Based in Pittsburgh, PA, AlterCulture Records is the brain child of Chris and Jason Sevanick. A visit to their website reveals that AlterCulture is "a small independent record label, intent on releasing quality electronic music, promoting social justice, and introducing prospectives to challenge people to think critically about the world around them." Hence it comes as no surprise to find that they've put out such an intelligent, engaging compilation.
Typically, record label samplers offer a paltry one song from a variety of artists, leaving listeners with a only a vague idea of what the band's sound is. Distention is unique in that it offers an average of three songs from each artist, providing a comprehensive look at their musical strengths and styles. The result is a very satisfying listening experience.
There are five bands featured on Distention; Mindless Faith, Raudive Voices, Gears Slowly Grinding, The Unquiet Void and Vivid Liquid.
Mindless Faith are holdovers from that fertile period of late-80's electronic music, when industrial still had dark beautiful rhythms underlying the beats. The vocals are reminiscent of the late, lamented Skinny Puppy without being cliched or derivative. The crunchy beats of "Rat Race" kick off the compilation in fine style, while the slower, more melodic "Strained" shows us the flipside of the band's style. "All These Years" is pure dance floor energy; solid beats ricochet back and forth while the raw, occasionally electronically enhanced, vocals race through the corridors of sound, careering to a stunning, satisfying halt. Deep chords lead us into the frantic hell of "Prodigy", an angry, intense song that leaves the listener drained, as if in the wake of a catharsis.
Raudive Voices are all over the map musically. They have talent to spare, but seem to be a bit unsure as which musical styles they want to concentrate on. There's nothing wrong with exploring a variety of styles, but Raudive Voices switch styles, often within the same song, too abruptly. Of their three tracks on Distention, the first one, "Flicker", is the most compelling. Rhythmic string effects sweep into staticky noise, which evens out to make space for the plangent vocals. The other tracks. "Accused" and "Dessau", are both rather conventional industrial numbers with the occasional ambient sound effect thrown in for variety.
Gears Slowly Grinding is a side project of Mindless Faith. Gone are the heavy beats and distorted vocals of the latter; this project is all about sonic texture. Layers and waves of ambient sound mingle with haunting female vocals on "Induce", a song that reminds me very much of Chris and Cosey. "Delusion" is heavier, and sinister. Indistinct voices whisper and chatter as a piano plays quietly in the background. Static rises and dies, the voices increase, and still the piano plays through until the end.
The Unquiet Void are a band I had encountered on a previous compilation, and I was delighted to find three more tracks included here. To listen to this band is to sink into a sleep full of beautiful, disturbing dreams. The tracks (Breathing Liquid Breath, The Cube of Bondage and A Constant Looming Uncertainty) defy individual description. Together, they form a aural landscape full of peaks and valleys. The melodies and rhythms are flawless, deep and rich without being melodramatic, and full of subtle effects that makes the difference between monotony and captivation. Perfect late night music to meditate to.
Vivid Liquid is the solo project of label owner Chris Sevanick. Less sweeping than The Unquiet Void, the ambient sounds of Vivid Liquid are grandiose nonetheless. A steady drum beat anchors "The Tear" as higher pitched keyboard effects percolate slowly, rising to wonderful heights. Churning chords drive "Neuronaut" forward into what sounds like a lugubrious Sunday mass, a fitting end to this impressive compilation.
last track is a CD ROM track that I can't play because it doesn't run on
The purpose of record label compilations to convince as much as it is to entertain. Distention fulfills both with ease, and I will be very surprised if this comp does not garner increased sales for the very worthy artists included therein.
3-All These Years
10-Breathing Liquid Breath
11-The Cube of Bondage
12-A Constant Looming Uncertainty
360 Meyran Avenue, 1st Flr.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
~reviewed by Steph
Remember when listening to music felt dangerous? Like many music reviewers, I have been listening to music for so long that I sometimes run the risk of becoming jaded, of thinking that I've heard it all. Bands like Acts Magdalena, who hail from New York City, remind me of the savage power of the human voice when melded with stirring, primitive guitar strains.
Every review of Acts Magdalena speaks with awe, and not a little fear, of singer Christian Merry's unique vocal style. Think PJ Harvey with her vocal chords ripped raw, or even more appropriately, Diamanda Galas with all her force unleashed. Christian herself calls their style etherkore.
The bands debut CD teases us with four songs that showcase not only the range of Christian's voice, but the bass guitar skills of her bantam and co-songwriter Rick Van Benschoten.
"Elliptical Mind's Eye" starts with slow organ note made on Rick's Bass, like a beginning of a mass, and Christian's deep voice rises over it at a steady pace until three quarters of the way through the song, when without warning, her voice descends into a savage growl that sounds barely human.
"The Only Thing" is a song that speaks of a love that feels more like menace as Christian's voice slinks between the guitar chords, inviting the listener to "Tarry longer dear/haven't got a thing to fear".
"Bullet" has a more conventional rock structure than the other songs, but it works well with the band's heavy sound. This time we're barely one minute into the song before Christian is snarling her contempt of "big strong men" with their "fucking guns".
The band let up on us a bit at the end with the haunting ballad "Wasteland", where swampy guitar chords simmer gently in the background as Christian muses sadly on the ephemeral nature of love.
A disturbing, edgy debut from a band that should be turning heads very soon.
1. Elliptical Mind's Eye
2. The Only Thing
Christian Merry - vocals, lyrics, co-primary songwriter
Rick Van Benschoten - fretless bass, co-primary songwriter, producer
Brandon Miller - Drums and percussion
Dave McConnell - Guitar
#7-500 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10009
~reviewed by Kirin
The first few tracks seem harmless enough. Relaxing, even. It's just the calm before the evisceration. "Last Transmission", about 14 minutes into it, is when you begin to realise that no, you probably will not escape, and yes, this music intends to use you for its pleasure, and toss you aside. It's a chilling feeling really, to be so taken, and so enamoured, by something so insidiously cold, and so beautifully serrated. I was suprised to find, within all this elegant horror, the name Sarah Bradshaw, of Sol Invictus. She contribues cello to "Rotunda." Also appearing, but not quite so shocking, given the context, is Lydia Lunch. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Also perfect is the fact that David Knight, founder of Arkkon, has done guitar work for Danielle Dax on several of her albums. There is a darkness about this album that chills one to the marrow. It is glorious.
-Crimes Against Nature
P.O. Box 83296
Portland, OR 97283
~reviewed by Edwin Somnambulist
Konspirosphere is this Houston-based band's second release. And for the most part, I can take it or leave it. True, there is some neat sampling going on, and every so often something in it catches my attention, but for the most part, the way the music is executed doesn't really mesh with my tastes. I write this review for a few reasons.
