Isn’t it something when you listen to an album for the first time and it’s so good, you feel a bit depressed because you know you have to wait almost forever for the next album to come out? That’s how I felt the first time I heard Dreaming Neon Black, Nevermore’s fourth release. Well, forever has arrived, and Dead Heart In A Dead World is now upon the world. I had expected an album more like DNB because it was so groundbreaking, but with the first spin of the disc, I knew Dead Heart In A Dead World was different. It’s faster, thicker, rougher, and much more straightforward while still maintaining Nevermore’s own sound.
Recorded at Village Productions in Tornillo, TX, they recruited Andy Sneap (of Machine Head and Stuck Mojo fame) to oversee the new album. The first thing you notice about it is how much heavier it seems. “Narcosynthesis”, “We Disintegrate”, “Inside Four Walls”, and “Evolution 169” blast you through the first third of the album, each equally heavy and capturing. “The River Dragon Has Come” is one of my favorite songs on the album, and has some of the most fantastic guitar work featured on the album. “The Heart Collector” is where the album takes a slight breather, and although still heavy, the pace of the song allows you to rest your neck and get a drink of water. “Engines of Hate” picks right back up, however, and this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It’s loaded with the fast paced thrum of intricacy that Nevermore has perfected over the years. This definitely earns one of my picks for the album.
This album wouldn’t be complete without one cover song. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkle. Oddly enough, when I read the titles for the tracks, it never clicked that this was a cover song. I ran home and popped it in my player with nary a second thought. When the track started, I heard a familiar tune vent from my speakers, but in a few clicks of the second-hand, it was gone. The opening planted the seed, and that’s all it needed to do. What came after that was definitely not the doings of Simon and Garfunkle. The song lurches away from the original, has steroids rammed down its gullet, and is presented with no resemblance to the original other than the lyrics. Is it good? Damn right.
The final third of the album slows down a bit but by no means becomes monotonous. “Insignificant” is highly memorable, as is “Believe in Nothing”. But leave it to Nevermore to let us out of this despairing journey on a soft note. Or not. “Dead Heart In A Dead World” starts off with Warrel crooning to the gentle strums of guitarist Jeff Loomis, and then quickly rams a steel-toed boot clear up your ass. This song just kicks ass. Period.
Dead Heart In A Dead World is an album loaded with marvelous musicianship. Nevermore blasted out of Seattle sticking to their own sound (what WAS that grunge crap anyway?!) and it’s paying off. I was worried that the loss of Tim Calvert, one of Nevermore’s smooth-running cylinders, would have a great impact on the complexity of the music. Jeff Loomis has risen to the task with a vengeance, and even Warrel proves he still has his pipes by returning to Sanctuary’s vocal style in a few tracks. This is an excellent album, but once again, I’m feeling depressed as I know I have to wait for more material. One bright spot, though. Nevermore are currently touring with In Flames and Shadow’s Fall. My recommendation: GO!
Warrel Dane – Vocals
Jeff Loomis – Guitars
Jim Sheppard – Bass
Van Williams – Drums
Smail: 1453-A 14th Street #324
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: 310 - 574 7400
Fax: 310 - 574 7414
Artists / Projekt Records
~reviewed by Matthew
“An introspective descent into the male soul” so states the promotional release, and this compilation makes a valiant and primarily successful attempt at setting foot upon such complex shores. Released as a companion album to last year’s “Seireenia” compilation of female vocals, “Orphee” (named of course after the mythological figure of Orpheus, a musician that met a most unfortunate and tragic end) is a collection of male artists in the softer and more delicate realm of underground music.
The track list alone is very interesting, as it expectantly houses a fair share of Projekt artists including Soul Whirling Somewhere, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, and newcomers Audra and Unto Ashes. But I was especially surprised to see Christian Death and Tones On Tail included, mainly as the songs chosen are quite old and I just never imagined that these songs would appear on a Projekt release. But when all is said and done, they fit in well with the standard dark ethereal atmosphere characteristic to the label.
There is a very personal vibe to the CD, and it could possibly be regarded as a mix CD delivered by Sam Rosenthal himself, if one were to ask him to pick some of the most definitive male vocalled songs of the past 15 or so years. That may put the unique track list into perspective.
With that aside, I will say that “Orphee” is certainly a good release. There is a universal mood to all the songs, despite that they all would appear at different marks on the ethereal and new age spectrums. The arresting potential and passionate sensitivity of the male voice is perfectly represented by the thirteen tracks chosen. It explores varying emotions, from traditional romantic pining, loneliness, love, and hints of black humour most perfectly captured by Audra’s masochistic tongue in cheek track “You’re So Pretty.”
main highlight for me was the offering from Unto Ashes, a very stark and
simple track with warm acoustic guitars, chimes, and soft male vocals.
It almost has a dark Christmas carol vibe to it, much like Dead Can Dance’s
classic “The Carnival Is Over.” The other highlight for me was that
I was CD introduced to Judgement of Paris, who to me sound like the perfect
mix between typical 4AD and Projekt qualities, led by exceptionally moving
vocals and a swirling hypnotic atmosphere.
Human Drama’s sweetly melancholic neo-classical ode is delivered with the characteristic feverish passion of the band, and is a gorgeous song with beautiful piano and a string quartet. It appears on the newest release “Solemn Sun Setting.” Dead Can Dance percussionist Peter Ulrich appears with an eclectic blend of Celtic folk, Mediaeval instrumentation, and new age majesty, from his CD “Pathways & Dawns.”
of the songs are familiar to me, and will be to you as well. The
Black Tape song is the title track from the project’s fourth release “A
Chaos Of Desire,” which is a wonderful album that new fans may not have
had the opportunity to hear much of.
Who could ever forget Tones On Tail, the mid-eighties project of Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins after Bauhaus called it quits in 1983. The mischievous and psychedelic “Lions” fit in well on the compilation. A nice dive into the archives there, as well as with the 1984 David Sylvian track and the Nooten/Brook track from 1987.
And if ever Christian Death appeared on a Projekt comp, I can’t think of a more fitting track than this one, “Mother” which first appeared on Rozz Williams’ come back Cleopatra release “The Path Of Sorrows” in 1992. With swirling eboed guitars and subtle piano, it is one of the few ethereal type tracks Williams’ ever did under the Christian Death moniker.
All in all, Orphee is a strong package of relaxing, introspective tracks from some of the most talented male artists in the dark music scene. The only drawback is that these songs are not rare or unreleased, and can be found rather easily elsewhere. Also, the CD might be too ethereal for some listeners, so be aware that this is a pensive collection of slower, melodic lullabies and laments, as opposed to Goth rock or club anthems. But I think that it is a great collection of songs, and its strongest asset is the convenience of having one single disc comprised of both new and familiar songs rich in atmosphere and transcendent beauty.
1.) JOHN FOXX – Splendour
2.) JANSEN/BARBIERI – Ringing The Bell Backwards
3.) BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL – A Chaos Of Desire
4.) HUMAN DRAMA – A Single White Rose
5.) TONES ON TAIL – Lions
6.) UNTO ASHES – Scourge
7.) AUDRA – You’re So Pretty
8.) JUDGEMENT OF PARIS – More
9.) PETER ULRICH – Life Amongst The Black Sheep
10.) CHRISTIAN DEATH – Mother
11.) DAVID SYLVIAN – Nostalgia
12.) SOUL WHIRLING SOMEWHERE – Soaked And Captured
13.) PETER NOOTEN/MICHEAL BROOK – After The Call
Tape For A Blue Girl:
On Tail / Beggar’s Banquet:
Sowing The Seeds Of Chaos
~reviewed by Michael
Having seen this band as part of the opening bill for Deicide, I found myself quite interested in this local act. Their bassist, Steve Morgan, aka Asmodeus,hooked me up with a demo.
Project Apocalypse is black metal and as a whole are excellent songwriters. They have an excellent stage presence also, and were warmly welcomed by the crowd. Sowing the Seeds Of Vengeance is a demo in three parts, “Guggles”, “Priest of Baal”, and “Sweet Majestic Darkness”, which is easily the best song on the demo.
Hailing from Michigan, the band was formed by Asmodeus and Dark Brown (lead guitar). After completing their lineup, they decided to launch their own brand of dark metal. The vocals range from death metal growls to a Satyr-like voices, the keyboards are majestic yet eerie, and the guitar work is good.
Project Apocalypse falls flat is in their presence. The names don’t
quite match the style of music and, I’m sorry to say, the “priest” thing
has already been done. Even though they are just starting out, changing
their image a bit will definitely help them out a lot. They have
the talent, for sure, but without hearing them, many people may find them
cheesy to tolerate. If you do get a chance to see them, however, sit back and listen to some fresh, Michigan, black metal.
Asmodeus – Bass Guitar
Crazy Dave – Emissary Of The Apocalypse
Abaddon – Rhythm Guitar
Raziel – Keyboards
Drummer Drug – Drums
Dark Brown – Lead Guitar
~reviewed by Michael
At a recent Deicide show, I was privileged to havesome excellent opening acts perform. Production Grey was surely one of them. I spent some time talking to Tim Sever (drums), and he was nice enough to hook me up with their CD, Defilement. Previously released are two demos and a full length CD entitled Channel Your Aggressions.
While in concert, the songs contained on this album were far and away heavier than the ones contained on this CD, the songs are essentially the same and are but a milestone in the history of a hard working and deserving band.
On Defilement, the music takes on the feel of old death/hardcore metal. The songs are well structured and each song is unique in it’s own way. It’s bottom heavy, full of great riffs, and extremely easy to listen to. Standout tracks include “The Paradox of Existence”, “Fatal Implications”, and “Fear The Eternal”.
Production Grey was at one time signed to Relapse Records, but internal problems with the band forced a split up and the deal was voided. Now back together with an even stronger lineup and a style that has been overhauled for the better, the band has signed to Embryo Records, which is an independent label out of Las Vegas.
Production Grey is definitely a highly talented band and has acquired a huge following. They have definitely put a lot of hard work into their music and their stage show and it shines through again and again. Although I like their newer style more, this is still an album that reveals to us the embryonic stages of a band that is well on their way to headlining. Their new CD, Orchestrated Violence, will soon be released and will reveal the tyranny they are capable of.
Bob King – Lead Guitars
Tim Sever - Drums
Jeremy Omo – Vocals
Dave “Snoop” Carmona – Bass
Tony Landis – Guitars
Smail: Production Grey
P.O Box 6329
Jackson, MI 49201
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
The mailman keeps dropping these nuggets of joy into my mailbox.. 'Impulses' is yet another of the teensy Frozen Empire Media CD-R limited edition releases... They're so CUTE!
this one is my least favorite of the Frozen Empire stuff so far, for one
reason only, which will become apparent soon enough. Do not think that
I'm going to give this release a bad review, oh no.. Frozen Empire Media
have a flawless track record so far in the rhythmic/powernoise department,
and Radial is no exception to this.. My beef with 'Impulses' is one of
personal taste, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the
So how about I just get to the point?
is one of those projects that utilizes extremely high-frequency squeals
as part of their repertoire of sounds. I don't know why, but this sort
of thing affects me on a much deeper level than most people... Perhaps
in a previous life I died at the hands of a dentists drill? Anyways, these
frequencies don't sit well with me, or with the people around me who have
to deal with my (usually violently negative) reactions to it. It is for
exactly this reason that I can't abide TheAnti-Group, either.
There. That's it. That's the only reason that I don't like this release as much as the other current wave of Frozen Empire stuff. See? A personal taste thing.
Now for the good stuff...
