ABIGOR "Channeling The Quintessence Of Satan" CD
~reviewed by Kirin
Ah, the grim and lovely spectre of black metal. Misunderstood, overlooked, ignored, and considered by many to be a disease of the mind, black metal is one of the genres of music I will treasure forever, for it's ability to thrive inspite of all of the bad press and misinformation foisted upon it. The bottom line is, when you hear enough of it, when you let yourself be touched by it, it grows on you, and then, sometimes, if you're lucky, it not only grows on you, it possesses you.

Abigor are one of the few bands in the genre that are still taking the time to don corpsepaint and leathermetal armour for their shows. I know a lot of people think corpsepaint is silly, and makes black metal hard to take seriously. Ya gotta read your history, mate. They're not just being silly. It's not KISS makeup. Being that black metal, circa 1990, had its heart and soul deeply rooted in Norway, the corpsepaint is connected with ancient pagan traditions of that land. The old Norwegian countries celebrated a ritualised chaos, known by various names, but most easily translated as "The Wild Hunt." Part of this ritualised chaos included young men painting their faces like daemons or living corpses, and practising the fine art of berserk. In some parts of the "Old Countries" these rituals still take place, albeit in only shades of their former glories. The revellers have become young children in happier masks, collecting treats, (is this sounding familiar?) instead of young men wreaking havoc for the betterment of their psyches, and within the boundaries of a society that could love and appreciate and celebrate their fervour. Besides football hooliganism, black metal is probably the only thing left in the Western World that openly celebrates the rites of the adolescent male. So, yeah, it's not just KISS makeup.

All this said, I'll say again, kudos to Abigor for taking the time to celebrate the rituals, and for the absolutely brilliant, soul-cleansing, mind-melding sounds they create.

They've been creating them since 1993, and they have never compromised their sound, their history, nor their passion. These qualities have made them favourites of the black metal world, and "Channeling The Quintessence Of Satan" is no exception. Their high standards and breathtaking technical prowess continue. "Channeling" continues in the vein of atmospheric, harmonic, and symphonic black metal. By this, I mean the sound is full and clean, bombastic, and able to fill a room with all the wonder and fury or an electrical storm. The vocals are growled, as one would expect, and again I say, remember the concept of voice as instrument. They're really not singing that way just to piss you off. It's all about the celebration of the daemons and the berserk, and come now, all demons can't have voices as sweet as David E. Williams.

"Channeling The Quintessence of Satan" is a beautiful piece of work, from the music to the CD artwork, it's pure unmitigated dark elegance. The new singer, Thurisaz, does an excellent job with the vocals, and the music is extremely well produced and fantastically complex. It's an impeccable package, lock, stock, and barrel, and any fan of black metal would do well to put their money down on this one. Even those of you who aren't fans yet, might find this album a good place to start. It's one of the best of the best, no question about it.
Official Abigor Website: http://www.infernalhorde.com/abigor
Napalm Records America, PO Box 382, Bremerton, WA 98337 napalm@silverlink.net

Tom Aragon Heaven & Earth ~Reviewed by:Michael Ventarola
Had we been in a time capsule transported back about 300 years, Tom Aragon would be heralded as mightily as the great composers of the day. Aragon tackles instrumentally every nuance and subtle flavor in the vast body of work he has thus far composed and created. The styles vary so widely that I took the liberty of listing the artists definition of each song rather than attempt to categorize the music with a sweeping one word description. This particular CD is among a vast number of compositions he has created that are readily available at www.mp3.com for listeners to enjoy.

Not only is the music a breathe of fresh air, but the graphics used on many of his other CDs are among the most beautiful that have been viewed in quite some time. Make no mistake, Tom Aragon is in this for the long haul and will become an industry major player before long.

The appealing thing about Aragons work is the skillful way he utilizes sounds to evoke the most vivid mental pictures. The music can be utilized as background sound for meditation and more importantly, to de-stress from the hazards of a typical work day.

This particular CD provides the vocal talents of Lizette, another MP3 featured artist, who brings greater depth to the songs she is on.

"Coming Home" evokes wonderful memories of all the good things we associate with "home." Yet, each listen demonstrates the uncanny ability to further create other mental pictures for exploration. The music gently opens with an almost angelic high note, pulling us into the waters of memory. The centering high notes play gently with the deeper timbers that unfold in colorful kaleidoscopes which provide snippets of ones past. In some ways this song can also be seen as devotional, in a sense, a rebirth of a weary soul cleansed by the gentle scrubbing of sound.

"Breathe" features vocalist Lizette in a very radio friendly song that opens with dark almost ominous electronic notes. We are faced with the reality of all that is wrong with the world and how learning to "breathe" will make you a winner. I could probably spend 5 pages telling the readers just how marvelous this song and this vocalist is, but I really hope you sample it for yourselves. This song is an anthem for the weekday warriors who have to deal with the daily grind of the 9-5. It is an homage to the thought provoking people of this generation who ask authority "why" to things they cannot explain. DJs, get this song into your playlist as soon as you can!

"From Lead To Gold" gently unfurls like alchemical magic. One can almost visualize a lump of lead that slowly transforms from a heavy solid object into a precious metal. This is also a transformation of a "leaden" soul, burdened by the debris of daily life, to unfold upon a restful cloud of transformation and serenity.

"Pukalani" segues from the previous song. Distant vocals envelope the listener into a gently revolving vortex, again musically stripping away the barrenness of the soul to penetrate with angelic tranquillity.

"Lost City" has a steel drum effect in addition to the meshing of additional ethereal sounds which pulls the listener towards a variety of cultures and lost cities across the continents. It is easy to envision flying with a birds eye view, trailing across the sky surveying Mayan Pyramids or verdant jungle covered ruins from another forgotten age.

"Indigo" is like a walk in a rain forest at twilight. It is truly amazing how sound is utilized to evoke that feeling of walking amongst the night creatures that lurk within the underbrush or treetops. This song continues to play with so many images that to just recite one or two would do it an injustice.

"Fractal" deftly creates a brushstroke against silk, velvet, lace and cherrywood. Bittersweet in tone with a sense of longing and hopefulness imbued within the texture. Mid range piano notes carry us as brilliantly as any magnum opus written by our greatest composers. It almost has a turn of the century feel to it with modern updates to make it remain fresh for tomorrow.

"On The Otherside" shimmers like stepping through Alices glass from Wonderland. Dark vortex sound revolves while other notes and vocal harmony glide us across into a world of surrealistic delight. This is a very tranquil cut that has many layers of sound that caress the listener into a sense of hypnotic splendor.

"Childhoods End" opens with actual thunder sounds. Rippling musical notes accompany other natural sounds to provide a vista for an evolution of mans awakened soul traversing across the next dimension of optimal growth and understanding and ultimately, enlightenment.

"Awakening Heart" was dedicated in loving memory to Tina Jean by the artist. The sounds bend around multiple layers to provide another thought provoking track. It reverberates with many expansions and contractions to imbue the transformation of a soul crossing past the human level over to the unknown region. Gentle piano segues with the song which again has a bittersweet tone that clutches the heartstrings of the listener yet also provides some solace with a positive undertone of a better voyage ahead. This cut can truly force tears from your eyes if you can entwine your mind around the music to allow the propensity of passion and feeling to come forward.

"Holy Ground" is an electric blues cut which makes me think of all the great rock stars jamming in heaven on a nightly basis. This song embodies the body electric in sheer muse like inspiration wafting from the nether regions. If this is what heaven sounds like, it will be a funky time for all!

"Mystic Warrior" has a delicious middle eastern opening which rocks into a guitar, synth and drum kick that is another cut that DJs should consider on their playlist to get a crowd moving. I can envision this song blasting from a car stereo down a long highway in the middle of nowhere. In some ways, we are each a mystic warrior, trying to define our niche in the cosmic scheme of things. It has been said that the strong are patient. This song creates a feeling that the strong are musically and visually inspired as well.

Heaven & Earth distributes Aragons work and collaborations that do not sugar coat the reality of life. We are welcomed into the world of animated sound to allow it to pull from us things we need to look at. The music is inspired as much as it is inspiring. These are sounds created by one who has seen a lot in life but does not allow the soul to get bogged into the morass of immobilization and disassociation with the world we must all live in. Among the many reviews written thus far, this artist continues to remain a challenge since the music is such a "live" entity that insists on recreating itself with each listen. Such depth and skill to create music that can broaden the imagination such as this, can only be attributed to a musical genius. Dont take my word for it though. Instead, get over to Mp3.com and listen to voluminous body of work of Tom Aragon has created. Close your eyes while the music is playing and you too will become one of the inspired ones, set loose by the muse like influence that guides this artist and transports our souls.
Website: www.mp3.com/tomaragonii Email: tomara@jps.net

Autumn Tears Absolution ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
The most recent offering from this little known New England trio. In the Goth scene, many believe that vampires have been beaten to death, and that they are a cliche. I can't say that I do not aggree for the most part, however, regardless if it is cliche or not, I always will cherish a good vampire tale. Autumn Tears offer a good vampire tale. With two full length releases under their belt, Autumn Tears have taken the classic, Victorian Gothic interpretation of the vampire and set it to the most alluring and haunting Ethereal/Baroque music. Their lyrics are all a part of an ongoing conceptual play that is meant to be performed in several more acts, delivered through frigid sorprano female vocals and the occasional Brendan Perry-esque male spoken word.

This release is unfortumnatelyt only a short three track ep, serving as an Intermission. However, I was utterly captivated by their music (as usual) and can hardly wait for the third act to be released. The first track, "The Absolution Of What Once Was," is a short introduction that also appeared on the recent Palace Of Worms Arcana Tarot compilation, appropriately representing the Death card. "The Never" introduces new vocalist Jennifer LeeAnna, who adds a more operatic flavour to the band.

Also, for the first time, the band dabbles a bit with the addition of drums for a semi-Goth rock feel, though still very ethereal. The last track, "The Dance" is just that, as the band strays even further from their strictly classical path to dabble with an upbeat danceble tempo with beautiful harmonized male/female vocals and lush French spoken word parts. Very cool and club friendly.

Overall, this is an awesome listen, though definitely too short. Clocking in at under 15 minutes, the CD leaves you famished for more material, and I can hardly wait to hear what they do next with their forthcoming release early next year. Keep an eye on this band!
Dark Symphonies www.borg.com/~lordxul/tears.htm
Autumn Tears Web site: http://www.borg.com/~lordxul/tears.htm
Dark Symphonies/Autumn Tears, P.O. Box 547 Billerica, MA 01821, USA

BIG BLOCK 454 "Rough As Sausages" CD ~reviewed by Kirin
If this is where the computer age is taking us, musically speaking, I'm happy. I have no worries. Let me tell you how I came to review this CD. I found the music on an internet radio station called Modulator Radio. (http://www.rfbaker.demon.co.uk/modulator/modradio.html) I wrote to the band and told them I loved what I heard. They had mp3.com send me a CD of their album, complete with music, multimedia, and downloadable mp3s. If you've never been to mp3.com, honey, finish reading this review and go there NOW. Because of the affordability of CDs from mp3.com, and the quality of artists they're carrying, I dare say, the future of underground music is so bright, it needs to wear shades.

Now. On to the CD at hand. First, Colin Robinson and Pete Scullion must have one of the most collectively wicked senses of humour in creation. Band name: Big Block 454. Cover photo: Two chaps on a hand-cranked automobile that looks to be part jeep, part tractor, and part mad-scientist's creation from the back of a junkyard garage. With song titles like "My Watchstrap Smells Great" and "17-day Shirt," you know these fellows are full of sardonic glee. How many electronic/experimental bands do you know that are actually daft enough to make a song about Harvestmen? (That's a "Daddy-Long-Legs", for we Americanos.) Is it something in the water in Manchester that brings on this winking-winking sort of sarcasm and delight?

If you think the cover photo, band name, and song titles are felicitous, you've really gotta hear the music. Hop on over to mp3.com and look the album up. Listen to your heart's content. If my hunches are correct, you'll probably be ordering a copy of the CD for yourself. The music is electronic, experimental, dashing, plucky, venturesome, and purely delightful. This music is the perfect antidote to illbient sound. When the Lustmord starts becomes all too much, give yourself a break with Big Block 454. When you realise you've begun to take yourself a little too seriously, listen to this album in headphones for a day. You'll be a happier camper because of it, I'm sure. People who can't wrap their heads around Plone's "For Beginner Piano" because it's "too simplistic and happy-sappy", will probably find joy in "Rough As Sausages"; "Rough" has all the bliss, but none of the childlike simplicity of "Beginner Piano".

From the first song to the last, this album is an intelligent and playful adventure of sound and vision. People often speak of electronic music in terms of soundscapes... "Rough As Sausages" is a day at the scrapyard, with a welding tool and an endless supply of fresh paint and energy. It's Mad Max meets Bugs Bunny. It's just what I needed, on a day like today; the sky was dreary, the storm was gathering 'round, and things were getting a bit heavy. Big Block 454 saved me.
Bless them!
web pages: http://www.bigblock454.mcmail.com http://www.mp3.com/bigblock454

Black Ocean Drowning Negative Life\ ~reviewed By: BlackOrpheus (A. F)
Detroit is the fortunate location of a great deal of passion, and talent. One such talent that came to my attention recently, was Black Ocean Drowning. The genesis of the band was a decade or so ago. It has seen changes since, and yet there is the constant: the music.

They have a substantial body of work to their credit thus far. The sound is both gothic, and industrial, yet there is more. I would not say they are so easily categorized. The emotions presented in the music, are palpably dark. There is a wrenching torment, that did not fail to affect me. For your listening enjoyment, I present "Negative Life."

There are a scant eight songs on this album. Babylon was an immediate favorite of mine. The guitar intro, supported the vocal entry ably. The drums are the canvas, that the vocals paint upon. Oh, did I say paint? It isn't painted in the studied brush strokes of a commissioned artist. No, this is the despair of someone whose prospects, and present circumstances are unbearably bleak. The tempo starts out nondescriptly enough, and builds in fury. When Tomkinson sings "Taste the fear, which lies on my lips, there ain't no second coming this is it," you cannot fail to be shaken by the force of his emotions.

"I Can't Breathe," was musically interesting to listen to. The way the opening synthline lead into the drums, and then the guitars cut in, was seamlessly done. I always enjoy that kind of masterful execution. It's a fact that the higher you climb, the harder it is to breathe. It is no less true, that the deeper you descend; the same holds true. Make no mistake, this is a descent. I couldn't breathe either, there were moments on this album that stole my breath away.

As I draw to a close, I'd like to thank the band and it's label for the opportunity of reviewing them. I enjoyed the album very much. It is not without its flaws, and I'm sure the band is aware of that. I'd really like to see more vocal range, and effects. The music, and arrangements are quite good. The vocals wore on me with repeated listenings, however. There just wasn't a great deal of variation in range, or style of delivery.
I will be looking forward to future releases from this band.
Web Site: BLACK OCEAN DROWNING http://www.blackoceandrowning.com/
Label: Medea Records http://home.earthlink.net/~medearecords/bod.htm

Bela Self-titled EP ~reviewed by Admortem
Folkish-pop melodies, with a vocal style reminiscent of Michael Stipe, Bela is definitely not unorigional in sound. Beautiful instrumentation including theremin and cello, (featuring Rasputina cellist Julia Kent on "Dark Shadows")give this band a uniquely symphonic background. Paired up with Jeff Hogan's coffee house band vocals, the lyrics stream out like a storyteller narrating some old memory. Bela also has a very profound groove throughout every song that makes it distinctly there own. In each song, no matter what the tempo, the band features a soulful vocal style that is relaxed and honest, as if someone were speaking directly to you. Down to earth and full of promise, Bela is a band that truly defies all known classification.
Mother West Website: www.motherwest.com Email: info@motherwest.com Mailing address: 132 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001

Bella Morte  Where Shadows Lie ~reviewed By: Black Orpheus(A.F)
The greatest art strikes a cord within you. It resonates,because it has effectively addressed your outlook and experience. It is the euphoria of young hope and the resignation of old dreams, abandoned. This is no where as apparent, as it is in gothic music. I have experienced the gamut of human emotion and experience. While I was reading the biographies of Bella Morte, I recalled my experience as I was entering adulthood. It came as no surprise to find that we shared so much in common. This was a testament to the ability of their music, to lay such deep roots in my consciousness.

Bella Morte is a Charlottesville, Virginia band, of no small talent. They emerged around 1996 with their first album, Remorse. They fleshed that out, a bit more on the excellent 1997, Remains. For the end of the nineties we have Where Shadows Lie. It is a particularly moving piece of music that makes a more lasting impression with each listen.