First of all, the CD features the vocals of Gitane DeMone on one of the tracks. DeMone's recent full tour of North America is pretty spectacular from what I hear, and while she was scheduled to touch down here in Calgary, apparently she had some trouble getting across the border into Canada.
Regardless, the track that she does vocals on is one of the better on the album, in my opinion. "Sentinel", and "Atlantis" as well, make the disc worth owning. This is my second point about the disc. The slow, plodding, trippy sounds of these tracks, with deep, full male vocals are absolutely wonderful, and very easily fall into the category of dance-industrial that has been sweeping the genre these past few years. DeMone's sultry vocals are an especially poignant juxtaposition on "Sentinel."
While the rest of the disc perhaps leans too heavily towards metal-industrial for my tastes, I'm quite sure that fans of that sort of music would really enjoy this album. There is a lot of interesting sampling. Perhaps Mike Jensen's KMFDM days were an influence on the sound of some of this album.
5. Lets Play God
8. Apocalypse 13
11. Dark Paradise
Ken Gerhard - Vocals, Rhythm Programmes, Synthesizers
Kirk Graham - Various Analogue + Digital Devices
Alexei V. Zaitsev - Programming, Keyboards
Chris O - Guitars
reverend TiG - Keyboards, Samples, Voices
Gitane DeMone - Backing vocals on "Sentinel"
Mike Jensen - Guitars on "Armageddon"
smail: 810 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77006
Beneath The Skin
~reviewed by Wolf
For this issue we interviewed kaRIN and Statik, the talented duo responsible for the extraordinary music of Collide. For their history and biographical information I refer you to said interview, so that I can start my review of their excellent debut album right away.
It's close to 4 years old already, but Beneath The Skin's sound is certainly not out-dated. For a first introduction to Collide it is the best place to start, since it illustrates in detail the talents of both kaRIN (vocals and lyrics) and Statik (music).
The most remarkable aspect of Collide's music is the symbiosis of vocals and sounds. It's not just kaRIN singing verse-chorus-verse-chorus, but giving her voice to the arrangements as if it were a delicate part in Statik's arsenal of equipment. Her whispers and hymns carefully blend with the compositions, giving Collide a unique and very distinct sound of their own. I've literally played this cd hundres of times and still discover the subtle addition of her voice in new places.
Statik's compositions work the same away; subtleties and miniscule details abound, keeping each song interesting no matter how often it is played. His songwriting is unconventional, to say the least. Skillfully he avoids predictable patterns and repetition, which is also one of the reasons why the album is so diverse. It contains up-temp industrial assaults, ethereal intimacy, a swirling ballad and a handful of tracks that ascend all definition.
"Violet's Dance" starts off the cd with kaRIN's haunting voice proving itself instantly as a chaos of thundering percussion is unleashed. The titletrack features a slower, more hypnotizing bassline, slowly growing into a chorus of kaRIN's angelic hymns contradicted by distortion and crashing sounds. Most surprising in this track is the way it picks up again after appearing to have ended.
"Falling Up" is a wild, growing monster of guitars, choirs and, towards the end, violent percussion, whereas "Deep" presents a more pop-ballad feel with an excellent example of kaRIN's minimal, poetic lyrics. ("Their Skin " single features a beautiful acoustic version of this song.)
Every song offers something new; the beautiful melancholy of Black, raw guitars and infectious percussion on Strange, followed by my personal favorite, "Dreams and Illusions". This song can bring me to tears, kaRIN's voice present in a multitude of ways and carried by beautifully sad melodies. It could've been an hour long without ever losing any of its impact.
"Have Faith" is as positive and uplifting as the title suggests, reaching its most serene moment at the beautiful breakdown.. Next up is "Pandora's Box", wonderfully strange with its slow and atmospherical composition of sounds, but in its weirdness no match for the almost ethereal 95&7. Barely two and a half minutes of sparse sounds and kaRIN mysteriously singing what almost sounds like an ancient invocation.
Closing off the cd are two remixes (more of which can be found on Collide's remix cd Distort) by Christ Analogue, harshly reshaping "Deep", and none other than Cevin Key who provides a long and hypnotic version of "Beneath The Skin".
Excellent, as always.
I can not recommend this cd highly enough. If you're at all interested in high-quality, innovative industrial/electronics and beautiful female vocals then do yourself a favor and check out this cd. Statik is a master of electronics and production, whereas kaRIN has one of the most heavenly and capable voices I've ever heard. This cd ranks high in my favorites of all time and I truly hope that Collide will find a good new label soon, they deserve it. I can't wait to see what's up next for them.
1. Violet's Dance
2. Beneath The Skin
3. Falling Up
7. Dreams & Illusions
8. Have Faith
9. Pandora's Box
11. Deep (Christ Analogue remix)
12. Beneath The Skin (Subconscious remix by Cevin Key)
Official web site: http://www.collide.net
United States Of Mind
~reviewed by Matthew
Though not as dark and intense as I had hoped, or as hard as what I’ve heard from their previous releases such as “Europa,” I very much enjoyed this CD. Smooth, well produced, and chalk full of floor stomping synth pop hits. Covenant is one of the ‘good’ synth pop bands, as I jokingly refer to the scene I have once hated but now have grown to love.
“Like Tears And Rain” opens the disc, with a beat that is reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” I know, I know, but it’s the first thing I thought when I heard it. The song then of course takes on a course of its own, with the lovely chorus “Every man I ever knew, every woman I ever touched is gone/everything I ever touched, everything I ever had has died.” This opening track is one of the strongest and best tracks of the album, and is a good example of the rest of the material in store on the disc.
“No Man’s Land” is a hard-hitting, techno song that at first I disliked, but it eventually grew on me after a few listens. “Afterhours” and “One World In The Sky” however, never grew on me. A bit too catchy and perky for my tastes. The lyrics are far from happy and come across as quite masochistic, but these two are my least favourite tracks, though most synth pop fans will love them. “Helicopter” is a great track, with cool vocal effects and more of a trancey mid-paced groove, so it stands out a lot. “Tour De Force” is the album’ s first single and the strongest track on the disc. A classic dance floor masterpiece! “Unforgiven” was another favourite of mine, with a swingy beat and swelling ghost choirs to set the tone. There are several standout tracks, even a few slower tracks like “Humility” and “Still Life,” but mostly catchy and upbeat songs in the vein of “Dead Stars” which many of you are already probably familiar with.
