Android Lust
The Dividing
~reviewed by Matthew Heilman

In an effort to emphasize the label’s increasing musical diversity, Projekt  announced a few months back that the label’s ‘shocking new signing’ was  Android Lust, and first up, is a re-release of the album, The Dividing, which was originally released in October of last year.  Over the past few years, the label’s founder Sam Rosenthal has subtly broadened the range of artists that appear on his predominantly Ethereal based record label.  Inking decidedly more Goth rock outfits like Audra and indie/shoegaze acts like Lowsunday and Mira made a great deal of sense at the time but admittedly, Android Lust caused a few folks to raise their eyebrows.  It is one thing to try and show that there is more to Projekt than swirly romanticism and heavenly voices, but Android Lust is an electronic act renowned for uncompromising rawness and feisty feminist aggression.  How would such a band fit alongside Black Tape For A Blue Girl or Lycia?

If there is one thing that Projekt has always managed to do, and I think even the most ardent critics of the label or modern Goth music in general would admit, Sam always provided quality releases that he, as a music fan more so than a businessman, stood behind 100%.  The label has always maintained integrity and even if a few releases were regarded as misses by some fans or critics, there were always twice as many fans in support of those artists as those that were disenchanted with them.  So the point of this long-winded rant is there was obviously something unique about Android Lust that tickled Sam’s ear and earned the band placement on one of the most prestigious labels in dark underground music. "This is something I've wanted on Projekt for many years: a female artist.” Sam confessed in a recent Projekt newsletter. “Not a band fronted by a woman, but a band that -- from the first conceptualization to the last touches on the album cover design -- is completely the creation of one woman. In this regard, Android Lust has a similarity with my music. Except for a gender switch, Android Lust is like black tape for a blue girl: it's one person's vision in every sense."

Android Lust standout among not only the rest of the Projekt roster, but the band differs from most current electronic and Industrial dance bands active in the scene today.  The most obvious difference is of course, Shikhee herself.  While there are many female vocalists out there, most conform to conventional traits of femininity and place a heavy emphasis on angelic vocals that hope to convey a sense of beauty or tranquility.  While many of the cuts on this latest release prove that Shikhee can sing with a subdued and graceful alto, most of the time she delivers a venomous agitated scream that is wrenched straight from her churning stomach.  She has more in league with riot grrls and femme fatales like Lydia Lunch, Jarboe, Diamanda Galas, and Kim Gordon than with wispy overrated sirens.  Which is quite refreshing.  I can’t seem to get enough of irate female musicians.  They put me in my place and remind me how disgraceful it is to be male and how powerless I truly am.  It’s wonderfully subversive.

At any rate, from a musical perspective, there truly aren’t that many unique qualities about Android Lust.  There is nothing groundbreaking in the arrangements of the songs and there aren’t really that many melodic hooks.  But that isn’t necessarily a drawback – I for one am far beyond worn out on smooth predictable electronic music and ready made 120 BPM dance floor hits, and I hope by now, many of our readers are too!  Judging by the overwhelmingly positive response this album received when I hosted a release party for it at Ceremony last month, folks are going to stomp around the dance floor like mad to most of the tracks on this album. The brand of electronic music provided by Android Lust recalls the earlier and more rhythmically jagged days of Industrial dance music.  Atmosphere and emotion are the primary ingredients here, and rightfully so. There is more Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, and early NIN influences present than sugar-coated bounce.  Which I appreciate and enjoyed immeasurably.  The drums have punch, the synths have a stark retro feel to them, and then, of course there are the vocals.