"Doubt" is an easy favorite to choose. The first praise goes to the superlative writing. It is stunning in its quiet, anguished melancholy. Next would be its arrangement. A Great keyboard intro. that carries us down the hall as Andy Deane sings "Would I call your name/Through the ruins of emptied halls?/Could I see your face/Within passions yet unborn?" It is a passion pregnant with doubt. There are wailing guitar parts, from Bn. The siren that answers his doubt fades in and out. A lush listen.

"Away" could lay claim to my hearts inclination as well. I like the intro on this track as well; a few different elements to listen for. The breathy whisper of "away," behind Deanes voice, his mesmerizing female accompaniment again. Bn's guitar, nice keys on this one as well. "I remember tears on your face, though the reasons fade." The serenity of this album just wrenches at your emotions. It is highly effective in communicating the sadness that accompanies love. Our yearning for the potential reward and our fear of its curse.

"Winter" is another track, I'd be remiss in not mentioning. When they sing "Set the blue skies aflame, for in the dark, I hear her name. Forge the steel of fragile hope, let the tapers burn throughout this night," I feel what he feels. The keys, bass, and guitar propel this song. Musically, the emotion builds throughout. The music box effect contributes to the feeling of passage. This was an appropriate song to close the album with. The winter of our resignation, the winter of our discontent.

Can I laud the band enough, for the consistent and masterful way, they communicate emotions that are very personal? No, this tells me the band are more than technically proficient. They are emotionally complex, and thus will always have an audience; they'll resonate with. I felt this album, more than most. This is the highest praise.
Web Site: Tattered Velvet

B-Movie Valentino Kiss Kill Whippoorwill ~reviewed by: Michael Ventarola
B-Movie Valentino is a solo project of Bysshe Mourningstar, who is credited with the writing, engineering and the production of this 7 track disc. Each song is a gentle tug at our memories via sound which prompt us to recall names and faces of another time.

"Mystery Girl" tonally reminds one of a lazy stroll through a forest, dense with fall foliage. The reverbed vocals waft in a gentle, chill like breeze. Mourningstar conveys a relatively strong voice but seems to choose a heavy echo to add the element of intrigue that whispers through the mind like wind through the trees.

"Days of Rain" provides an element of watching the rain falling outside our window, lost in our own reverie. Guitar work gently switches between gentle droplets to an occasional wet pummel. It is almost possible to see a weeping willow branch heavy with water coagulating around the leaves, weighing heavy to kiss the ground.

"Scattered" takes a more conventional guitar and vocal impression to remind one of fallen leaves swirling in the wind. Emotions, like the leaves, are flung about not knowing where they may actually fall.

"Cold" streamlines the music with simple guitar and drum impression to provide an element of the gradual  involution of emotions. Visually we can imagine something outside of ourselves cooling off to a very low temperature. If one draws the music inward, it is possible to further reflect on the psyche that cuts itself off from circumstances that harm.

"Shimmer" glistens like light reflecting off ripples of water. We are caught up in recalling that person who  glistened in our eyes once upon a time. This is loves idealism allowed to play among our fantasy if only for a brief moment to take us from a life filled with cynicism. A gentle love song for the past or present.

"Silver screen" is the old western cowboy, Lana Turner, Valentino, and all of Hollywood. This is a love song for theater; all theater, all stars. It is the rapturous experience of being alone in the dark viewing our most cherished heroes and heroines as they flash across in celluloid.

"Pretty" rumbles like thunder under simple guitar minor chords. It is an observation of a young beautiful girl who is advised to keep her head high and the eyes on the sky. It is a silent mantra given by one who wishes to extol the foreshadowing of hard days ahead, and the need for a positive outlook.

These 7 tracks were created by guitar and drum exclusively. The drum never overpowered the songs and often played like a metronomic earthly heartbeat. Ironically, this was Gothic music without the overtly dour lyrics. None of these tracks are heavy rock tunes that would inspire the less pensive to appreciate.

B Movie Valentino reminds one of New Age meeting the Gothic world if you can imagine that. This disc is a nice accompaniment for background music on those days when you want to play something that wont rattle your nerves for whatever reason.
Email: Kojiki1@ juno.com Website: not available BMV/Autumnreign Prod 1999

Clan of Xymox Cd Single-"Consolation"  ~reviewed by Admortem
Clan of Xymox fans have been waiting fourteen years for a true follow-up to the debut album "Medusa". With the release of "Creatures", the wait is over . After being signed with 4AD, Wing, Zok Records, Tess, and now finally Metropolis, this "label-hopping" band have finally gone back to producing the music that helped defined the beginnings of the electroGothic movement. "Creatures" is a throwback to the days of that good danceable dark rock that made bands like the "Sisters of Mercy" and "Joy Division" so popular in goth clubs. One song that is sure to be on every dj's rotation list is "Consolation".

"Consolation" is the first of potentially many songs from this album to be released. The release of this song on a cd single is due out in first week of October worldwide. On this single, there are remix versions of "Consolation" and "Jasmine & Rose" by John Rivers (ex-producer of Love and Rockets), a radio edit version of "Consolation" and a brand new song that isn't released on "Creatures". This song, which is called "Reason", is a very upbeat, dancey song that is reminiscent of material off of "Hidden Faces". Ronny Moorings voice pattern on this song is similar to how David Gahan sounds when he sings "Behind the Wheel".

Unfortunately, "Reason" is the only reason to buy this CDS (Hmm… isn't that ironic). The two versions of "Consolation" and the mix of "Jasmine & Rose" do not differ enough from their original mix to warrant this CDS a must buy. If you are a hardcore Clan of Xymox fan, then this CDS is worth the $7.00 that you will probably spend on it just so you can have the song "Reason", otherwise I recommend just buying the full length album "Creatures" because it is clearly the best Clan of Xymox release since "Medusa".
Clan of Xymox: PO Box 59076, 1040 KB Amsterdamn, The Netherlands. email: xymox@cybercomm.nl  webpage:www.clanofxymox.cybercomm.nl label:Metropolis Records, PO Box 54307 Philadelphia, PA 19105 management: Cest La Mort

COCTEAU TWINS “BBC Sessions” ~ Reviewed by ::CyBeRiNa FluX::
A band like Cocteau Twins hardly needs an introduction. They formed over twenty years ago in Scotland, naming themselves after lyrics that appeared in a Simple Minds song. Having released over a dozen full length CDs and eighteen singles, Cocteau Twins are considered by many the sole inspiration for the genre we now call ethereal music. Its only fitting that Elizabeth Frazier’s dizzying vocals have been the catalyst for a genre that has a name synonymous with words like heavenly, celestial, spiritual, and unworldly.

On their newest release, “BBC Sessions,” they feature 30 tracks that were recorded live from 1982 to 1996. Most of the tracks were recorded on John Peel’s legendary show on BBC Radio 1, from which the term “peel session” was coined. John Peel, who coincidentally began his radio career in the 60s here in Dallas on our classical station, WRR, has been called the single most influential figure in popular music. He’s quite literally the first radio DJ to expose punk to the British mainstream, among many other accomplishments.

Most of these songs will be familiar to the die-hard Cocteau Twins fans as they appear on past releases. Don’t be fooled into thinking these are reprints, though. The nature of these live recordings brings different arrangements to Cocteau Twins favorites. For a special treat they have added a few songs that have never been released before.

The first of these exclusive releases is “Strange Fruit.” Originally written by jazz great, Billie Holiday, this song is now considered one of the great jazz standards, and has been recorded artists like Dianna Ross, UB40, and countless jazz divas. Elizabeth Frazier breaths a beautiful new breath into the song by combined the dark seductiveness of the jazz ballad with the lyrical style that she has practically patented. The second exclusive is an incredible instrumental song entitled “My Hue and Cry.”

“BBC Sessions” is an absolute must-have for anyone wanting to go back to the roots of the music we all know and love today. For old fans and new-schoolers alike, not only does this mark their first official live Twins release, but it also serves as a perfect compilation of the best of what is Cocteau Twins.
Cocteau Twins http://www.cocteautwins.com/
Bella Union (Cocteau Twins’ own label) The Boathouse, Ranelagh Drive, St Margarets, Middlesex TW1 1QZ
Rykodisc USA Shetland Park 27 Congress Street Salem, MA 01970
info@rykodisc.comhttp://www.rykodisc.com   BBC Radio 1 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/ John Peel - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/djs/peel.shtml

Cradle Of Filth From The Cradle To Enslave EP ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
Though widely considered a dark/black metal band, there are enough elements to this band’s music that would appeal to Goths, at least in my opinion. Never mind the fact that I was reared on Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Slayer before I discovered Christian Death, but in my opinion, the lyrical integrity and eroticism, as well as the grandiose keyboards and female vocals should by all rights knock Goths off their black velvet asses in an awestricken stupour.

This being their fifth release, it is a rather eclectic bunch of well-seasoned scraps thrown to us to chew upon while we wait for the sixth album to be released next Spring. The album showcases Cradle’s many influences, and there are some very cool surprises.

The EP opens with the title track, an upbeat, thrashy track which exploits the fears and global paranoias surrounding the approaching millennium. “This is the end of everything!” vocalist Dani shrieks, whispers, and grumbles in his many unnerving vocal styles whilemischievous synths and operatic female vocals slither in and out of the electric guitar chaos.

The next track, aptly titled “Of Dark Blood & F**king” seems to me the answer to many hardcore black metal fans’ tendency to call Cradle sell outs. This song has a very prominent old school black metal feel to it, very thrashy and fast, but still with the melodicand Gothic elements that Cradle infuse into their music. The lyrics are great, seemingly about a descent into hell and the various debaucheries shared with the damned. “Succulent... Succubus, Succor me...” Dani hisses in a voice that would make Eldritch sound like a soprano.

Track 3 is just outright hilarious. COF decide to cover the Misfits’ classic, “Death Comes Ripping.” This track is so fun, it even has the gang back up “Whooaaas!” that we all have at one time bobbed our heads to when listening to the Misfits. This song is just so fun...you have to hear it.

Next, COF pays homage to fellow English doom metal contemporaries Anathema, with a cover of their 1991 track “Sleepless.” This is a very dark, atmospheric track with an awesome Sisters/Cocteau Twin-esque bassline buried ‘neath the power chords. Once again, Dani’s voice gives Andrew AND Peter Steele a run for their money.

And now we come to the hidden treasure of the album: a trancey Darkwave remix of the title track. This is an absolute MUST for DJ’s. The track is so cool. Often remixes of Goth metal bands turn out choppy and nearly impossible to dance to, but this song has ahard, steady beat all the way through with Sarah Jezebel’s vocals looped atop haunting pianos and chimes. Finally, I just might hear Cradle Of Filth in a Goth club and people won’t freak out.

The album closes with a raw re-recording of “Funeral In Carpathia.” It seems a wee bit faster than the original which appeared on the “Dusk & Her Embrace” CD, but this version is more stripped down and the female vocals are more scarce, as are the keys.

Overall, it is an awesome CD for fans, and with the Misfits & Anathema covers, as well as the remix, they are bound to gain more fans. Pick this up and throw the devil horns in the air...you know you want to...you will be INFINITELY more Goth if you can say youlove Cradle Of Filth and mean it ;P
Official Homepage: http://come.to/cradleoffilth   Cradle Of Filth Webring: http://www.cybergoth.net/nexus/filthring/   MAYHEM/FIERCE RECORDS: www.mayhemfierce.com

Cut.rate.box Blueiceblack ~reviewed By Admortem
Dance. That is the first thought that came into my head while listening to "blueiceblack". A smoke filled room, pitch black, with the shadows of black clad bodies moving on the floor with the chaotic flashing of a strobe light... The first haunting beat, and your pulse begins to race with anticipation as the sound of g. wygonik's synthesized voice, almost child-like, permeates the air. All of this is felt by just listening to the first few minutes of this amazing EP. Who is this new band that can create as much energy and emotion as nationally known Industrial acts such as Front Line Assembly, Wumpscut, Apoptygma Berzerk, and VNV Nation? Their name is cut.rate.box and they currently hail out of New Orleans.

The Cut.rate.box's sound is diverse and unique. Although easily classified as industrial/ebm, the band demonstrates a familiarity and influence from various bands ranging from Gary Numan to Coil, which builds within their sound so much more than what can be covered by the word Industrial. From atmospheric backgrounds to surprising keyboard sequences, from variously different synthesized vocals to steady danceable beats, the band proves that they have mastered many sounds and energies. Cut.rate.box may be labeled as an Industrial act, but after listening to their music, it is obvious that they are so much more. They create intelligent music that varies in sound and tempo, all the while maintaining an energy level that will keep you dancing all through this EP. Their dark, melodic rhythms will easily become a club favorite in the future.

If you are interested in obtaining "blueiceblack", ordering information can be found on their website: www.cutratebox.com Also available is their first full-length release called "distemper". Reviews for that CD can also be found on their website. Website: www.cutratebox.com Email: Catalog@cutratebox.com Mailing address: PO Box 15840, New Orleans, LA 70175 Accession Records

CURVEDSPACE "Locked Down In The Compound" CD ~reviewed by Kirin
Curvedspace are yet another of my finds from off of the wondrous Modulator Radio site on the internet. I highly recommend spending some time there. It's a great site, and has lead me to some truly great music.

Curvedspace are an inebriating blend of music, art, ideology, and humour. Aggressive and clever, Curvedspace should be the darlings of the intelligentsia factions of the rivethead clans.

Those of you who have a fondness for Skinny Puppy, Ministry, and experimental electronica, will likely find joy in the psychotically alluring vision of Curvedspace.

"Locked Down In The Compound" is fun and unsettling, which is part of what I adore about experimental electronica in the first place; Curvedspace do it brilliantly, and make it look easy. My favourite pieces on this album are, "Crypto Outlaw" "Pissfight" and "Outside This World". The "Outside This World" piece lead me to a great site about UFOs that I strongly encourage you to visit. It's fascinating and thought-provoking and just might keep you up all night. Living in Northern Arizona, I've seen more of those dandy little bouncy lights than I'd ever admit publicly. Um. Hm. I never said that.

Spend some time with Curvedspace, either at Modulator Radio, or mp3.com. The "DAM" CD that can be ordered from mp3.com comes, of course, complete with the entire album, multimedia which contains photos and artist info., and downloadable mp3s, all at an extremely reasonable price. You just can't beat it, Johnny.
Related sites: Amp.com/Curvedspace: http://www.amp3.net/viewsongs.html?artistid=182 Modulator Radio: http://www.rfbaker.demon.co.uk/modulator/modradio.html  mp3.com/Curvedspace: http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/0/curvedspace.html World Wide UFO Reporting Center: http://www.ufosightings.net/

Diorama "Pale" ~reviewed by Wolf
In September of this year the European Accession Records gave yet another newcomer the chance to show his skills. Diorama is the project of Torben Wendt, a classically trained piano virtuoso, and his debut Pale was produced by Adrian Hates of Diary of Dreams.

To be honest, I wasn't very impressed when I heard this disc for the first time. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but my main complaint was the strong resemblence to Diary of Dreams. It's no secret that Torben has been inspired by this band and the fact that his voice, although beautiful, sounds a great deal like Adrian's makes it even harder to listen to this cd without thinking of Diary of Dreams. And Mr. Hates was involved in the production process, which, of course, leaves traces of his vision behind as well.

But...after giving Pale the time to grow on me I came to appreciate the talent behind these compositions. Better yet, I've come to the conclusion that Pale is quite an excellent album, especially for a debut. Let's discover what lies within:

A strong opening track is always a good thing and "Between the shadow and me" is nothing short of exactly that. A beautiful classical intro is shortly joined by synthesized percussion, clear sequences and Torben's warm, deep voice. Elegant piano melodies underline his singing and towards the end of the song they're all that remain. Excellent material to start off a cd with.

"Contradictive" finds its strength in a powerful guitar driven chorus (courtesy of Diary's Alistair Kane) and catchy lyrics. Not merely catchy however, but overflowing with rich metaphores and meaningful imagery throughout this whole album. "Do not shiver in your sanity, at least you've got emotions," Torben sings with passion, as the song rages on, sure to lead many to the dance floors.

Another remarkable composition is "Leaving Hollywood", an almost walzing ballad which gives the impression of medieval troubadours in possession of 20th century technology.

"Belle?" features pleasant sequences in a sweet composition of something almost resembling synthpop. The electronics (not just on this particular track, but throughout the whole album) are comparable to those on Diary's Psychoma? album. Swirling and hypnotizing sequences, carrying the more classical instruments and vocals succesfully.

On "Masquerades and faces" (beautiful, but almost a "Tears of laughter" Part 2) Torben's voice is joined by Adrian's, forming a fragile combination. The changes towards the end of this song are a bit awkward, but these two beautiful voices gracefully save the track.