I don’t know if it is just me or not, but I find most of the leading synth pop bands to be responsible for some of the most melancholic, haunting, and moving melodies in the music scene today. Covenant are by far one of the best acts out there today, and though I think many already realize this, there may be a few stragglers out there that have yet to discover them.
1.) Like Tears In Rain
2.) No Man’s Land
5.) Tour De Force
8.) Dead Stars (version)
9.) One World In The Sky
10.) Still Life
11.) You Can Make Your Own Music
Book Of Shadows
~reviewed by Matthew
I feel like a real bastard this issue. Oh well, Coven 13 is what I guess you could call New Age Pagan Pop?! A duo of Wiccan musicians playing a very catchy, accessible style of music, more akin to classic rock in my honest opinion. Teisan is a great vocalist, very powerful and clear vocals characterize his voice, and there are some very sentimental (yet sappy) keyboard and guitar work. This is simply not dark enough for me. I know that Wiccans aren’t exactly known as the most intimidating members of the occult community but damn, this is just simply disappointing coming from a someone who is reputed to perform seances and such during Hallowe’en.
The press release I received with this is a newspaper clipping from a Massachusetts newspaper talking about the events that Teisan organizes annually for Hallowe’en festivals. So I assume, that you are meant to KNOW these guys are witches, they are from Salem, and they can communicate with the dead? Ok, but this doesn’t set us up for music falling a few steps short of Michael Bolton on a rainy day?
Well, maybe that was harsh, but really, this is very accessible and near to being adult contemporary music. I think what has happened over the past few years is that Wicca is slowly starting to become both an accepted religion as well as a cultural phenomenon. I am not poking fun at this, because I am almost sure this band practices what they preach. However, I can’t help but feel there is a bit of sensationalism and hopes to sell this band with their practices. It’s almost as bad as those early 90’s Christian death metal bands!
But seriously, here is the good point for Wiccans: This is a positive, beautiful, and well-written album. Catchy, with great hooks, sweet lyrics, and I think if the ‘unenlightened’ were to here it, it would very much help dispel the negative misunderstandings about the religion. That is where I give this band some serious credit. But on a musical level, call me narrow-minded but I like when witches are evil. I like occult oriented music to be eerie and scare the hell out of me. There is something unnerving and chilling about bands like the Nephilim, Current 93, Endura, and some of the more intellectual black/death metal acts that use the occult for their lyrical inspiration and compose music for meditation purposes.
Please excuse my tangent, but just sharing my viewpoint. This is sincerely, beautiful and catchy music that will appear to a vast audience but not something I myself would chose to listen to on a regular basis.
1.) Carnival Ride
2.) Fallen Angels
5.) Book Of Shadows
6.) And Oh, How I’ve Wanted You
7.) Ophelia’s Lament
9.) Tell Me
10.) In Heaven
11.) Hold On
12.) This I Know
13.) I’ll Be Watching You
Teisen Russel & Amanda Adams
203 Washington Street
Salem, MA 01970
~reviewed by Edwin Somnambulist
Since it's always been a fantasy of mine to die beneath many bodies all clad in black, I put forth the following review of the Cure's new album, Bloodflowers.
I did not like it. Not one bit.
And I voice my opinion quite insipidly on my March 14th radio show. The Real Audio version of which is available on http://www.blitter.com/~isn/
I must state first that I am a huge fan of the Cure's early material. Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds, and Faith are by far my favourite albums, and Faith has sat on my record player for far longer than any other album I own. I love the primitive sound that they used to exude: the post-punk minimalism of music made without any care for "what sounds correct" or "making the most beautiful sounding music." They were kids trying to transmit an emotion to their devoted listening audience, and I think what they were trying to say came across loud and clear.
So I'm in a minority in saying that I don't like the Cure's newer material. In my opinion, the band soared downhill at a breakneck pace after Laurence Tolhurst was unceremoniously booted by Smith. Something happened in the post Lol days, and in my opinion, the band completely lost its focus.
And the marketing gimmick of the album being part of a trilogy with Pornography and Disintegration makes me wonder, as Bloodflowers sounds like Wish to me.
Of course, that is not to say that if the Cure's tour comes anywhere near here, you won't find me vying for front row tickets. Missing a show like this would be silly.
We Have Arrived
~reviewed by Kirin
To really appreciate this CD, you must take into account that it was first released in 1985. Yeah. 1985. Los Angeles. The Rainbow Bar and Grill was still populated by men in tight pants with very big hair. I mean, yeah, Alice Cooper still hung out, but the young guys having sex with bimbos in the hallway upstairs were the boys in white leather with hair like poodles. Taken in this context, one can appreciate that Dark Angel's "We Have Arrived" turned a lot of people's heads inside out. It was a heady time, what with Metallica killing 'em all and Slayer haunting the chapel. These buggers were doing all the things that a metal band who "wanted to make it big" shouldn't be doing. And, to their credit, Dark Angel were out there doing all the "wrong" things right up there with the rest of those brilliant assholes we came to love and adore. "We Have Arrived" is a thrashing blend of metal, punk, and attitude just like the Slayer and Metallica albums mentioned above. If alterna-c-rap metal is really starting to piss you off, and you're already feeling sad about the lineup that seems to be coming together for Ozzfest again this year, you'll feel much better when you throw *this* baby in the CD player!
-We Have Arrived
-Falling From the Sky
-Welcome to the Slaughterhouse
-Hell's On It's Knees
P.O. Box 5051
Downey, CA 90241
Gears Slowly Grinding
The Unquiet Void
~reviewed by Admortem
Jasin and Chris Sevanick of Mindless Faith wrote and produced their own album, Silence, released in 1996. The songs that appear on this compilation are taken from their forthcoming album, "Manifest Destiny." The guys also own their own record label, AlterCulture Records, which they have used to distribute their CDs and experiment with side projects. One of these projects, Mindless Faith formed in August 1995. They have opened for bands such as Sister Machine Gun, Spahn Ranch, Switchblade Symphony, Cubanate, and Psychotica.
Dark and danceable with coherent lyrics, Mindless Faith is one of the more intelligent industrial bands of the music scene today. Their words actually say something, and aren't so distorted that they cease to be vocals. This guy is actually singing, and combined with their mastery of programming dynamic backgrounds, their sound is doubtlessly clubworthy and never monotonous.