Underneath the piercingly high pitches lies a malformed beast of experimentalism. In keeping with the FrozenEmpireMedia mark-of-quality, 'Impulses' is mostly rhythmic/powernoise.. But Radial doesn't stick with the format as zealously as his(?) peers, and the second half of this cd relaxes into a slightly more introspective examination of soundscapism. Tracks 1 and 2 (Liberation and Vaccinate, respectively) are every bit as furious and up-tempo as you would expect from the genre. And then track 3, 'Staring At The Walls', kind of veers into a hypnotic place, and in places almost sounds as if it has some tribal elements fighting to get out... A tribe doing a ritual chant in a factory has little hope of the Gods hearing, however. So, no ethereally pretty 'Enigma-esque' breaks are to be found here.
Oh boo-hoo.. Cry me a river. g'wan you sissy... SCRAM!
we have 'Contaminated Air', which is pure soundscapism. It brings to mind
a Friday night, deep underground in some offworld mining colony. This could
be the stuff one would hear right before some crazed species of alien rips
the place apart, only to have some heartless corporation come along 50
years later to try and capture the species to use as a military bio-weapon..
I'm sure you get the picture. Deep drones and metallic scraping sounds,
'Contaminated Air' is definitely my favorite track on the disc. So you
have 2 options here... Pay the few shekels to get this cd now, or start
saving your shekels now, and in a year or so you might have saved up enough
money to afford the price of this on Ebay. Do the math.. Which seems easier?
Come on, your inner-elitist won't be complete without this...
3: Staring At The Walls
4: Contaminated Air
Radial is: I have no friggin clue. Someone in the New York area, I think. Both the Radial and Frozen Empire websites make no mention of who it is behind the creation of the music. So, it's either an eccentric who values privacy alot, or someone we all know, but who doesn't want their past to interfere with the purity of the music. Could Radial be Corey Haim?
Frozen Empire Media: http://www.frozenempiremedia.com
Un:erotica/Reformatted Eighties Audio
~reviewed by Matthew
Though I agree with the fact that "Adrenaline” had been overplayed and over remixed since this band first rode the 2nd wave of Goth Rock in the early nineties, I still miss that era of Rosetta Stone and always will. After the releases of “Foundation Stones” and “Adrenaline,” they started to slip off into the realm of Industrial and Electronics and further from driving, straight-forward Goth rock. Whether or not they grew tired of the Sisters Of Mercy comparisons or just caught the Electro bug, I really don’t know. It was here that I quit following them and haven’t really heard much from them other than a few compilations appearances here and there.
So here we are, after those few CDs that I admittedly know very little about, founder Porl King is the only remaining member. This thirteen song release is a collection of eighties radio hits redone by King and delivered in a contemporary synth/Electro pop style. With the common appeal of 80’s gag songs cropping up in the playlists of most Gothic or Industrial clubs, this seems like the type of CD that would appeal to many.
I remember about ¾ of these songs from when I was growing up, but I am sure that readers in their late twenties will be much more familiar with these songs, and will have more memories of them to appreciate it these new interpretations. The versions of these songs are very faithful, having been ‘improved’ with the harder beats, subdued electric guitars, and multiple layers of electronics and effects, though not losing sight of the melodies that made these songs pop hits.
The CD opens with a rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Road To Nowhere” which has a pulsing trip hop type beat behind simple distorted guitars, quirky synths, and King’s smooth vocals that stand up easily with any given male synth pop vocalist. Therefore all the formulas are introduced early in the release to please fans of both modern day synth pop and the fans of this music’s Regan-era roots.
In some cases, I prefer these songs better than the originals. I hate Gary Numan. I always will. But the version of “Are Friends Electric” is much more tolerable through Rosetta Stone for me than through the Tubeway Army. I know probably everyone will disagree with me on this but I never liked this song and the fact that I now find it tolerable must say something for Rosetta Stone and this CD.
The track that stands out the most for me is the cover of Tears For Fears’ classic “Shout.” The end result is just as catchy as the original, with the darker vibes of the song brought to the forefront. This version is a club anthem. It’s probably the album’s most familiar song, now redone in an irresistible format that will cause mass exoduses to the dance floors in dark clubs all over.
The Rush track, “Spirit of the Radio” is just plain fun: I love it. The speedy guitar licks are looped above intricate and rhythmic drum patterns that fit the melody of the song perfectly. It is a brave thing to attempt to fill the shoes of Neil Peart, but alas I guess the only thing that really could would be a machine.
I was also very partial to the Police cover for “Synchronicity,” mainly because I am still a big Police fan. The track almost has a post punk kinda swing to it, submerged of course in synth and electronics, but not buried too deep not to recognize it.
This CD is pretty good, however, it gets slightly monotonous and predictable after awhile. Overall, it’s more of a fun CD. Its not meant to be some drastic dark music monument and nor is it trying to prove anything. Dance floors always seem to fill when the DJs slip in classic eighties number, and lately, dance floors have been overcrowded to the sounds of stuff like VNV Nation and Assemblage 23. Here the two sounds and eras of synth pop have been fused, and if this doesn’t make the kids and young adults in black get up and groove I don’t know what will.
1.) Road To Nowhere (Talking Heads)
2.) Are ‘Friends’ Electric? (Tubeway Army)
3.) Messages (OMD)
4.) Two Tribes (Frankie Goes To Hollywood)
5.) Shout (Tears For Fears)
6.) Temptation (Heaven 17)
7.) Small Town Boy (Bronski Beat)
8.) Synchronicity II (The Police)
9.) Spirit Of The Radio (Rush)
10.) Love Is A Stranger (Eurythmics)
11.) Don’t Go (Yazoo)
12.) Reward (Teardrop Explodes)
13.) The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum (Fun Boy Three)
Porl King: voice – guitar – computer
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
Signal 12 is one of the Psychosis Laboratories projects, namely the work of Lars and Leif Hansen.. More commonly known as the brilliance behind Oneiroid Psychosis. It is no secret how much I adore Oneiroid Psychosis, and so far the 2 side-projects of O.P. (Signal 12 and No One) are easily the equal in quality to the Hansen Bros. prime beast of creepy electronic music. No One was a masterful work of chaotic sound/noisescapes, and Signal 12...well, Signal 12 is where the Brothers pick up the pace. Last years 'Signal 12' (self titled) was a frantic dive into high energy EBM-based electronica. 'Aphonica' sees the focus of Signal 12 shifting, but in such a delicious new way. This latest offering brings Signal 12 somewhat closer to the sound of Oneiriod Psychosis, but with less attention paid to sheer creepiness, and more paid to just exploring what the Brothers Hansen are capable of.
Apparently they are capable of quite alot.
Lars has always handled the vocal work for Oneiriod Psychosis. His voice is SO freakin' good... I am left in a continual state of envy when listening to him belt it out. The last Signal 12 was an all instrumental release, 'Aphonia' sees a correction to that mistake... Not only does Lars provide his token crooning, he pushes his vocals to places we've never seen before. Take the second track, a cover of 'Moving In Stereo' by the Cars. Most industrial-esque covers these days tend to dummy the vocals down to a monotone that the meager vocal talents of the modern-day industrial vocalist can handle.. Not so with Signal 12. It's going to be a long time before I can hit notes like that. Track 4, 'Culmination Of The Opposites'? Delightful in every way... 'TK421' sees a duet with a certain Cat Hall, and it's all good... There is a fair amount of female vocal presence on this cd, actually... AwwYeahh... Normally I'm pretty good at stringing along words of praise, but I find myself at a loss with this cd. This cd is amazing, and deserves high recognition and praise. Go out and buy it, buy extras for all of your friends...
2: Moving In Stereo
4: Culmination Of The Opposites
5: Bye Bye Biff
6: Connector D
8: Transmission From Core Lab
9: Slow Burn
12: Moving In Stereo remix
COP Int'l Records: http://www.copint.com
~reviewed by Michael
Everyone needs an outlet, a place to roam and be free from the demons that haunt your life day to day. An oasis, shaded glens in the woods, or just lying on the beach are places we take our minds to escape. Often times, we need a medium to carry us there as daily turmoil tends to prevent this type of relaxing. Sara Ayers provides this medium with her new CD, Sylvatica.
is primarily an instrumental piece with little vocals and spoken word to
tell you what to think. The music is primarily keyboards that swell
and recess again or loop throughout to be joined by overlapping vocals.
Although it may sound simple at first listen, the music gains complexity
with each listen. “Flight” starts with looped vocals repeating “lonely…a
feather falls” and as it repeats, it changes and evolves slowly and eventually
is taken over by Sara’s singing. “21 Years” ebbs forward and then
recedes again into your nether senses. “Are You Coming Home?” sounds
quite spooky in the beginning, running various samples (“Here you are.
Where are you going? Have you been here before?”) while she sings
“Crush the bones, burn the bodies”. It struck me as some kind of
ward to keep the evil out of this safe
place in your mind you have created.
Sara Ayers has created a complex album that remains structured, yet amazingly allows your mind freedom to roam. Fans of Black Tape For A Blue Girl will be delighted with this and for anyone who needs a little time with themselves, pop this in and let Sara open the door to tranquility.
1. Winter and the Sound of Nothing
5. 21 Years
6. Falling Silent (Crushing Mix)
7. Are You Coming Home?
9. Soundtrack to Angel #3 (Excerpt)
10. Dream of Noise
11. Of the Wood
Ayers website: www.saraayers.com
All Things Are Connected
~reviewed by Michael
This is digital war! This is the soundtrack to a club scene in a horror movie. This is what it would sound like if an animated blender was meeting its misfortune inside a microwave and trying to get out. This is a sampling board having an orgy with the other equipment once the studio is closed. This is Schizoid.
All Thing Are Connected is the project of one J. Smith and it shows the hate and contempt he has for society. Songs like “New God”, “Elitist Musings”, and “It Feels Like I’m Being Raped” causes your neurons to misfire and at times you think your very skull will explode. It combines radically fast BPM’s, heavy sampling, and aggressive cyber-screams to portray the utter cacophony that society has become, and it doesn’t paint a good picture.
To label the album as “aggressive” or “hardcore” would be playing it down. I have no word for this and rarely have I ever heard anything like it. Slow, groovy parts are laced with poisonous samples that bleed into the speed. There is little structure to be found here, as it is in our country today. Fans of extreme techno mixed with grindcore and punk are sure to get into this. If you want chaos packed into 14 tracks, I urge you to open Pandora’s Box and buy this.
J. Smith – Vocals, live guitars, programming, noise, lyrics
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - http://members.xoom.com/dtrash/
Email – email@example.com
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
Upon first listen, this wee cd made me want to bludgeon something into a state of non-existence. Repeated listening hasn't really curtailed that urge too much. Hot DAMN this is angry stuff... Every phat, syncopated beat (yo) is saturated with 'Essence O' Whoopass'.
It has been recently pointed out that rhythmic/powernoise is a genre that virtually defies reviewing, as the nature of powernoise writing techniques tend to render description redundant... I can see that as a valid enough point, sure... But one _can_ comment on the mood established, and how effective the artist at hand is at layering together a pleasing salad of energetic sounds. (Here I go with the food analogies again...)
Take the Iron Chefs, for example.. All are cooks, so what they do is more or less the same, but the execution varies, altering the end result. So it is with rhythmic noise. Thus, Noisex is a sad example of failure at this genre, whereas Synth-Etik is freakin' near godlike.
is it with Joe Abrascia and his Frozen Empire Media?? He just scores over
and over again... Aural Blasphemy, Idyl, Radial, Synth-Etik... All are
shining moments in this burgeoning sub-style of industrial music.)