The final song I'd like to mention is "Another Queen", my favorite track together with the first two. More nifty synths, Torben's voice very low this time and beautiful piano melodies, all building up to an impressive crescendo. And again, excellent lyrics to complete the song.

If you're an admirer of Diary of Dreams then this disc is a safe bet. I would say that it lies somewhere between Bird Without Wings and Psychoma?, if I had to pinpoint the sound of Pale. Perhaps with a hint of Lacrimosa, but thankfully Torben can actually sing and does not utilize metal cliches (I'll get in trouble for saying that, but I just don't think that Lacrimosa are all that special). Underneath it all is certainly a talented and promising sound of its own and this most impressive debut is clearly just the beginning for what I predict to be a very bright future for Torben and Diorama. The resemblence to Diary is not a shameful one and if Torben can shape his own sound more on upcoming releases it will all be forgiven.

Compliments to Torben for his talented vision and excellent debut, and to Adrian Hates for a beautiful discovery, as well as high-quality production work. Let's hear some more, hopefully very soon.
Additional info: Official label site: http://www.accession-records.com Diorama section on Accession: http://www.accession-records.com/accdio.htm
Pale can be ordered in the US through the following on-line mail order companies: Isolation Tank: http://www.isotank.com MiddlePillar: http://www.middlepillar.com or through Metropolis distribution: http://www.metropolis-records.com/

Dream Into Dust No Man's Land ~reviewed by Blu
I first encountered the magic of Derek Rush and Brain Dall on the CD Murder of Angels put out earlier this year by Middle Pillar (see our review of it in October's archive). Since then, I've found that both men have a lot of projects out there well worth investigating. No Man's Land is one such CD under Derek's label Chthonic Streams. With the help of Brain Dall and Patrick Hogan, this 4 track CD was "exorcised" into being.

Similar to the haunting and eerie soundscapes found on Murder of Angels but not completely instrumental, Dreams Into Dust includes some strategically placed vocals. The melodies are distant and tortured things blanketed against atmospheric backgrounds, grumbling bass lines and war-like percussion. "The Lost Crusade" is a dark journey through the madness of irrational war - "we try to count the cost/ of this violent peace/we were prisoners of hope/now defeat has set us free." A plethora of bittersweet images (reminiscent of The Cure) populate the landscape of my favorite track "Age of Delirium" - "walked the road paved with tombstones, my spirit wrapped in clouds." The third track, "Dissolution," starts with a bleak instrumental, which is described perfectly by the first line of its following spoken narrative: "crouched in the blank darkness on a moonless night." And finally, "Seasons in the Mist" adds a beautiful mournful acoustic guitar to a hollow-winded love-lost background - "tarnished angel holds me in her cold embrace/whispers emptiness into my ear."

If you've never listened to Derek Rush's work before, be prepared to be invaded in a most personal way. He has a knack for finding the very remote, dark places of the human soul and exorcising these hellish feelings through sound. Every decibel of music is a twist of painful memory, lost fear and bitter regret. This is not for the weak of heart - but rather, for those seeking understanding and perhaps a bit of soul-cleansing.
Chthonic Streams PO Box 7003 New York, NY 10116-7003

Various Artists; Projekt Records Excelsis Vol. 2: A Winter's Song ~reviewed by Blu
Its that time of year kids. Forget Thanksgiving and skip right on over to the Christmas selection at your local department store. And, lucky for us, the elves at Projekt Records have constructed an exceptional offering of silvery, sparkling Christmas music for even the gothiest of hearts. Excelsis Vol2: A Winter's Song is indeed the second such compilation from Projekt. Never one to disappoint, Projekt delivers another mouth-watering, beautiful collection of traditional and not so traditional songs as well as original compositions this year from a variety of your favorite bands. Congrats to Lisa for gathering such a fine group of musicians - the line up is impressive. This indeed is must have - for even the gloomiest of souls will have to smile at these amazing sounds. If you're gonna participate in Christmas cheer, why not do it with exceptional style and beauty?

El Duende starts off the CD with "Gaudete, Gaudete" which simply is the most beautiful, elegant arrangement I've heard in a long time. It's a 16th Century, Swedish tune whose creator has long since been lost in the hands of history. Oscar Herrara lends his commanding but gentle vocals to keyboards and programmed tracks by Juan Carlos Rodriguez, which include some vocal samples from "Symphony of Voices" by Spectrasonics. The CD is worth getting for this track alone. It's a mixture of classical, march, and renaissance infused with ethereal passages and operatic climaxes. Its timeless quality makes it worthy of becoming a more prominent traditional holiday song.

Rhea's Obsession does "We Three Kings" with the help of Athan Maroulis and then adds "Huron Indian Carol" later on in the CD. Their version of "We Three Kings" is an exotic piece full of gypsy orient mysteries in the form of plucked strings and harmonious vocals. "Huron Indian Carol" is another exotic soundscape - this time with a beautiful Native American theme complete with tribal drumming and chanting. Both songs are done in the delicate, haunting manner that Rhea's Obsession has become known for and are definitely something fans will want to have in their possession. Infact, because its beyond the traditional holiday sound, "Huron Indian Carol" is very much a candidate for year-round play lists.

London After Midnight contributes "The Christmas Song" which is a special treat because its an original composition. Sean and company give us a goth-rock, holiday bottle full of cheer, love and hopefulness complete with well blended guitars, keyboards, sparkling chimes and beautiful lyrics.

The Cruxshadows, with their ever-increasing popularity, saw fit to cover rock icon John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)." It starts out with a chilling violin playing the melody and then lunges into the poppy dance beat they're known for along with Rogue's unique vocals. The violin continues in contrasting counter-melody to Rogue throughout the song which makes for a dynamic appeal. This is definitely danceable music whether it be in a club or through your living room around your tree.

"Lord of the Dance" is the fifth track performed by Unto Ashes. The song itself is composed of traditional Shaker lyrics set to soft acoustic guitar, the angelic voice of Melody Henry and backed by a mix of percussion and a cello. This is a dainty, peaceful song that seems to fill in the hole left by those quiet winter moments.

"Coventry Carol" is another traditional but not well-known song arranged and performed for us by The Machine in the Garden. This haunting song inspires reverence and reflection with its soaring vocals and harmonies.

Taken from the 1964 TV special, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "Silver and Gold" was recorded at the Tea Room in Seattle by Faith and Disease. Quiet but playful, Dara's vocals add a nice touch of femininity in contrast to the original song. She's backed by Eric on guitar and bass guitar, Charlotte on flute and Devin on keyboards.

Lynn Canfield gives us another original with "True Present." Her innocent, almost child-like voice is showcased against a theatrical piano that reminds me much of doing winter plays in school. I can almost see the snow falling in front of the stage lights as dancers from Swan Lake twirl around in the background.

"Nerotai Hazarurim (Little Candles)" is another traditional song that's re-done beautifully and sensitively by Sofia Run with Rich F. helping on keyboards. The sacredness of time-worn tradition translates through this piece like an heirloom.

Siddal brings us "In the Bleak Midwinter" which is a melodic original. It's slow and pensive and despite the gloomy title, is not so melancholy that it wouldn't be welcomed around a warm fire.

Thanatos does its version of "Silent Night" with Padraic Ogl on vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica and William Tucker on electric guitars. Padraic's strong vocals (surprisingly akin to those of Voltaire's) and guitar strumming conjure images of people gathered around him during an impromptu concert. Everyone sing along!

Another well-known traditional song, "What Child is This?" is performed and arranged by Julia Kent. Although not specified in the sleeve, I do believe the melody is carried off by a cello with backing strings for accompaniment. This piece, being entirely an instrumental, sets itself apart from the other tracks on this comp for its attention to musical composition and tradition.

Lycia adds a special twist to "O Little Town of Bethlehem." With Tara VanFlower's mesmerizing vocals laid against bell chimes and what sounds like some electronic wizardry going on in the background, the piece becomes magical.

Finally, none other than Human Drama wrap up this CD with "I Believe in Father Christmas." Johnny Indovina's emotional vocals are enough to make *me* weep and I try hard not to buy into mushy Christmas stuff (wink). The string sections of this song are exquisitely done with light bells accenting in just the right places.

If you buy any Christmas music this year, make this be the one. Heck, if you didn't plan to, re-think that decision. This is a CD you'll not only get mileage out of for many Christmases to come, but some songs on here, as I mentioned, will do well all year round. Truly, the talent and quality amassed on this CD is amazing. Again, bravo to Projekt for bringing us another beautiful CD!
El Duende www.gate.net/~caseyc/duende.htmloherrera@herald.com
Rhea's Obsession www.spiderrecords.com/rheas/rhea@better.net
London After Midnight www.londonaftermidnight.com PO Box 1377 Hollywood, Ca 90078-1377
The Cruxshadows http://members.tripod.com/~Darkage98/cruxshadows.htmcshadows@polaris.net
Unto Ashes www.UntoAshes.com
The Machine in The Garden www.io.com/~tmitgtmitg@io.com
Faith and Disease PO Box 2721 Seattle, Wa 98111 www.ivyrecords.comchandra@ivyrecords.com
Lynn Canfield PO Box 305 Urbana, IL 61803 Canrain1@aol.com
Sofia Run PO Box 656625 Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
Thanatos POBox 146636 Chicago, IL 60614 precipic@xsite.net
Julia Kent jkew@bway.net
Lycia www.lyciummusic.comlyciummusic@earthlink.net
Human Drama hdrama1@aol.com
Projekt PO Box 166155 Chicago, IL 60616 www.projekt.com

EYE Politics Can Be Fun- Volume 1 ~reviewed By: BlackOrpheus (A.F)
I'd be willing to venture, that unless you're Australian; you've never heard of EYE. I'd never heard anything like them. I thought this was one of the most novel ideas I'd never encountered. EYE quite effectively uses the genre of electronica, and industrial to disseminate Australian political realities. It does so very effectively. I learned a great deal more about Austrailian politics than I knew. It made me angry, because it served to point up the failings of our own system. As bad as it is, and it's b-a-d...look into Australian politics on EYE's Politics Volume1.

"Transnational corporations own 90% of Australia but pay 8% of the tax,' is delivered in a processed singsong vocal style. It is spoken word, with no real musical embellishment. This track was unbelievable, for its' assertions. The total tax revenue for 1996-1997 was $124.6 billion. The average Australian tax payers paid $114.7 billion. That would mean the huge foreign national corporations, that own 90% of the Australian stock market, and a disproportionate amount of media concerns, contribute just 8% tax revenue! Japan, has just 2.1 foreign ownership, yet they require transnationals to pay 52% tax on their profits. How's that for rage inducement? It makes you wonder, where the US stands.

"Herd Under Social Hypnosis V.96," opens with a great sample and then furious electronic beats. It is one of the best tracks on the disc. It is imminently listenable. The writing is strong, and challenging. Are you a sleeper? What subliminal suggestions are you acting on?

There are a lot of political bands out there. Most of them are bores, and are sadly ignored. I say sadly because there is a need to raise political awareness in general, and in the alternative listening community in particular. I believe there is an untapped pool of activism there. My experience with EYE's "Politics," was that it raised my awareness. I now put out the challenge, for you to do the same. Your future is being engineered without your active input. One day you may awake to find we do in fact live in an Orwellian world after all.
Web Site: EYE - aya - Blatant Propaganda http://canberra.teknet.net.au/~eye/mainset.htm

Faith and the Muse Evidence of Heaven ~reviewed By: BlackOrpheus(A.F.)
For those of you unfamiliar with Faith and The Muse, I will provide a brief synopsis. William Faith has shared an association with Sex Gang Children, Mephisto Waltz, and Rozz William's Christian Death, to name a few. Monica Richard's made her name in the Washington, DC band Strange Boutique. 1994s "Elyria" was their lauded debut together. Annwyn, Beneath the Waves was their worthy sophomore effort based upon Welsh myth. Evidence of Heaven is their new release. Faith and the Muse are a conscientious, and gifted duo. I know of few bands that can mine the musical forms they can, with the same level of success. Evidence of Heaven is no exception, it is a work of lingering affect.

"Shattered In Aspect" was painful, and personal. It addresses the dissolution of a thing that is no longer working to anyones benefit. It opens with the sad striking of piano keys, and builds to the vocals introduction. There is that pulsing, throbbing intensity one feels; as sentiments of this nature are reluctantly, yet necessarily expressed. This song was truly beautiful for its literate, sadly poetic prose.

"Patience Worth," was another song that I found moving. It starts out with acoustic guitar, briefly punctuated by bass drum, and bell; I believe. The vocals then make their entry. The song concerns the need to find closure, to put old ghosts to rest. The arrangement was sublime, and the vocals were consistent. I am quite fond of Monica Richard's voice. It is not a great voice, by musical standards. She uses it to wring every ounce of conviction from the lyrics she utters. This ability puts her in league with the best around. She moves me, disturbs me, deeply. I can ask for nothing more from any artist, in any medium.

"Denn Die Todten Reiten Schnell," is a great arrangement. It is the first track, that I noticed William's vocals on. The piano is evocative, in it's unassuming way. It is quiet, yet not so much that it doesn't resonate within. I can't praise the writing enough, it is far and away some of the best I've been exposed to. "Behold this grail offering A quickening kiss for those who bleed illumination's price it is your sleepless heart and the gift of voice that sets you free," is as fine a note to end on, as any I could think of. The gift of Richard's voice, has set me free countless times both now, and before.

"Evidence of Heaven,"is worthier of far greater praise than I can bestow. Faith and The Muse continue to add to their admirable list of accomplishments, with yet another engaging, touching work of art. It is truly beautiful, as I've found each album to be. The years only enhance their gifts.
Web Site: The Mercyground http://www.aesthetik.com/mercyground
Label: Neue Asthetik http://www.aesthetik.com/home.html
Neue Ästhetik Multimedia P.O. Box 174, Murray Hill Station, New York, NY 10156, USA

FINNTROLL "Midnattens Widunder" CD ~reviewed by Kirin
Some of you, I'm sure, have already been initiated into grim, cold, elegant and exciting world of black metal. Others, sadly, still think it's only a bunch of guys in King Diamond makeup, black leather, and big spikes, singing songs about the Devil. Trust me, black metal has come a long way in ten years. A long, LONG way! Fintroll is not the kind of black metal that leaves you with stomach cramps and your ears ringing.

If you're looking for that, you'll want to go find some Mayhem, or Marduk. Fintroll are not shiny happy folk black metal either. You can not sing along with the words, unless you are, well, a troll. You will most likely not be able to understand the words. (Remember: voice as intstrument.) What you will be able to understand, hopefully, is that six human beings got together and made some exquisite, powerful, graceful and insanely aggressive yet wickedly playful music.

Finntroll have taken the best of folkish metal, drawing melodies from traditional songs, and blending them with the pure whorlwind of bombast and heresy that IS black metal. There are moments when Finntroll sound very much like Borknagar, (who blend almost operatic male vocals with the traditional death-cough growling,) and there are times when Finntroll sound also like the latest Emperor outings; very symphonic and full of largesse. Not that Finntroll are in any way unoriginal. I can honestly say that after hearing virtually hundreds of black/folkish metal albums so far in my life, I have never EVER heard one like this one. The use of traditional almost polka-ish riffs, interpreted through black metal fury, is so ingenious I can't believe no one's ever done it this way before. Then, on tracks such as the Intro, and Svampfest, Finntroll create an atmosphere of magickal delight... as if a Midsummer Night's Dream were captured in sound and song.

I think many people who hear this album in the "black metal" community, will say it's "cheesy" and too happy-sounding; they won't hear beyond the "oom pa pa" and the "brass" sounds. Those people will probably never be happy with anything but Marduk or Graveland anyway.

If, however, you're a bit curious about black metal, or have some black metal already and are still on the prowl for something that actually stands out from all the rest, you'll be very pleased with Finntroll.
They're far from ordinary, but right up next to rapturous.
email address: finntroll@hotmail.com
Spikefarm Records (A division of Spinefarm.) www.spinefarm.fi Fredrikinkatu 71, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
(Distributed in the US through: Necropolis Records, Century Media, Relapse Records, and FullMoon Productions.)

Gabor Kemeny Chain Bridge; Lanchid ~reviewed by Jett Black
Over 60 minutes of symphonic fantasies in music played out to perfection. Imagine epic tales such as Star Wars, Trek, and many other glorious exploits of human adventure played out upon the galactic high seas. Chain Bridge provides the musical score. The tension and drive of the first two compelling tracks drifts away to allow for more intimate plot lines such as in track 5: Italian Movie. Like a good full-bodied wine, T-5 provides eighteen minutes of more romantic, musky-laden music which for this writer conjures images of apples drying in the sun, and long romantic through the country side with a new  romantic partner. Dinner, wine and excellent conversations are best served by putting this track on repeat.