Raudive Voices came about in 1993, as Jason Moyer's musical outlet "for ideas that were inappropriate and/or impossible to recreate live with the punk band he had been singing with at the time." His influences are listed as Skinny Puppy, the Legendary Pink Dots, Gary Numan, Syd Barrett, Terry Riley, and Arnold Schoenberg, and most importantly the writings of parapsychologist Konstantin Raudive, "detailing his attempts at using magnetic reel-to-reel tape as a medium for communication with the dead." With influences like that, how can one help but be curious? The three tracks on Distention are taken from their release entitled "Re: Cycles" in reference to their first release, Cycles. They feature instrumental experimentation combined with programmed alluring soundscapes and vocal distortion. An interesting sound, soothing yet distracting. They also have created the typical NIN style industrial in some songs, but not all.
Gears Slowly Grinding is a new side-project from Mindless Faith that concentrates on "fusing dark melodic grooves with an experimental and abrasive edge." The two tracks on this compilation are demos of this new side project.
Vivid Liquid is the solo project of Chris Sevanick from Mindless Faith. The music is "heavily influenced by Chris's own interest in meditation and mind expansion" which is apparent when listening to these tracks. Ambient groove, repetitious electronic sounds, undisturbing and gentle, Vivid Liquid is a very fitting name for this project.
The Unquiet Void is the solo project of Jason Wallach. Although ideas for it began as early as 1989 when he was only 15 years old, the first couple years were spent writing material on a keyboard in the basement of his parents' home. In my opinion, The Unquiet Void is by far the best band on the compilation. Their song, "Breathing Liquid Breath" (on this compilation, a club remix version) reminds me a little of the eeriness of Dracula, but it also has a danceable beat that does not interfere with the sheer drama of the song. They posses a gothic sound, not in a traditional "goth" music sense, but rather in the darkest, most beautiful sense of the word. The Unquiet Void demonstrates a maturity and emotional sense that not many industrial or electronic based bands have been able to master.
1. Rat Race
3. All These Years
7. Dessau #
10. Breathing Liquid Breath
11. The Cube of Bondage
12. A Constant Looming Uncertainty
13. The Tear
SnailMail: AlterCulture Records, 360 Meyran Ave. 1st Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15123
Song of the Beautiful Wanton
~reviewed by Kirin
Through the first five songs of this disc, the jury was still out on whether or not I liked it. There was something sweet and sincere about it, that made me _want_ to like it, but I wasn't yet convinced. Then came track six, "Sorrow Loves Yr Laughter." Literally, tears came. I don't know why. Something clicked. Something dropped. Something fell right in place, and now they have me compleatly. Martyn Bates' voice, through the first five tracks, was actually irritating me a little. Or, I wished it would, because I was afraid of how very sweet, and how very fragile it was. Track six did me in, and after that, the music and Martyn's voice filled my head in ways that were both ecstatic and overwhelming. What began as an album that I felt sure I would compare to Muslimgauze meets Dead Can Dance meets This Mortal Coil, has turned into something genuinely original and beyond comparisons. Yes, there are elements that could be associated with those bands, but really, there is a world of sound here that comes from nowhere else, and should not be vulgarised by petty comparisons to all that has gone before it. Track 8, "Mysterious Traffic" is a perfect example. Oddly enough, it made me think "Jimi Hendrix would have loved this," and THEN I saw the track title. Eyeless In Gaza obviously possess uncommon talents. Conjurers is what they are. Call them musicians if you like, but even just one listen will convince you that there is something _else_ going on here. Something like the powerful fragility of David Tibet. Something like a moth's great, soft, furious wings. Beautiful and terrible and tender; too tender, for any more words.
-Among The Blue Flowers And The Yellow
-One Light Then
-Sorrow Loves Yr Laughter
-Lullay My Liking
-Old And Cold And Full Of Ghosts
-The Lovely Wanton
-I Will Give My Love An Apple
P.O. Box 3
P.O. Box 83296
Portland, OR 97283
~reviewed by Matthew
One of the most unique and fresh voices in the atmospheric metal genre came from The Gathering, with their 3rd release “Mandylion” in 1995. With the addition of new female vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen, the band reapproached their sound to compliment her powerful voice. They melded Floydian atmospheres with New Age elements in the vein of later Dead Can Dance and expanded upon their epic metallic roots to yield some of the most highly acclaimed and world-renowned music of the past decade within this genre.
With their fifth full length double CD, “How To Measure A Planet?,” not only had the band released yet another truly stunning work of avant-garde sentiments, The Gathering embarked upon an extensive tour in support of their new material and were finally able to make it over to American shores.
The year 2000 marks over 10 years that the band has been together, and also the release of ‘Superheat,” the bands first official live release. With this release, the desperate energy of the band’s live performance is accurately represented with a solid track list and a delightfully clear, resonant production. The material of this live album is mostly gathered from the “How To Measure…” album but there are a couple tracks from the “Nighttime Birds” and “Mandylion” albums as well. The earlier material stands out much more live than the newer material , mainly because it is more upbeat and guitar driven. The closing track, “Sand & Mercury” is an absolutely breathtaking masterpiece. The song originally appeared on the “Mandylion” album and has always been one of my favourites, but the rendition that appears on this release is truly extraordinary.
With all this in mind, my only complaint is that there were no tracks from the debut album “Always” included in the set. That classic album was much darker and heavier, and more akin to doom/ death metal, but still had a gorgeous epic and melancholic tone to it. I always wanted to hear a few of those songs rearranged for Anneke to sing with her clear voice as opposed to the gutteral male vocals that appeared on that album. Supposedly, they do occasionally incorporate a few songs from this album into their live set but unfortunately, there were none on this live CD and I would think that they would have being that it is a retrospective of the band live. Just a thought from an old school fan of the band. Most likely they just want to leave behind those days and move forward, and if they continue in the vein they are, fans will surely be happy.
This is a great CD for fans who missed them on their tour or for those who would like to relive the performance which surely rings loud in your memory if they were as good as when I saw them in Cleveland last summer. But also, this is a good retrospective for those of you who are curious about this band and haven’t heard them yet. “Superheat” contains some of the band’s strongest material and will surely impress fans of atmospheric gothic metal as well as fans of emotional alternative.