The genuine passion and feverish intensity that animates nearly every vocal performance on this album makes up for any lack of musical originality.  Though the disc opens with a relatively atmospheric and Darkwave instrumental, things really begin to heat up and forge from a misleading sense of safety into delightfully unpleasant territory.  You can tell from the first time Shikhee opens her poison filled mouth on “Kingdom Of One” that she means business.  And it isn’t pretty.  Shikhee is entirely aware that she is off pitch, out of key, out of breath, and for the most part, not even singing.  But somehow, this works.  Vocal purists may scoff, but there is enough out there that follows the same formulas.  There is something dangerous and deliciously decadent about the vocals on this disc and this track in particular.  “Kingdom Of One” is perhaps the most unrelenting track on the disc, and I can imagine it was placed so early on for a reason.

Granted, an entire album of vocals like this probably wouldn’t work, and would alienate more listeners than broaden their minds.  With “Panic Wrought,” we find Shikhee’s rage to be toned down, but unquestionably still damaged and fueled by discontent.  Like some of my favourite Doom metal bands, Android Lust makes misery and suffering infinitely alluring. The painful rasps and whirling gloom of “Follow” trudges even further into Darkwave territory.  A cathartic exercise for both performer and listener, however derivative of other previous musical outfits, the purity is unmistakable.

All in all, to some, Android Lust may seem to be an acquired taste at first. But this album has sinister incubatory powers and it will grow on you.  Once you are used to Shikhee’s unorthodox vocal styles, it’s all smooth sailing from there.  In all actuality, her rasps and freak-outs are very well timed, adding climactic moments to the fluid, sprawling backdrops.  So don’t expect her adrenaline to be pumped to 11 on every track. Shikhee’s singing will more than likely appeal to fans of Tapping The Vein, Collide, and Battery.  But personally, I find Shikhee to be possessed of not only a more colourful punk rock attitude than most female singers in the scene, but she also projects a greater confidence in herself as a performer.

There is diversity in the album, and there is a wide-spectrum of emotional conflict explored, from the gritty explosiveness of “Sex & Mutilation” to the lite trance techno beats of “Unbeliever.” The final track “Burn” is a dreary neo-classical piece that centers on brooding viola and twinkling harpsichords, and if there were any doubts regarding Shikhee’s ability as a vocalist, this track will lay them to rest.  What she ultimately proves is that she is capable of accessibility, but prefers to pursue her own creative instincts, which is quite admirable.

The Dividing is a dynamic, enthralling release, and I am thankful to have had the pleasure to hear it since I missed it the first time around and I am more than curious about Android Lust’s back catalogue.  Hopefully, via the exposure offered by Projekt, Android Lust will reach folks like myself who had wrongfully dismissed Shikhee’s works as just another run of the mill electro project. Definitely recommended.

Track List:
1.) Division
2.) Kingdom Of One
3.) Panic Wrought
4.) Follow
5.) The Want
6.) Stained
7.) Unbeliever
8.) Another Void
9.) Fall To Fragments
10.) Sex And Mutilation
11.) Burn

Android Lust is Shikhee

Android Lust – Official Site:

Projekt Records:

All Living Fear
Home Too Soon (Fear Productions)
~reviewed by UncleNemesis

It's hard to write about All Living Fear without trotting out phrases like 'stalwarts of the UK goth scene' and other such plaudits. It seems like this band has been around for ever, in a bewildering variety of line-ups. In fact, All Living Fear have a ten-year-plus history behind them. They're very much a product of the 1990s 'underground' goth scene which emerged in the UK in the early years of that decade, when the media and music business turned away from goth and forced the scene to go DIY. All Living Fear are one of only a few bands from that period still to be in business now.

Home Too Soon, the band's fourth full-length album, is a bit of a nostalgia-fest for 90s heads in a way, for it features the return of vocalist Andy Racher, who left the band in 1997. Thus all the elements of All Living Fear's early 90s sound are reunited on this new release. If you know the band's older material, here comes the obvious reference point: Home Too Soon essentially continues where the last 'Andy vocals' album, the 1996 release Minimum Resistance left off. However, it's likely that this album will sound entirely fresh to many people today, because anyone who's stumbled upon goth during the last five years may never have heard this particular incarnation of All Living Fear. It was interesting to note that the band's recent performance at the Whitby Gothic Weekend seemed to generate much interest among the younger element of the crowd. Watching the set, it occurred to me that there are probably many people on the current UK scene who've never experienced a guitar-driven gothic rock band going through its paces on stage - not All Living Fear or anybody else. Paradoxically, All Living Fear's rediscovery of their 90s identity is going to sound radically new to many twenty-first century goths, and I dare say there's a whole new audience waiting for them in this area.