Track 7, Danger Zone, applies images of the industrial and asphalt jungles bringing me back into the city, and into the chaos of office terminal routines.

Perfect music for films such as Pi. Track 8, See-Thru-Window, attempts to distract attention with an influx of strings, cultural flair and unexpected twists of subtlty. End the day on a Sea Breeze, T-9, as you meander your way home again.
website: http://www.ToneCasualties.com email: Jeff@ToneCasualties.com
Tone Casualties 6353 Sunset Boulevard Hollywood, California 90028

Godflesh Us & Them ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
I have such a problem with the term 'Industrial.' I think that the term is thrown around all too often and though I honestly hate to pigeonhole music and suffocate it with labels, I think that people are too quick to label something. Well, that is something that music enthusiasts have to deal with, but my problem is that these generalities make no sense. The majority of the bands that are tagged 'Industrial' in my opinion are worthy of a different title, like "Aggressive Dance" or "Electro" or whatever. To me Industrial is Neubauten, early Swans, Coil, and of course, Skinny Puppy.

But I also think one of the other important bands worthy of the tag Industrial is Godflesh. For years, this band has been creating the most claustrophobic, intense music that sounds like it was recorded in damned factory and it is harsh, it is unbridled, and it is DARK. They have somehow managed to wed the intricacy of death/grindcore guitar playing with danceable, hip hop rhythms and tossed in eerie electronics and various machine and metallic sounds to create an apocalyptic wasteland of sound.

With this being their 7th album, Godflesh have taken their sound to an even greater level of intensity, as they infuse extremely harsh techno break beats and drum & bass rhythms with their signature crushingly heavy guitars and guttural vocals. I swear, I have never heard a guitarist who could manipulate artificial harmonics as fluidly and perfectly as Justin K Broderick. Though a very hard and aggressive record, there are still the well-arranged pieces of atmosphere, where Justin's voice echoes and soars over ambient, mid-paced Gothic/Doom metal like parts.

Godflesh have never been dancier, nor have they ever been this heavy. This CD is crushing, and when it comes to Industrial dance, this is how it should be. I cannot even try to stand still when I listen to this CD.

These guys dwarf the competition when it comes to intensity, and though many will be opposed to the gruff vocals on the majority of the tracks, I hope many more of you will enjoy the well-arranged danceable death that Godflesh have churned out for us this time around. I never knew Ministry, Project Pitchfork, Wumpscut, or Skinny Puppy to be praised for their vocal clarity, so why avoid Godflesh?
Official website: http://www.avalanche.demon.co.uk/gflesh1.html
Earache http://www.earache.com/

Ivoux Frozen: A Suite Of Winter Songs ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
Superb. Absolutely THE finest Goth release of the year. I haven't heard such breathtaking, emotional, ethereal music like this since maybe Dead Can Dance's "...Dying Sun" album. Ivoux are a side project of the electro/synth-pop band Battery, and in my opinion, they should just focus on this! Maria Azevedo pours out her soul through her rich voice, harmonizing with the icy background her band mate's craft for her. The melodies on this disc will chill your soul to the core, and the lyrical metaphors present were enough to send my lovesick heart into a near suicidal wine binge. But such catharsis is a good thing in this scene, so it has been said. You need to get this before the snow comes, before the winter strips the trees and shortens the light of the sky.

The album opens with "White Witch," based on C.S Lewis' famous Chronicles of Narnia. The tempo is set by twinkling bells and disembodied synths, and led by Maria's deep vocals that gain a harmonized voice with each additional verse, thus creating a wonderful build up. "Proserpina" a sensual, fluid track which is the perfect tempo for passionate love making...oh god to be alone and own this CD...:(

"Rusalka," a Russian ode depicts the tale of a Siren, drawing her male victims from their coarse at sea and into the rocks..."I'll sing you down, down down..."

"Emily," inspired by a ghost story from the US, is a primarily ambient track with nearly inaudible whispers... "Ice, wind, cold, shiver...lie down." Are you chilled yet?

The album is at its most powerful in the last two tracks, "Holle" and "The Snow Queen." "Holle" is quite simple lyrically, "I live to see you smile/What are you afraid of my child/Such fear in one so young/" but tore my heart apart nonetheless. Musically, the same effect used on "Proserpina" is used here, where the song peaks with a very bass heavy though erotic drum beat and Maria's vocals soar high and loud above all else. The closing track, "The Snow Queen," has an eerie bell and chime intro reminiscent of early, ethereal Attrition. The lyrical premise of the song is heart wrenching: A sorceress steals a man away from his beloved, keeping him locked away in her frozen palace. His beloved searched the frigid Norwegian forests in search of him, despite that all believe him dead. She finds him eventually, and that is where the song picks up. "I will wait for you/I will search for you/I'll wash the ice from your eyes/melt the glass in your heart/and we will run a way home." <SIGH> "I am sorry you forgot how things used to be good/ I would wrap my arms around you if I could/ Was she beautiful?/ Could she give you what you need?/Her snowflake skin will melt when I come for you."
Simply profound. I adore this CD and would recommend it above all others. Projekt and Ethereal people HAVE to get this.
Official Web site:www.batteryinflux.com/ivoux/
COP international: www.copint.com/
Ivoux 83 Divisadero St. San Francisco, CA 94117

JUDAS ISCARIOT "Distant In Solitary Night" CD ~reviewed by Kirin
It never ceases to amaze me, how, every once in a while, a person comes along, who is basically an island unto himself. I don't care what they say about no men being islands. History is filled with them. "Judas Iscariot" is one man, who goes by the name Akhenaten. He plays all the instruments on this recording, and on all of the past Judas Iscariot releases. He writes all the music. He does all the vocals. I am in awe. Even more inspiring, is the fact that, believe it or not, he hails from DeKalb, Illinois. There just might be hope, somewhere, in the dark heart of America.

Akhnaten has long proclaimed an allegiance to nihilism, and to the writings of Nietzsche. I daresay he's one of the few people I've ever heard claim these affiliations, who actually puts his energies where his mouth is. Too many people go round thumping their oft-read copies of "Might Is Right" and complaining that they can't afford a new amp, or gas to get to the next gig. All talk, no sacrifice. Not so with Akhnaten and Judas Iscariot. You can feel the passion and the desperation in these recordings. It might not be too much of a stretch to say that Akhnaten is America's own Varg (aka Burzum).

I was overcome with joy when I got to the last track on this album. Suddenly, Akhnaten shifts gears from the sort of black metal that makes one's ears bleed, to an ambient piece wherein he reads excerpts from William Blake's writings. He has said in interviews past, that he would like to go in this direction, and I'm happy that he has done it with such finesse. He's said that he plans to do an entire album of "Cold Meat Industry" type dark ambience, and if track 7 is a hint of things to come, I'm waiting impatiently. "Distant In Solitary Night" is not your typical black metal release. The fact that it does go from gut-wrenching, cathartic black kaos, to intelligent, meditative ambience, makes it a unique and engrossing recording. May Akhenaten live long, and prosper. May that next album be not far on the heels of this one!
Related links: An interview with Akhenaten: http://www.dse.nl/inferno/issue8/judasisc.html The William Blake archive: http://www.iath.virginia.edu/blake/
Moribund Records Cult: PO Box 77314 Seattle, WA 98177-0314 moribund@waypt.com http://www.blackmetal.com/~mega/moribund

KISMET “North Atlantic Balkan Express” ~ Reviewed by ::CyBeRiNa FLuX::
Kismet is a group based out of Australia who are by heritage from Macedonia (that’s Eastern Europe). As a side project of Mizar, a Macedonian cult band, they have achieved a wide following. With existing fans as far stretching as Australia, Central Europe, and the Balkan regions they are quickly gaining a following in the United States as well. In fact, many samples from their previous album, “Wake Up Gods,” have been used in MTV productions such as “Road Rules” and “The Real World.”

They bring strong influences of traditional Balkan folk music and meld it with modern western darkwave industrial, and experimental music. Along with the keyboards, drum machines, and digital effects they have brought in a wide array of instrumentation from Eastern European culture. Among these instruments there is the Tambura, a Persian-Arabic guitar-like instrument that is found quite often in Islamic and Slavic music. They use two wind instruments, the zurla and the kaval, both with interesting histories of their own. The Zurla is similar to an oboe, and originally comes from the Persian Gulf as well; specifically Kosovo and Bosnia. The Kaval is a pipe used by the shepherds that inhabit areas such as Bulgaria, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and Arabia. The most interesting of them all is their percussion, the Tapan. Being one of the oldest instruments in music history, the Tapan is a drum that has been found in documents as early as 4,000 years ago. It has been used in Mesopotania, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Serbia (Kosovo), Croatia, and is a favorite among Macedonian Gypsies. For more information on Macedonian folk music and instruments, visit the Macedonian Music Council at http://www.mmc.edu.mk/folkinstrum.htm

It is agreed by many that the music of a nation reflects the people of the nation, and that their joy and sorrow can be found in the notes within. The instrumentation in Kismet’s music brings forth the music of their blood, and beliefs, and its combination with the harsh and aggressive industrial sounds makes for a pill that is as beautiful as it is bitter to swallow. For those of us in western areas, their music is a much deeper view of those involved in the turmoil of Eastern Europe than any CNN or BBC could ever produce.

“North Atlantic Balkan Express” is their most recent release, and their second available to those of us in America. It is not simply a CD comprised of a selection of songs; it is truly a symphony, and I’ll tell you why.

According to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, the word symphony comes from the Greek word symphonos meaning concordant in sound, and can be defined as something harmoniously complex. A symphony is comprised of a series of songs, otherwise known as movements. These movements carry the themes and ideas of the symphony throughout the work. Sometimes the theme is simply an idea, such as a series of dreams or the telling of a story. Often, the theme is in form of a musical expression that is carried out by different voices (or instruments) and is often rearranged slightly to express the same thing in a different context. The latter is the case in this CD as one can pick out recurring bars and passages as they listen.

Starting us our on our journey is “General Black,” Kismet entrances with a slow moving swirl of electronic drums, reverberated guitar, keyboards, and shrill Kaval. Out of the beauty comes a haunting male voice breaking the trance to say a chilling message. “The highway remembers the roadkill. Don’t pretend that the smears aren’t there. I know what you are thinking. The persistence of that image won’t leave you alone now that the animal knows who you are.” The melody found in the kaval is later translated to a chorus of deep male voices, and finally in the even deeper timbre of the zurla.

While the spell induced by “General Black” is still encircling you, they begin with “Weaving,” with a much quicker tempo. More electronic, this is one of the few songs where their Balkan influences aren’t quite as apparent. The lyrics are describing the desperation of contempt and self-destruction, and compare its effect as driving an uncontrollable car.

The third track is “Red Zurla,” makes it pretty obvious by the title what the highlighted instrument is. A very political song, it has a lot to say about the political unrest in the eastern European and Persian-Arabic areas caused by theological differences. Embodied in symbolism are extremely thought-provoking vocals, the effects used on the drums, keys, samples, and vocals are quite harsh to match. Finishing the message are the words “Christ storm. Christ strikes. Mohamed. Mohamed.”

Bringing back the percussionary and melodic themes from “General Black,” “Stolen Wall” continues our travels. Much about this track reminds me of their counterparts, Death in June, who also have had some interesting comments on the political unrest that can be found in Eastern Europe. From the lyrical composition, the way the vocals are presented, the general beat and feeling, the melodies found on the traditional instrumentation, the deep male choral mantra, and the organ keyboard lines all bring the organic, solemn, and aggressively gentle themes together.

“The Main Theme” on track number 5 starts with the very eastern-sounding Tambura. Keyboard lines bring in some of the passages that had been found previously on wind instruments. This is a piece that does not stand still. While the beginning is almost a well-organized and glorious march, the song quickly switches to sounds of nearly pure chaos. Switching again to very industrial samples, and back again to chaos it is a song of high unrest.

We can calm down again with “Church,” also featuring the Tambura in the beginning. Its hard to stay too calm, however. While the pulse of the album has again slowed, this song with spoken tongue in their native language contains heartwrenching guitar lines followed with dramatically sung lyrics in a style akin to Type O Negative’s powerful vocal style. Intertwining within these forceful musings is a chorus of male voices singing more adaptations of the theme that runs throughout the album.

“War” picks us up again with what sounds like violins above the clever drum loops. With a passion few today can comprehend, Gorazd sings a universal song of the pain of war. “A thousand miles. A thousand days. A thousand miles from the blood-red sun. A thousand dreams. A thousand hopes. A thousand dreams from the blood-red sun.”

On track 8, “Zid” begins in native tongue. This song is truly what Dead Can Dance has tried many times over to capture in some of their more songs like “Mesmerism”. The voice alone can paint a picture in the minds eye of a sunrise over the blood-red lands of the Persian Gulf. Over beautiful keyboard lines and inspiring percussions, the swirling sounds of the Tambura can be found to bring a note of authenticity that cannot be found anywhere else in modern music.

The cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear us Apart” is quite unique with a severe infusion of eastern European sounds. Upon listening, the beat produced by the Tambura and the bleats of the zurla and kaval almost makes the piece sound Scottish. Traditional to many Eastern European folk songs, the tempo gains speed with each phrase at the end until its as fast as can be played. Immediately changing to a very slow tempo for the last bar, the piece ends leaving the listener in pure exhaustion.

Finishing the release is the highly industrial “Tenk.” Full of slow, harsh beats, clicking, and whirling the piece drones on for some time gaining intensity slowly as it goes. Adding in the theme one last time on the zurla just to give the listener one last tantalizing taste before leaving, the song leaves you quite literally numb as it winds down to a close.

Kismet is a fine example of the music of the world around us. With their combination modern western and old-world eastern European sounds, their music can be appreciated by a larger group of people than many modern musicians could boast. I highly suggest this CD to anyone who revels in learning about other cultures, and those who keep their hearts and http://www.unet.com.mk/kismet/
Tone Casualties (A Division of Klasky Csupo, Inc) 6353 Sunset Boulevard Hollywood, CA 90028 http://www.tonecasualties.com

Killing Miranda Blessed Deviant ~reviewed by: Michael Ventarola
Blessed Deviant is the premier full release by Englands underground sensation, Killing Miranda. The CD cover depicts a man in a crucified like pose, clothes ripped off and pants below the crotch level. This is only the beginning of a body of work that tackles all the taboos of society. The group bills themselves as "Gothic with attitude" however their sound is more dark rock dance fusion to this reviewer. Lead singer, Richard takes us on an odyssey of the decadent with smooth, seductive vocals to contrast the intensity behind the lyrical content and the bands concentrated and progressive sound. Killing Miranda does not hesitate to blend synth with live instruments and manages to join them flawlessly.

It is essential to approach this work with a tongue in cheek attitude, as the more delicate sensibilities may be easily offended. This band is planning to tour the U.S. in the very near future, and I can foresee sell out venues because of the talent as well as the controversy the anal retentive right wing will unknowingly espouse upon their arrival.

"H8Red" slams us into wakefulness to sit up and pay attention to the music that follows. There is no pretty segue of an opening with this track. It rushes us headlong into an anthem of revenge, dancing on the razors edge of anger and retaliation. "Persecution is an art form/ Oh Ill make you wish youd never been born" is true to form with this track and it delivers this quite deftly.

"Burn Sinister" has been this bands dance floor rage in many of the more astute clubs who have a clue. We are actually dancing to a tune that blatantly depicts necrophilia. The song starts off with a humorous but thought provoking sound byte sample, and drums into an infectious dance groove that will not be ignored. Richard oozes inescapable sensuality while the electronics follow our seduction with spurting like sounds effects that will deflower the most innocent ear.

"Pray" darkly begins with a repetitive soundbyte which carries us into an electronic backdrop. The vocals are more mechanized to emphasize a gravel like intonation. Richard adroitly carries us on the wind of chorus which bemoans the hopelessness of escape from mind control due to electronic subliminal programming.

"Kelly Told Me" deals with sexual abuse of a minor. A very sensitive issue that is expertly handled with respect and the right modicum of anger. Despite the shock value of some of the other tracks, this one pushes the reality of an often ignored issue into the spotlight. Hopefully, this song will encourage those who have been victimized in the same vein to come forward and confront their abuser. This is a very danceable tune to a tragic slice of life.

"The Game" ventures into the realm of S&M. A highly intense dance cut reminiscent of early Euro-disco overlaid with fetish whip sound samples. The vocals anxiously take us on a venture into the dark side of sexual pleasure. Another sound byte repeatedly asks, " Are you really that weird?" to which a female answers seductively, " No I really like it."