1.) The Big Sleep
2.) On Most Surfaces
3.) Probably Built In The Fifties
4.) Liberty Bell
6.) Rescue Me
7.) Strange Machines
8.) Nighttime Birds
9.) My Electricity
10.) Sand And Mercury
11.) Eleanor (CD-ROM Track)
Anneke Van Giersbergen – vocals
Rene Rutten – guitars
Hugo Prinsen Gaerligs – bass
Frank Boeijen – keyboards
Hans Rutten – drums
5604 EB Eindhoven
~ reviewed by Vassago*
Jessica's Crime is a pleasant surprise for all gothic rock fans. Psychosemantic was originally recorded between the years 1997 and 1998 at Hot House Studios in Dallas, Texas as the band's promo CD, not as a formal release. Too bad for these guys that no company has yet shown interest on them. They play gothic rock with hard rhythm guitars - danceable sometimes and imposing where needed, powerful base and drum machine beats making this a wonderful combination of both the instrumentals or with Aaron Bishop's vocals. It is a good and mature piece of work. The only negative aspect is the production of the CD, but even this is not so annoying. There are some parts that I think should sound cleaner - parts that are covered with a massive noise but this is not the band's fault. I believe that Jessica's Crime deserves a chance and I am looking forward to hearing new work. Here are the very best moments of the CD:
"Rumors" is the opening song - instrumental in its structure and melodic in its sound, a powerful and good introduction to the CD. "She" starts with rhythm base and drums, with guitars entering after a while, making the song very danceable from the first moments. This is the first time you hear Aaron's vocals and I can guarantee you that you wont be disappointed with his performance, in fact you will be quite impressed. "Angel" may be the theme of the album with fantastic guitar melodies following the song from the start to the end, and "Ride" has a similar feel and attitude as "She". Lend your attention to a group that deserves a lot of compliments and hope for them to get the recognition they deserve in the future.
Hail to Heaven
Who do you love?
The Devil's Son
Aaron Bishop: email@example.com
~reviewed by Kirin
<sigh> I'm going to say a sacrilegious thing, and I don't enjoy saying such things, but here I go. May the pink dot gods forgive me, please. Erm, so, for a long time, a lot of what I hear coming from Edward Ka-spel seems a lot like, (and I whisper as I say this,) wanking. There is this fine line between minimalism out of some sort of laziness or boredom with oneself and one's work, and between the artistic minimalism of exquisite self control and fervent planning. I get this strange, awful, sick, creeping feeling in my belly, that Edward Ka-spel needs to go on holiday for a while, or do something that really thrills him to the point of shrieking, or... I don't know what, but the last few releases have seemed sadly uninspired. The nice thing, I know, is that Edward has earned the right to have some "off" albums and some personal dalliances that are to and for his own consciousness. This is fine. In fact, I'm quite sure that avid, gravid, rabid, Dots and Ka-spel fans will enjoy this album. I, however, do not consider myself such a Dots or Ka-spel fan that I'm amused by these recordings. This just makes me miss the old Dots stuff, and, yes, I do know that my statement is both terrible and arrogant, and *I* couldn't make music like Edward does, even on his WORST days, so who am I to say; all this apology is really just because I admire Edward Ka-spel greatly, but if one of you had some money in your paw, and you asked me what you should buy, I would have to lie to you to recommend this. Unless, of course, you tell me that you're going to buy what Ka-spel does, not matter how droll or eventless it may be. So. To recant. I would not recommend this album to the casual Dots or Ka-spel fan. I did enjoy the songs "Child King" and "Swamp Thing/etc." very much, but should one spend a full album's worth of money for two songs? I apologise, because I hate it when I just can't make myself like music that I *want* to like so badly. I'm sorry, Edward.
-Believe On A Breeze
-Illumina 3/ The Carrier
-Swamp Thing/Simone Is/Red Letters/Katha
Eward and the Dots via:
6503 AG Nijmegen
P.O. Box 83296
Portland, OR 97283
~reviewed by Matthew
Not to be confused with the EBM Covenant with a ‘C,’ this is the black metal band that too used to be Covenant with a ‘C’ who released the classic CD “Nexus Polaris” in 1998, but had to change their name to Kovenant with a ‘K.’ You following me? Cool.
With this being their third release, the band has reorchestrated its approach, taking advantage of the name change to completely freshen up their musical attack and create a new image altogether. Now fusing electronic and Industrial elements with Black, Death, and Gothic metal stylings, Kovenant are a new and improved unique dark music machine.
I must comment however, that the band members Lex Icon and Psy Coma sport an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Manson and Twiggy Remirez. I hope very much that this won’t discourage dark music aficionados from checking this out the way it initially did for me, because this is truly an awesome and crushingly original CD. The hell with image. Admittedly, there are times where I do hear a Manson influence in this music, but it is akin to the intense and dark aspects of “Antichrist Superstar” which did have some strong and memorable aspects. There are no silly nursery rhyme, Willy Wonka theatrics, or proclamations of being the Antichrist, so fear not.
The opening track sets the tone of the entire album and prepares the listener for an intense, well-arranged and memorable musical excursion into the minds of depravity and social blasphemy. An upbeat techno thud thumps in the background along with live drums, crunchy guitars, and raspy vocals that suck you in without any hope of resistance. The operatic vocals of Sarah Jezebel Deva soar in and out to add a superb epic aura, further solidifying the colourful, multi-layered sound that when brought together, is truthfully unlike any other bands out today.
Kovenant cover a lot of musical ground with this release, with the anthematic “New World Order” to the spooky mid-paced eerieness of “Mannequin” and “Birth Of Tragedy,” to the melancholic “Spaceman” and then return full circle to the frantic intensity of “Human Abstract.” There are great operatic backing choirs supplied both by Sarah Jezebel and warm synths, plus some great piano, chimes, and church organs to add mischievous Gothic tones. Awesome guitar riffs and galloping rhythms honour their black/death metal influences, while some crafty electronics contribute a unique, danceable flavour to the mix. The vocals of Psy Coma cover all these bases, mainly utilizing an unnerving raspy whine but adapting to appropriately fit with the mood of the music, he throws in some vampyric grumblings, whispers, and banshee-like screeches.
If you want a more general comparison, which limits the scope of ground this band covers, I would say think of a Satanic Rammstein or “Psalm 69”-era Ministry paired with a dash of Manson’s powerful moments, Cradle Of Filth’s boldness, and say maybe the orchestral Goth metal of TherionKovenant’s “Animatronic” is an excellent breath of fresh air in a stale, overcrowded black metal scene. I adore this CD and recommend it highly.
Be sure to check out the incredible American tour featuring Amorphis, Moonspell, and Kovenant coming to a venue near you this May. Rarely does such a package reach American shores, and I encourage all to get out and support these bands! Look for a review of this tour next month!