Back to the energetic sound salad for a moment... 'Dark Visuals' is yet another 4 track limited edition CD-R. Looks like Frozen Empire believes in 'short-but-brutally-sweet'. The first track, 'Devoid, kicks off with a stuttering percussive line that chatters like an automatic weapon, replete with a slight cough in the timing to throw off the rivetheads on the dancefloor. Just when you figured this would be a premature ejaculation of ideas, the disc slaps you upside the skull with 'Optical', a sweetly hypnotic track.. As bombastic as it is entrancing. I think I detected a Van-Halen sample in there, too.
Synth-Etik has just surpassed Winterkalte as my heroes of powernoise. Yes,
it's _that_ good.
Track three, 'Dark Adaptation, isn't as instantly memorable, but keeps the homicidal-urges running amok, so it's all good. The disc wraps up with 'Suspended Animation', and it's sort of 'chainsaw-ripping-through-my-spinal-column' feel... Why why oH WHY IS THIS CD ONLY 4 TRACKS LONG?!?!?!
...Yeah, I like this cd. As with all Frozen Empire releases, it's limited edition, so you'd better hurry to snap up the last copies. You'll SO be paying out the ass on Ebay in a year or so for this. So treat your inner psychopath right, and get this cd. You'd be taunting fate not to, and this way the neighbors won't describe you as 'Such a quiet young man' to the media after the slaughter.
3: Dark Adaptation
4: Suspended Animation
is Frank Mokras
Frozen Empire Media: http://www.frozenempiremedia.com
~reviewed by Michael
At the time I received this, I had never heard the music of Skyclad but I knew they were out there. I was more than anxious to hear them, as I am always excited to hear new music, but my excitement was quickly trampled underfoot within mere minutes of hearing their tenth CD, Folkemon.
to give credit to Skyclad for their unique style of music. Why not
take folk music and incorporate it into a power metal base? Electric
violins, cult vocals, and sing-along choruses, smoothly blended into acoustic
and harder electric guitars is the idea here. The songs will whip you from
Renaissance times to a harder edge all in the same breath. By all
accounts, this should go over like toothpicks in a hair-eating contest
but for some reason, this just doesn’t work for me. The album
cover has a cartoonish feel to it and with song titles like “Polkageist!” and “When God Logs Off”, I had trouble taking them seriously.
Obviously Skyclad has some sort of following or they wouldn’t have ten albums to date. The musicianship is good but as a whole, this falls short of what I expected to hear from them. Even after four full spins of the disc, it still doesn’t click. If you are a Skyclad fan, this is probably right up your alley but for anyone wanting to go out on a limb and buy something new, it would be better to sample before buying.
Martin Walker: Voice
Steve Ramsey: Guitar, lead guitar, slide guitar,
acoustic guitar, and backing vocals
Graeme English: Bass, acoustic guitar, classical
guitar, backing vocals
George Biddle: Fiddle, backing vocals, keyboards
Kevin Ridley: guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Jay Graham: Drums, percussion, keyboards, jaws harp,
hunting horn, backing vocals
~reviewed by Matthew
In the summer of 1998, I was attempting to build up servicing from dark music record labels in order to review and spin the music when I would DJ. After I sent out a ridiculous amount of spam to every single label email address I could find, I received a promo of “Pneuma” by Sunday Munich. It is things like that make me so glad I have the opportunity to do this, because every once in awhile as a music journalist, something profound drops into your lap. I was proud to say I had in my possession one of dark music’s yet to be unearthed treasures. I assumed in a matter of a few months, the Gothic club scene would be hearing this band in the latter hours of club nights all over the country. But that has yet to happen. To this day, I am deeply puzzled as to why Sunday Munich has risen to the crème de la crème of darkwave music, as they seem to feature all the elements people enjoy in this kind of music. Yet very few people have heard them or experienced the stark and painfully introspective brilliance of their music.
With Sunday Munich, you have a triumphant combination of mid paced trip hop groove, dense electronic loops, and a sensual energy found in the provocative rhythms, slithering cello passages, and the powerful and discernable vocals of Sarah Hubbard. All these characteristics floored me with the debut CD, but they have returned with the follow-up “Vinculum” and they’ve refined, accentuated, and expanded their sound with a greater use of treated guitars and the addition of a male vocalist to accompany Sarah’s vulnerable alto. Sunday Munich should very well be on their way, speeding further along toward success. It is going to be downright impossible for them not to be catapulted into the forefront of dark music’s most notable electronic heavyweights; all they need is the exposure.
Whereas they seem to represent the antithesis of dance-floor bounce, this to me seems the ideal music to dance to as there is an inherit expressiveness in the gathering of rhythm, melody, and hypnotic mood. I really can’t put it any easier than this, and to playfully spoon-feed it to readers: Sunday Munich are the type of music that the majority of the Gothic scene would absolutely adore. And fans of Industrial/Synth Pop would appreciate Avis’ programming skills or they will at least be thankful as they could deliver that much needed break on the dancefloor after stomping to Hocico or FLA. I swear if one more person tells me there is no good ‘goth’ out there worthy of club play, I will scream. Here it is: Sunday Munich.
‘Vinculum’ is over 70 minutes of pure darkwave bliss. Sixteen tracks total, united by an oppressive yet irresistible gloom, yet stirred with drafty echoes of ethereal mood, mopey indie-rock self-deprecation, and a laid-back acoustic rock appeal all nestled in this one convenient and satisfying disc. This album transcends genres and I could even see them breaking into the mainstream with such supremely catchy offerings like “Dent” and “Bed,” not to mention a ghostly rendition of Pink Floyd’s classic anthem “Wish You Were Here.” I tested this hypothesis on a few ‘non-goth’ friends, who are avid fans of Portishead, Hooverphonic, Sarah McLachlan, and darker alternative and they immediately wanted to hear more.
The early half of the disc is slightly lighter and more radio friendly, the icy brilliance of the instrumental “Phone,” is shadowed by sinister choir samples and eerie guitar bends that swell atop a dense backbeat. Rarely are instrumentals as strong as this, and it recalls another instrumental entitled “Suppose” from their first album that was also club worthy despite Sarah’s vocal absence. Sarah returns to form and by the seventh track “Her Name,” the dark heart of the CD is stripped bare. The mood spirals into a genuine authenticity of emotional expression, carried further with the lulling ballad “apparent” and into the languishing angst of “Kept.” There are so many mentionable accomplishments on this CD: the simplistic yet powerful acoustic dirge “Cell,” where new vocalist Lee M. Helms takes center stage. Followed by “Scathed” which summarizes Sunday Munich’s style with a faster and steady beat wed with the presence of cello, piano, acoustic guitar and Sarah’s heart-felt vocals. And last though definitely not least, an outstanding vocal performance is delivered on “Expose” which features a climactic chorus coloured by one simple painful line, pleading “hold me, you’ve got to hold me.” The snake-like cello, static tinged beats, and distant whispers of piano drift along…and love dies silently.
Have I peaked your curiosity? I certainly hope I have. Admittedly, when my ear is exposed to excessively strong and overwhelmingly depressive music, my enthusiasm soars, as that is what I personally prefer, so forgive my bias. But I adore this band, and I am willing to guarantee that as long as you don’t have an aversion to the bittersweet sound of wounded female vocals or an impatience for mid paced and slower music, you will enjoy what Sunday Munich has to offer. Gothic fans will rejoice to hear such in-depth darkness, and doubly so that it is not an ethereal release, buts something that is contemporary to the current infatuation with electronics pervading the scene and eating up the floor time for traditional Gothic rock or slower tracks. This is the weapon of the late night swayer and twirler in the candied smoke…this is one of the most immaculately atmospheric CDs of 2000. Don’t miss out and leave me alone in having this CD!
2.) Going Back
6.) Feeling Here
7.) Her Name
14.) Eleven Toes
16.) Wish You Were Here
Sarah Hubbard: vocals
Avis: programming, cello, guitar, and loops
Lee M. Helms: vocals
Brianna Westfall: additional vocals
Melissa Mileski: additional vocals
Michael C: addition guitar
Munich – Official Site:
P.O. Box 14024
Atlanta, GA 30324-1024 USA
In Praise Of The Dark
~reviewed by Matthew
Surprisingly from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Season Of Mourning are purveyors of quality Gothic/Doom metal. Currently unsigned, they’re music can be downloaded from both their official website and their Mp3.com website.
The band’s first release is the five track EP “In Praise Of The Dark” which despite a few easily forgivable short comings, is an excellent addition to any dark music fan’s collection.
One of Season of Mourning’s most promising assets is that even though the music is extremely heavy, the vocals are not guttural but rather are very despondent and melodic male vocals paired with occasional female vocals. This elevates them into a more accessible position, for there are enough symphonic keyboards, violin passages, and female vocals to appeal to Goths yet selective fans will not be alienated by a monstrous death metal voice, which seems to be why many Goths shy away from some Gothic and Doom Metal bands. But metal heads, have no fear: because Season of Mourning are quite heavy, best heard on the middle interlude of the opening track “Beneath Black Wings” which boasts perhaps the crunchiest and bottom-heavy guitars out of any of the other Doom bands featured this issue. Season of Mourning has successfully found a comfortable balance between these two similar yet different styles, which will carry them far.
Despite having a constant back drop of symphonic keys and frequent violin fiddlings, the band seem to be firmly rooted in Sabbath-esque sludge. The rhythmic “In Mourning” is the best example. It begins with a thunderous intro with early My Dying Bride influenced guitar pinch harmonics, but builds to a fluid, almost sensual mid paced groove that recalls the earliest days of Doom metal yet finely iced by eerie violin and choir keyboards. A perfect pairing of old and new can be heard in this song. The break in the middle of the song is just awesome, and like many other tracks on the CD, has a very catchy and memorable hook to it that will haunt your head long after the first listen of the song.
“Blood Like Wine” is basically an all-out Goth rock song, albeit more heavy due to the guitar sound. However, the style of riffing and the arrangement of vocals, drums, keyboards etc are all very characteristic of traditional Goth rock, a la late Sisters Of Mercy or older focused Nosferatu. There is a tinge of “Aegis” era Theatre of Tragedy thrown in there too, but all of this comes together in a great way. I think bands like Advent Sleep and Dreadful Shadows attempted to something likethis, but it just never came across as sincere and genuine as it does here with Season of Mourning. I hope in the future they do more tracks in this vein.
Season of Mourning joins the ranks of Siouxsie, The Wake, and an obscene host of others by adding to the ongoing legacy of songs titled “Christine.” This time, though we have “Kristeen” which is another example of the band’s ability to blend extremes. The song begins with a nice acoustic/watery guitar backdrop with slow drums and male/female vocal duets. But after about two minutes the dark power chords and snapping drums resurface, for one of the tightest songs in the band’s repertoire. Despite some lyrics that were a bit melodramatic, “Your flesh so white and tender, your hair skin so dark and soft.” Perhaps it was the way the line was delivered, but something just didn’t gel right with me. Nonetheless, the song has an infectious chorus, which segues into a hypnotic break led by fingered bass and cascading ritual drums. Slightly reminiscent of early Christian Death here but the guitar-drive returns for a few more verses until there is a repetition of the acoustic intro to bring the eight minute song to its close.
The album ends with a simple, symphonic instrumental, dedicated to a family member who had passed away, which is a fitting and honourable elegy. Memorable, moving, and a perfect length of three plus minutes.
The only drawback with the CD is a somewhat muddy production. The sound is not bad in the least, and actually the rawness of the production in my opinion accents the edge of the guitars and gives the drums an almost live feel. Judging by the band’s newest track “Dying Mind,” which appears on the Mp3 site only and on an upcoming compilation entitled “Beneath The Tides” featuring Autumn Tears and Gitane DeMone, it does sound like the band managed to clear up the sound a bit without overly polishing things. And the last mark of improvement would come in watching the violin parts, as occasionally they slip out of key…not too obvious but after a few listens you can start to pick up on that kind of thing.