"Nailed" opens in gentle orchestration which then kick starts into a thrusting power riff and rock dance cut. The lyrics are sung with some affected compression. The song incorporates just enough ambiguity to allow for ones own interpretation. This could be a song about an aborted fetus, a Siamese twin, as well as a jilted lover.

"Veil of Seduction" is another veneration towards fetish sex play and S&M. This track liltingly opens with a steady beat and descends into darker tones via lyrical content.

"Whipping Boy" opens with sound effects and vocal dialogue of a futuristic realm that demand the destruction of an incurable sexual deviant. Great guitar work weaves deftly between the dialogue. We are then treated to a testament of the abject pleasure of a masochist.

"Blackeyed" becomes a hybrid of electronic and guitar work. It is an unwavering vision, leading us into opening our eyes upon a devastated world left to rot through pollution, disease, and the eradication of our natural resources. This song vocally borders on punk rock and deals with serious consequences that face us as a planet.

"Send In The Clowns" grinds to a harder edge, lambasting the leaders of the world who laugh at a dying world. These are the elected leaders who have lied and deceived the public. The vocals are somewhat like an insane clown who snapped at one devastation too many.

"The Ballad of Torrens Street" is a dark pop electro feast that is "dedicated to the blessed deviants of the Slimelight." It is a tune dealing with meeting someone dazzling but being rebuffed at the mention of going home with them. One is left among the vestiges of the children of the night on Torrens Street.

"Dreaming" blends electronic ambient sound which scales into orchestral swirls of smooth sound. There are slight echoes of church like elements skillfully blended between the miasma in this Intra-Venus mix.

"Touched By Jesus" is not a call to religious fervor. In fact, we are led through a snapshot of one who previously clutched tightly to said beliefs, who now "loves her heresy." It weaves "spooky" Gothic elements in yet another aptly created dance synth pop sound.

Killing Miranda has great appeal to many due to the nature of ingeniously crafting music from every genre. Despite the need for comparisons to bands from Duran Duran, Type O Negative, Paradise Lost and many others, this band stands apart from all of them to have their own unique sound and flavor. The majority of the tracks are definitely appealing for club use.

The lyrics at times are brash realities of what we must focus on or forever be deluded into a world covered in rose colored glass sentimentality. The world is not a safe haven, and maybe it never was. Killing Miranda compels us to take stock in this vision and possibly do something about some of the social issues. They also shed light on contents prevalent to pain, pleasure and at times degradation. Although S&M may not be everyones mode of pleasure, they unveil this taboo while bringing forth that what one chooses to do with their life is far more commendable than what someone imposes upon us against our will. This is a generous premier outing by this band and I can only look forward to more great music from this band.
Contact: Killing Miranda KMHQ 29, Juniper Court Grove Road, Hounslow, TW3 3 TJ
Website: http://killingmiranda.pair.com
Nightbreed Recordings 2nd Floor, 177 Wollaton Street Nottingham, NG1 5GE, UK

Lab Animals Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
Hard Electro/Metal outfit from Detroit. Very intense and driving, similar to such bands as Godhead and maybe tinges of a more underground Stabbing Westward. The vocals are cool, very loud and distorted, heavy effects and a punishing drum machine to back up the fuzzy blur of the guitars and the razor sharpness of the keyboards. At times, this band is guilty of a slight "Antichrist Superstar" era Manson influence, but that is permissible because Lab Animals come across as a much more underground act, and the Skinny Puppy/Ministry influence is prevalent too.

The opening track, "Worlds In Collision" sets the tone of the CD, with a galloping drum beat behind a wall of guitars and synths, led by intense vocals. "Angel Dust" is a more atmospheric number, with whispered vocals and carousel synths with looped female vocals. Things pick back up with "24 Hours In Hell" and "Warhead," the latter of the two a very strong contender for a club hit. The album blisters through 9 more tracks of ultra aggressive Electro metal that is sure to please the harder Rivethead appetites out there. Though by no means original, they gather all the right elements from their popular influences and steer clear of the sex sleaze cheesieness of TKK and Lords Of Acid, and come across as very dedicated and focussed musicians. Not bad, not bad at all.
Web Site: www.labanimals.org

Lady Besery's Garden "Experiment Experience Explosion" ~reviewed by Wolf
In 1998 Germany's Lady Besery's Garden released their second full-length on Accession Records. This happened quietly, no hype or intense promotion, and therefore they're sadly still one of the lesser known names in the darkwave genre. A shame indeed, because Experiment Experience Explosion is an amazing effort and a very worthy successor to their debut Perceptions. Band members H.Bo, A.Lu and K.Baal stick to what they do best, delivering amazing pieces of goth pop and romantic darkwave (without copying anyone else in the genre) and certainly deserve more praise and success than they've received so far.

The disc starts off with "Daybreak", a convincing intro with instrumental melancholy of such beauty and sadness that it still sends me into moods of contemplative depression (how gawtik), even after listening to this cd quite frequently for many months now. The music of "Daybreak" flows seamlessly into "Any Day", the percussion now picking up and shortly accompanied by K. Baal's moody vocals. Halfway through he sings:

"At least we'll recognize
That all ideals we've been told are
shadows of a ruined past
Empty phrases
Christians discharged"

...which reflects the lyrical content of their music pretty well: a critical view of today's society. Quite skillfully they take on topics such as environmental issues, consumerism, social disintegration and religion, all without forgiveness. Their views are pessimistic ("Nothing changes any day, nothing changes anyway"), but definitely not inaccurate. The despair of mankind resounds throughout their compositions and lyrics, and, apart from the occassional bad grammar and incorrect spelling (just cut us foreigners some slack), they use poetic imagery and flowing words to convey their thoughts.

"After Dark" focuses on the homeless, the lost, the strays, "those living outside mercy charity". The chorus especially deserves mentioning:

"After dark
In the dead of winter she was
giving ground
Dancing on the flatline"

It reaches maximum effect when, towards the end of the song, the percussion increases and the vocals harmonize with a second version in the background.

A lovely piano melody ends the track and next up is "Andy Warhol", yes, a cover of the David Bowie song. Very upbeat, especially considering the rest of this album, but nonetheless an excellent rendition of this classic, staying fairly true to the original.

The eerie strings in the intro to "Collapse" set a foreboding mood for this very dark, yet fast-paced piece with its slightly uplifting chorus and synthesized choirs. I guarantee, one listen and the lyrics will be stuck in your head for days to come. Notable also is the way the guitars burst out in the end, very gloomy club material.

Ah yes, then we come to "Grace Of The Robe", one of my favorites. Slow, sad and slowly transforming into a chaos of heartwrenching synths and desperate vocals. Unearthly.

"Altered States" is another slow composition, filled with enchanting synths, floating guitars and more melancholy singing. Instead of having the vocals on the foreground they chose, quite wisely, to let them blend in with the music, as is the case with most of the other songs on the cd as well. More great lyrics in this one, for example:

"Diamonds glowing in the sad sky
Melting days can't stand the time
Thousand spirits start to whisper
About the man without estates"

"Escape" proves once more the compositional skills of Lady Besery's Garden. I love how this song builds up towards its almost militaristic percussion and agonized vocals. "Have you never wanted to escape in some synthetic dream?".

The title of the album returns in the last three songs, all flowing into one another. "Experiment" features a long intro of strings, strange synthesized vocal sounds and distant drums, followed by more clearer strings and turning into "Experience". Echoing spoken lyrics by Bea Kumm, who appears as female vocalist on this track and the next, cynically describe the beliefs of humanity:

"We believe in victory
We believe in that it is weakness
to retreat
We believe in bargain
We obey the golden goddess
on our knees
We could keep on counting
All the efforts science gave us
in conceit
And sometimes it seems
That there is nothing we can't beat"

Softly K.Baal's voice surfaces to whisper, "Life's out of balance" and as the music expands with more choirs, percussion and a piercing synth melody he begins to sing, Bea's voice now in the background and whispering more of mandkind's sad truths.

In closing we're treated to "Explosion", changing the pace with militaristic drums and the vocals echoing angrily, pointing invisible fingers as he sums up the keywords that describe our day and age. Persistent, without hardly any changes, the song delivers its message in the chorus:

"And in the end
All that's left
Are some stains on the surface
Telling our history"

Amen to that.

There are sound files of this and their previous album on their official web site and I urge anyone with a taste for goth/darkwave to check out this wonderful band. EEE is a treasured gem in my music collection and I'm anxiously awaiting new material.
Additional info: Official website: http://www.saturn-online.de/~LadyBeserysGarden/ Official label site: http://www.accession-records.com
Both releases by Lady Besery's Garden can be ordered from Isolation Tank: http://www.isotank.com

Libitina A Closer Communion ~reviewed By: BlackOrpheus(A.F)
Libitina was a Roman goddess associated with darkness, and the shades. It is also the moniker of a startlingly good Sheffield, England gothic - darkwave band. They are, yet another of my web surfing discoveries. I have to wonder, if I'm not guided by some unseen hand at times. "A Closer Communion," is the third release for Libitina. They've also released "Goddess of the Shades," and "The Last Rites  of Spring." They are very much deserving of a far greater audience than the one they've garnered thus far. If I said this was a band worthy of your attention, would you search them out? It is my fervent wish, that you will in fact, do so.

I have to admire a band, that was facile enough to cover Pulp's Common People. Their take is entitled "gothic People," and it is simply delightful, nothing dodgey here at all. It remains faithful to the original spirit of the song. They took a great song, and created an instant neo - gothic anthem. I will be going straight-away to my local club dj, to try and get it into his rotation.

"The Ephemeral Bed Of Fire," is a skillfully crafted song. I was awestruck, by the emotion conveyed in it's vivid imagery. When he sings "I shall block my ears to your call, I prefer to lash myself to the mast To the thought of tying myself to you," his resolve is palpable. I understand it's a resolve born of disappointment, in the limitations of self, and relationship. The drums, bass, and synth establishes an effective intro to the tortured vocal pinings. This is another song, that will tout  to all my friends. It is very good.

There was a great deal to admire on this album. "My Beautiful Sustenance,' was yet another. Musically, it was intriguing to listen to. I particularly was enthralled with that tight bass line. This was a great piece of work. It all worked wonderfully well. The imagery created by the lyrics, remained consistent. It painted the most gothic picture, with it's brush strokes of death, and decay. Note this passage "And come willing to me, coin in mouth, Give me your so pretty cadaver, Accept this, the cold kiss of death. Closer, closer, in this lovers embrace, Warm breath touches sallow skin," this is stock gothic imagery. I loved it.

Serendipity, is an apt word for this new discovery. It is the aptitude for happening upon fortunate discoveries, when you aren't looking for them. This was a very fortunate discovery. I never cease to be amazed by the  wealth of talent existing outside the mainstream. If one could harness, promote, and merchandise it...I have no doubts, it would surpass that of corporate sponsored, seal of approval bands. Until that happens, stay ahead of the curve; buy these albums, and see these shows whenever you can.
Web Site: http://www.libitina.demon.co.uk/

Licorice Sulk ~reviewed by Admortem
Julian Tulip is the mastermind behind "Sulk", the debut album from Licorice. All twelve songs on "Sulk" were written, arranged and performed by him. Other than Licorice, Julian has performed with the bands Scar Tissue and 16volt, but don't let that mislead you because Licorice has a completely different sound from those two bands. This tragically dark, and at many times beautiful sounding album has the characteristics of a Shakespearean play. Angst, sorrow, and love are all intertwined by the drunken (dare I say comical) sounding voice of Julian Tulip.

Each song has the feel of a diary entry that is poetically written. Unlike most diaries though, the true meaning of each entry cannot be fully revealed by solely reading the prose. It has to be acted out through genuine emotion. Julian does exactly this with each song. His voice, which is strongly off-key musically, is perfectly fitting when portraying the true emotion of the song. This is exemplified beautifully in the song "Juliette loves me". I picture Julian sitting at a piano in a darkened bar mournfully lamenting to his love, Juliette. His drunken voice makes his sorrow ever more apparent to the listener. Another voice-emphasized emotional song is "The Day Gina Lost Her Smile" (easily my favorite song on the CD). The sorrowful tone of the song is immediately heard in the beginning by the Spanish sounding guitar, then Julian's voice, with perfect harmony. As soon as the chorus begins, "Lady, you don't even know me, and I don't need to know you, let's go home…", the cracking of Julian's voice can be heard, adding the perfect emphasis to a very sad, yet beautiful song. There are many other songs on Sulk that are powerfully descriptive in the manner that they are composed, such as the creepy carnival sounding song, "Oh", or the ominously synthesized song, "Curl." The entire CD is incredibly diverse in sound and style, never boring the listener and full of surprises.

Listening to "Sulk" is similar to the experience of going to a late night poetry reading in a dimly lit coffee shop. It is intimate, emotional and deeply soulful, but most of all it is expressive. So make yourself up a double mocha latte, light some candles, burn some incense, and take a listen to their mp3s, which can be found on their web site: www.jps.net/licorice Lyrics of all songs on "Sulk", and current gossip concerning Licorice can also be found on their web site. Enjoy.
Website: www.jps.net/licorice Email: snobmail@jps.net Mailing Address: Licorice * P.O. Box 1234 * Portland, OR 97207-1234

Low Sunday Elesgiem ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
One of the few reasons I am proud to say I am from the Pittsburgh area is because of this band. Low Sunday, who shortened their name from Low Sunday Ghost Machine, have been churning out spellbinding Indy-Goth since at least 1993 or ‘94. Though the band’s creative force Shane Sahene despises to be labeled or compared to other bands,there must be a method of explanation when you review something, so that people have a semblance of an idea what to expect. So forgive me Shane for the cliched comparisons but there is a Slowdive/Cure/Joy Divsion-esque quality to the music, but there is SO muchmore to them than that. In truth, I think they sound more like the band Hum on depressants, but no one has ever heard of Hum, so never mind.

Simply put, Low Sunday are modern indy rock brilliance. They fuse melancholic 4AD type Goth with catchy pop melodies that instantly hook you, and from there on there is no point even trying to escape the smoky wonderland created by this band. And you won’t want to because their alluring melodies and arrangements are so inviting. They have a great potential, and they have the chance to be like, THE band that could usher forth a mainstream interest in gloomy pop, and it could be 1986 again and college music could be college music again, and there would be no such thing as the Dave Matthews Band. Never mind...I was 6 years old then but damn I remember how cool radio and MTV were.

“Elesgiem” is the band’s second release, the follow-up to their highly successful self-titled debut. As a whole, the new CD has a much more polished, professional quality, and is not quite as downcast as their debut.

They kick things off with the bouncy“Wallpaper Room” which leads right up to another catchy tune “She Follows Rain.” They then darken things a bit with “Zuff” a very stark number with cool bass lines and a steady goth rock beat. Almost club friendly, but just more or less a great song to chill to. They continue to display their shimmering pop sensibility with tracks such as “Magic Memory,” “Shine,” and “Alone Without,” that no matter what anyone says, I have to mention New Order’s “Ceremony” when I mention this song. But it is no way a direct rip off, it just has that same yearning, sad sweetness to it.

My absolute favourite tracks from the album appear toward the end. “Human,” with its acoustic strums paired with swirling chorused guitars and Shane’s drifting voice,definitely serves as a highlight. And I was so pleasantly thrilled and relieved to find thetrack “Closer Closer” appeared on the album, being that it has been a live favourite of mine for years. I used to cross my fingers and pray they would do this track every time I saw this band. And bless my black heart it is on the CD so I can press program/repeat andloose myself in the cascading drums and waterfall guitars as much as my lovesick soul can take it.

The album closes with “Disassembly,” and when the final note rings out you just FEEL so much, and there are no words for this phenomena. But when a band is able to do this, to whisper and linger in your mind well after the first listen, when a band has theability to tug at your heart like some ghost trying to convey an important message, you know that the band is good. My shoes have never looked more fascinating, that I can tell you!
Official Site: www.lowsunday.com

Moonspell The Butterfly Effect ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
One of the many bands from Europe that just don't get enough credit. Since 1994, Moonspell have led the second wave of Gothic/Doom metal, following in the footsteps of Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, and Anathema. They have developed and matured into a very unique band, drawing from a wealth of influences.

Moonspell appeared first with 1994's "Under The Moonspell" EP and then followed it with their first full-length recording, 1995's "Wolfheart." Both of these releases exhibited Moonspell's masterful ability to meld harsh, raw black metal with Gothic atmospherics created by female vocals, classical instrumentation, both clear and rough male vocals, watery guitars and upbeat drumming. In 1996, the band released "Irreligious," a brilliant, boldly Gothic inspired album that earned the band a very high throne in the underground metal scene. Their fourth album, "Sin/Pecado" drifted further into the realms of Darkwave-tinged electronics, mournful melodies, and Depeche Mode-esque ballads that basically abandoned their metallic roots altogether.