1.) Mirrors Paradise
2.) New World Order
6.) The Human Abstract
7.) Prophecies Of Fire
8.) In The Name Of The Future
10.) The Birth Of Tragedy
Psy Coma – vocals, guitars
Lex Icon – guitars
Von Blomberg – drums
Guest vocals – Sarah Jezebel Deva
3 Song Demo
~reviewed by Matthew
What is it with side projects lately? I guess everyone is in creative overload. Lithium is the musical marriage of Johnny Hagel (of Tiamat and Sundown fame) and Carl Nilsson, leader of a Swedish Industrial act by the name of Moth. With this project, there is an interesting pairing of traditional metal guitar chords and early Ministry-esque electronics and drum patterns. I have to be honest, there is no way that this music compares to Tiamat or even Sundown, because frankly, I feel that the stark intellect that made Hagel’s prior bands a success is sadly missing in this project and replaced by tired and over done ideas.
I had much higher expectations for this since I was familiar with Hagel’s prior work and have been a fan of his other bands for years. Truthfully, Lithium is not a bad band. It is somewhat unfair to judge this music on a sparse three song, 16 minute EP. There are some strong moments, mainly in the verses. But what really takes away from this band are the choruses, which are somewhat too catchy with anti-climactic and disappointing lyrics.
Maybe I am missing the point here, because I do know a lot of people who would absolutely love this, but I think there needs to be a darker edge to this and shed some of the fatigued formulas. The final track “Ugly Friend” definitely foreshadows the potential for greatness, so I totally am not going to give up on these guys. I anxiously await to see what happens with this material and this project and I hope that within the near future, I can rave and praise these guys for the talent which seems to be little sleepy right now. There is certianly potential here, and I do believe that with a little bit of reevaluation, this band could really take off.
3.) Ugly Friend
Johnny Hagel – machines
Carl Nilsson – vocals/machines
Patrik Hultin – guitar
C/O Johnny Hagel
world tipped blue
~reviewed by Michael Otley
Loomer's only CD release so far is their 1998 world tipped blue full-length. Although Loomer was formed in Detriot in 1994, their current home is San Francisco. Loomer is a band with a fairly eclectic sound, perhaps a lot of different influences that give each song it's own personality, as well as reminding the listener of various bands with each track. The band influences coming to mind range from ethereal gothic bands to female pop artists as well as lesser-known indie artists. This isn't to say that the album has no consistency, for the most part it works as a whole. The female vocals are fairly understated and consistent throughout the album, which helps keep it cohesive. I like this CD very much even though I don't ever feel like I'm hearing anything new or understand what she's singing.
I won't list every band this album reminded me of, but the first track, the title track, and incidentally the most memorable of the disc, brings Cocteau Twins right to mind. The drum machine and upbeat bass and then bright guitar sliding around on higher notes has early 90's Cocteau all over it. The second track, "Leave This World", has a strong Tuscadero sound, and as the album continues I think it would almost fit into the Teen Beat catalog.
The song that sticks out, and almost doesn't fit, is the grungy track 5 "Sustainer", somewhat disrupting an otherwise fairly flowing album. But other times I make it through the album undisturbed and notice the last track also has a grunge guitar to it, bringing the album to a close and creating a link for track 5.
By far my favorite track is the more barren "Eyelite", where strong song writing replaces the thick textures of most of the rest of the album. It's preceded by "Throw Me away" another strong song with a 90's goth-ballad hint of flavor. Even this song is preceded by the soft indie-rock ballad-like sound of "Viperine". My favorite moments tend to be the least aggressive ones, though this album is far from aggressive, generally laid-back.
The three members for this recording, Lynda Mandolyn, Hugh Caley, and Serge Vladimiroff all trade off on guitar, bass, keyboards, as well as sequencing. Perhaps this partly accounts for the eclectic collection. I'd love to hear a more stripped down Loomer on their next release, the side they expose with "Viperline" and "Eyelite", but it's hard to tell where they're going. We'll have to wait to find out.
1 World Tipped Blue
2 Leave This World
3 I Don't Know What You Want From Me
4 Queen Libertine
6 Baby Murder Crazy Mother Suicide
7 Free Dirt
8 I'm CDoming Down
10 Throw Me Away
San Fransisco CA 94156-0264
Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel
Love Lies Bleeding
~reviewed By BlackOrpheus
When the opportunity arose to interview, and review Gene Loves Jezebel, I leapt at the opportunity. The debut of their music was one part of the catalyst that would help to define my newly emerging sense of self. "Desire" represented freedom of thought, and self-expression that my upbringing had denied. As I was overtaken by life, I lost track of the band for a while. They emerged at yet another opportune moment as "Edith Grove." I liked this incarnation, and I recommend it as an oft-overlooked gem. After the brothers parted company, to pursue their respective visions I lost track of them altogether. With "love Lies Bleeding," Michael is back with another singular work of great beauty. His voice and writing are seasoned with the reflection that only comes with the experience that instructs. "Love Lies Bleeding," and yet it can heal the very wounds it inflicts.
"The Lion In Your Eyes," was a strong track. It has a rhyming scheme that I generally don't favor. I've always thought it really imposed limitations on ones prose. I think you have to be facile with words to use rhyming in an interesting and effective way. This is very nicely executed, however. I always liked the warbled delivery of a word or phrase, something of a GLJ hallmark. The guitars are a complement to the vocals, shimmering by turns. Over all, this was a favorite.
"Joyrider 2000," is a superlative piece of songcraft. It is delivered in a quiet, intimate manner. It feels very vulnerable. There is an equally muted guitar accompaniment. I particularly appreciated the introduction of a sublime, too brief violin part. I really cannot express how much this song moved me. There are songs that finesse you with their technical prowess, but it's a rare song that truly communicates it's emotion this effectively. The technical was the supporting player here, and that makes a great song; to my way of thinking.
Besides the incredible length of its title, "Necromancing the Cunning Linguist" also happens to be another great song on this album. This feels like some waking dream, the lyrics flow like r.e.m. There is a lot to listen to here, no two listens are quite the same. There are Middle Eastern flavors, interspersed with the continued quality guitar work. I don't know if this will grab everyone else as it did me, but it is a worthy song nonetheless.
In conclusion, I'd like to express how much I enjoyed catching up with an old friend. I can see that with each successive album, there is some deeper swath cut through the terrain of his interior. It always leads me to reflect on that of my own. This album, is well worth the praise I can offer. If GLJ ever touched you once, they may do so yet again.