Overall, baring just a few slight suggestions for improvement, I am very excited to have a band from Pennsylvania causing a stir in the Gothic and dark metal underground, and I hope to see and hear more of this band in the future.
1.) Beneath Black Wings
2.) In Mourning
3.) Blood Like Wine
5.) Tears (for Sharon)
“Dying Mind” – available @ mp3.com
of Mourning is:
Czar - Vocals
Billy - Guitar
Erica - Violin, Vocals
Hugh – Keyboards
Bob - Bass
Jesse - Drums
Bob V – Guitar
Of Mourning Official Site:
Of Mourning Mp3 Site:
These Things Take Time
~reviewed by Matthew
As the title of the release may suggest, absorbing and appreciating the music of SubArachnoid Space may take time for the average music enthusiast. Admittedly, I am not very familiar with or immersed in experimental music, but I have always respected the vast possibilities and creative drive characteristic to this genre, and I can easily recognize the talent of this California act.
With a sound that could easily be described as engrossing and definitely otherworldly, it is goes without question that the band was inspired by the likes of Syd Barret-era Floyd and Hawkwind and like many others over the past twenty years, SubArachnoid Space have picked up that torch and ran with it. They propose their own unique interpretation of the uninterpretable, as they literally defy categorization and delve into the recesses of unexplored mental and musical territories.
This CD is the band’s fifth full-length album, and is released by the experimental subdivision of leading hard music label Relapse Records, Release Entertainment. Having sported the motto “release your mind” for years now, SubArachnoid Space is a prime example of the label’s catch phrase. The entire CD was recorded live for KFJC 89.7 FM, a California radio station, and the CD is a lengthy journey through strange psychedelia, acid jazz, and space rock, seeming like an impromptu yet brilliantly organized stream of artistic consciousness. The songs meld into one another, and are separated only by various shifts in mood or intensity. There are peaks of noise and abrasive tension, as well as valleys of hypnotic ambience, which contributes to the manic atmosphere of the CD, but primarily, the album is just one extended jam session, heavily laden with groove and dark art-rock flashes.
This music was thankfully not meant to be mulled over verbally, as I cannot really say much about it other than as a casual fan of live experimental music, I was very impressed and won over by this release. This leads me to assume that more in-depth and dedicated fans of the genre would already be familiar with this act or more importantly, cherish SubArachnoid Space on a more personal level and seek to add the release to their collection. After several listens I found myself very intrigued and hope that the right audience finds their way to this band’s music.
A. - (9:16)
B – (6:52)
C - (3:05)
D – (10:37)
E – (9:03)
F – (2:08)
G – (3:33)
Melynda Jackson: guitar
Mason Jones: guitar, sound effects, theremin
Andey Stephens: bass, organ
Chris Van Huffel: drums, metal percussion
Space - Official Site:
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
Firstly, I must thank Mistress McCutchan for introducing this band to me during one of her DJ gigs in NYC. I was so taken with the music that weeks after hearing it, I had to hunt down this CD because the music just would not get out of my head. For those still not familiar with this awesome California based band, one must inform you that you are clearly missing out on a group of the hottest rising performers to have come from the gothic underground in quite some time. Dru is the enchanted goddess, spider women, jilted lover, tumultuous gypsy vixen and saint of the pit. As front woman and vocalist, she encapsulates the many moods and transitions to create a legendary body of work that is a testament to all that is good about Goth music.
With Dru on vocals, Paul Sutherland on percussion, Matt Ballesteros on drums, Tim Tuttle on keyboards, Charlie Dennis on bass, and Kevin Serra on guitar, there is such a cohesive tone to the CD that one cannot help but be mesmerized by the beauty and ease with which they are able to transport the variegated styles with which they weave. Each of the band member’s shines with the skillful excellence of their musicianship. They have all created a sound that seems as if they rehearsed this work even in their sleep, until every nuance was discovered to make sure that this would be a lasting and enduring classic for years to come. In today’s jaded music scene, instant classics do not usually come along that frequently. Sever is a classic however, that will be the litmus test for all bands to compare themselves to in the future.
"Fuego Cayendo" opens with a simple guitar lick that then opens with a wave of crescent shaped energy. Dru takes her vocals to many octave ranges and harmonizes with herself flawlessly and effortlessly. When the guitars kick in to create a more rock tone, the band clearly is shining in their element.
"Mysterium" takes a Middle Eastern style percussion and wraps it around Latin lyrics similar to early medieval church music. With the span of a breath, the song encapsulates a new sound for the modern era and goes into a rock refrain that clearly makes this an embodiment of gorgeous music to cross the time barrier.
"Forever Shaken" is a somewhat dreamy song with rock elements. Dru sings the background with pitch perfect operatic chords while the foreground maintains the modern rock element.
"Serpent’s Serenade" has been receiving quite a bit of air play on WFDU. It is a moody and biting song that pays homage to the jilted. " You think your time is now/ well, wait/ you think your innocence is lost/ that’s funny/ all the treasures you’ve given to me/ I can’t believe I even loved your apathy"
"Dorado" is an instrumental track of swirling guitars, rapid drumming and an excellent showcase for all the musicians on the CD.
"Fatal Dawn" brings Dru back to the jilted lover characterization. The song begins with an introspective spoken word piece. She unleashes this persona and seems to give off a magnetic aura through her voice that reaches out and pulls in anyone within a 10 foot perimeter. The percussion is absolutely heavenly with this track and manages to ground and round out the tone rather well.
"Columbia Aspexit" is another Latin language song which utilizes an opening drone and hand cymbal during the intro while Dru sounds as if she is in a medieval church. The percussion and drums gently add a rising intensity that is similar to those from the studio of Loreena McKennitt or Dead Can Dance. You must hear this just for the orchestrated finale that takes on an electricity and life all their own.
"Interlude" is a short piece of electronic sounds that breaks the disc in half.
" I Wish" brings a medieval flavored rising energy from the depths of creativity. This song is also remixed by John A. Rivers and that version is on this disc as well as on Resistor, the number one voted compilation from Nilaihah Records. It is a heavenly song that combines such great elements that have not been heard since Dead Can Dance were last in the studio. Many clubs are playing the remix of this song at this time, so chances are you may have heard it already if you are a club creature of the night.
"Amapola" is another instrumental showcase for the band. These interludes of music between the sung tracks really embraces the listener so that one can fully comprehend and realize the stylized beauty of this work.
"Here Alone Again" takes somber lyrics to almost operatic heights. It quells with self recrimination and self forgiveness for things one has no control over.
"Love Lost Years" has a brooding intro like a macabre stage production. Dru becomes the spider woman, wicked temptress and dark goddess all rolled into one. " Death rock me gently to sleep/ wrap ‘round me like a lover/and cling to me my mother/ Goddess, mistress you have come to take me home/ at last I wait"
Ascension clearly lives up to the band name by rising to new heights in
the gothic underground. The band has amassed expertly delivered vocals
and coupled them with some of the strongest musicians to be heard on an
independent label. Bands such as this keep the scene alive with new and
inspiring music that just does not sound like anyone else, thereby carving
their own niche to which others will compare themselves to.
To listen to this CD, one would assume a lot of studio production money
went into this recording. This is the band in their pure form,
demarcating a place of excellence and undeniable talent that deserves to
be heard. Get this CD in your collection. You won’t be disappointed!
Here Alone Again
Love Lost Years
I Wish (John A. Rivers Remix)
Paul Sutherland: Percussion
Matt Ballesteros: Drums
Tim Tuttle: Keyboards
Charlie Dennis: Bass
Kevin Serra: Guitar
c/o Tess Records
P.O. Box 206
Santa Monica, CA 93102-0206
~reviewed by Matthew
As most are already well aware, the Tear Garden is basically another incarnation of The Legendary Pink Dots, yet in league with electronic genius cEvin Key, who envisioned, gathered, and directed the project. The union between Ka-Spell, Key, and company was forged in 1986 with the debut EP simply entitled The Tear Garden. It’s been nearly fifteen years, and there have been several collaborations that resulted in four full-length releases and two E.P.’s. As these years unfolded, the project became larger and more in-depth with each release, yet also, while in the beginning there was an obvious difference between Tear Garden and LPD, many have claimed that as Tear Garden drifted toward a more psychedelic rather than quirky electronic realm, the two bands were almost interchangeable.
I myself do not readily agree with that idea, however, there are indeed links between the two, but what can you expect when having the same vocalist, lyrical style, and musicians behind a work? You have to allow for some similarity. I have always regarded Tear Garden to be the vessel for the darker and moodier sides of Ka-Spel’s lyrical world, leading to straightforward introspection where LPD tend to be more elusive.
But I noticed a few references culling from earlier Pink Dots CDs, I do not know if this was intentional or not, but I am sure it all makes sense to Edward, who has been known to re-interpret past motifs or ideas he has had. The opening track “The Double Spades Effect” builds to a chorus which Edward delivers in his one-of-a-kind voice “You are the truth, and the way, and the light,” also the title and chorus of a song that appeared on the 1985 LPD album “Asylum.” Again, Edward culls from “The Maria Dimension” with the track “To Mourn The Death Of Colour,” a phrase which appeared on the track “Cheraderama” when with his wholesome sarcastic wit explained his affinity for the colour black. Perhaps I am reading too far into things, but this is what happens when you become obsessed with an artist that has nearly 30 albums and three dozen more side-projects and collaborations. You tend to pick up on this kind of stuff. It’s when you start making sense of Ka-Spel that you know there is no turning back, and I lost that battle long ago. But why not, so few songwriters are this interesting and substantial.
The “Crystal Mass” is yet another riddle in this ever evolving musical enigma. There is a fresh contemporary sound to the CD, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it succeeds in evenly presenting a unique meshing of all these past elements. The acoustic guitars of “To Be An Angel Blind” are still prevalent, concentrated the most in the tracks “Hopeful” and “Castaway,” which coincidentally are my two favourite songs on this album. Yet the lengthy jam sessions that dominated “Last Man To Fly” are at their prime here, with scores of rhythmic noises and more whacked out synth effects courtesy of Mr. Key.
the elements are here. No drastic changes, no surprises. Basically,
if you are a fan of LPD, past Tear Garden releases, and you enjoy the wizardry
of cEvin Key, you can count on enjoying this album. I admit
that the CD took a few listens to get used to, perhaps because I had been
waiting for it for so long and my expectations were unfairly high.
But after several listens, the CD grew on me considerably. It fits
in quite comfortably in the scheme of things and the rest of their work,
and forges ahead with those elements we have grown to love.
1.) The Double Spades Effect
2.) Desert Island Disc
5.) Her Majesty’s Trusted Food Taster
6.) Feathered Friends
7.) To Mourn The Death Of Colour
8.) Six Of One
Tear Garden is:
cEvin Key : electronics, keyboards, drums, percussion, tapes
Edward KaSpel : voice, keyboards, electronics
Niels Van Hoorn : Flute
Ryan Moore : bass, keyboards, acoustic guitar
The Silver Man : keyboards
Martijn De Kleer : acoustic and electric guitar, violin
Russell Nash : scanmaster
Bill Van Rooy : hand percussion
Birdwatcher – Relating Projects:
Pink Dots – Official Site:
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
"What if they made it all up?"
Alas, this release is not going to win over many new fans.. Although longtime fans such as myself will adore it, merely for the fact that is another chapter in the history of the project called The Tear Garden.
But I Digress. As usual.
Who are the Tear Garden? If you are reading this, then you proably already know that, but I'll play your little game... The Tear Garden was a side-project of Skinny Puppy and the Legendary Pink Dots. I say 'was' because after about the second 'Tear Garden release, it ceased being a side-project, and has stood as an entity unto itself ever since. The Tear Garden have always represented to me a studio reproduction of the headspace one achieves whilst coming down off of a particularly nasty acid trip... But that's just me I guess. From industrial psychedelia to ambient psychedelia to an almost acid-jazz psychedelia, The Tear Garden has always had that underlying sense of madness to it, the "Am I surfing the edge of a psychotic fit?" sort of feeling...