Did I mention guitar-driven gothic rock? I do believe I did, and if you're looking for a four-word encapsulation of what All Living Fear do, that's about the size of it. Notwithstanding contributions from others in areas such as songwriting or the live line-ups, what we hear on this album is essentially the work of just two people. Matt North does the music, Andy Racher does the vocals. All the ALF trademark features are present and correct; the overall style of the band has not undergone any radical overhauls. The production has been polished up a bit compared to previous releases, but in creative terms it's very much a case of business as usual. The songs here are familiar-style ALF mid-tempo rockers, with Andy's gothic croon sitting on top of Matt's churning riffs, while Cromwell Knightshade (ALF hold true to the old way of doing things even to the extent of giving their drum machine a name) rattles away in the background.

"Tug Of Love" is an attention-grabbing track, with a load of dirty distortion heaped on the vocals as Andy declaims with a kind of warped pride that he's a 'heartless bastard with nothing to lose'. There's an almost offhand evil in his delivery here, as if he knows he's one of the bad guys and just doesn't care. This is probably the standout track on the album, bringing as it does a little grit and fire to the generally amiable All Living Fear sound. "Excuses" has a neat mid-section where the riff suddenly gets down and dirty as Andy wraps up the chorus with a cynical chuckle. He can assume a bad-guy persona with such ease it's almost scary - and it's noticeable that his lyrics tend to have a bit more of a grime-of-life quality than those written by Martin Johnson, All Living Fear's other lyricist. Andy Racher picks over the grit of human relationships in his songs, while Martin Johnson tends to write in a more metaphorical, abstract manner. Here's an example. "Insomnia", which features one of Martin's lyrics, has a perfectly prosaic subject. It's about...well, not being able to get to sleep. But the words paint an almost mystical picture: 'Surreal rambling through thorny bushes/Grasp the grail, grab the chance for peace/A multitude of swirling voices/A scything tirade that will not cease'. That could almost be a set-piece scene from a Storm Constantine novel, and it's interesting to see how Martin views even the everyday stuff of life in such abstruse terms.

Having said all that, the title track here features an Andy-lyric which gets somewhat more cryptic than usual, although my guess is that he's exorcising some family demons. I'm almost embarrassed to mention that the song contains a word that I'd never met before - I had to make a quick excursion to to check it out. As a result I can inform you that 'contabescence' means 'wasting away gradually' - there, now. All Living Fear increase your word power! Musically, this song is almost a ballad, but with a mass of chorused guitars blowing like the wind across the rhythm, giving it a wide-screen feel which works rather well. "Eternal Sin" is unequivocally a ballad, a wistful song driven along with by nice little piano motif. I would've liked to hear this one as a purely acoustic number - the band shovel one of their trademark blat-and-rattle drum tracks over the melody, all programmed flourishes and fills, and I think the song really doesn't need such a busy backing.