1. Love Lies Bleeding
2. Give My Regards To Ray
3. Who Will Survive You?
4. The Lion In Your Eyes
5. Loving You Is The Best Revenge
6. The Prairie Song
7. Joyrider 2000
8. Alive Within
9. Sorry (Suzan)
10. Necromancing The Cunning Linguist
11. Lifting The Vale
Loves Jezebel are:
Michael Aston (Vocals*)
Michael Ciravolo (Gitaro*)
Slobo Svrdlan (Bass*)
Michael Brahm (Drums)
Jason Powell (guitar- Vale)
Paul Wallfisch (keyboard- Joyrider, Lion)
Mark Balderas (piano- Vale)
Lilliana Stevonavic (violin- Prairie)
GENE LOVES JEZEBEL. NET
The Official Site for GENE LOVES JEZEBEL http://www.genelovesjezebel.net/index2.html
Label: Triple X Records
Self-Titled Debut CD
~reviewed by Admortem
Remember the early nineties alternative stations? Mira gave me a huge flashback. No, they don't sound like They Might Be Giants, more like Innocence Mission meets Black Tape For A Blue Girl. After listening to the CD several times, it grew on me quite a bit, with it's shyness and emotion. Regina Sosinski's vocals match the lyrics of the band perfectly. I couldn't imagine another voice singing the sweet innocent sadness nearly as fittingly as she.
I hate to compare them to Black Tape, because it's such an overused comparison, but they truly share remarkable similarities, from vocal style to overall arrangement. Although what Mira is doing cannot be called original, they are still good at their style, which I label as sweet sadness. Gentle guitar, active drums, backing dark bass, and soothing feminine musings make for a wonderful trip down to melancholy memory lane.
6. Even now
8. When you sleep
9. Something ventured
10. In the end
Regina Sosinski - Vocals
Tom Parker - Guitar
Alan Donaldson - Drums
Max Fresen - Bass
SnailMail: Projekt, Box 166155, Chicago, IL 60616
~reviewed by Kirin
One begins to have a sense of frustration about trying to review Muslimgauze releases. I would compare it to reviewing sunsets. Each one is delightful and subtly, or sometimes drastically, different, but one simply runs out of words. There are a few Muslimgauze reviews already in the Starvox archives, and I recommend checking them for a little history and reference. This release is delightful in a couple of different ways. First off is the digipack. Beautiful. The picture you'll see attached to this review will be an insult to the effort that went in to creating this, because it will not show you the elaborate block foil printing, or the transparent tray with more "transparent ink" beneath it. The photo attached to this review will not show you the glorious effort that went into the artwork on the CD itself. I'll try to scan it and see if I can give you an idea, because really, it's quite delicate and beautiful.
Now, to the music. The press release says that this album is more "dubby," and yes, it is. There are also some lovely low-end reggae type sounds, to be sure. But keep in mind, this is mixed in with the percussion, passion, and textured ecstasy that _is_ Muslimgauze. If reggae or dub sounds tend to turn you off, don't let it drive you away from this album. This is dub like you've never heard it before, and likely never will again.
To all this add the crackle of radio shortwaves, various found sounds, and the gentle songs of birds. Whether you're a new convert to Muslimgauze, or an established addict, methinks you'll be pleasantly surprised by this one.
-Iqbal Singh Will Tattoo You
-An Abyssinyan Who Could Kiss Fire
-Sudanezz Ruber Woman
-Negative Of Ethiopia
-Zion Under Islamic Law
is and was: Bryn Jones
P.O. Box 83296
Portland, OR 97283
Textures of Twilight
~reviewed by Admortem
This CD has given me hope for the future of goth music. Featuring both male and female vocals, bordering operatic, with symphonic mysterious backgrounds, Textures of Twilight is one of the best gothic/neo classical CDs I have heard this year. The Night Eternal is a band to watch for great things.
Based out of Miami Florida, with astoundingly talented vocalists Laura Lewis, Sean and David Rose all accompanying each other, The Night Eternal creates a musical style that is intelligent as well as mystical. Intelligent because from listening to their music it's obvious these aren't amateur musicians just out there for attention - they're full of real emotion and have a maturity to their lyrics and compositions that is rare to find. Their music reflects a sense of spiritual awareness and depth of understanding. A very enchanting combination.
What surprised me the most about this band was that all of the music created on it was apparently produced mechanically. From listening to the CD alone, I would not have guessed it, because the expressiveness of the instrumental sound is so intense and matches the vocal emotion precisely. Whether it be drums beating eerily in the background, or a gentle piano accompaniment, the band never lacks the dynamic quality, and never grows stale at all throughout the CD. I highly recommend it as my favorite gothic band of the month.
5. Fall of Hiroshima
6. From Clay and Ash
7. Upon a Saint
8. Lament Lost
9. The Violet Hour
10. A Drop in the Well
12. The Never One
Laura Lewis - Vocals
Sean Rose - Compositions, Keyboards, Vocals
David Rose - Vocals
~reviewed by Edwin Somnambulist
Neurepublik is a project out of Dayton, Ohio that focuses on goth, industrial, and dark-electro. Jeff Crowell has been making music for 13 years, and this CD is a promo featuring works from the EP "Ein War Einmal...", a cover of Bela Lugosi's Dead, as well as two tracks from the soon to be released EP "Electro Chakra Therapy".
Though it's not a part of myself that I like, I'll admit that years of music have given me a jaded outlook towards certain songs. That's why it's so revitalizing to be proven wrong on my assumptions. Upon receiving this disc, my eyes skimmed quickly to the cover of Bela Lugosi's Dead. As I've heard the original in all its forms, and many different covers over the years, I skipped first to that track, and prepared myself for what could be a disappointment.
What ensued was a strikingly original piece of work; a new and interesting spin on a classic piece which has been turned to cheese through years of overplay. The electro version of the song is a refreshing comparison to the classic drum, bass, and guitar version.
The other tracks on the disc are likewise superb, and are excellent examples of dark-electro and synthpop mixed together with a hint of industrial. Tracks like "Way Out" and "Happy..." would be excellent for club play, and the whole disc would make a great addition to any radio program.
1. Way Out
2. The Real Me
3. I Believe in Nothing
5. Bela Lugosi's Dead
8. Way Out (video edit)
9. The Real Me (radio edit)
Neurepublik is Jeff Crowell
Neurepublik's mp3 group: http://listen.to/hiddensanctuary
~ reviewed by Vassago*
I am really impressed by these guys and the work they've presented to us the last 8 years. It is not hard for anyone to admit that Nightfall is a very cult group with lots of experimentation in their music from the beginning years until today. And who could ask for more from a group that composes music influenced from doom, Goth, Electro, and black metal with complete success. Diva Futura is a wonderful mix from the above-mentioned elements successfully combined with vocal changes from clean to brutal -more clean than any other time- proving an authentic talent at all costs. What we have here is the presentation of the erotic side of dark feelings a human-being can have giving up the inner-world of Eythimis Karadimas, the mastermind of this band, direct to you with no useless introductions. Best moments of the CD are: "Master, Faster, Sweet Disaster", "The sheer Misfit", "Diva", and "My Trator’s kiss".