In case it isn't staggeringly obvious by now, I love The Tear Garden. Just look at the amount of airplay I've habitually given these fellas...
"Aha, but You said this wouldn't win over new fans. It must be a weak release!"
"Crystal Mass" kicks off with a distinctly 80's pop feel, and seems to run very much along similar lines to the last release, "To Be An Angel Blind, The Crippled Soul Divide". Very analog, very natural, very musical. The last 2 Tear Garden releases ave focused more on musicality, and less on experimentalism than earlier works, and this is admirable unto itself. Unfortunately this is also why I don't think that 'Crystal Mass' will win many new fans. Solid songwriting abounds on 'Crystal Mass', catchy hooks and memorable songs for all. But at this point the Tear Garden are already lodged into a particular fanbase.. The folk-song feel is probably going to soar over the heads of the bat-kids and industrial folks that are the prime buyers of Tear Garden material. If this cd could be marketed to earthmothers/hippies/environmentalists somehow, I'm sure it would be a huge success. I don't see enough of that marketing being done on Nettwerk's behalf, however, and that is why I don't think many new fans will be generated by this album. Personally, I love this album, and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Tear Garden or the Pink Dots. I would also recommend it to anyone who desires good 'come down' music.. Ah, why beat around the issue? This is a great release, regardless of how it will defy expectations.. Buy the disc, open your mind, and enjoy.
2: The Double Spades Effect
3: Desert Island Disc
6: Her Majesty's Trusted Food Taster
7: Feathered Friends
8: To Mourn The Death Of Colour
9: Six Of One
Tear Garden are:
Martijn De Kleer
Niels Van Hoorn
Bill Van Rooy
The Silver Man
Nettwerk Records: www.nettwerk.com
OF THE MACABRE
A Paradise In Flesh & Blood
~reviewed by Michael
When I start seeing a bands name around the web over and over and haven’t actually heard them, this acts to me like a drop of blood to a shark. I go hunting until I find the band and purchase it as quickly as I can. Luring me even further was the name of this particular band, Theatre of the Macabre. What dark secrets lie within? I was soon to find out. Hailing from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Theatre is currently signed to Root Of All Evil Records in St. Paul, MN. Glancing at the cover art, I had a warm, fuzzy feeling about what I was about to hear and I was quite correct.
I love the movie “Conan The Barbarian” and have for a long time. It holds some of the best lines James Earl Jones has ever uttered. Imagine my surprise when the opener, “A Prelude Unto Infernal Resurrection”, started off with those exact same lines. You want to know them? Buy the CD or watch the movie and take your best guess. Anyway, this definitely got the album off on the right foot.
title track kicked in close on its heels, and wasted no time letting us
know what Theatre is about. At first listen, Theatre sounds a bit
like older Hecate Enthroned without Jon’s piercing screams. This is not
a bad thing. However, after only a few
moments, you’ll begin hearing Theatre’s own style shining through. The drumming is lightning fast, the vocals grim and shrieking all in the same breath, and the guitars and bass work fervently alongside, completing this haunting lineup. The album is sprinkled with short and eerie instrumentals, which give the listener a chance to absorb the prior assault. The darkest instrumental was saved for the last track and is presented as a hidden track, stripped of title, and leaving you to your own imagination. It turns out that this is a ritual performed by Ornias and Le’Rue Delashay. A few samples dot this release as well as some flutes. It’s this blend of styles that has made me a fan of this genre of music.
a sucker for slick production, and the production on this lacks in a few
places. At times, the vocals seem to be too far in the background,
making it difficult to follow along or pick up what Ornias is saying.
Also, the guitars sound a bit tinny
and this tends to take away some of the power. These are minor points, however, and I am very happy to see another American band picking up on the success of European bands and adding their own twist to it. All in all this is an excellent album and I would recommend it to any fan of majestic black metal. Theatre of the Macabre is currently working a 7”
split CD with label mates Somnus so if you are a fan of either band or are anxious to hear them, I would recommend picking this up as soon as it comes out.
1. A Prelude Unto Infernal Resurrection
2. A Paradise in Flesh & Blood
3. Bathed in the Blood of Angels
4. Bequeathed Archaic Lore
5. Forsaken in the Garden of Earthly Delights
6. What Wicked Web She Weaves
7. Enraptured by Temptation
8. Through The Eyes of the Serpent
9. Enthroned in the Halls of Martyrdom
of the Macabre is:
Umbruskus – Serephic Collapse
Ornias – Legion
Le’Rue Delashay – Conjurer of the Cosmic Spheres
Erisichthon – Evocator of Discordant Cacophonies
P.O. Box 80050
Minneapolis, MN 55408
c/o Root Cellar Records
636 N. Snelling Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104
Free Number: 1-888-663-2070
~reviewed by Matthew
Being one of the two most highly anticipated releases this autumn in the dark metal scene (the other being Cradle Of Filth’s newest, also reviewed this issue), Theatre Of Tragedy’s newest offering “Musique” was a sincere and somewhat uncomfortable surprise.
Theatre Of Tragedy have been one of the most influential acts within the Gothic metal genre over the later half of the nineties. With their trademark male and female vocal duets, Old World poetic lyrical delivery, and grandiose symphonic guitar and keyboard arrangements, they set the high standards for others to follow and added an avant garde and fashionable eloquence that countless bands have picked up on.
However, all of that has changed. Making a move similar to Paradise Lost, Moonspell, and Kovenant, the newest release by T.O.T. has fused a wealth of electronic and synth pop elements to their music, significantly replacing the walls of bleak guitar harmonies and orchestral grandeur. So much so that it’s almost difficult to believe that it is the same band responsible for such landmark doom classics as “Hamlet For A Slothful Vassal, ”“Bring Forth Thy Shadow” and “A Rose For The Dead.”
What more, the expected archaic and forlorn Classicism characteristic to Raymond’s lyrics is long gone, making way for a modern viewpoint, that is at first very hard to follow as most of it comes across as tongue-in-cheek satirical plays on technology and even the electronic music they have embraced.
“So what the hell is going on with Theatre Of Tragedy?” you might be wondering. Though it is without exaggeration to say the new direction of the band is quite distressing to older fans, after several listens to the new disc the new style has grown on me considerably. Perhaps because I actually am a casual fan of synth pop and dark club music a la VNV Nation, Covenant, and Depeche Mode, so the change was not as imposing to me as it would have been to other metal fans. It is doubtful that the new lyrics will ever sit well with many or inspire as much as the older works, but the key to enjoying and grasping the concept of this release is to go with it and read between the lines. The general ideas of the CD explore the despair of the changing times, and questioning mankind’s place amidst a society dependent on technology.
tangled in wires…
…In a world of machines
What can I do but to serve?
Store the data and calculate
Speak and spell and operate.”
So as to keep up to date, the band opts to formalize the sound with a more modern edge. But at the same time, there is an almost mocking vibe to the non-organic and supposed ease in creating programmed music.
synthesize and press a lighted key
Turn it on, compose a melody…
…A catchy beat, I put it on repeat
I program more, but still it’s incomplete…
…I need the recipe for the perfect melody
I add more tracks, run out of DSP
Timbre and tone, I want it synthetic
Knobs and sliders, no button pushing matrix
Dadaistic, nothing too profound
Electric music resounding all around.”
The interpretation is for fans to decide, however, the manner of Raymond's vocal delivery is another drastic change from prior theatrical styles. The throaty growls and moping spoken word he was well known for has been utterly obliterated to make way for a more robotic monotone. His voice is often processed, and a newly garnered British brogue has appeared. It is very complimentary to the music, yet it is doubtful that fans will embrace this as swiftly as the band would like. They are Norwegian, so imitation seems to be its only source, as most influential electronic acts do hail from England. It does work, and that is what is most important, as death metal growls would have been completely ridiculous paired with this music.
In terms of this music, I applaud the band as they have blended synth pop and dark metal very gracefully. Many of the tracks are genuinely club friendly, heard primarily in the driving melancholy of “Machine,” the flirtatious charm of “Image” and especially within the stark darkwave gloom of “Fragment.” The guitars are still present, though not nearly as complex as the band’s early efforts, but similar in sound to much of their last highly acclaimed effort, “Aegis,” which was abound with resonant power chords ringing out above dismal and fluid guitar chimes. There are a lot of sharp simplistic Industrial chords that drop out and reappear quickly to accent the rhythms and electronic backdrops.
Fans who were initially drawn to Theatre Of Tragedy by their fair-haired siren will be highly impressed by her performance here. The spectrums of Liv Kristine’s sweet and seductive voice is fully explored on “Musique,” and she sounds stronger and more diverse than ever. This is the first T.O.T. release where the dynamics of her voice are as vast as on her own solo records, if not richer and more emotive than she has ever sounded. Her highest point on the CD occurs in the track “Image,” where she volleys between a teasing coo and a breathless midrange charged with dominating sexuality. The lyrics, again, are hard to swallow but the melodies and Liv’s voice make up for it. “Commute” also contains a noteworthy and extremely catchy chorus; the formula for the CD seems to be that Raymond handles the verses while the bridges and choruses are delivered by Liv Kristine, which works quite well.
“Crash/Concrete” is most likely the heaviest song on the CD, with basic though harsh rhythmic guitars and vague shades of Raymond’s gruff vocalled past, however, not nearly as effective or dramatic as older fans would hope. Still, the song with its violent electronics and distorted drum beats makes for angst-ridden floor filler worthy of club play.
Overall, I am of two minds with this CD. While I honestly appreciated and enjoyed “Musique” and its new synthetic direction, there are still a few things that do not settle with me. Is Theatre Of Tragedy genuinely exploring a new musical forum, or are they attempting to cash in on recent trends?
tuned in to the ether melody
It’s bright and clear and full of energy
Music won’t stop/Electro pop
I want your time, I need your time to make a rhyme
On the radio now…
…For you and me.”
It seems to me that the composition was quite serious and done very well, especially with tracks such as “Retrospect” and “Fragment.” If Theatre Of Tragedy are going to forge into this realm, I personally would like to hear them accentuate the weight of the electronics in the mixing of the CD so as they hit harder and perhaps up the BPMs a bit. And what would serve as the proverbial icing on the cake, is if they could somehow integrate the complex and dismal guitar harmonies of their early years into a harder EBM backdrop. That would indeed make for some interesting and groundbreaking genre cross-pollination; though I do believe Theatre Of Tragedy are on the right track.
“Musique” is a release that takes some serious getting used to, but once you wade out far enough the waters become quite soothing and pleasing. Give this a chance, but be prepared to have your expectations thrown through a loop.
2.) City Of Light
11.) KOCMN4ECKA 3PA
12.) The New Man (Bonus Track)
Of Tragedy is:
Raymond I. Rohonniy – vocals, synths
Liv Kristine Espenaes – vocals
Frank Claussen – guitar
Lorentz Aspen – keyboards
Hein Frode Hansen – drums
Of Tragedy – Official Website:
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
IDM=Intelligent Dance Music
is IEBDM. IntelligentElectronicBody-Dance Music. Confused? Don't worry,
that's a good thing from time to time, it keeps you on your toes. And besides,
if it weren't for this amalgamation of spastic electronic orchestration,
Testube would be just another face in the crowd. But Jeff Danos, the man/mind
behind Testube, is a friggin' genius and he knows better than to write
'typical'-anything. Thus, Testube. Recently picked up by TommyT and DSBP
Records, Testube are an anomaly. Brilliant beyond measure, and yet criminally
overlooked... How does this work, people? How is it that Testube isn't
spoken of with the same reverence as Skinny Puppy? The material is that
good, let me assure you.
