to hear what Frank the Baptist would sound like if they exchanged the laid-back atmosphere of California for the speedfreak intensity of London when they come to record their next album. I suspect the change of scenery would lead to a general tightening up of the sound - I think we’d certainly get those vocals upfront and dominant, instead of relaxed back into the mix, as they are, sometimes a little too much, here. But a splendid album from a band with more potential than I suspect they realise they possess.
While Falling Apart
Eskimos And Butterflies
Different Degrees Of Empty
Beggars Would Ride
Vines On The Victrola
All The Faces
Frank The Baptist: Vocals and rhythm guitar
Scot The Hoople: Lead and rhythm guitar
E-Train: Bass Guitar
Dave Hamersma: Drums
Anthony de la Cruz: Keyboards
Rockin' Tommy Fuhr: More guitar
The website: http://www.frankthebaptist.com
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:
FRANK THE BAPTIST
BEGGARS WOULD RIDE (Strobelight)
~review by Mick Mercer
After the fabulous experiences contained within ‘Different Degrees Of Empty’ last year, I had high hopes of this second album, as I’m sure the band did, as I hope you do. The fact this is still leagues ahead of most bands you’ll find reviewed here isn’t the point. I retain high hopes that it will grow on me more than it seems to be at present, but I see things which perlex me.
Continuity is obvious, including artwork, producers, some unusual lyrical repetitions inside certain songs, and there’s even a song with the title of their debut. What this means I don’t know, as we get the consistency required, but not as many of the high points. There is a set style which seems to mark the FTB sound, and they use this on the first three tracks, to create a strong impact. Vocals and guitar all but insist on a serene embrace, with the drums conveying disguised angst and the bass is practically invisible. These guitars seem lighter this time round, and because Frank rarely employs continuous vocal heat throughout a track, everything is a touch restrained.
The different strokes are first pulled on ‘Faithless Aloysius’ with morose guitar inside a choppier tune, and yet more vocal repetition, which becomes an intrinsic element. Higher, almost carefree vocals lift ‘Eskimos And Butterflies’, and then the bass comes in on ‘Different Degrees Of Empty’, with scabby guitar accompaniment, dramatic breathless vocals and this is nicely off kilter. Slow, meandering guitar, with a prettier one riding shotgun, hits a high during the title track, along with a starker singing style and a great line, “what doesn’t kill us, makes us wish that we were dead”, with a powerfully emphatic end, although even here the vocals do seem to go off on an independent voyage.
And then this album’s equivalent of the mighty ‘Swing The Pendulum’ arrives in ‘Old Hat’ with beautiful vocals, and a sense of pleasant yearning; mellow but muscular guitar stretching it powerfully, and they sound almost optimistic, which is rare. A form of manic post-punk seeps out of the lumpy ‘Visions’ with a grim, yelping demeanour, which must be a rabble-rouser live. ‘Vines Of The Victrola’ is sweet, with more quiet guitar deportment, while the gothiest track, ‘Come Home’, sees the guitar getting a little excitable, and then we close with ‘All The Faces’ which confuses when the music sounds more touching than the vocals.
Frank uses different vocal styles to inject variety into the music, rather than having the instruments do that, which seems risky, and I suspect they’re realising their own limits here, and will decide what to concentrate on next time. They’ve either brought these songs through too quickly, or the production simply hasn’t achieved the sparkling cyanide of the debut.
We rightfully expected sharpness and get a dozen, determined cactii, but they look a little dehydrated.
WHILE FALLING APART
ESKIMOS AND BUTTERFLIES
DIFFERENT DEGREES OF EMPTY
BEGGARS WOULD RIDE
VINES ON THE VICTROLA
ALL THE FACES
THE HALOES - THE GHOST
OF SATURDAY NIGHT
CHAZ HALO – ALMOST FOREVER A GO-GO
CHAZ HALO – AMAZING GRACELESS (DEMOS 2002-2003) (Black Nipple Records)
~review by Mick Mercer
Chaz Halo (nee Matthews) is such a bastard! He sends me three CDs and only one has accurate sleeve notes. I think he wants me to make a fool of myself! (And that doesn’t take much.) But, be honest, there’s a lot more bastards among you lot. It often surprises me just how many people will suddenly admit to a penchant for Dogs D’Amour, Manics, Stray Cats, or Hanoi Rocks, just as I often appal people with my sturdy knowledge of early Kiss recordings (don’t bother with much after ‘Destroyer’ kids!).
Chaz first came to my attention through the excellent Goth-Glam-Punk cross-dressing zine Machine Gun Etiquette, so I slapped a flash punk piece of his trash ouvre onto a Gothic Rock comp. He left the Goth scene, openly incensed by the stupidity he saw around him, moving to Boston early 90’s where his glammy punk leanings eventually saw him forming The Dimestore Haloes, who made several albums and singles, but all things come to an end and this little selection of CDs reflects his activities.
(Chaz – second from left. Live pic by Damian Siaz, from Charlie’s Kitchen in 2003) With the Haloes’ compilation I expected Punk with a billyish tinge for some reason, but there more old school Punk than I expected, starting with a riff-hungry equivalent to Generation X, them moving through various clipped styles. The track list is absent, so I won’t do details, but while the raw production always throws a touch too much emphasis on equally raw vocals, this collection lurches at you, with choruses that are frequently punchy. More than once I detected a soft underbelly of rocky punk, but as the sleeve booklet opens I see why. Pictures of favoured record sleeves are gathered around some Haloes song titles. I see The Wildhearts, Maniocs, Trash Brats, Replacements, and plenty of Metal.