That's probably a good point to make of the album as a whole, now I've hit upon it. All Living Fear have always favoured crowded, busy-busy-busy rhythm programming, and almost every song here, regardless of whether it's fast or slow, uptempo or slo-mo, features that chattering drum machine sound, busily whirring away in the background. ALF's rhythm-programming technique seems to involve throwing in rolls and fills and trills of all kinds everywhere there's a nano-second gap. I'm not sure that's such a great idea: a rather more sparse, stripped-down rhythm would surely give the songs a firmer foundation, and create a cool, confident, striding-forward feel, rather than the rush-rush-rush beat-frenzy which tends to overcrowd the ALF rhythm section. "L'Infant De Mort", for example, is a slow-burn number which has been lumbered with a jittery, falling-over-itself drum program which sounds like it's been awkwardly mixed in from an entirely different song. Compare and contrast with Devilish Presley - they use drum patterns almost sparingly, and hardly have a drum roll on an entire album. Meanwhile, All Living Fear's more-is-more approach sometimes manages to squeeze in drum rolls every few bars. Check out "Queen Of Delusion" for another example of a rhythm so loaded with embellishments it makes me feel tired just to listen to it. It seems the band can't allow the slightest rhythmic space to exist without filling it with programmed beats of one sort or another, and there are moments on the album when I want to yell at the CD player, 'Slow down! Back off! Ease up! Less is more!'

Now that I've come to "Queen Of Delusion", let's take a slightly closer glance at that track. I've mentioned that this album more or less represents ALF's return to their 90s incarnation, and it's certainly true that the basic musical building blocks of the ALF sound are much the same now as they were a few years back. Perhaps...a bit too much the same. I've been amusing myself by singing the words to an older ALF song, "Each And Every Way" over "Queen Of Delusion". You can swap lines from song to song and they fit exactly. These words from "Queen Of Delusion": 'I followed my nose and it led me astray/The favours I granted nearly broke me that day' can be replaced directly by these lines from "Each And Every Way": 'I treated you bad when I should have been good/I took you for granted, didn't play by the book'. Maybe Andy's familiar habit of pitching a line of vocal fairly low, then going up a bit for the next line, then down again, then up, and so on, as if he's on a vocal see-saw, contributes to the heard-it-before feel, but then again - count the syllables in the two lyrical excerpts I've quoted - you can tell that both songs have as near as dammit the same structure. Well, I suppose it's not surprising that a long-established band which relies for its musical input on just one person should begin to repeat itself after many years and several albums. As a matter of fact, Inkubus Sukkubus, who operate in a very similar fashion to All Living Fear, have been fending off exactly that criticism for some time now. And I suppose you could say that if the old fans don't mind, and the new fans don't know, then who cares if the same basic musical ideas come back for an encore in several different songs? But for me, this kind of stuff rings warning bells.

So, this album is All Living Fear's trip back to the old school, and for the most part it's a good experience. Older fans of the band can pick up where they left off in the mid-90s, while for new fans this album will doubtless come as a welcome departure from much of the stuff around on today's scene. But there are one or two instances here where the band sound like they're bumping up against their own limitations, and rehashing some rather over-familiar musical designs which they first brought to the party a good few years back. I suppose you could say that this album represents a calling card dropped onto the mat, just to alert the world that All Living Fear are back - but I think it'll be the *next* album which will indicate whether the band have enough ideas-fuel in their tank to power them into the twenty-first century.

The tunestack:
The Nearly Man
Queen Of Delusion
Tug Of Love
L' Infant De Mort
Home Too Soon
Eternal Sin
Forgive And Forget

The players:
Matthew North: Guitar, bass, programming
Andy Racher: Vocals & lyrics
Martin Johnson: Backing vocals & lyrics
Cromwell Knigfhtshade: drums

The website:

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:

Anima Nera
Anima Nera
~reviewed by Joel Steudler

Any band that gives me an excuse to use a derivative of the word 'eponymous' wins a few points from me, and with their eponymously(!) named debut album, Anima Nera certainly qualifies. These newcomers to the US metal scene pack a decidedly European punch, having chosen to imitate their contemporaries from the frozen Scandanavian tundras. They pilfer stylings from melodic deathmetal and black metal while chipping in some thrash of their own and come up with an exciting though mostly predictable hybrid.