Now with their fifth release, "The Butterfly Effect," Moonspell reapproach their sound once again, and have crafted an even starker, organized record that presents the band at their best, now fine tuning nearly all the elements that earned them success over the years.

The album opens with "Soulsick," an impressive and extremely heavy song. The mix of the CD is instantly overwhelming, as dense guitars and thudding drums cascade from speaker to speaker. However, neath the metallic apocalypse are the crackles and pops of electronic keyboards to add an Industrial feel. Ferdinando's vocals are crisp and clear, as he flirts between his deep sensual Portuguese accent to raspy anguished growls and back to chilling whispers.

Other standout tracks include the title track, a very groove-oriented song with strange tribal chant samples and ghostly keyboards that crescendo into the blistering chorus. The tracks "Can't Bee" and "Disappear Here" are of slow, extremely laid-back styles with hints of jazz and trippy Portishead-type pop, which mellow things out a bit. "I Am The Eternal Spectator" quite possibly could be the albums club hit. The guitars drop periodically out and only swirling keys remain over a steady bass drum beat, and then the song explodes back into crushingly crunchy guitar riffs atop dance tribal-esque drums. My favourite song on the entire disc is the closer, "Tired," an agonizingly gloomy song that begins with a sinister choir sample that flows into a slow, thick doom rhythm accented by Ferdinando's whispers and floating keyboards. The song explodes into its chorus, for the heaviest and darkest passage on the entire record and it just sent chills up my spine. A very dark track...

In closing I love this album. It is the best Moonspell release, and it is one of my favorite albums of this entire year. I hope than many of you will check this out, because it is something very different and something very cool. The vocals and metallic influences are far from overwhelming and the Gothic elements are breathtaking when compared to other bands out there.
Official Web Page: www.butter-fx.com & www.moonspell.com
CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS: www.centurymedia.com
Moonspell official address: PO Box 61061, 2700 Alfornelos, Portugal

Mortiis The Stargate ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
As much as I wanted to, I just couldn't get into the last few solo releases by this highly revered artist. For those of you who do not know, Mortiis was once the bassist of legendary black metal icons Emperor, and after a great deal of misunderstanding, he went AWOL to form his ethereal, classical inspired solo project. The problem is, most of his material was excessively repetitive and did not have much to offer in the way of melody or excitement.

Until now. I was pleasantly surprised and I was instantly overwhelmed by this disc. Mortiis has focused his vision, he has crafted his keyboard wizardry to create a more mediaeval element and he has incorporated ritual drums that help keep things a little more interesting. But most notably is the addition of female vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva, of Cradle Of Filth and Therion fame. Her operatic voice supplied a much needed focal point, for she has one of the most soothing and sensual voices in the underground.

Also, she has a lot more room to experiment over the lush backgrounds as opposed to the black metal chaos of Cradle Of Filth. Each track here stands on its own, but my favourite is by far "(Passing By) An OldAnd Raped Village," where Sarah's voice has a tranquil, supremely beautiful lulling effect, and it is one of the few songs on the album that has more than a line or two of lyrics. Also, the track "World Essence" with its piano and acoustic guitar passages stands out in the memory.
Very cool ethereal background music that is light years ahead of past Mortiis releases.
Official Web Page: www.mortiis.com
Earache http://www.earache.com/
Mazur Public Relations http://www.mazurpr.com

My Scarlet Life InfraRed ~reviewed by: Michael Ventarola
Infrared, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, is defined as "pertaining to or being electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths greater than those of visible light and shorter than those of microwaves".

This reviewer is here to tell you that InfraRed means infectious music that you cannot get out of your head by the third listen! The overall production of this disc seeps into your brain stem like external warmth of pulsating and intoxicating splendor. Some songs can remind one of luxuriously lying on a feather down mattress in a room at night. Other songs provide an expanse of watching curtains billow from the open balcony verandah while sipping wine at sunset.

This CD is yet another that has to be hidden from friends who try desperately to pry it from my stereo in order to borrow it. InfraRed has also received a full thumbs up during my "day" job with a staff that basically complains about all types of music.

Although this band is not Gothic, they have received a lot of support and purchases from those in the genre.

"Dont Make Me" begins our journey with a mid tempo rhythm. We confront the experience of being at that place of discomfort where our secret is about to be exposed. It is a pleading song, subtly asking for mercy yet warning "dont back me in a corner, sometimes the bark is tamer than the bite".

"Promise" deserves the high honor of radio play all over the world. The vocals of Christy Cameron Smith sensuously cascade around the listener as if being immersed in a cool waterfall on a hot tropical night. This is the high point of adult contemporary music. I defy anyone to listen to this song and not get hooked within seconds. Lyrically, this song deals with the reality of a relationship gone awry. We are witness to one who "only wanted to save the hollow of your soul". This is sung with such passion and realistic lyrics that I bet this will become the bands number one song with the right push and exposure.

"Rainy Sundays" provides a more electronic Giorgio Moroder style groove. Julie Axis has a vocal style reminiscent of the early "girl" groups of the eighties. Some have said there is a Madonna like sound at work here. These ears pick up nuances of Bananarama and The Bangles as well. The song deals with overcoming the immobilization of heartbreaking situations in our lives. " I think its raining in my soul / Washing away yesterdays of old / I dont want to spend my Rainy Sundays / Wishin on the way things might have been."

"Garden Of Love" opens with a wind rustle and an old west style "violin" moan. The desolation is made apparent but then begins to warm up to an oasis of affection. Another mid tempo groove with killer percussion imbues the listener as we partake in the unfolding of one who recognizes that their life was "laid parched in the dessert wind". Gradually this desiccated soul finally succumbs to the intoxication of loves affection after spending an indefinite amount of time deciding love was never coming to their shore.

"Angels Whisper" deals with the physical loss of one we had not expected to be taken from us so soon.  This song starkly opens with an ethereal style background and sound effects which maintains minimal accompaniment while showcasing the luscious harmonies of our vocalists.

"Pure Denial" begins with a church organ like waver that gently segues into a major funk and booty shake percussion. The bongos utilized are absolutely delicious and expertly placed! Have I mentioned that these vocalists can stop traffic? We are yet again presented with a song that deals with love gone wrong and as usual, we live in denial until it is too late. "You live in pure denial / Innocence and apathy collide" is the refrain that will tenaciously hang onto your brain until you sing along once and for all.

"Silent Screams" presents us with the point of introspection where we cannot hold back from our realizations any longer. Things that have caused us grief and despair linger within our psyche until the silent scream within must be heard before we fully explode. This song segued from the last, providing a smooth mix at its opening. Cameron - Smith has a touch of the Madonna sound with this track which is not a bad thing and fully works with this tune.

"Loves Out Of Fashion" segued from the previous song as well. Subtle drones accompany a sound byte "the weeping and the laughter" and bounces into a whimsical rhythm with a slight eighties feel to it. The question is posed to the object of our affection if they feel like we do and we are given a ready answer, " a train going nowhere, your words ringing fresh in my mind / You said loves gone out of fashion / loves gone out of vogue". We run "against the tide" amidst a sea of faceless strangers realizing some truth to this.

"Dont Look Back" trip hops right after the previous track, again smoothly connecting the songs. The vocals are compressed a bit here. The rhythm takes a more up beat percussive beat that could also work on a dance floor. It is identified that there are those times when we feel like we are scared and on a relentless pathway to nowhere. Sometimes it is so pervasive that is like "fingernails scraping from the inside.turn your head dont look back at all".

"So Frail" has sound samples of passing autos that are turned off inside a recording studio. We hear other background noises of guitar picking and a vocalist rehearsing. The song then segues into its full production mode with a full orchestral sound, giving a perspective of rehearsal to mix down. This is a lament of love lost after realizing two people who didnt want to be the first to say goodbye. This is that point in a relationship where the partners feel like they are living within the suffocating confines of a cage and the desperate need to fly away. "A love so frail" that needs to be buried at long last so that life can in fact go on.

Preston Klik and My Scarlet Life are credited with the full production and mixing of this album. The rhythms are smooth while the lyrics retain a forlorn element which underscores why many Goths have fallen in love with this non-Goth band.

These songs do not strive to achieve bombastic status, but wish to present forthrightly the sentiments that we can all identify with at some point within our lives. This is "real" music for "real" people and does not apologize for being what it is, nor should it have to. Our vocalists have a way of gently tugging at you, pulling you into their world, while the machinations of the song structure and steady segues prod us along.

For those who enjoy music with a trip hop beat, this feature will satisfy you. It is gentle enough to play as background music yet good enough to blast through the stereo system for a foot -tapping, booty shaking time.
Band Website: www.myscarletlife.com Email: Divanation@aol.com Released by: Diva Nation Records 5602 N. Ridge Chicago, IL 60660 web: www.divanation.com

Nosferatu Lord Of the Flies ~reviewed By: Michael Ventarola
Nosferatu is a band that has withstood many trials and tribulations in their career up to now. This CD, their fifth among six releases comprises a newer venue that the band was trying to reach with the addition of Rat Scabies on drums. Doc. Milton contributed to this release as well having been a long time Nosferatu Studio engineer/ co-producer. This band has been beset with lineup changes that may have confused some of the fans, however, they are still with us, providing delicious dark music to fill our macabre lives. It is nice to have Dominic singing the music he is meant to sing after a brief departure on an earlier release. In case the reader is wondering, I do own all of their music and cannot get enough of this band. The lyrics to all of Nosferatus music is available on their web site and it is a recommended visit.

"Torturous" opens with piano chords that kick start with Rat Scabies drumming and danceable guitar rhythm that is purely intoxicating. It describes how "we all stand and face tomorrow, for too long weve stood alone." A gothic anthem to strive beyond the darkness.

"Ascension" has a more heavy metal rock flavor. We "overdose on darkness in the corridors of fire," while we see the angst of one who reveals "shes my ascension, my slow suicide.chase tomorrow, till theres nothing left inside." Dominics reverbed vocals lend to the agony of this cut very well.

"The Tempest" a gentle cascade of sound and ocean waves unfurls to electronic angelic choral backgrounds which wrap around the lead vocals. We meet the poisonous lips of our affection in what is a dark love song.

"Witching Hour" simple piano melody starts this tune which rips open with a slash of guitar chord that pulls you from a reverie. Slow percussive groove metronomically defies us to not get up and dance as it ascends to an even faster rhythm. This song has one of the most tenacious choral refrains " set your spirit free/ come across the sky to me/ give in to insanity / The Witching Hour. / Wait for me behind the door / Ill throw your body to the floor / we will part no more/ The Witching Hour".

"The Gauntlet" once again utilizes provocative lyrics " living in tomorrow/ died in yesterday / believe me when I say theres no where Id rather be / Im on my knees; youre where I pray/ Im on the floor tonight, Ive had it all / when youre laying down.I love to watch you crawl". This is a mid tempo song given yet again a harder rock edge.

"Six Feet Below" is a testament to the thin line between love and hate. The dreaded reality moodily opens where we confront desire leading to despair. Our love leads us to wish the object of our affection dead and six feet under after being lied to.

"Darkness Brings" angelically and ethereally opens with a wisp of wind effect and minor piano chords. Once again, the band pulls you from a reverie with maddening drumming and guitar chords to dance us on the edge of darkness. We are asked, " have you lost the will to save your soul, believe in the dreams that you were sold?" The song is honest, reflecting upon what we have been taught to believe about the world around us and the reality of what we experience.

"Lord Of The Flies" utilizes "spooky" chords with appropriately placed bass notes and pompous orchestral weaving for added dramatic tension. The song is mostly instrumental with a brief lyric line, "With the face, of angels, He is the Lordthe Lord of he Flies".

Nosferatu, with an image of lace and velvet, remains on the forefront of the Gothic underground. The band takes human emotions and blends the most poetic and macabre tones around them to delight us in an almost theatrical production to our own nightmares. This CD is a bit more hard edged than the previous works and my only complaint is that at times the vocals were somewhat hidden by heavy guitar work. All these cuts could be ably put on a DJ play list for a gothic dance club. Nosferatu cannot be compared to any other band, in my opinion, as they have their own sound and originality that some may try to misappropriate. If you like your Gothic rock with a heavy beat and skillful, ghoulish lyrics, then this is a band to seek out.
Released by: Hades Records P.O. Box 4741 London, SE 24 O.X.A. England Distributed by: Cleopatra Records 13428 Maxella Avenue 251 Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 Web Page: www.hallucinet.com/cleopatra/cleopatra.htmlOfficial Nosferatu Websites:http://www.members.xoom.com/witchinghour/ or http://www.engin.umd.umich.edu/~decoy/nosferatu

Oblivia Splitting Embers ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
The impressive side project of ex-Black Tape For A Blue Girl cellist, Mera Roberts. This 6 track EP instantly earns Mera her own title in the dark electro/Goth scene. Emotional, inspired, and arranged very well. The album opens with the upbeat potential club hit "Borealis Eyes," a great beat, sweeping synths, and electronics make a perfect background for Mera's strong and multi-faceted alto. The albums title track, a soothing melancholic instrumental that creates such a peaceful mood, due to the reverberated piano and slithering cello parts. An excellent track! Mera graces us with her voice again in "Dead Zone Eve," sort of a more laid back though danceable number with very cool lyrics. Bitter, dark, and an explosive vocal performance to bring the track to a close.

"Sick" is a trancey, heavily electronic song fast and tinged with harsh, distorted drum beats. "Nye(Delivered From Ether)" returns to the lush piano/cello arrangement to make way for "Killtime," the mid-paced outro, which sort of blends all the preceding elements into one extensive final track.

Overall, a great CD to chill out to, as well as offering a few potential club hits for DJ's out there. Not too upbeat, but enough to receive some club play.
Official Website: www.oblivia.com
DivaNation Records 5602 N. Ridge Section X Chicago, IL 60660 www.divanation.com

Ophelia's Sweet Demise Dark Serenade ~reviewed By Admortem
Dark Serenade is Ophelia's Sweet Demise's second CD within two years. The band is Milwaukee based, and the strongest member seems to be their vocalist and bassist, Daniel Kufahl. Katrine DeWinter who contributed main vocals on tracks 3, 5, and 8, as well as keyboards and programming on the rest of the CD, has departed from the band since the release of Dark Serenade. Also featured on the CD is Tracy Schmidt, who plays guitar as well as flute.

After listening to Dark Serenade, I felt that every song on the CD contained matching energy. This conclusion is reinforced by the lyrics of the songs. Extremely poetic, the lyrics for the most part feature identical subject matter on every song: loneliness, longing, depression, lost love and desperate regrets. Daniel's bass and vocals match the lyrics with perfection. Passionate, painful, Daniel is the high point of the CD. Unfortunately, much of the programming of guitar and drum arrangements on the CD is extremely reminiscent of the Cure's Disintegration CD, which, although appealing, is sadly unoriginal. However, the keyboards provide a delicate escape from making the songs sound too Cure-esque.

Upon picking up Dark Serenade, you will easily see a band that no doubt purposefully portrays their image as pure goth (looking at the CD itself will tell you what scene this band is in to). This is mirrored in their musical presentation as well. I feel that the band definitely has talent, especially lyrically, but I can name numerous bands who sound and appear to be so much like them; it is difficult to give them large amounts of praise for Dark Serenade. Without any doubt, the CD is fittingly named.
Website: www.clivebarker.com/ophelia Email: ophelias_demise@hotmail.com
Mailing Address: PMB 120 544 East Ogden Suite 700 Milwaukee, WI 53202

posT-abortioN-stresS... From The Viewpoint Of The Fetus ~reviewed by Kirin
I found a piece of Robert L. Pepper's work, (Robert L. Pepper being "Post Abortions Stress",) on an internet radio website. Intrigued, I went to his personal website, and found that not only is he an invigorating and intoxicating soundscape artist, he's also quite talented in the two dimensional realms. The combination of the dual talents is rather stunning, and I was disheartened to hear that he's "saving up the money to put a CD out next year." I'm sorry, but when sports stars are getting paid zillions of dollars, and talent like this has to SCRAPE money together, that's when I start going 'round with that Elvis-type snarl on my face. And yes, I've had the snarl for years now, thankyuhverymuch.