Occasionally sounding as fresh as Mega City 4, sometimes sounding authentically 77-ish, poppy sensibilities wielded well ensure it’s a good, typical compilation of a band who would expect to be well treated in clubs. I didn’t see much in the way of greatness, more someone freshly raking the soil of Clash slopes and draining Dollsy ditches.
Coming nervously to ‘Almost Forever A Go-Go’ we find Chaz recording at home, and everything is bouncier. Faster, bigger, brighter, but with the drawbacks such an approach brings, in that often it’s the same ambience for too long, and sometimes his vocals are a mess. With no-one to clout him around the back of the head and tell him to try again, he breezes through an antagonistic bunch of songs, sometimes with a burly riff, sometimes with some plaintive drivel. Rousing, raspberry vocals are good, and when he erupts zealously it all works. It’s the rocky touches which bring him down, and I’ll swear some lyrics are so unforgivably bland, I believe he once found a long lost Johnny Thunders notebook and treats it as his bible. (Chaz has now sent me details, which indicate there are two covers involved – Nick Gilder’s ‘Hot Child In The City’ and Little Richard’s ‘Jenny, Jenny, Jenny’. So now you know, and I hope it doesn’t make the picture any clearer!)
The real quality is the newest set, ‘Amazing Graceless’. By now he is a male Joan Jett. Singing a word like down produces ‘dow-how-hown’ and he can’t stop saying ‘Hey!’ and jumping around. From the upright opener, ‘Can’t Start Loving You’, through the lighter MSPish ‘Beautiful’, he’s slightly calmer, and more precise. ‘Yeah Yeah Rock’n’Roll’ is as rubbishy as it sounds, with nice drum and guitar touches, ‘Neon Skies’ is a bit drab, because he will insist on leaping in with vocals at every start, and ‘Hating The Weekend’ is a total cliché, but with this music clichés are the backbone which make people want to explore it. Performers and bands who tackle this area know they’re wading through the past with no way back, so while ‘Drinking For Two’ and ‘Baby Comes Undone’ mean nothing to me, they’re perfectly gawky urchins.
There’s plenty of songs here which pass me by, because I don’t go for rawky chic, although ‘Black Hear Stationery’ is fantastic, ‘Romeo Is Bleeding’ amused me, and ‘Insignificant Others’ is fizzy simplicity itself. ‘Be My Widow’ was gently magnetic with its emotive innards (once I’d realised it wasn’t ‘Miss You Nights’) and ‘Hate Every Word’ closes fit to burst.
You’ll know from what I have mentioned whether this is for you. It’s Punk, abused and Glam, confused. Blessed, or cursed, with a congenital anomaly that ensures he is perpetually cool, Chaz is singing at you, not for you, but you can share in his passion, because this is designed to give you a good time, one and all.
AMAING GRACELESS tracklisting:
CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU
YEAH YEAH ROCK N ROLL
HATING THE WEEKEND
DRINKING FOR TWO
BABY COMES UNDONE
GHOST OF A GIRL
BLACK HEART STATIONERY
ROMEO IS BLEEDING
MUSTA BEEN DRUNK
DOWN ON DOWN
BE MY WIDOW
HATE EVERY WORD
- Chaz, the music
http://www.geocities.com/NowWave/ - Chaz, the music writing
http://www.livejournal.com/users/chazhalo/ - Chaz, the journal (with an unnatural concentration on his bowels!)
The Spiritual Palsy EP (Self release)
~review by Uncle Nemesis
First release for the band formed by Benn Ra, the former guitarist with Diva Destruction. This CD is really just a small calling card, a taste of what is to come, the sound of a new band setting out its stall. But if the music here is any guide to what the Hatesex intend to do in the future, it looks like we’ve got a definite contender on our hands.
We get three original tracks, one of which has a copyright date of 1999 and writer credits which include people who aren’t actually in Hatesex, which possibly means it’s an older song from Benn’s personal vault, and one cover - Slayer’s ‘Black Magic’. (I should perhaps issue a disclaimer here - I didn’t know the song was originally by Slayer until I Googled up the songwriters. I just mention this so you know that (a) I do actually research these reviews, and (b) I’m no metalhead!) But don’t let that cover mislead you. Hatesex are most definitely a guitarist’s band, but they’re not in the business of rehashing hoary old metal moves. They have their own style, their own sound - which combines the taut, abrasive, cold-eyed glitter of new wave-era goth with a very contemporary rock attack.
To a great extent, Hatesex’s sound is defined by the vocalist, Krisanna Marie, who has a marvellously offand Xmal Deutschland-ish wail. She stalks all over the music as if each song belongs to her, but Benn fights back with a densely layered mass of guitar, a spiralling cloud of sound that roars through every song like a twister. It’s a combination that works very well. The rhythms (which I assume are all programmed on this release, although the band now have a drummer) hit hard, driving everything forward, but there are little touches of complexity and subtlety in there, too.
On that Slayer cover, a male vocalist suddenly shoulders his way into the song, yelling some bug-eyed monster stuff in German, while Krisanna sticks her elbow in with occasional controlled, sardonic interjections of the original English lyrics. There are little touches of sitar and tabla in the rhythm, and, throughout, a rolling grind of guitar - all of which takes the song into territory I’m sure Slayer never dreamed of.
In short - good stuff. A cool new band just touched down.
Finally, some nuts-and-bolts information. The band have a full-length album in the works, apparently, which may in fact be the first Hatesex release you’re able to obtain. This EP, which was a very limited release, is already sold out, according to the band’s website. However, there seem to be at least a few copies floating around retailers in Germany, so if you’re within grabbing distance of those - grab now while the grabbing’s good!