Nightfall is a band that holds the future, and I think it is time for other bands to start taking lessons from them. Too bad Holy Records lost from its roster one, if not the best, bands they had.
1. Master, Faster, Sweet Desaster
3. The Sheer Misfit
5. Licked One's Iced Lips
6. Picture Me
7. Some Deaths Take For Ever
10. My Trator's Kiss
running time: 49:18
77 263 La Ferte Sous Jouarre CDX
~reviewed by Wolf
I heard the praise, read the glowing reviews and visited their site, which all amounted to expecting quite a lot from this band. But when I listened to Twilight for the first time these expectations weren't just met; it exceeded them by far and left me deeply impressed.
Dallas based Nocturne, signed to Hollows Hill Records, consists of Lacey Conner (vocals), Chris Telkes (guitars and programming) and Ivan McRoy (bass), a clearly gifted trio of musicians with matching visions. Their music has its own exceptional sound, distinguished in both vocals and arrangements, and never a dull moment throughout all of it. Metal, punk and goth influences are all present, but perhaps "electrogoth with an industrial edge" would suit them best, The diversity on Twilight is refreshing and at times it reminded me of Siouxsie...a very evil Siouxsie...
Lacey Conner's vocal capabilities are impressive, to say the least, and the opening track "Seeing Things" shows that, whether whispering creepily, singing with distorted aggression (in the vein of Coptic Rain) or utilizing a more ethereal vocal style, she is the band's definite and trademark voice. It's refreshing to discover a band with such a distinct and capable vocals.
Lacey's vocals might take center stage, but the talents of Chris Telkes and Ivan McRoy are certainly of equal caliber. The diversity of the album can mainly be attributed to their skillfull compositions and mastery of their instruments, and almost every track presents a new style or approach. To pick out just a few of the album's excellent tracks, I mostly enjoyed the almost schizophrenic "Seeing Things", "Dead Sea" with its slight Middle Eastern undertones, the irresistably gothic "A Happy Death" (almost Switchblade-like, but far richer in its sound), the gorgeous "The Underworld"...and I could go on and on until I've mentioned practically every song. Impressed? I certainly am.
This album comes highly recommend and in passing I also feel obliged to mention the visually stunning cover and booklet. The entire delivery of the whole phenomenon called Nocturne is highly professional and they're undoubtedly headed straight for greater things. I asked myself why the whole goth/industrial scene isn't raving mad about them yet, but then I realized that Nocturne must be skipping that step and are already preparing for total world domination.
though, these are legends in the making...
1. Seeing Things
2. Dead Sea
3. Spookius Mortem
4. A Happy Death
7. Pride Must Be Sacrificed (P.M.S.)
9. The Underworld
11. Pyrrhic Victory
12. The Embrace
14. They Come
15. Twilight's Madness
Lacey Conner (vocals)
Chris Telkes (guitars, programming and sound design)
Ivan McRoy (bass)
Official site: http://www.nocturne.cc
Label site: http://www.guavajelly.com/hollows/
:D-LEM: (a day of visual geographies)
~reviewed by Kirin
The liner notes say that these sounds were recorded live at the Hall of the District of Gracia Council, during the LEM Festival in Barcelona last year. I can't imagine sitting in any sort of hall, large or small, and bearing the pleasure of hearing music like this live. I imagine that I would close my eyes, fold my hands, smile to myself, and drift away. Robin Storey's sounds are always to me like putting my hands in rich, fragrant soil. His work is always the sound of touch to me, always the sound of simple, elegant pleasures. This piece is no exception. 54 minutes and 50 seconds of luxury and subtle stimulation for the brain. I always feel when I'm listening to a Rapoon album, that these things he makes are gifts. Yes, you may have to pay for them. Yes, they fall into the world of commodity and financial bottom lines, but these things are gifts. There is much of Robin Storey in these sounds, and I thank him for his persistent quest and his consistent excellence.
c/o: Robin Storey
22 Elsdon Road, Gosforth
Newcastle upon Tyne
P.O. Box 83296
Portland, OR 97283
Fade and Sustain
~reviewed by Wolf
Electronic melodies and percussion, completed by guitars and lush, often female vocals; a style of goth music which proved to be one of great potential during its rise to popularity in the late nineties, but found itself slowly falling victim to overkill and commercialization. The Razor Skyline, perhaps not known to everyone yet, but certainly one of the most talented examples, still draw from this style's potential, and with great success. Their first full-length, Journal of Trauma, was a most impressive debut and thankfully they went beyond one-album wonder status, because their second album, Fade and Sustain, is now out on COP International and absolutely worth checking out.
Fade and Sustain opens convincingly with Oblivious, rich with beautiful melodies and Karen Kardell's wonderful vocals proving to be a remarkable asset and the perfect addition to the swirling guitars, gothy synths and rhythmic percussion, courtesy of respectively The Gun and Onyx. (Robin Jacobs, ex-Switchblade guitarist, also lends his skills to this album on "See the Light".)
"Strangeness" starts out eerily dark and finds its true strength in its uplifting chorus. The lyrics could easily be an anthem for all of us who are "different" and "strange":
some may say
The poppy fields
Have bitter roots and petal tears
But you invite the qualities of strangeness"
My vote for absolute pearl of the album will have to go to the painfully beautiful "Circle of Stars" with lovely synth sequences and more of those heavenly vocals Karen delivers with so much conviction. An almost Cure-like guitar part halfway through fits like nothing else and the song's only negative point is that it eventually does come to an end...
The spooky Hex will most definitely be a club favorite, which also goes for Snowflowers (reminding me slightly of Die Laughing's "Safe Little World"). Then there's the aggressive "It's all about me", the precious gems "Criminal Heart" and "See the Light", followed by the trance-like and dreamy "Quest for Deliverance", featuring a successful union of both female and male vocals.
The album ends with the title track, dramatic and orchestral. A beautiful ending to an exceptional album. The Razor Skyline is at the lonely top of its genre and, although already highly mature and skilled, it's almost scary to imagine what these talented musicians will offer us in the future. Another bright light in the goth/darkwave genre, as well as another strike for COP who never cease to deliver anything but the best.
3. Circle the Stars