And you stare blankly at me and ask; "So what's the beef with this 'Testube' you speak of?"
Well, to be quite honest I don't rightly know...beyond the fact that Jeff Danos is the guy behind it all, there really isn't much more to glean from the Testube website. So, sorry...but it looks as if I'm pretty much useless when it comes to finding out what Jeff Danos' favorite Sunday chow is. But I can comment on the music. Oh yes, and how... Bioplaza is a sprawling, majestic work, sounding both vast and muted at the same time. Few projects can pull off such inspired music, fewer still can write music that is so instantly evocative, mentally. This is the ultimate soundtrack to a Cyberpunk novel. This is SO the music I hear in my head when I dream of the future. Unfortunately, I could easily see this music soaring over people's heads... In an age when the simplistic bleats of VNV Nation go over as 'inspired', the depth of Testube could prove nigh-hemorrhage-inducing to the average Rivet-person. But we'll forgive Mr. Danos, just this once. So we have 'Bioplaza', a monument to everything Industrial Dance music should aspire to being... And then we have 'Reconstructive Surgery', the followup remix cd to 'Bioplaza'. There is an impressive list of remixers here, from Pain Station (Another friggin' genius...) through Oneiriod Psychosis (TWO more friggin' geniuses, no less!!) to Biopsy (I wish I could howl like Fab!) 'Reconstructive Surgery', however, is left somewhat lacking. While still an intensely entertaining release, 'Bioplaza' flows together according to one man's vision... 'Reconstructive Surgery' does not. This is a flaw inherent in all remix cd's, ultimately, so let's not hold it against Testube. The math is simple, really... Get 'Bioplaza', THEN get 'Reconstructive Surgery'. Elementary, my dear Watson. And, hark.. What's this? DSBP is re-releasing 'Bioplaza'!! How CONVENIENT!! With extra tracks, even!! So do yourself a HUGE happy favour...shell out the pennies to get both of these releases. Once you have them in your grubby, greasy little paws, haul out your favorite Neil Stephenson book (Zodiac, oh yeah...), slap those bad-boy slabs of Testube-soaked plastic into your CD player, and coast into an industrial-happy-place. Gourmet electronics, for the discerning rivet-connoisseur.
3: Lost Contact
5: Dance Of Limbs
6: Bride Of Science
7: Ovary Act
10: Cure For Your Plagues
11: Stun Relic
for Reconstructive Surgery:
1: Byproduct (High-Yield Nightsoil) remix by Testube
2: Contrast (Condemned) remix by Pain Station
3: Dance Of Limbs (Virulator) remix by Biopsy
4: Ovary Act (Wishing You Were Here) remix by Oneiriod Psychosis
5: Cure For Your Plagues (Jungle Rot) remix by Testube
6: Bride Of Science (Twilight) remix by B! Machine
7: Contrast (Disperse) remix by Trylok
8: Bioplaza (Amputee's Revenge) remix by Testube
9: Dance Of Limbs (Retro EBMatic) remix by Testube
10: Cure For Your Plagues (Caffienated Drip) remix by Paranoid Axis
11: Ovary Act (ML) remix by Thine Eyes
12: Stun Relic (Serenity) remix by Redonjon
13: Contrast (Cultural Lag) remix by Testube
14: Reconstructive Surgery (Megamix) remix by Testube
Testube is Jeff Danos
Dsbp Records: http://www.dsbp.cx
~reviewed by Rev. A. Strangerz 23.3
At first glance this has the look of a professional product, which as I review more and more CD's I am finding to be of importance. I have to admit, I did not read the label very correctly and at first thought this was a "label" sampler. Every song is reconstructed (so to speak) so well, that I thought this was an electro-industrial various artist comp. I have made worse mistakes! I decided early in the night at a 'Starvox' listening party, to play this on a club sound system. WOW, did it pass the test. Great bass response, good range throughout the CD. It was not until I was asked who it was, did I realize it was in essence "TESTUBE" through the whole CD. Just re-mixed by various other electro industrial artist. Standouts include...
TRK 02 : Contrast,(condemned),by Pain Station.
TRK 03: Dance of Limbs,(virulator rmx) rx by Biopsy.
"find yourself on the operating table." Biopsy churns this song into a grand dance-floor orientated anthem. I am looking forward to the first time a DJ surprises me with this one. (don't you love asking about a song, only to find that you not only know it, but you have it!!!)
The continuation of theme through this whole release, is actually very entertaining. Doesn't seem to take itself too lightly or too seriously. TRK 05: Cure for Your Plagues (jungle rot) re-mixed by Testube themselves, is a good example of this. Also fairly amusing (in that dry humour sort of way) is the title for
08: Bioplaza (amputee's revenge.) It is good to see this act
having so much fun with it's own concepts. Many of the songs are
re-mixed by more than one artist. Once again though the main strength
of this release is that I couldn't easily detect the repetition, as the
re-mixes are very well crafted, and the doubled songs are well deserved.
This comp may be better for an aspiring DJ, or for the 3-5 disk shuffle,
than for straight play. Yet moments like the ambiant/spacey version
of TRK 04: Ovary Act (wishing you were here) rx by Oneiroid Psychosis
moving into the more 'awake' TRK 05, creates a good enough contrast for
through play. This might even be a better album than many which are
conventional. Due to the many different productions styles.
'Bride of Science' (twilight mix) by B!Machine comes out of the gate
with an 'Attrition' meets 'VNV Nation" kinda groove, the analouge synth
lines happily hangin' out in the background scenery, and not threatening
the overall mix. I am looking forward to finding more B!Machine
Back to the packaging. Testube has a nice little symbol, looks even cooler on the cd itself (took me a bit to figure out what it was.) Reminds me of the days when CDs were new, and you could see into the player of many CD units. So there were many attempts to catch your eye via symbols that changed as the CD cycled. The cloudy cover becons you in, where they not only give you info about the album that these tracks are 'reconstructed' from. They also give you track by track info on the 're-mixers'. All very insightful, and helpful in placing the artist with label, or with previous works. The only thing missing is a little bit more about 'Testube' themselves. I guess we should already know that. Yet even in this day an age of look it up on the net. I think you should not be afraid to give a little self-representation right on the product.
So for all the Rivetheds, Industrialites, techno crossover, fans. I say this is a must. Could easily separate your collection from others by adding this one to your stack. If your not into the screatchy voice, angstful male vocal stylings, or if you just don't need a 'big beat' feel at your home or in your car. Skip over this one for now. Be warned though. You will be hearing this out and about at club spaces, and you may just wind up asking the DJ, "hey, who is this?"
more information, visit the official Testube website at http://www.bioplaza.com
additional mixes can be found on "Bioplaza revisited". Go to http://www.mp3.com/testube and check out this creative artist.
~reviewed by Matthew
Trespassers William is a project slowly emerging from Orange County, CA. One of the band’s most fortunate and interesting assets is that they were oblivious to the pseudo pop punk revolution happening in their hometown and they pay very little attention to the mainstream. This, along with a natural song writing ability, enabled them to come together unscathed and untainted by trends and produce a style of fresh and beautifully accessible music. The band take music back to the basics of emotional simplicity, touching on bases of folk, pop rock, indy rock, blues, and even hints of country. Similar to the Sundays and Mazzy Starr, there is a blending of strummed acoustics with clean electric guitars and a tight rhythm section that all come together behind a distinct, alto female voice.
Anna-Lynne Williams is that siren in question, and she is indeed the first hook and draw of the band, as her smoky voice is riddled with a sensitive, fleeting vulnerability. Her voice soars; smooth, fluid, and powerful, yet scattered throughout the music her voice falters purposely with unique breathless catches that are the absolute embodiment of heartbreak. Describing such a phenomenon is difficult and very subjective, and I know my words could never do her justice. You just have to hear her, and if you are at all moved by female vocals, Trespassers William will astound you.
The CD opens with the folky fireside lament “I Know,” and with its acoustic strums, sparse piano, and subtle electric organ and accordion is just bleak without losing the structure of a good pop song. The band’s potential hit, in my honest opinion. This is the kind of song you pray to hear on the radio while you are driving along in the rain, and the rest of the music on the radio is a trite insult to your intellect. Utterly perfect.
The slow to build “Desert” follows, and it is here that the listener is first introduced to Anna-Lynne’s full potential as a vocalist. From the softer beginning and the added tension with each verse, her voice grows stronger and stronger to reach a beautiful bridge and climactic chorus where her voice volleys between lower partially spoken vocals to more erratic higher vocals. The album’s title track again shows how unlike most bands who tend to ruin the flow of a song by trying to create a catchy chorus, Trespassers William craft and build to melodic and memorable peaks in their songs. They do not hint of strain nor are they overtly sugar coated. It is just a natural progression from verse to verse, and the chorus is carried by the swelling of the instruments and Anna-Lynne’s extremely moving vocal melody.
Though every single track has some beautiful vocal melody or technique, some Cure-esque guitar jangle, or some memorable rhythmic break to offer, other standout moments include “Cabinet.” With its jazzy drum beat and nimble bass line, it sounds like a unique fusion of Natalie Merchant voice atop Sarah McLachlan’s newer music. “Broken” starts with a bluesy, western feel that again ingeniously crests to a haunting chorus. “My Eyes Were Closed” is a fairly simple finger picked acoustic song, probably the most basic folk song on the CD. “It’s Been A Shame” is a groove-oriented track, and stands out not only for its shuffling beat but for its insightful lyrics about picking up the pieces after a sudden break up.
“Umbrella” again masterfully blends the acoustic with the electric, which again pulls inspiration from the Sundays and maybe the latter uses of U2. Minimal percussion strums, bass, murky warm synths, and a short synthesized cello piece that works its way in toward the end. Here the metaphorical lyrics are at their finest, and this is probably one of my favourite songs on the entire CD, simply for the chorus line “Love let down your umbrella” and the heartbreaking way the line is delivered.
The final track is another down tempo blues fueled ballad that is comprised of all the aforementioned elements characterized by the band to bring a solid, fulfilling close to the CD, yet tug at your heart enough to wish for more.
I truthfully cannot say enough good things about them. They are a great band that plays music for the sake of music – no genre pigeonholing, no image, just mature artistic emotion. Something by which my jaded ears were pleasing graced.
1.) I Know
4.) Washes Away
7.) My Eyes Were Closed
8.) It’s Been A Shame
10.) Stay, There’s Nowhere Else
Anna-Lynne Williams: voice, guitar, lyrics
Matt Brown: guitars, piano, keyboards,
Josh Gordon: bass, percussion, and drums
Jeff McCullogh: keyboards, accordion
William Mp3 Site:
Blowing Bubbles Through Broken Windows
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola
Twelfth of Never goes deeper than just being about music. All 5 artists had been tooling around with other bands over the years and as time passed, they realized their objectives seemed to mesh much better with each other. From that vantage point, these 5 friends collaborated on music writing, taking with them the various styles that they had previously focused on. What resulted is this body of 8 songs recorded in full digital sound that are haunting, moody, darkly romantic and morosely beautiful. You won’t find repetitious dance beats with this recording. Instead, you will find some of the most highly creative, expertly played musical hybrids within the ethereal realm.
"I Shall Not Care" was adapted from a poem by Sara Teasdale and initially opens with spoken dialogue that sets the tone. Ethereal vocals are carried along on a misty body of lush melody. The song deals with the aftermath of one’s demise after living with and empty heart during life. " When I am dead…./ I shall have peace…/and I shall be more silent and cold-hearted /than you are now."