The Clockwork Heart
Benn Ra: Guitar, bass, samples, programming
Krisanna Marie: Vocals
Tony Havoc: Drums (not featured on this EP)
Martin Eric Ain: Bug-eyed monster vocals
Erol Unala: Additional lead guitar
The website: http://www.hatesex.net
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
Icon of Coil
Machines Are Us
~review by DJ Aesthetic
It didn’t take a DJ or even a regular club-goer to recognize something unique about the Norwegian cyberpunk-electro outfit, “Icon of Coil,” back around their debut in 2000. My own introductions came from their exclusive version of, “Repeat It” featured on the Tatra Records compilation, “Sex, Goth & Electronics.” It was about 57 seconds in to the song before I knew that I’d be hearing a lot more about this band in the near future.
“Machines Are Us” is a perfect example of why it’s a rarity that a single club night goes by without hearing at least one IOC track over the dance floor. Truth be told, I found their last album, “The Soul is in the Software” to be a bit bland and boring compared to its predecessor, “Serenity is the Devil.” Typically with a lot of Electro/EBM style albums, my biggest complaint lies in the fact that all they’re often good for is ‘dance floor’ tracks and don’t have any sort of flow or emotion that could be enjoyed away from a dance club. Machines Are Us is a perfect example of the album that breaks this frequent disappointment.
My only real “complaint” about this album was on the song “WireTrip” which to me seemed far too reminiscent of the Madonna track, “Music” featuring the verse, “Hey, Mr. DJ...,” a little too similar to the IOC verse, “Hey, Mr. Speaker...” Thankfully this track came immediately before some of the other better songs on the album to make up for it.
A few tracks from the CD were quick to capture my attention. My personal favorite ended up being the album’s first single, “Android.” This is the type of song that has people flooding the dance floor before they even know what it is (perhaps fitting, considering the song title). “Sleep:Less” also came in as a close second. Lyrically speaking, I found both songs to be somewhat unique in the amount of emotion that drips from them, especially for ‘Electro’ songs. Overall, Machines Are Us is one of the best electronic albums that I expect to see in 2004.
Buy it – you’ll be e-mailing to thank me later…
Existence in Progress
Faith: Not Important
Dead Enough For Life
Release the Frequency / Afterwords
Andy LaPlegua: Lyrics/Vocals/Additional Programming and Producing
Sebastian R. Komor: Programming/Producing and Backing Vocals
Christian Lund: Live Keys and Live Backing Vocals
Icon of Coil Website: http://www.iconofcoil.com
Metropolis Records (USA): http://www.metropolis-records.com
Out of Line (Europe): http://www.outofline.de
PSYCHIC VAMPIRE (Nile Records)
~review by Mick Mercer
THIS EP is really a taster for an album (Destroying The World To Save It - out in August) and is half of CD twins, and it’s a more than acceptable appetiser. ‘Psychic Vampire’ is a slow burner, with a mild sense of development, where neither synth nor guitar or vocals seek to dominate, leaving the bitter lyrical ashes to float clear. It has a classy, secretive feel, and the immediate remixes then feel like different levels of the same song. The second version has the grit, the third all gurly innuendo, so they should really have been swapped in the running order.
You then get three good live tracks included. ‘Blue Snow Red Rain’ is mellow, where synth unfolds generously, swelling the mood alongside sweet guitar, ‘Subversion’ has a deep-seated sense of dark swing, and the relaxed surging of ‘Ceremony’ gently ushers us to a close with casual vocal overlay on tangled guitar.
CD2 soon, and I think you’ll pleased you came.
PSYCHIC VAMPIRE - REMIX
PSYCHIC VAMPIRE – REMIX
BLUE SNOW RED RAIN
http://www.rulison.com – photographer
http://www.musecube.com/dollydreadful/ - norty model
PSYCHIC VAMPIRE (Nile Records)
~review by Mick Mercer
No, you’re not seeing double, we simply had CD1 the other day. I initially made the mistake of thinking this second CD was an album, because CD1 had three versions of one song plus three live tracks, where this has eight numbers. With the actual album due in August, we simple have a band hitting a hugely prolific throbbing vein here, and this is very impressive.
The title track starts like a car ad, then goes turbo-moody, building into a very firm beast. These are clean, clear vocals, and it’s absurdly catchy, but not just a commercial entity, because as with ‘I Never Wanted You’ the underground grime is there. Although choppy, bouncy and well dignified with reflective singing, it’s like a Mission upgrade, with short hair. Fabulous, really. ‘Blue Murder’ then appears to be a comparative lagoon of tranquillity, if it wasn’t for lyrics about drowning, and further quality hums in the acoustic glints of ‘Crucified’ and with the bells for melodic punctuation it’s so smooth it’s tortellini western.
‘As Fate Decrees’ is somehow
bold for a mid-paced tune, heavy on the vocal drama, with gentle strings
shivering demurely. Even though it is the blandest item here you slot into
the rhythm instantly, because there’s not an ounce of fluff on this record.
It all works.
‘The Garden Of The Lost’ has a nice plump, wired bass sound and tightly flamboyant guitar with dour Gawf vocals, as he gargles some iron filings, before they take off a trot in ‘A Heartless Soul’ as rockily fluid as ‘I Never Wanted You’ with neat guitar stitching on its bruised pattern; wonderfully deft drums ensuring it stays the beautifully laconic side of listless listening.
I said it all works, but I lied. ‘Purgatory’ is ambient nonsense to close, which is very well named, but we mustn’t let that steer us away from the likely fact that the album is going to be something of a marvel.