The music on this disc is some of the most beautiful, exciting, adventurous, and compelling noise experimentation I've ever heard. Each song is a progression through chaos and emotion and love and energy and delight. Robert's music is every bit as thought-provoking and engaging as his paintings are. Take some time to download some of his music, and ponder the glory of his paintings. May he live well and prosper. I'll definitely be waiting and doing all I can to help him bring that CD into the world next year. In the meantime, CD-Rs are available at his website for an extremely reasonable fee, and I highly recommend purchasing one.
Modulator Radio website: http://www.rfbaker.demon.co.uk/modulator/modradio.html
Robert L. Pepper Gallery/Post-Abortion-Stress Music page: http://www.peppergallery.com/PAS.htm contact Robert at: XxMelmothx@aol.com

PULSE LEGION “One Thing” ~ reviewed by ::CyBeRiNa FluX::
Pulse Legion, out of Los Angeles, is among the newer industrial acts. With their debut release, “Evolve”, in 1998 they stormed the Industrial Dance scene as one of the strongest American acts. This year they released their second CD, “One Thing” on Metropolis. With very melodic, yet heavily vocoded lyrics, this is a very strong release compositionally as well.

Starting out slowly with “Anoxia” they introduce themselves with a dark, almost ambient track with samples of distant-sounding female mantra. A bass beat isn’t introduced until nearly two minutes into the track. Instead of taking over the song with the booming drum loop, it appropriately adds to it to finish up the “Foreplay” (as they called it) for the good stuff to come.

The title track, listed fifth, is also very strong. Starting quietly and slowly building, it suddenly bursts into an aggressive dance beat and driving keyboards. The peak is with the repetition of the chorus.

I’m absolutely in love with the seventh track, “Torn Within.” Here they have introduced droning female vocals via a woman by the name of Amanda Jones. Quite hypnotic, and upbeat I’ve been going crazy over this track.

Its very rare that I can listen to the same song over, and over. However, with this one I’ve been known to play it on my CD player, then call a radio station and request it, then play it on my CD player again just to get my fix.

If there’s one thing that Pulse Legion has that few Industrial acts can claim is the ability to carry a melody along with their lyrics. My vote is that you keep your eyes on Pulse Legion, as this album goes to show that they have what it takes to stay for a while.
Pulse Legion http://www.pulselegion.com/evolve555@aol.com
The Pulse Legion Mailing List http://www.pulselegion.com/contact/mailing.html
Metropolis Records PO Box 54307 Philadelphia, PA 19105 http://www.metropolis-records.com

Skepticism Aes ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
This extremely oppressive outfit describe their sound as 'Funeral Doom,' and there is nothing that could ever cause me to argue that. I have never heard such absolutely dark music! I can't express enough how this band just captures jaded ennui and romantic pessimism. I have heard other releases from this band, and they were honestly very boring, but with this release, the emotion speaks through the heavily textured guitar riffs and keyboards, and at last they have pefected their musical majesty. They also earn points by using what sounds like classical percussion rather than a standard rock drum kit. Vocally, there is not much to say. Besides a few scattered spoken word passages and whispers, the album is primarily instrumental. There are of course some subtle death growls, but they are mixed so low that it most likely will not phase the sensitive listener.

This EP contains only one epic track, exceeding 27 minutes, though able to capture your full attention. This is a perfect CD to get lost in, more so for those moments where Ethereal/Goth just isn't angsty enough...this is bleak emotion at its best.
Red Stream www.rstream.com

Soil & Eclipse Meridian ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
With a sound that falls somewhere in the shadows of Depeche Mode and Subversion, Soil & Eclipse are quickly proving to be one of the hottest new acts out in the scene. Blending the emotional grayness of Gothic and Darkwave with the upbeat, dance sensibility of synth-pop, they standout in a very crowded electronic scene, due to the strength of their compositions and the depth of their inspiration. I must say that I personally prefer their debut CD, "Necromancy," only because it was darker. "Meridian," the bands second effort, has a much more upbeat oriented sound. In some cases the songs are almost too poppy for me, with catchy choruses and bouncy synth lines. Even still, Soil & Eclipse blow their competition away, because I am quite picky when it comes to this new wave of synth pop, and they have me hooked.

"Meridian" opens with the track "Poetry Of Angels," which has already received a considerable amount of club play in several areas. The title track follows, and with these first two tracks, the bounciness is in the forefront. A very polished production, sweet melodies, and layers of harmonized vocals to create an almost Gregorian chant effect, which works wonders for this band. However, these songs were just too poppy. But track three, "The Thief Of Always," lyrically based on a work of Clive Barker's, is a haunting, foreboding track with an awesome reverberated pizacato string effect a top grinding drum beats. "Piano Song" follows, and for whatever reason, this track reminds me of a Darkwave remix of something from "The Phantom Of The Opera" soundtrack. The next 3 tracks sort of get lost and in my opinion, sort of just fill space. But the album picks up again with "Divinity" a great dance song with cool vocals and a stark arrangement.

"Tempest In The Spark," a very dark Gothic number complete with piano, cathedral organ, ghostly, yet powerful vocals; all layered upon a strong back beat. "Lycanthropy" stands out probably more than any other track on the entire record, primarily being that it is the only track that contains guitars. A very heavy, hard-hitting guitar driven track that is probably tied with "Thief..." as my favourite song. The album closes with "The Haunting," a piano and voice soliloquy that in all honesty, is too overdone and strained in the drama department. Don't get me wrong I love dramatic music, but this song was just a bit much, mainly the chorus which was on the borderline of sappy. Sorry.

Overall, this is a great CD for DJ's to own, because it will add a bit of depth to your synth pop rotations. And though the album indeed has its dark moments, I would recommend the debut CD to those of you with a bit of a bleaker heart, and those of you that like to dance and dig synth pop, "Meridian" is much more suited for you.
COP International http://www.copint.com

Still Life with Roses www.triplo.com/still EP ~reviewed by Admortem
Still is the musical expression of two amazingly passionate souls, Karen Kopacz and Blair Lafferty. The self-titled EP puts the listener directly in to the mental state of it's composers, and allows you to experience the love and pain they have felt with each other. This ability is a true sign of musical talent and passion. Blair's gentle, deep bass guitar accentuated with higher guitar notes in the forefront, and Karen's almost hum-like sweet voice, create a simple, yet intensely beautiful combination of feeling.

What makes Still so unique is its simplicity. No managerie of instruments or voices, no clutter to distract from the reality of the music. It is thoughts and feelings put to music, in their purest, most innocent forms, and does not have a need for any additional supplementation to make it interesting. Even the lyrics are slightly distorted by an echo, so as not to be the focus, rather to play their part in the creation of the entity that is music. In the words of Blair, Still is "…the sound of tears and dreams and lost chances and the beauty of poison. And always love." So turn the lights down low, pour yourself a drink, and experience this creation called Still.
Website: www.triplo.com/still

SUMMONING "Stronghold" CD ~reviewed by Kirin
I challenge you to find more emotive, empowering music, in any genre, from any time period. The first song of this CD alone is worth the price of the entire album. I could listen to it on repeat for a very long time. It's almost like taking Killing Joke's "Pandaemonium" CD and blending it with the very best of atmospheric black metal. The vocals are glorious, the music is impeccable, and I am trying to get my chin back from off the ground. Happily, the glory doesn't stop at the first song. It goes on and on and on, right up until the very end. Start to finish, this is one of the best dark metal albums I've heard. Ever. Descriptions like "atmospheric" and "symphonic" don't even begin to describe the grandeur of this music.

The music is just simply fantastic, and combined with the daemonic vocalisations of black metal, I am truly sitting here in a state of wonderment. These guys have gone to the centre of the heart of melody, and to the place few musicians find, where emotion and sound become one. Songs like "The Glory Disappears" take all the emotions and passions one feels when listening to the songs of say, the Scottish Highlands, and turns them into dark metal perfection. I've heard many a band try and fail to capture this regal and compelling atmosphere. Summoning make it look easy.

The song "Where Hope And Daylight Die" is another masterpiece achieved where many bands fail. At one point in my life, I thought I hated female vocals in black or dark metal bands. Napalm America have singlehandedly changed that notion for me. The bands on their roster seem to be the only bands in creation, perhaps besides Mortiis, who can pull it off with a sense of true dignity and elegance. This song is part Hagalaz Runedance, part Amber Asylum, all dark metal, and a testament to the various talents of the musicians involved.

Fans of black and dark metal like to talk about "progression," and complain often that albums, riffs, and songs don't "go anywhere." Those who wish to be told a tale in albums and songs, will definitely appreciate Summoning, and specifically "Stronghold." The changing atmospheres and sensations of this album are definitely an eloquent journey; fervent, poignant, sentimental, tender, stirring... nearly overwhelming at times. The influence of Tolkien in Summoning's music goes far beyond the lyrical. This music is a graceful expression of everything I've ever felt from Tolkien's writings. The last song, "A Distant Flame Before The Sun" is a perfect example.
"Stronghold" is a pleasure, and a gift to us all.
Summoning home page: http://members.tripod.com/cadaveria/frame2.htm
Napalm Records America PO Box 382 Bremerton, WA 98337 napalm@silverlink.net

Sunday Munich Pneuma ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
Though this CD is definitely not new, I have yet to find even one person that has ever heard of this band. I received this CD as a promo last summer and I am STILL obsessed with this CD. Imagine if you will, the spookiest moments of The Cranes paired with the electronics of say, Portishead. Then inject a few shots of cellos, creepy pianos, and watery guitars and you have a half-assed description of Sunday Munich, perhaps the finest and most anguished Darkwave band I have *ever* heard.

This is the disc of the century, bleak, foreboding, and truly haunting. The album opens with the aptly titled "Prozac," a groovy swinging track that at 72bpms is one the album's 'upbeat' tracks. "Smallest Tragedy," rips your heart right out of your chest within moments of the first drumbeat and opening lyric. An excessively bitter song dealing with unwanted pregnancy. A very unhappy and unfortunate song, however, the song makes for a profound and striking catharsis. "Home" is chalk full of floating piano and trippy techno break beats, with Sarah Hubbard's voice drifting upon the electronic waves of the song. "Refrain," a song with a slight hip-hop feel in the rhythms, though lots of eerie effects and sinister synth parts to make a unique blend of style.

Other standout tracks include "In The Same Way," with its watery Cure-esque guitars harmonizing with more cello playing that leads into a powerful chorus make it a great club hit as well. "Elaborate Schemes," the ultra cool track complete with distorted drums that crescendo into fast break beats, evil cello passages and Sarah's smoothest vocal performance on the record.

"Ugly," another mid-paced track that would be ideal for the dance floor. The instrumental "Suppose" is the albums most steady song in terms of rhythm, as the song centers around a driving hip hop beat with layers of cello to create an awesome, trippy effect. Very cool track, though I wish it had vocals. The album closes with the heart-wrenching and superbly sinister track "Two Missing." This song by far rivals even Lycia with its desolate and hollow sound, accented yet again by the brooding cellos, sensual beats, creepy reverse sample effects, and Sarah's heavily reverberated voice.I can't say enough good things about this band. I absolutely adore this CD and I would recommend that you seek this out, you won't be disappointed.
Sunday Munich p.o. box 6745 Clearwater FL, 33758-6745 www.kyan.com/sundaymunich Kyan www.kyan.com

Tara Van Flower This Womb Like Liquid Honey ~reviewed by: Black Orpheus (AKA A.F.)
You may know Tara VanFlower from uber Goth favorite Lycia. She began her association with the band on 1995s double cd "The Burning Circle And Then Dust." It was the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration. The time has come however for Tara to spread her wings.

She has done just that on "This Womb Like Liquid Honey." There is much to praise on this album, I pray I do it the justice it deserves. It is a splendid effort. Read on, gentle reader...

I was particularly taken with "Pink Fingers." The recurring synth track upon which everything else was layered, inspires a feeling of dark abandon. The palette of atmospherics was mesmerizing. The way Tara's voice wraps itself around the music is like a lovers caress. The writing is surrealistic, stream of consciousness. I found the lyrics very intriguing.

"Black Fuzzy" was another apple in this horn of plenty. It has a delicate, almost classical feel to it. I hear bass drum and bass guitar. The vocals are delivered in a drawn out; breathy manner. It had a sexy lullaby feel to it. When Tara sings "I see a spider, he's got a lotta charm, a barbed wire grin, he will cause me lots of harm," I rather believe she invites that harm.

"Zygote The Nothing," was also a delectable treat. It has something akin to a martial beat to it. This is wed to an almost industrial effect like sheet metal being struck. It reminded me favorably of Switchblade Symphony; but more sedate. Again, I really was taken with the lyrics of this song as well. This is music that you want to wash over your consciousness, in it's soothing, yet disturbing way.

I want to leave you with a few thoughts in parting. Tara has acquitted herself admirably, with this strong effort. I would urge you, to search it out. It will be well worth your effort. Pope said it best "Light quirks of music, broken and uneven, Make the soul to dance upon a jig to heav'n."
Web Site: Projekt Web

Tara Van Flower  This Womb Like Liquid Honey ~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
Ms. Van Flower offers and challenges listeners to escalate to a cerebral height with this outing. This Womb Like Liquid Honey, despite its title, is neither sexually titillating nor mundane. In fact, a common theme utilizing musical metaphor in child like fashion indicates the Aesop like ability of this artist. She deftly careens around subject matter while making the listener imbibe the message inherit within. Only upon repeated listening can one ascertain the brilliance of this project.

The opening song, "Opal Star" is a sing song childs anthem of "twinkle twinkle little star," reverbed to indicate the evolution of past and present. This convergence is further touched upon as the song is played backward. The star childs soul who is leaving the etheric world to inhabit a human form.

"Pink Fingers "begins with dark singular beats and synth phasing sound effects drawing us to the start of our story. One could almost envision the lyrics coming from the infants perspective as he communes telepathically with his host/mother. We are invited to peak at the "carnage" of this birthing process in a very subtle way. When one thinks of birth it is a form of beauty yet it is also a picture of bloodshed.

"This Womb Like Liquid Honey" with heartbeats echoing and Taras voice chanting at the opening, she segues to the infants perspective of a warm and comfortable environment. This comfort is destroyed as the Universe pulls us into the river of life. We often are back in this state of mind in real life when time seems to pull relentlessly forward and numbing us from ourselves.

"Little Bleu Cherry Girl" is a measured cacophony of sound with a young childs recitation of surrealistic dialogue. It seems as if an imaginary play thing is the receiver of this stream of consciousness. It is a recitation that would have made James Joyce and William Faulkner proud. This is not meant to be pretty, melodic music. This deftly illustrates via sound a child hood that is confusing, repetitious and frightening. It is a piece that constructs the loss of innocence as we explore a fearful world. We are devoid of the womb like comfort where security abounds.

"Bugbear" darkly ethereal in tone, further explores the lack of safety in our inner world. One succumbs to external pleasantries but is internally corrupted. This song reminds me of therapy utilized for children from abused homes. Often these children project their negative thoughts and angers onto a doll or stuffed toy. This process extrapolates much of the overt violence and violations that a small child has endured at the hands of those meant to comfort and love. This song peeks at the issue without overtly clobbering the listener.

"Elephant " is a fluted rendition of the motion of an elephants trunk. Is this the internal sound of a child further corrupted and violated on psychotropic medication? If one imagines an elephant at the zoo and listens to this track, you cannot help but be astounded at how the artist yet again takes something out of the ordinary to supply a "soundtrack" quality to its movement.

"Ezekiel 37:1:14" is more anxious in tone. It is a consummation of inward and outward desecration. Deep synth like bangs and measured chords play out the drama against the tapestry. Child like anthems and sing song voice deal with "devils march and mark you dead."

"Black Fuzzy" showcases the Aesop like ingenuity of the artist. The depiction of a lethal spider is juxtaposed over that of someone in a pin striped suit. We all know people like this. Those who can charm and draw us in but ultimately use us as prey. Sometimes we fall in love with this type only to discover too late that our heart has decayed in the process. " I see a spider/ hes got a lotta charm / a barbed wire grin / he will cause me lots of harm."

"Galactipus" is another instrumental piece plummeting us to the next level of loss in the myriad of internal struggle. Multi-layers of sound swirl in what sounds like echoes in the wind. It is a dark reflection of the internal void, filled with whispers and wails from a past that is somewhat tragic.

"Zygote The Nothing" this is probably the most "commercial" of all the songs presented. It has a driving dance beat accompanied to frothing water bubbles. We revisit the womb but on an adult level that makes this song appear to be a desecration of the fetus during an abortion procedure.

"The Old Hag" totally descends into a recriminatory hell for past deeds that have totally annihilated the will and the soul. All the internal ugliness one can muster are rolled into one person who somehow receives poignant insight to the abject repulsiveness of their actions. We are led to comprehend that the child within was previously expunged and replaced with someone with a blackened soul of degradation. It is after amassing a level of total debasement, did awareness of these actions take root to attempt to reclaim lost innocence.

"Talitha Koum" (Hebrews 2:14) is an amalgamation of a tinkling crib toy with spoken vocals and sound effects. It is the reclaimed soul confronting its darkness as it is forced to venture into hell.