Meritorious riffing abounds, with heavy slabs of gripping guitar flying by right and left on nearly every track. Nothing I haven't heard before countless times, but at least the execution is good and the melodies are catchy and full of variety. Anima Nera also has a softer side, though, as displayed by a number of acoustic guitar interludes that break up the mayhem. The songs are well composed and don't usually linger in any particular place too long. It's a shame, then, that the production is on the 'crappily raw' side. After listening to a release like Grimfist's Ghouls of Grandeur, it is apparent that superb production does not destroy aggressiveness... a lesson I hope Anima Nera learns, as their music deserves better.

The music also deserves better than the vocals as they are currently presented. A variety of approaches show up across the album, the most prevalent of which is a black metal screech-rasp. The vocalist doesn't really pull the style off convincingly though, and sounds like a strangled muppet who's really really angry. But then that could describe most black metal vocals, so take it however you will. The fellow that delivers the deathmetal blurty growling vocals fares better, sounding more like a nasty monster than a constricted imp. There's also some clean shouting here and there, but it's not enough to get upset over.

So, then, I have a few complaints with Anima Nera. The rasper needs to go to Norway and get beat up or freeze in an ice cave or whatever the vocalists there do to get their voices properly set. Maybe he hasn't burned enough churches down yet, I don't know. The lead guitarist might want to occasionally tune his instrument, too. Other than that, you have an album here that has many fine riffs, contains songs that keep interest levels high with varied structure, and applies plenty of musical violence in accordance with the union guidelines. It's nothing revolutionary, but then what revolution only costs $10 (at The End's store)? It might be worth your money.

Track List:
01.) Beneath These Skies
02.) Somber Eyes
03.) A Lesson Learned
04.) At The Feet of the Wicked
05.) Flatline
06.) The Ashes of Innocence
07.) Infected
08.) My Razorblade Romance

Anima Nera is:
Daniel Bott
Jacob Depolitte
Kelly Prime
Jason Morris
James Tony Hayden

Stereo Recording Co.:

The End Records (US):

Apocalypse Theatre
Zombie Street
Whispers Of The Tribe
~reviewed by UncleNemesis

Apocalypse Theatre (or Apox, to their friends) are, it seems, an itinerant bunch of punky-gothy-industrialish reprobates who have been perambulating around the US scene for ten years or so. They bill themselves as more of a travelling art concept than a band, and, although they've had innumerable line-up changes over the years, the central figure is apparently someone called V. Mercy (who looks, incongruously enough, somewhat like Valor out of that well-known doomcookie-metal band, Christian Death). The band has put out three or four conventional music CDs; they are now part of Martin Atkins' Invisible empire, but the video-CDs I'm reviewing here seem to be independent releases.

Before we proceed, a disclaimer. If I seem a little vague here it's because Apocalypse Theatre don't make it easy to zero in on basic facts. Their website is stuffed with many thousands of words, ranging from erudite dissertations on the state of underground culture, to entertaining, if rather vague, histories of the band. There are grand, broad-brush statements of intent, and quasi-mystical rants - not least in a journal by V. Mercy himself, in which we can read his 'dark thoughts'. As a matter of fact, going by the continual re-appearance of the same typos, grammatical errors, and spelling glitches throughout the website, not to mention the same melodramatic 'It's us against the world!' feel to much of the writing, I suspect he's responsible for everything on it. If the Apox website itself is not enough, you can read yet more of V. Mercy's valedictory dramatics on the United Voice Livejournal, along with other bands on the Underground/Invisible label rosters. All the relevant links, by the way, are given below.

Trouble is, fascinating as V. Mercy's manic outpourings are (in a kind of slow-down-to-watch-the-car-crash manner), they're not much help when you're simply trying to find out some nuts-and-bolts stuff about Apocalypse Theatre. The bare essentials - like a discography, or even the names of the people in the band - just don't seem to be there. Perhaps, in Apocalypse Theatre's world, names just aren't important. They claim to have had over 75 members. I suppose, when your personnel turnover reaches that kind of frequency, you don't even bother to ask anyone's name. Yep, that's right - over 75 members have passed through this band. These guys must've had a lot of bizarre gardening accidents.