Two great CDs then. Grab them while you can.
I NEVER WANTED YOU
A FATE DECREES
THE GARDEN OF THE LOST
A HEARTLESS SOUL
http://www.rulison.com – photographer
http://www.musecube.com/dollydreadful - evicted in Round 1 of Australia’s Miss Marple 2004 competition.
Black Ice Impact (Cryonica)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
It’s quite a surprise to realise that Inertia have been around for ten years now. This is their sixth full-length album, and ninth release overall, if you count singles and EPs. Oddly enough, given their longevity and extensive back catalogue, Inertia still tend to be regarded in many quarters as...well, not really a new band, but certainly as one of the up-and-coming contenders on the electro-industrial scene. Somehow, in all those ten years, Inertia have never quite succeeded in becoming established. I suppose that might be an advantage in some ways - better to be hailed as thrusting new force coming up from the underground rather than simply accepted as part of the music biz furniture. But I’m willing to bet Inertia must regard the success of their one-time UK electro scene contemporaries such as Mesh (who I saw as a very green band back in 1995, playing a gig with Inertia to an audience of about 25 people!) and VNV Nation with a somewhat jaundiced eye. How come Inertia themselves have never been able to grab a slice of that kind of big-league action?
The answer, perhaps, lies in the music. Inertia have never been in the business of creating the kind of smoothly accessible synthpop tunes with overwrought cod-emotional vocals which, in the late 1990s, became more or less the standard blueprint for what we used to call ‘industrial’. Inertia follow their own musical path, which takes in a certain amount of assertive stomping and hollering and mashed-up electronics, but always retains that essential feel that human beings are involved - and incorporates enough catchy hooks and choruses to prove that somewhere underneath it all there’s a genuine pop sensibilty at work. What’s more, Inertia have an endearing tendency to go off on all manner of unusual tangents: they’ll sometimes spice their recordings with surreal interludes that have nothing to do with what the cyberkidz want, and everything to do with what’s inside the band’s own heads.
All this, of course, has meant that in ten years of making music, Inertia have never actually been fashionable. That makes them an intriguing band, and might even be an advantage in some ways - after all, if you’ve never been in fashion, you can’t go out of fashion. But it does mean that Inertia have tended to become the eternal support band, forever stuck at that frustrating level just below the break-through point. I don’t know if this album will be the one to make the big leap for ‘em, because by and large it’s Inertia-business as usual. There’s good stuff here, from hardcore stompers to full-on electro groovers, and a few moments of out-on-a-limb quirkiness to boot. Long-standing Inertia fans will surely dig it, but in essential respects this is simply an album of Reza, Alexys, and new member Andrew Trail doing their thing, and to hell with how it fits in with ‘the scene’.
Let’s take a quick stomp around the hard stuff to begin with. This album contains several tracks which one could describe as ‘traditional Inertia’ - that trademark blam-and-crack beat, those bubbling electronics, and Reza’s agonized chant barking out the words over the top. Black Ice Impact itself starts off like vintage Yello, as the synth-sequences burble away like an engine. Then the beat hits, and Reza lets rip with his distorted chant, and all of a sudden we could only be listening to Inertia. Now, I’m no fan of the distorted-vocal style: it removes all character from the vocalist’s voice, and, in any case, everybody’s doing it these days, which strikes me as a fine reason *not* to do it. But Inertia nevertheless seem to retain an individual sound, even if the voice at the front of the mix is the standard industrial crackle. ‘Slow Motion’ is, paradoxically, a fairly fast song, with an assertive beat and little fills and effects packing out the rhythm. Very funky, in a way. And here comes Reza’s rapped-out vocal, hitting every syllable like a hammer on a nail - it’s effective, but I found myself waiting for a little melody to come in, a small counterpoint to the beats, beats, beats. However, one of the first things you learn about Inertia is that they have no truck with melodies when they’re in their max-industrial mode. ‘Blank Stare’, ‘Hypno-Suck’ and ‘Slider’ pretty much follow the formula, although ‘Slider’ sees the distortion backed off somewhat, and a more realistic drum sound coming in. ‘Truth Or Lies’ is as near to a ballad as Inertia ever get - certainly, it’s a distinctly more subtle experience, with Reza’s vocal allowed to come through naturally. So far, so good, although in truth there are few surprises on these tracks. This is pretty much exactly what we expect Inertia to sound like, and you’ll already know if you like this stuff or not.
Personally, it’s the tangents and the off-kilter ideas that really grab me, and there are quite a few of them on this album. ‘Seven Sin VII’ (which, oddly enough, comes up as track number eight) has a vocal by Alexys, sashaying over a Glitter Band beat. The song is like a cross between a skipping rhyme and one of those sassy rap numbers Salt ‘n’ Pepa used to do, and it’s an unexpected treat. So, for different reasons, is ‘Hot Hot Hot’, a cover of a Cure song on which Robert Smith’s lugubrious lyrics are given a rough, tough makeover. ‘Hold Your Soul’ showcases Alexys in soul diva mode - ooh, there’s a neat bit of R ‘n’ B bump ‘n’ grind going on here. I’m sure Inertia could sell this one to Beyonce when she gets around to making her next album. Then there’s ‘Shakalaka Baby’, Inertia’s excursion into Bollywood, and it’s a delight, with the band demonstrating a sure touch on a slice of Bhangra-influenced electropop that’s a million miles away from the standard moves of the industrial scene.