"To Lure The Swans and Flies" depicts that point when one has had their psyche crushed by the lies of a lover and the light that shone in their eyes has died. This becomes the turning point when the soul has been compromised one time too many. " Wake me up from this dream/ this nightmare of you/ and rip lust from my mind/ I’ll never give up my soul again/ and settle for contentment in the lies/ …did anyone see the light/ die from my eyes?"
"The Cycle" starts with a simple child’s piano that gradually plays a more macabre tune. A drum that sounds like a heart pounding replaces the piano for 3 beats and then segues into a dreamy, lyrical and musical medieval flavored tune of love that is found and lost in a maze.
"Hid and Sick" at first comes across like the child’s game of hide and seek, until we reach the end where we are questioning the lyrical ambiguity that can lead us to think that the one "creeping through the door" in the end will be death itself.
"Theanna" has a Middle Eastern/ Celtic sound to it with very exquisite gentle percussion. The song deals with a May/December romance where the elder pleads with the enchanting wanderlust lover to stay a while. Sadly, her impetuous nature led to her death which was foretold in the elder lovers dream.
"Union" opens with a church organ type of shimmer that seems to radiate the sound into a rising evolution form darkness to light in a heavenward enchantment. Many images transpired while listening to this tune. One on level, it seemed to be a metaphorical king or queen in a barren house that is devoid of love. Also a pervasive feeling came across as if Christ was looking down upon the church’s of the world and despondent over the stagnation that resides in the heart of what should have been salvation. "Stagnation my kingdom/ Solitude my bride/ alone to govern/what I can longer see/ a depressional coma/ my rule goes unseen/ this crown my curse/ this castle my tomb."
"Parade Of Bodies" characterizes the eye candy that parades before us while we hibernate within our own secluded isolation where some of us are most comfortable. One can almost envision a video to this song that takes place in a club where the main character is slinking against the wall, drink in hand, trying to absorb the energy and the youth without being noticed.
"Your Shroud Of Turin" is a lyrically heavy song that is pure introspective poetry. Basically one is asked if they would wash the dirty face, dry the tears, or become the eyes and the ears of the one they say they love. This is asked simply "because if I were asked the same, I don’t know if I could."
Twelfth of Never are clearly poised to become the next reigning darlings in the underground ethereal world. Fortunately for the listener, all the members did have previous experience with other styles as they seem to mesh them splendidly without being overpowering in any form. It is an added bonus that it is a DDD recording. The clarity and harmony from the digital magic takes us even further into the recording where we are lost for a time in another place and space that is not part of this world. From dreamy vocals , lilting guitar, haunted piano, and multicultural percussion, one cannot but wish that a follow up CD is in the wings soon!
1. I Shall Not Care
2. To Lure the Swans and Flies
3. The Cycle
4. Hid and Sick
7. Parade of Bodies
8. Your Shroud of Turin
Robin N. Tinker: Vocals, recorder
Ron Miles: Bass
Adam Zelny: Guitar
Mathew Davis: Keyboards, midi, vocals
Keith Alan Landry: Guitar
Twelfth of Never
PO Box 7327
Fitchburg, MA 01420
Moon Oppose Moon
~reivewed by Matthew
If it’s genuinely dark and organic music you seek, you have to look no further than Unto Ashes, American’s answer to the elitist European sound of the World Serpent school of Gothic music. Multi-talented and versatile songwriters who are driven by passion, emotion, and esoteric mystery comprise this outfit. Stationed in New York City and having recently been inked to the expanding Projekt records roster, this refreshing band is rising as one of the leading new Gothic related bands today, already having received unanimous praise for their performance at Convergence 6 last year.
Utilizing period, ethnic, and acoustic instruments, Unto Ashes create a meditative setting with natural percussion, eerie drones, chimes, harps, hammered dulcimer, and ritualistic chant. Lead by multiple female vocal styles, the deeper voice of Melody Henry provides a perfect contrast between Kit Messick’s voice, which recalls Rose McDowell of Strawberry Switchblade and Current 93/DIJ fame. Many passages are defined by a soft male voice, but there is overall a great variety of styles, as well as multi-lingual recitation.
The album is meant to be heard as a whole, as there is a veritable maze of moods and varying degrees of intensity, sometimes climactic other times more passive. Yet never do Unto Ashes fail to be dark. Of the thirteen songs presented, four songs stick out to me personally as timeless classics.
The stark opening “Teach Me How To Drown” is brilliant due to its bitter and metaphorical lyricism. Unto Ashes exhibit some sincerely mentionable lyrical accomplishments, at least by way of imagery and emotional expression in the aforementioned track, the Romantic “Sonnet Macabre,” and “This Duration Of Emptiness.” They are personal and minimalistic, far from coming across as clichéd bleeding hearted poets. But “Duration…” is an uncomfortable listen, with a chorus that repeats, “Our love was like a child that died.” The line is delivered with such a despaired and unwavering conviction that you can’t help but feel slightly oppressed by it, not to mention an acoustic guitar and subtle piano accompaniment which is similar in its air of misanthropy to Strength Through Joy and the accentual chimes bring to mind early 90’s Death In June. This striking testament succeeds on levels of genius that most artists cannot even hold a candle to.
The vocals of Michael Laird shine on “Scourge,” a short and simple yet highly effective song. I first heard this song a few months ago on the “Orphée” compilation and loved it then just as much as I do now. It’s an ideal song for the upcoming season, as it has a very bleak and icy pagan winter feel to it. Melancholic chimes, subtle synths, and acoustics guitars mesh together perfectly.
The album concludes powerfully with the haunting and eerie “Conjuration To Lilith.” This is perhaps the best example of Unto Ashes and what they are capable of, as nearly all their various approaches are touched on slightly in this well-crafted song. The verses and refrain offer a sampling of the spoken word, choral, and solo singing that appear throughout the CD. The lyrics themselves are interesting. I am uncertain whether they are original or if they are an interpretation of an actual magick text. Most likely a fair combination of both, but regardless a fitting tribute to the nocturnal ‘Lady of Beasts.’ The very last thing you hear on the CD after a few moments of silence are some tastefully strange sounds…and the muffled cry of a screech owl amidst the chilling cacophony. I usually am unimpressed by things like this that are deliberately intended to be ‘spooky’ but this was very well done and effective. Are we to assume then that She arrived in all Her nocturnal glory?
Unto Ashes are in league and alike in spirit with such mystical and arcane misanthropes as Sopor Aeternus, Love Is Colder Than Death, Ataraxia, DCD, and the World Serpent elite. Hopefully, they will continue to create music of this caliber for years to come and therefore, please the starving tastes of the more refined dark music fan.
1.) Teach Me How To Drown
2.) Quid Vides?
4.) Der Letzte Ritter
5.) Viper Song
7.) This Duration Of Emptiness
9.) Estuans Interius
10.) Tre Fontane
11.) Sonnet Macabre
13.) Conjuration To Lilith
Michael Laird: guitar, voice, hammered/plucked dulcimer, percussion, keyboard/treatments
Kit Messick: voice, percussion
Melody Henry: percussion, voice, bells, hammered dulcimer, keyboard
Natalia Lincoln: keyboard, voice, percussion
Paul Ash: hurdy-gurdy, percussion, keyboard, guitar, plucked dulcimer
Spider Grandmother: harp, percussion, voice.
Ashes – Official Site:
Ashes - Mp3 Site:
P.O. Box 298
Prince Street Station
NY, NY 10012 USA
Scenes from the Imploding Heart
~reviewed by Rev. A. Strangerz 23.3
arena of 'psychedelic' voyages, and in a complete opposite direction than
the recent release 'Effector' by Download. Comes the
egocentric rock-n-roam sounds of Bruce Butkovich. Together with Michael
Allen on drums, and Ryan Acree on Bass. This has all the earmarks of a
self release. No label but many studios mentioned on the cover.
TRI+PFI sounds, origin studio, and 185cool. I am hoping that this release
simply is suffering from some 'production' problems. Maybe time in
the aformentioned studios was too thin or even spread out, or maybe a final
master did not yield the correct 'product'. Whatever the case, the
by-product is a great looking 70's/nouveax cover, a fantastic sounding
'concept' and even a great band name, all beckoning you to Overdose on
Yet you will not finding my throwing this CD into the player during any
'Rainbow Family' reunions, or cyber-hippie festivals. I might not
be able to even conclude the headphones test. Which is a shame because
I can sense the idea here. I can see the groove, and the communication
between the musicians. Although it is clearly all one vision, and
the brainchild of Bruce. The inner sleeve has a run along of all
the lyrics to all the songs, and it is fun to read. Makes you want
to see the 'finished' product. Oh! this is the finished product.
Why does it sound like something is missing?
I would like to say that if your in the Atlanta area, and you want to give this psychedelic "NIN" a fair chance. Then please go see them LIVE. If they tickle your fancy enough, you might not care if they have lo-fi cassettes to sell. If you don't get to see this band perform, and you find this In the bargain bin. Go ahead and get It. There are worse things that could happen to you. I know this sounds really negative, maybe I am the wrong reviewer for this. I will not claim to have heard It all, but I have been there when music has gone from loud and live, to compressed, and not as three dimensional. This release seems to be stripped of something by that process.
For the group of musicians who might be reading this review. My constructive as possible advise. If you want to strive towards the gothic/industrial/psychedelic/dub/rock/crossover audience. Check out the idea presentations and production on "The Damage Manual", a self titled release. This might not be the same direction your going, but I think the production Is worth a listen. don't be afraid of spending your time and $$$ on home studio equipment, and layer it to the Max with your concepts. Give it, and then us, a true overdose without any time constraints, or possible ideas from any engineers about the final sound.
no god in sight."
http://www.185cool.com/overdose for more info....
Travel Test, Headphone Test, and Random Test. All failed to help me write a different review. I tried! I would love to see more efforts though, and once again 'LIVE' Is always a different story.
Twisted Thought Generator
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
It's truly a pity that so many people are going to judge this release so harshly, without looking deeper, without reading between the lines.
I expect I'm going to get raked over the coals for this one...
Velvet Acid Christ is the brainchild of one Bryan Erickson-aka-Disease Factory, and is currently one of the more popular EBM projects on the planet. At the same time, V.A.C. is one of the most controversial, due mainly to the condescension of musical elitists and the outspoken nature of Mr. Erickson. All of this is academic, however... This latest release is a solid effort musically, proffering more consistency than earlier V.A.C. releases, and less reliance upon dialogue samples from mainstream films. I find that I want to listen to all of this cd, whereas earlier VAC usually saw me listening to about 5 tracks before the creativity engine shut down. A pleasant surprise, to be sure. The flip side to this? 'Twisted Thought Generator' doesn't have the immediate hooks of some of it's predecessors. Notably absent is the instant club-floor filler of 'Fun With Drugs', the standout track from the 'Fun With Knives' release. Personally, I prefer less catchy/more solid to less solid/more catchy. I feel like I'm getting my dimes worth with 'Twisted Thought Generator'. The more mature use of samples is a big plus, too.
here is where I am ready to stand on a soapbox and defend VAC.. The lack
of dancefloor hits is exactly what most
people will find fault with.. And yet if you look deeper, this release has alot of artistic drive to it. It is obviously a product of some deep emotions on behalf of Bryan Erickson, and reflects some life-altering events that have happened to him. Listen closer, and you will see that there are seeds sown of something bigger. Disease factory's experiments with PsyTrance are showing, and mesh well with the existant sound of V.A.C. I am of the opinion that 'Twisted Thought Generator' is a transitionary album, and I look forward to seeing if the potential is seized and used to it's fullest. If you like straightahead EMB without catches, this album is for you.