This Womb Like Liquid Honey is not meant for those devoid of mental rumination. It is what I would consider high Gothic musical art. The work brings Tara to a level of genius as seen in artists such as Jarboe, Diamanda Galas, and Bjork. Many Lycia fans may be taken aback by this quixotic venture into a world of lost innocence and total self annihilation. It is quite admirable that Ms. Van Flower tackled a subject matter of this proportion and created a variegated vista of multiple levels. She could have chosen to make her first solo outing a more commercially viable vehicle, but to do so would have stripped her fans from the challenge to be reflective. This work requires repeated listenings to absorb the full impact of the often intentional double meanings and ambiguity.

I can only hope that Gothic/Ethereal fans continue to demonstrate their inate ability to embrace precocity as set forth with this release.
Projekt Records Box 166155 Chicago, Illinois 60616
Contact: Question@projekt.com artist e-mail: lyciummusic@earthlink.net web site: www.lyciummusic.com

TEENAGE BLACKOUT "Theories Of Jet Propulsion" CD ~reviewed by Kirin
First, Teenage Blackout won about 2,000 free bonus points in my book, because when you open the CD case, the first thing you see is a picture of a hollow needle. When you lift the CD out of the case, you see a picture of a black widow. This makes so much sense to me it's not funny, but I'm supposed to be reviewing the music, not the jewel case, so I'll quit while I'm ahead on the wonderful juxtaposition of these two photos, and how and why they perversely please me.

The first two songs reminded me almost of early Cocteau Twins or even <gasp> that old 80s band "Double" that did "The Captain Of Her Heart." I must admit, I like the tracks on the album best, that contain no singing, and only sampled voices. The tracks without vocals, move me in the same way that electronica always moves me; I love the crisp sounds and the wet beats. The samples keep things interesting and disturbing. To add near-ethereal female vocals to this mix, in my opinion, is to put oneself in peril. Don't mess with what's broken, as they say. The only band that's ever pulled off the feat of industrio-electronica+female vocals, that has stayed in my collection, is Single Gun Theory. With all due respect, I think Teenage Blackout should nix the vocals and flourish with what they do well, which is a graceful blend of harmony, rhythm, sampling, organic sound, and inspiring beats. Songs like "The Morning Of Our Departure" "Gaslighter" and "All Her Favorite Models" are perfect examples of Teenage Blackout at their best.
http://w3.one.net/~hubcap/starfish/teenage/index.html http://www.darrencallahan.com/teenage/index.html
Starfish Records http://w3.one.net/~hubcap/starfish/index.html PO Box 9441 Cincinnati, OH 45209
Superspy Records superspy5@juno.com PO Box 544098 Chicago, IL 60654

THY INFERNAL "Satan's Wrath" CD  ~reviewed by Kirin
I'm fairly sure that most people listening to this CD without knowing where these guys are from, would guess it would be a cold, snowy country in Northern Europe. Try Portland, Oregon, USA.

Thy Infernal play straight-ahead no-fookin'-around black metal. There is no hint of ambience or atmosphere amidst this chaos. There are no keyboards, there is no symphony, this ain't no disco. I wish I could have seen the shows where Thy Infernal played with Blood Axis and Corvus Corax. Those must have been some amazing moments in the history of the underground.

Thy Infernal have also shared the stage with the likes of Mayhem, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, and Immolation; I can't even begin to describe to you what those combinations must have done to the brain chemistries of the various participants. If you're not yet familiar with Mayhem, Immolation, or Thy Infernal, I can tell you that the physical effect must have been very like throwing oneself into a blender and immediately pushing the "puree" button.

Not all black metal bands, unfortunately, have the ability to capture the energy of their live shows in their studio recordings, or vice versa. Thy Infernal seem to do both quite well. I've not yet had the pleasure of seeing them live, but if the studio recordings are any indication whatsoever of the live shows, do yourself a favour and drive as far as you have to, to see these guys.

"Satan's Wrath" is also the name of an earlier demo tape by Thy Infernal, but this is not simply a re-release of that tape. This is a combination of new studio recordings and the old demo. Being that the demo tape has been hard to find for quite some time now, this CD is the answer to the prayers of many Thy Infernal fans who heard about them much too late to be able to buy a copy of the demo tape. Ask, and ye shall receive!

Besides the horrific grandeur of the music itself, I must comment once again on the brilliance of Chas. Balun's cover art. He also does the great death-crawling necro-zombie art for Necrophagia's releases on RedStream Records. (http://www.rstream.com/) The cover of "Satan's Wrath" should please lovers of the deliciously perverse comic "Faust", and should make for great t-shirts. (Hint hint, Moribund Records, make us some t-shirts!)

If Thy Infernal is America's answer to Norwegian black metal, I'll have to say, I'mhappily surprised. I didn't think we had it in us. Oh how I love to be wrong about these things!
Moribund Records Cult: PO Box 77314 Seattle, WA 98177-0314

Tiamat Skeleton Skeletron ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
Another one of Century Media's all stars, Tiamat have been responsible for several of the genres most important albums of the decade. They debuted in the metal scene with 1990's "Sumarian Cry," a straight forward black/death metal attack that set the standards for countless bands to follow. They followed up with "The Astral Sleep," where they began to experiment with acoustic guitar passages and keyboard interludes to break up the monotony of atypical death metal. With 1993's "Clouds," Tiamat turned the heads of fans and press alike with the lush atmospherics paired with harsh doom guitars and drums. They experimented even further with 1995's "Wildhoney," where they incorporated Floydian psychedelic sound scapes and smoothed out the gruff vocals with a deeper, clear voice. Their creativity piqued with "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber," where the band honed all their psychedelia and doom elements and blended them with a darker, Gothic rock style. The album yielded a very interesting listen, as it covered several bases, with the Sisters-esque rock of "Cold Seed," to the Darkwave techno of "Whores Of Babylon," and finally, the albums masterpiece, the ultra-haunting title track.

Yet Tiamat have done it again with "Skeleton Skeletron." Overall, the album is submerged deeper into a Gothic atmosphere, yet not abandoning the harmonized guitars all together. Johan's voice is smoother and more up to par than ever, and the music has a tight, crystal clear production. The guitar driven doom can be found in tracks such as "Church Of Tiamat" and

"For Her Pleasure," the latter of the two a very romantic song with a beautiful guitar lead and equally pleasing lyrics. But the first single, "Brighter Than The Sun," could have been an out take from the Sister's "Vision Thing" sessions, I kid you not. Tiamat also pays homage to the Rolling Stones with a cover of "Sympathy For The Devil," that again, sounds more like a tribute to the Sisters than the Stones. The album winds down with my favourite track, "Lucy," a song perfectly suited for the early evening hours of a night club, for when people are still filtering in and the dance floor is eerily empty save for a bit of dry ice and dim swirling lights.

Bottom line: though not traditionally a Gothic band per se, this album rivals almost every new release I have heard. This band has broadened their horizons and they most definitely did not write this album for their original death metal fans. Pick this up!!
http://www.wildhoney.org Century Media Records http://www.centurymedia.com

Type O Negative World Coming Down ~reviewed by Matt Heilman
I have been trying for years to figure out exactly what it is that causes such a large part of the Goth scene to shun thisband. Despite the occasional tongue in cheek humour and bitter sarcasm, they really are accomplished and passionate musicians with great songs and moments of absolute dark bliss. But alas, I have and always will be a fan, and with this album, I stand no differently.

Though I do admit I was disappointed to find that there were no all out gloom fests on this album, like on past recordings. There are no songs in the vein of "Wolf Moon," "Red Water," "Suspended In Dusk" or "Bloody Kisses." Rather, the songs are more groove oriented and Sabbathy, though there are some brilliant keyboard interludes so the Gothic element is far from gone and the music is still very dark.

"White Slavery" kicks off the album, a thudding anthem that sounds most like early material. "Everyone I Love Is Dead," yields a haunting chorus with a beautiful guitar/pipe organ arrangement behind Peter's menacing Lurch- like vocals. "Who Will Save The Sane?" is another groove oriented track, very Sabbathy in its rhythms and the lyrics seem to focus on stereotypes in society and the violence such judgements cause. The title track is a classic Type O styled anthem of unrequited love, and the weakness of men in the face of women, with an awesome Gregorian chant type part in the middle of the song.

"Creepy Green Light," reminds me very much of such songs as "In Praise Of Bacchus" and "Die With Me" from the band's last effort "October Rust." There is a fiendishly eerie pipe organ interlude in this track, that leads into one of the slowest, sludgiest rhythms Type O has ever done...think 10 bpm's! "Everything Dies" once again tackles Peter's grief over loosing several of his family members over the years, and like "Everyone I Love..." stands out as one of the most emotional tracks on the album. "Pyretta Blaze" serves as this albums "Cinnamon Girl" or "Set Me On Fire," probably my least favourite track on the album. "All Hallow's Eve" is probably the darkest track on the album, due to a very effective vocal tradeoff between Peter and Kenny, not to mention that the lyrics are about performing a black magick rite to reanimate a dead lover. Very cool...

The album closes with a Beatles cover I could have done without, but alas, an overall decent album. Not as passionate as October Rust, not as enthralling as Bloody Kisses, but definitely a great recording from American's first and best Goth/Doom metal outfit.
official website: www.typeonegative.net
ROADRUNNER RECORDS: www.roadrunnerrecords.com
The Negative Reaction 7529 Franklin Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046

The Winter Chapter Time Of Faith ~reviewed by Admortem
Winter Chapter is another band that "plays with machines cause they don't make mistakes" yet they have a completely different sound from most predominantly synthesized bands. Instead of using computers to create music that cannot be made in 'real life', they have duplicated and arranged the sounds of what can be described as a background orchestra. There is definitely a new sound to be found within their music.

My favorite song on this cd is, without a doubt, Blinded. The vocal style is reminiscent of Sam Rosenthal in it's passionate maleness as well as stimulating variance. But don't compare their sound to any other works; they also get very electro sounding with their beats and guitar synthesizing, such as with the song Kids. The Winter Chapter is truly capable of creating different sounds and styles on their cd Time Of Faith, from obvious dance tracks that are sure to be popular in the clubs, to more mellow, but always thought provoking, tracks. Listening to the lyrics on the cd provide so much more insight in to their overall sound and what the band is really projecting through their music. I advise to read the lyrics, then listen to the cd, and you will hear words that are filled with emotion that so completely complement the musical sound. A very gothic band, yet at the same time demonstrating the ability to encompass other styles, the Winter Chapter's Time of Faith is a CD that I am glad to have take it's place among my collection.
Website: www.winterchapter.com Email: winterchapter@winterchapter.com
Mailing Address: Dollhouse Productions 1638 Lexington Street Santa Clara, CA 95050

The Winter Chapter "Time of Faith" ~reviewed by Wolf
The Winter Chapter's history goes back as far as 1995, when bassist Steve Jennings gathered a handful of talented musicians around him to give life to this San Francisco Bay Area formation. Over the past 4 years they have released 2 ep's and last year their independently released full-length Time of Faith was received with praise by both the audience and the press. The Winter Chapter have gained a large following since they first started out and have shared the stage with big names such as Eva O., Shadow Project, Gene Loves Jezebel and Diatribe.

"Time of Faith" needed a few spins in my cd player before I could actually form an honest opinion on it. In the innovation department I can't give The Winter Chapter many points, but of course not every band is about pushing boundaries and exploring new styles. What does become clear after listening to "Time of Faith" for a while is that they're very comfortable with the darkwave/gothic rock style and aren't afraid to show that either. I've always appreciated Die Laughing and many times throughout the cd I was reminded of their work, with of course the major difference that The Winter Chapter has a male vocalist.

Speaking of the singing, at first I wasn't too impressed by his vocal qualities, but after a while they grew on me and he certainly possesses a rich and emotional voice. It works better on some tracks than others, but in general Felix gives The Winter Chapter a powerful character matching nicely with the compositions.

The Winter Chapter makes good use of their synthesizers (and they should, since they have two keyboard players in their line-up). Haunting sequences in the background, dazzling piano parts and subtle percussion all contribute to the layered structure of each song. Keyboardist Stacy Latta, the band's newest member, even gets the chance to spotlight her skills on the instrumental "In Transit." It could all have been mixed a little bit better, but let's not forget that this cd has been independently released. (Note: Sometime after finishing this review I received word that Stacy has left the band...)

"Nevermore" was a wise choice for an opening track. It's certainly one of the most powerful tracks on the album, together with "This Much", "Time of Faith" and "Lion's Game" on my list of choices. Some of the songs tend to be a bit repetitive, but I certainly see a lot of potential for The Winter Chapter in the future. If they manage to grab the attention of a good label and improve on their compositional skills then they're sure to broaden their fan base even more.

Check out their web site, which has a handful of mp3's available to sample their sound. I'm personally not a very big fan of this genre of music anymore, but if this is what you're into then they're certainly worth checking out.
Official web site: http://www.winterchapter.com or http://thewinterchapter.iuma.com E-mail: winterchapter@winterchapter.comInformation: Dollhouse Productions: 1638 Lexington Street Santa Clara, CA 95050

WENCH Self titled CD ~reviewed by Blu
Wench is written, performed, programmed and produced by Frances Byrne along with her partner in crime Katreece Montgomery on electronic percussion for live shows. I've got to say, this is probably the best CD you'll get your greedy little gothic hands on this year. It's a jewel of a find and should be in every DJ's collection as each track on here lends itself well to the club atmosphere. I've heard this CD called everything from "spooky Alien ethereal" to "futuristic ambient." With its unique melding of ancient cultures and futuristic cyber themes, Wench is like nothing out there proving that Frances does more all by herself then most full-sized bands out there can even attempt to do. Fans of The Changelings, Dead Can Dance, Steve Roach and even Souixsie and the Banshies (or their current reincarnation as The Creatures) will all love this CD.

I first heard the song "Radio India" on an mp3 and was immediately enchanted by its exotic, eastern atmosphere. Full of beautiful melodic voice lines, odd radio transistor sounds and impressive drumming, it was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was as if they took the listener on a fantastic flight across the orient. Like a fiend on a mission, I sought out their website and immediately ordered the CD. To my delight, every track was just as impressive. I've since played it at numerous parties and watched it consume everyone in the room. In New Orleans over Halloween, three people asked where they could get it and one even rushed back to his hotel to order it off his laptop. Trust me when I say, if you buy yourself something for the holidays this year - this CD would be a wise investment.

"Chant" opens the CD with a haunting blend of atmospheric electronics, vocal melodies that sound like goddesses and array of tribal drumming that includes bells and chimes. This is one song that you can't listen to without moving - its sensual beauty is all too powerful to sit still. "Salome's Dreams" follows "Radio India" to make it the third track and one that reminds me most of the strong vocals of Souixsie accented by healthy percussion. "Tantra" is next with a bit softer and more ethereal melody line but with an insistent beat that is full of sparkling chimes and sudden bursts of energy. "Voodoo" is black-magic sensuality at its best. Talk about sexy and spooky! It opens with strange whispered vocals against a space-like vast, bleak background, then after a series of strange screams (some say alien cries), it winds and slithers its way into a seductive, slow beat.

"Ghost" starts out with a cold electronic feel- Frances's melodic voice laid out against a series of metallic accents. My mind keeps picturing dark, empty halls made out of stainless steel lit up by a ghostly blue light. It's beautiful and eerie all at once. "Wasteland" is a beautiful combination of dance-electronica and ancient sounding melodies while "Jewel" is a bit lighter with flutes and strange shimmering percussion that is something like the sound light would make when it hit flawless metal if it could indeed make a sound. "Ophelia" is more angry sounding than melancholy when Frances sings, "And now she knows that nothing matters" in a bitter, self-righteous song. And finally, a intensely spooky but achingly beautiful "Sidonia" rounds out this ten-song collection.

But wait, the goodies don't end here. Please do check out their website (www.wenchmusic.com) because this CD is only one of the treats these Wenches offer their adoring public. The site itself is beautiful, well-written and full of eyecandy as Katreece lends her talents as an illustrator extraodinaire bringing the legend of "Wench" to life. Katreece also dabbles in the exotic world of Elizabethan ruffs, Victorian frills and Harlotry headwear - "fabulous fashions for frivolous freaks." Add to that a neat assortment of Wenchwear tshirst ("Because inside every women is a wench dying to get out"), posters, and an interest in making movie soundtracks (pay attention all you would-be film makers), this two-woman show is a non-stop feast of impossible talent.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand why "Wench" isn't a common word on the lips of every strong-willed woman in our scene yet. I imagine as soon as the word gets out, things are going to skyrocket for these amazon-envying girls. So do yourself a favor - grab the CD for yourself and some friends (they'd make GREAT Christmas presents hint hint) before everyone else realizes just how fabulous they are.

http://www.wenchmusic.com email: wench@wenchmusic.com