And there’s a video, for ‘No Defect’, a track which originally appeared on Inertia’s previous album. Just to create some confusion, the video-does not feature in the track listing on the inlay card - in fact, if it wasn’t for a couple of references in the small print you wouldn’t know there were any visuals on this album at all unless you happened to play the CD on your computer, in which case the video unexpectedly appears. Possibly it was included as an afterthought, or maybe it’s an extra track for the promo editions of the album only, which would explain why full info and credits are not given. The footage shows the band playing mock-live amid a dusty, sun-blasted cityscape, the kind of uncompromising urban environment for which Inertia’s music makes a fine soundtrack. There are a few festish-y role-playing sequences, in which Alexys gets to do her full-on babe number at us, and even a rather amusingly cliched moment where the band are filmed in slow motion, walking along in a line for no apparent reason. Hmmm - isn’t that one of Tim Pope’s signature gimmicks? I’m sure I saw something like that in a Banshees video, circa 1986.
But the video does illustrate one of Inertia’s great strengths, which doesn’t necessarily come across on their recordings. They’re a very visual band, with a presence and a style which is at least half their appeal. Live, they’re a whirlwind of sound and vision, and it occurs to me that a useful next step for the band might be to put out a DVD of live footage, so that potential fans who haven’t quite been convinced so far can get a taste of the full Inertia experience. But for now, this album does the business. Inertia might be the perennial outsiders of the electro-industrial world, anti-fashion mavericks resolutely doing their own thing, but it’s good to have ‘em around.
Black Ice Impact
truth Of Lies
Hold Your Soul
Seven Sin VII
Hot Hot Hot
Faith On Fire
No Defect (video)
Reza Udhin: Vocals, programming
Alexys B: Vocals, drums
Andrew Trail: Keyboards
The website: http://www.inertia.gs
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to
Neurosis & Jarboe
Neurosis & Jarboe
~review by Matthew Heilman
Neurosis. Jarboe. A collaboration that at first might raise some eyebrows, but after a thought or two and certainly after hearing the fruit of their joint labour, it seems as though their partnership was destined to take place. The Swans were unquestionably an influence on the confrontational and inventively bludgeoning work of Neurosis. The band’s sound is often abysmal and adds an entirely new dimension and depth to the concept of heaviness – much the way the Swans’ “Filth” did in the early 1980s. Not quite metal, not quite Industrial, but a violent combination of both, exceeding the intensity of either to reach a whole new plateau of sonic punishment and aural nausea. Neurosis (and Godflesh, as well) carried on Michael Gira’s misanthropic torch after he himself grew tired of the limitations that eventually arose from relying upon themes of hostility alone. Neurosis have succeeded in transcending those limitations and have forged into unknown territories where skeptical angst, bitter despair, and seething rage explode with catastrophic frenzy or brood with some of the most threatening examples of tension ever captured to record.
Though Jarboe herself did not join the Swans until the final two records of Gira’s aggressive period, she was certainly just as determined to create the same uncompromising noise and musical violence and her contributions were suitably antagonistic. As the Swans began to integrate more traditional dark rock and acoustic elements into their sound, Jarboe blossomed from angsty art punk into a tortured torch singer, bellowing out such throaty laments as “Song For Dead Time” and “The Other Side Of The World.” But her unreserved edge still resurfaced in songs like “Mother/Father” from “The Great Annihilator” release, one of the Swans’ last truly great albums. It had been years since Jarboe sang on material as loud or as heavy as Neurosis can be capable of, but on this new release, she finally receives the full spotlight.
Jarboe bears the blunt of ugliness and rage in such a way that even the most misanthropic black metal vocalist could not even begin conceive of. Her starkly introspective lyrics are paired with the raw sounds of a frighteningly appropriate group of musicians. The result is a genuine masterpiece of dark art. Jarboe’s performance is mind-blowing, astounding, and downright terrifying at times. She has no peer save for Diamanda Galas, but the difference is that an equally dark and intense band is present to push Jarboe’ vocal power and vision beyond anything even the deepest of nightmares could fathom.
This is a very uneasy and difficult listening experience. The overall vibe of the album is extremely claustrophobic, languid and dense. The songs are long and have few changes, and depending upon your tastes, much of the album will either hypnotize you – or you might start fidgeting and get kind of restless. The dynamics, however, are explosive if you allow yourself to surrender patiently and see where things are heading. The tone and mood of the album as a whole is relentlessly dark. While there are several quieter, reflective passages that evoke a very strong and sophisticated atmosphere, the most unforgettable moments are when things are at their most confrontational.
The album’s masterful opening cut, “Within,” builds from a subtle collage of feedback and tense percussion into a full-scale aural bludgeoning, consisting of cavernous drones, distorted bass lines, buzzing electronics, and pounding drums – a wall of sound in classic Neurosis style. Uncompromisingly bottom heavy, the song rumbles into life and paralyzes the listener. The music alone is inescapable in its density, but once Jarboe appears with an odd, nasally voice (quite unlike her usual style of singing), the hairs on the back of your neck begin to rise and your flesh earnestly attempts to creep right off of your bones. “I tell ya, if god wants to take me, he will” is Jarboe’s strange refrain, underscored by more of her bizarre vocal expressions, daemonic and unrestrained whispers, gasps, frenzied tantrums, and breathless panting. Sudden a cappella interludes cut through the momentous mantra (here, Jarboe’s voice appears in its recognizable alto style), offering a brief respite before the unrelenting nightmare flashes back again, marching steadfast toward a disorienting finale.