1: Velvet Pill (Jagged Scar mix)
2: Dial 8
3: Mindflux (Trip zone)
5: Asphyxia (Wasted)
6: Never Worship (Bruised Knees mix)
7: Crypulse (Still Crying)
9: Diladid (Postponed)
Acid Christ are:
Bryan Erickson (Disease Factory)
Paul Lipman (Gestation)
Rafi Sholsman (Sickness)
Acid Christ: http://www.edtrecords.com/vac/blueprint.htm
Metropolis Records: http://www.metropolis-records.com/
The Violet Collection
~reviewed by Edwin Somnambulist
The brainchild of Rik Mclean of Mara's Torment, The Violet Collection CD had it's beginnings in Rik's efforts to bring more exposure to musicians that, while extremely talented, don't get enough promotion in a very mainstream, follow-the-leader world. Rik's efforts soon grew into an online music station and a mailing list for different artistically minded music lovers to come together and exchange ideas. One of those brilliant ideas was to release a CD featuring musicians from the online station to benefit charity. From the mp3.com website: "Proceeds from the sales of the compilation will benefit the Ontario Cancer Institutes Princess Margaret Hospital, an accredited, University of Toronto Teaching Hospital and Cancer Research Institute located in downtown Toronto."
I'd really like to commend the efforts of the various groups involved for this compilation. I'll admit that I'm getting more and more frustrated with the music scene every day. Hypocricy is running rampant in a listening audience who have long been known for their acceptance of brilliant music in all its forms. Lately, though, there's been an increasing trend for people to find new music by listening to what their friends are grooving on. Nothing against the sort of EBM/gothic music that charts on non-commercial radio stations these days, because I like it too, but you keep seeing the same names over and over again on everyone's playlists. I find this disconcerting for a number of reasons.
First is the aforementioned hypocricy as people shun mainstream music because it's based in a few popular bands only to carry that same detrimental structure into "underground" music. Secondly, and more importantly, is the realization that this sort of popular sound leads to artistic stagnancy. Many musicians are stuck in the same mode, cranking out tunes that sound exactly like their last album and not experimenting in the least, which is not only tedious, but detrimental to our musical growth on the whole, especially when the market eats it up with wild abandon. It's very important that the market and the marketers realizes that new artists and new styles of music are even more important than trying to get as many people as possible on your dancefloor, or spinning all the big hits to try an achieve a maximum listening audience. There's so many great artists out there who live and die like the leaves of a tree, unnoticed, and often only because they don't have the marketing budget that many of the bigger bands have.
So here's an influx of music that borders on many different sounds that features 13 artists, most of which I doubt you've ever heard anything from before.
"Where She Ends [and I Begin]" by Enrapture starts off as a slow, quiet, classical-esque piece, with gentle flowing instruments for the first minute. At that point, a beat kicks in some non-conventional instruments are added, giving nice contrast to the piece. the song gets a harsher edge near the middle, building up, before it calms down again to a softer ending.
"the spy, alas, is dead" by ugmo starts off with a strange modulating sound, reminiscent of older transistor radio static. What it becomes is a looping, jazzy sort of sound with much in the way of cymbals -- ultra cool.
"Sympatico" features the sultry vocals of Sue Wilkinson in a very blues-y song. I picture smokey jazz bars of a time long past when I hear this tune.
Summing up, the overall theme of the music on the album is soft, electro-ethereal music, so it's nice and relaxing. Some of the tracks are more upbeat than others, which would make them great for club play. At any rate, this is a little light night music.
This CD is the biz. Why? You're getting 13 fresh artists for less than 10 bucks, and you're supporting not only independent music, but an important charity as well. Now you know that has to be good. The album can be ordered online through their mp3.com webiste, http://www.mp3.com/thevioletcomp .
1. Mowld by theta
2. Lachrymatory by Sara Ayers
3. Of Stars and Wishes by Mara's Torment
4. Where She Ends [ and I begin] by Enrapture
5. spiral (the healing song) by Falling You
6. ExOblivione by The Machine in the Garden
7. This Mortal Coil by Project Noone
8. Passport by Delta Dreams
9. the spy, alas, is dead by ugmo
10. frosty by Lorna
11. Sympatico by Sue G. Wilkinson
12. Bits by J Mundok
13. Year 2K: We Are One by Peron McCarthy
To subscribe to the Voilet Collection mailing list:
The Princess Margaret Hospital Web page (which the charity benefits):
~reviewed by BlackOrpheus
In 1998, the music world was introduced to Voltaire's sardonic verbal barrages on Devil's Bris. The album was unlike anything I'd encountered before. It was comprised of classical instrumentation, folk and celtic stylings all filtered through Voltaire's tragi-comic gothic (in)-sensibilities. Who else could title their album Devil's Circumcision(Bris) with all the aplomb and glee of Wednesday's child?
Almost Human is the evil twin of Devil's Bris. It distinguishes itself from that excellent album by its still more wicked sense of humor. It has a fuller, more expansive sound than its predecessor. The instrumentation is still familiar, and it's used to great effect as it emphasises and punctuates the witty observations of this earthbound seraph.
"God Thinks" is far and above my favorite track on this album. The song is pointed, uncompromising, and spares no one who misappropriates "god" for their own ends. Anyone who has been appalled by such offenses, will revel in the delivery of this indictment all set to rollicking instrumentation. "Never trust a man who puts his words in the mouth of God and says it's absolute truth," if this isn't the the barometer of truth, nothing is.
"Dead Girls" is the story of a fellow unlucky in love, until he found it with women in the morgue. These are women who accept him unconditionally. Well, as discouraging as women can be to a man's aspirations, we must not judge the poor wretch to harshly. " Have you ever loved someone, who didn't hurt you, harm you? There's no pain and there's no pressure. No verbal humiliation, there's no fear, there's no shame." This story might serve as a macabre allegory to the plight of more timid, and yet no less passionate souls. Did I mention it is extraordinarily funny as well?
"Feathery Wings" is the sorrowful and sanguine entreaty of an empathetic spirit seeking redemption. It cannot know the release of death, it's only hope is forgiveness. The vocal delivery on this particular track is particularly affecting. This was my second favorite track of the album. It was beautifully rendered by a master of humor filtered through pain. Bravo maestro.
In closing, let me say that if you think you have a good sense of humor, this may not be for you. This album was meant for those of us with wicked, good senses of humor as evidenced by a song like "God thinks". It said everything I've often thought with an irony that didn't pull any punches. I give this album a ten out of ten funny bones. Go dig it up...
1) Out of Reach
3) Feathery Wings
4) Almost Human
5) God Thinks
7) Dead Girls
9) Ringo No Uta
10) The Headless Waltz
11) Alchemy Mondays
12) The Last Word
13) The Night
14) El Barquito De Nuez
Voltaire is: a) a long dead French philosopher, writer and infamous wit. b) An "undead" stop-motion animation artist, comic book artist, and uncommonly good musician whose "nostalgie de la boue" is a delight to goth and gentile alike. c) vocalist d) all of the above
Matthew Goeke: Cello
George Grant: Bass, vocals
Stephen Moses: Drums 91,2,3.4,5,6,14)
Grisha Alexiev: Drums (7,8,9,10,11,12,13)
Kim Lee: Guitar (9,10,11,13)
Glampire: Guitar (7,8,12)
~reviewed by Psionic Imperator
I'm a bit of a sucker for music written using abstract methods. I'm an even bigger sucker for dark-ambient projects that utilize abstraction in their writing. Lustmord, Draemgate, and now Vox Barbara ...
I would be more curious as to why this kind of music calls out to me, but why ask why? It's all good...
'[De]Constructing Ghosts' is the second Vox Barbara release, after 'The Five Senses'. Both are Independent releases...
The big question is, WHY? This is world-class stuff...
Perhaps I should explain the writing process used by Vox Barbara on '[De]Constructing Ghosts'... Field recording sessions are a longstanding trademark of 'pure' industrial projects. So that, in and of itself, is nothing spectacularly different.. However, the use of these field recordings in Kirlian Audio software isn't exactly common. In writing '[De]Constructing Ghosts' Vox Barbara used software written by a student of Semyon Davidovich Kirlian, one Eldon Chorashan. The program is known as 'Ligea', and was apparently written for the CIA program on Audio Warfare known as 'OREAD'. This approach to music touches on some of the ideas behind the experimentalism of Brian Lustmord, as well as the ideals of Draemgate and their own Image-to-Audio conversion programs. What the software does to the sounds is a mystery to me... Perhaps it's subliminally planting messages of rhesus-monkey superiority in my skull, who knows? Musically, '[De]Constructing Ghosts' is far more active a release than the other artists I've used as contemporary examples. Traces of rhythmic noise abound, in equal measures with the oppressive drones we all love so much... Flowing between angry fits of psychosis and delirious hallucinatory states, '[De]Constructing Ghosts' offers a little bit of everything for the discerning connoisseur of experimentalist materials. In a nutshell, this is an extremely puissant release, and is not for the casual listener. It must be absorbed, examined, listened to... As background music it would be going to waste. Available for a song (so to speak), this album, I'm sure, is going to be criminally overlooked. That is not a mistake you should allow yourself to make. Purchase, listen, and enjoy...
1: Electrical Purdah
2: Circuit Trance
3: Embedded Controller
4: Ritual Dissection
6: Liver Dance
7: Artificial Curiosities
8: A Box Of Snakes
9: Perforation Bite
10: Silicon Phantom
11: Tabernacle Mirror
12: Gentle Pressure
13: Theatre Of The Uninhibited
VoxBarbara is: Frank Smith and M. DuBois
Setting Suns Are Semi-Circles
~reviewed by Matthew
Remember the blissful days of swirling college rock? When bands like Lush, My Bloody Valentine, R.E.M., The Smiths, etc were still considered alternative and the Dave Matthews Band and Blue Traveler had yet to rear their ugly heads? Well, Chicago-land’s Whimsical do and with their debut CD “Setting Suns Are Semi-Circles,” the band reinvigorates the vintage sound of shoegazer as well as upbeat pop alternative.
Led by the feathery vocals of Krissy Bailey, Whimsical deliver nostalgic music accented by jangling and treated guitars, lulling bass strums, and fluid cascades of rhythmic drumming. I was relieved to hear a strong ‘band’ sound, as most contemporary alternative/gothic projects rely to heavily on the presence of keyboards and electronics. Instead, the collective and tightly-woven performance of five exceptional musicians (the drumming is superb!) carries an entire CD of sweet radio-length gems.
From the dense opening track “Utopia” to the fast paced drive of “My Daydream,” Whimsical proudly wear their Slowdive and indie rock influences on their sleeves and still manage to make the music sound fresh and relevant. Bands like this are necessary because not everyone enjoys the less organic direction underground music seems to be taking. Whimsical offers an alternative to today’s alternative, and for that I commend them. The music is sentimental and beautiful, as best heard on the lilting “Angel You Are” but a groove oriented edge balances the scale, as is apparent on my personal favourite song “Space Is The Place.” There is even a brief acoustic ballad entitled “Failure” that brings the CD to its finale, that proves despite having a predominantly steady style and pace to characterize their music, they do possess a delightful variety to their sound.
To hear the music of Whimsical is to catch the breath of an angel and soar to the clouds. This charming music is an essential addition to the collections of indie rock fans and female vocal enthusiasts. Check out their music at Mp3.com or inquire of Seraph Records on how to obtain a copy of this seminal debut release.
2.) My Daydream
3.) Dry Your Eyes
5.) Head Above Water
6.) Beautiful Virtue
7.) Angel You Are
8.) Space Is The Place
Krissy Bailey – vocals
Neil Burkdoll – electric/acoustic guitars, sounds, and effects
Mark Milliron – electric guitars
Joe Santelik – bass
Tim Fogle – drums and electronic percussion