It’s tough to digest, but the next few tracks take a few introspective steps back, first with the lumbering ballad “His Last Words” and the disharmonic sludge of “Taker.” The songs slowly and grippingly wind through their various peaks and valleys, confidently and carefully, the listener never quite sure when the eerie tranquility will finally explode into a louder, more punchy attack. Both Neurosis and Jarboe seem to have written these songs without any boundaries, eager to experiment with sounds and arrangements and vocal ideas that neither has ever explored individually. While the music is definitely very much in league with what fans expect from Neurosis, the band seems more willing to allow the songs to breathe and gestate before unleashing their distinctive fury.
“Receive” is a spacious, depressive, and minimalist masterpiece. Chiming clean and acoustic guitars echo throughout a dreary vacuum, anchored by deep bass and reverberated piano chords. Jarboe’s voice rises majestically out of the emptiness, pleading, pinched in pain, imploring and shaken, throaty and projecting brilliantly. “Mother, deliver me, I’m ready to be received.” Very similar to the pastoral dirges of the Swans’ later years, this is Jarboe at her funereal best.
The second half of the disc begins with the most shocking, intense, and memorable track of the album. “Erase” is a track that you have to hear to believe, an epic, violent, slab of Doom-laden torment, with Jarboe’s spiteful performance at the heart of it all. She sings with her teeth clenched, her tongue spewing forth venom and poison, with a command that utterly transcends and shatters whatever preconceived ideas anyone could have of this particular woman’s vocal supremacy. At the catastrophic peak of this song, Jarboe pushes her voice further than what is honestly HEALTHY for her, toward self-annihilating and sadistic cruelty. The result is a sickening, nauseating fury, where you can almost hear her vocal cords ripping within her throat, howling with rage, disintegrating into an incomprehensible squeal. It is an astounding, venerable and unrelenting expression of pain. I still can’t believe how violent this track is. It will linger with you long after the final note is wrung from her suffering throat.
“Cringe” can hardly follow such an unbridled expression of passion, but it succeeds in taking the album down different paths. Detached synths and drones swirl about, with Jarboe’s ghostly vocals drifting in and out above distorted rhythms, a more menacing and organic Portishead or Massiv Attack. “In Harm’s Way” is a momentous, driving song, propelled by tribal drumming, dreary guitar riffs, buoyant and excellent vocal projections all coalescing into a peculiar anti-climax of disjointed rhythms and discordant guitars. “Seizure” closes the album on a more passive and experimental note, vocals ebbing and flowing atop waves of guitar harmonies and sustained feedback, reaching a choral zenith, with Jarboe announcing “I’m ready…” to perhaps bring the album full circle…if god chooses to take her, that is.
I cannot say much more about the album, other than it is absolutely brilliant. This is truly like a dream come true for fans of these artists, and it is remarkably successful collaboration. Don’t miss this! (And look for a review of Neurosis’ upcoming release “The Eye Of Every Storm” in the upcoming months).
2.) His Last Words
7.) In Harm’s Way
Jarboe – vocals and lyrics
Steve Von Till – guitar, back up vocals
Scott Kelly – guitar
Dave Edwardson – bass
Noah Landis – keyboards, samples, sound manipulation
Jason Roeder – drums
Produced by William Faith
Jarboe – Official Site:
Neurosis – Official Website:
Swans – Official Site:
THE FIRST LOSS (Tragick Records)
~review by Mick Mercer
And the first song is about – a funeral! The protagonist sings from within his coffin and seems quite happy with his lot. Friends think well of him, everyone is respectful and with the most traditional folk delivery, vocally, on this album, with some pretty piano, this is quite rousing, then segues mood-wise into ‘Evelyn’ with more voices coasting behind Johnny in lamenting his lost love. There’s gentle bass colouring, and nice character to his voice here because he’s caught in the whirl. Later, when alone, his deficiencies do leave him in some trouble.
The problem with quite a few of the songs here is that they have a plain arrangement, which may be inherent in the genre, possibly, but there’s no reason for some of them to show as little variety as they do, even the choruses being the same. It tends to grate on you as you listen.
The piano in ‘Still Like Strangers’ is better, slower, warmer, but here Johnny is left exposed He can neither sustain rising notes, or extend any, but he does adapt cleverly by changing the word shape, even though it tends to tailor the mood downwards. It creates a gloomy sense to his narratives, not that that isn’t often the right ambience, but it does prevent him issuing any genuinely passionate declamations during slower songs.
Folk is not the most musically fertile area, so it needs all the help it can get. ‘Saying Goodbye’ has an enchanting opening, but then glides and trails off (they could easily have varied the choruses here), and ‘Going Home’ is so plain it almost puts you off the weird little war vignette. ‘Hey Mr DJ’ also suffers. It’s a swaggering little bastard, sure enough, and being noisy allows Johnny to seem more confident as he needn’t be so precise, but musically it lacks vivacity.
‘The Devil Lying Inside’ is another odd tale, which is what any dark folk material should be, along with harrowing emotional schisms, and this jangles and sways with feisty bravado. ‘Linger’ is a dawdling piano daub and mottled vocal dirge, but then comes the most obvious example where a re-think is called for.
‘In A Moment’ covers a death following a riding accident and is very attractive, despite him coaxing the words into fitting the melody. While relating to us, or rather singing to the dead loved one, there is no change in inflection when reaching the actual death, or declaring love. ‘Here Comes My Love’ is then a nicely miserable ending for what is an odd collection.
Johnny’s clear vocal limitations are no handicap to him whatsoever, because he can demand more of the musical arrangements, which can then bring the best out of him. By highlighting him so brightly they leave him staring at headlights, throat gone dry. He needs to compete with dark echoes and a sense of dread created in a studio, or pounding along atop some boisterous blare.
He does have something about him which conveys a sense of soul and there is much on this record to admire, and to take interest in, but there is also serious lack of thought about what sounds best help the songs come to life.
ONLY MY NAME REMAINS
STILL LIKE STRANGERS
HEY MR DJ
THE DEVIL’S LYING INSIDE
IN A MOMENT
HERE COMES MY LOVE
Winter in June
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
YEAAAH!! Woo. Boy, oh boy. Kiuas sure knows how to write high energy, tremendously exciting power-prog. These guys are really spectacularly adept at crafting music that will propel you into action. It’s practically impossible to sit still while listening to Winter in June, which is an all-too-short teaser MCD. Rarely will a mini-release get me all fired up to hear the full album, but this one really did the job. I can’t wait. Yow!
What has me so excited? Well, Kiuas is comprised of excellent musicians playing dynamic and interesting songs with ferocious abandon. Vocalist Ilja Jalkanen is the catalyst that ignites the rest of the band. His delivery is wildly bombastic, sounding like an amped up Zak Stevens (formerly of Savatage and Circle II Circle). He shows a nice range of intensity, going from smooth balladry to a hair raising gruff bellow. Just when you think his yell-o-meter has topped out, he kicks it up another notch and slams the musical accelerator to the floor. This guy has a set of pipes on him, let me tell you.
The rest of the band keeps up admirably with a brand of keyboard laced power-prog that would be standard-issue if not for a slight scandanavian tinge of flavor. Even without the ethnic additives, the song arrangements would remain well written and catchy, which is more than I can say for most bands. They hold to a familiar formula, but play with such aplomb that I cannot fault them in the least. Between Jalkanen’s vocals, Mikko Salovaara’s nimble guitar solos, and some nifty bass fills here and there, you won’t find a dull moment on this MCD.
Kiuas sounds more like an adrenaline-pumped relative of Savatage than anything else, but there is a healthy resemblance to modern Germanic powermetal there as well. Fans of either are strongly advised to seek this tantalizing taste of Kiuas’s music out. It may only last a scant twenty two minutes, but you’ll be hard pressed to stop after just one time through. WHAM! I’m still excited. I’m going to listen to it again now, if you don’t mind.
01.) Winter in June
02.) Warrior Soul
03.) Song for the Fells
04.) Across the Snows
Markku Näreneva - drums
Teemu Tuominen - bass
Ilja Jalkanen - vocals
Mikko "Ilmarinen" Salovaara - guitar
Atte Tanskanen - keys
Kiuas Official Site:
The End Records (US):
Rage Of Achilles Records:
THE LAST DAYS OF JESUS
ALIEN ROAD (Strobelight)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
The Last Days Of Jesus have a nutter at the helm, there is no doubt about that, but you have to persevere for only a very short time before you start to revel in their madness, because it is quaint and kitsch, where everything bulges with distended charisma and the songs aren’t bad either, being a hotchpotch of everything from rockabilly through punk to Goth and maybe most obviously, updated Jacques Brel turned on his head and kicked about relentlessly. It is like Horror Film cheek, turned chic.
‘Welcome To Earth (intro)’ is groaning drivel over which skittery punkabilly is slopped, and when the early Blondie-style organ is joining in the chorus becomes chirpy and memorable. It’s got a punk drag to it, and little off-kilter bursts of energy to make a good early impression. ‘Everyday Is Halloween’ is rockabilly drums going mad, and this could be those Cartoons people (remember ‘Witch Doctor’ with its “Ooh, eeh, ooh, ah, ah, ting, tang, walla, walla, bing, bang”?) having a punk sneer. Guns ‘n’ Drums ‘n’ March ‘n’ Fun’ is slower and enticing with big bass and creepy vocal capers. ‘Fear, Gunshot…Then The Bliss’ is android teasing with sleazy guitar and pecking synth. ‘Looter Do-Gooder’ sees the organ wrap its arm around a drum-stoked caper and carts it around in a drooling waltz, ‘Merry-Go-Round’ is the sound of a scary creature, like the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
‘Death Song’ gets the organ to flesh it out and bring us the big, slobbering attack where the guitar chops up and down to put a leering step to the rhythm, and the vocals hold back to let the music bubble effectively. It is never a question of this being some perky exercise to allow a character to dominate, this is a strange and combative unit. The thin guitar and spooky synth wash of ‘Connected Or Infected’, with some scooped out drums, makes the impact even better. ‘Paranoid Humanoid’ is absurdly jolly, and manages to maintain some attacking quality because the guitar holds everyone in place, then produces a more orthodox backing in ‘Communication’ for clattering percussion and sedate singing as they lurch around, then finally crack like idiots.
This is a curious hybrid of most modern forms with attitude and these weirdly winsome personality touches. Peculiar yes, and silly beyond reason, yet tastefully and imaginatively done.
WELCOME TO EARTH
EVERYDAY IS HALLOWEEN
GUNS N DRUMS N MACH N FUN
FEAR, GUNSHOT…THEN THE BLISS
LIFE IN LINES
CONNECTED OR INFECTED
COMMUNICATION (BETWEEN THE RED WALLS)
ALIEN DOMESTIC HUMANOID SICK
Vindication And Contempt
~reviewed by Goat
First I would like to say, “Bobby LaBonte, Marvin Martian, Death Metal/Grunge: LongSleeve black Band T-shirt, cammo shorts/black jeans, Gripfast/Hi-top Converse, tattoos, etc.”.
"Why?" you ask, "Would you say such a thing?"
‘Liner notes here begin: “We live in a nation where the majority of the population define themselves and demonstrate their principles by their favorite stock car racer, Looney Tunes character, and sub-fad of clothing they wear. All hail mini-van-Wal-Mart-America.”
And by the way. It’s an extended-cab Chevy. Not a mini-van. The mini-van wore out terminally at 206,000 miles, so we had to get a new set of wheels. The mini-van is up on blocks out by the barn, with Rye growing up through the wheel wells.
There. I'm "Out". Wal-Mart-American Pride.
(Before anyone writes to tell me how stupid I am, and how Wal-Mart is part of the vast Evil Conspiracy, I know that already. I also know that my Grandfather’s General Store was put out of business by the likes of ‘em. So yeah. I know already.)
These liner notes are pretty darned funny tho’. Jibes at “Two-bit hobbyists” and such. ‘Last person I heard say that was James Mason, if I remember correctly. Not the Boy-From-Brazil-James-Mason. The *other* one.
Now. To the music which accompanies the liner notes:
Brilliant. Absolutely jaw-droppingly hands-down brilliant. If you like Arditi, Puissance, Blood Axis, Days Of The Trumpet Call, Von Thronstahl, Scorpion Wind, etc., then you cannot be displeased with these recordings.
If you’re not familiar with the bands mentioned, then I think the music here would best be described as majestic militaristic solemn orchestrations. Elegant, resounding, classical, ambient. Think Roman Art meets the Quake Soundtrack. Or Mithraism marching on the Dark Side Of The Moon. Splendour in dung, searching for Light. Brutal. Achingly beautiful.
If Classical Greek architecture tugs at your heart. If the Futurists are some of your favorite people. If you enjoy stark electronics and black leather baroque. If you like pina cola... Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
Extremely Highly Recommended.
2.) No One Will Find Them
3.) A Place Of Refuge, A Test Of Commitment
4.) You Have No Choice
5.) Locked Down Solid
6.) Unknown Command
7.) Fluctuating Tensile Strength
Run Time: 62:10
(This is an exquisite website with gorgeous graphics/artwork and fantastically reasonable prices. I was compelled by the excellence of this (Vindication And Contempt) recording to immediately purchase several CDs from the catalog.)
Related websites you may
Our Life Through Your Death
~reviewed by Goat
I remember the first time I saw hell. It was a huge factory, lit from below in an otherworldly orange glow. Steam belched all around the parapets and silos. Steel ladders climbed to nowhere, and the bottom rungs were set unreachably high. Rumbles and clangs filled my eyes, my ears, and my nostrils. I was terrified. My mother said I wouldn’t stop screaming for hours. The factory was a sugar refinery. I was three years old.
LAW’s “Our Life Through Your Death” is hell. Yawning, and terrible. Where “Vindication and Contempt” contained what I felt was a stark, metallic symphony of sorts, “Our Life Through Your Death” sounds for all the world like the groaning metal skeleton of a dying Trojan Horse.
The two albums have a similar atmosphere, but feel so different emotionally. Where “Vindication and Contempt” made me think of the spirit of Blood Axis and Arditi, (albeit from a more purely mechanized perspective,) I don’t even know what to compare “Our Life Through Your Death” to. Except hell. The album is almost incomprehensibly bleak. There was a majestic warmth and resplendence to “V&C”; with “OLTYD”, there is no warmth. There is nothing to hope for. If the last track, “It Is Beyond Us Now” is not the Sound of the Falling of the Kingdom of Iron and Clay, I don’t know what is. The End, The End, The End...
1.) Vision Flashes To Red
2.) Forged Motion
4.) Your Body Is Immobilized
5.) Unseen Existence
6.) Scars Of Isolation
7.) Betrayal Of The Flesh
8.) 100 Degrees
9.) It Is Beyond Us Now
Please visit Triumvirate
for this and other excellent CDs:
LES BATON ROUGE
MY BODY, THE PISTOL (Elevator Music)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer
What Goth hasn’t got, which exists elsewhere, is neuroses given form in urgent, unctuous outpourings of musical fury. Nobody really lets rip. They expound, they exert themselves, frequently in an exciting splurges, but it’s not that raison d’etre. With Punk and Post-Punk, on the other hand, you get the roaring.
So here’s a Portuguese band, based in Berlin, who tour a lot and sound authentically pissed off and snappy. They start off reminding me of the Mo-Dettes with their naïve and enchantingly plain vocals which rub nicely up against some thin, needling guitar. This leads to mewling rage and when it gets stern you can almost imagine Nina Hagen berating Crass at a shoddy rehearsal.
After that you get the variety, from the chanty chorus amid rolling madness of ‘Traffic Trail’, the cartoon Punk (think Rezillos) in ‘Somersault’ and then while they could be a dour passions in the deeper, slower ‘Burning Desire’ you realise they can actually be rather dull. ‘Venus Girdle’ sees the shrill ranting vocals quite twisted with creepier music, featuring a concertinaed rhythm and busy guitar, just as ‘Easy Pleasure’ is a complete mess with bumpy drums and overwrought singing. Quite ghastly. ‘Behind That Body’ has touchy guitar which loses it on a crappy solo later, and ‘Maria Lamas’ shows they’re barely convincing when pretty. ‘Women In Control’ is a shambles and that’s because most of these bands, especially those influenced by Riot Grrrl haven’t got a clue about how to create memorable melodies. ‘Scarlet Whore’ shows them still toying with known Punk stereotypes, coming on all Hagar The Womb, being disciplined but shabby anarcho funsters, and then they dribble out with ‘Speaks Through My Body’.
Compared to the greats they’re nowhere in sight, but for people who don’t know much about this, and stumble across it must sound so brilliant and full of life.
BEHIND THAT BODY
WOMEN IN CONTROL
SPEAKS THROUGH MY BODY