So, feeling rather baffled, I turn to the two video CDs. These come to us from a mysterious organisation called Primal Tek, which is, I gather, some sort of underground arts 'n' media collective, which incorporates some, but not necessarily all, the members of Apocalypse Theatre. So, these video CDs are essentially self-released items....sort of. With me so far? Right. Let's press play.

Zombie Street is, as if you couldn't guess, a home-movie style video in which members of Apocalypse Theatre and sundry friends play a bunch of goths (not, it must be said, roles that are likely to stretch anyone's acting range) who go to a party and get turned into zombies. That's about it for plot: having established the premise, the video then comprises assorted zombified goths lurching about, falling over the furniture and each other. Curiously, beyond a certain smudginess of make-up and jerkiness of walk, the zombie-goths all seem reassuringly normal. When they start battering at the door, trying to get into the house, they just look like a slightly over-enthusiastic bunch of trick-or-treaters. Frankly, I've seen more hideous sights at closing time in the Devonshire Arms. Everyone in the video seems to be having a fine old time, and here, I think, we have the crux of it. Without a proper story, or a structured script which pushes everything to some sort of conclusion - without, in short, a *point* - I suspect Zombie Street was more fun to make than it is to watch. A good old fart-about for the protagonists; a briefly amusing, but ultimately rather purposeless, piece of fluff for the rest of us.

Also on this CD is a video of Apocalypse Theatre's song 'Parasite'. This is a mash-up of clips from the Zombie Street video, footage of fire-artists of various kinds, live shots, and V. Mercy himself, who, by the miracle of digital effects, floats alarmingly in mid-screen while he declaims, in a gutteral monotone, the kind of lyrics that Nosferatu would probably reject for being too foolishly melodramatic:

'Disintegration in my head
No salvation for the wicked things that we have done
My hell is your hell so welcome home
My pain is your pain so can you smell
The stench of decay and what is left of our human remains'
All this is delivered over a bouncy little synthpop backing track which sounds so amiably jaunty that I can't help laughing at the incongruous juxtaposition of music and lyrics. And, I suspect, Apox themselves would claim that all this is *supposed* to be funny: it's a tounge-in-cheek lark-about, an excuse to mess around with a video camera and some digital editing gear, and make some cheesy spoof-horror stuff. Well, maybe. But I'm afraid, after reading all V. Mercy's grand statements of intent on the website, that I expected something a little more hard-hitting, something more visceral, some genuine underground art, something which makes a *statement*, dammit - not just a bunch of dodgy goths filming their playtime.

After hearing the spooky-synthpop track, I confess I wasn't particularly keen to hear more Apox music - I mean, after all this hype, if all they do is *synthpop*, then include me out. However, the CD also includes some MP3 tracks, some taken from the soundtrack of the film, and featuring other bands, some by Apocalypse Theatre themselves. The Apox tracks demonstrate that there's more to the band's music than they've allowed us to hear thus far. Of particular note is 'Desert Song', an acoustic, tumbleweed-rolling-across-the-wasteland ballad, and something credited to 'Harbingers. Apox. Underground', a baffling random-word-association title for a slice of deep, dark, bad-trip hop which actually works rather well. Then there's the cover of U2's 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', re-invented as a nightmare rock opera, complete with a loping beat and a collection of wailing harpies on vocals. All of which is intriguing, but, in true Apox style, it's all presented in the most confusing way possible, without clear artist/title credits.

Fortunately, the second CD, Whispers Of The Tribe, lives up to the hype a bit more. Among the various features, we find an extended advert for the band in which the by now familiar mish-mash of video clips (circus performers, fire dancers, live shots) illustrates a voice-over, treated for spooky effect, in which V. Mercy (for I assume it is he) makes yet more grand statements about the intentions and philosophy of the band. Ooh, he does like his grand statements, does dear old V, there's no doubt about that. Elsewhere, there's a 'Gallery & Stories' section which - hurrah! - actually namechecks some of the past and present members of the band. Well, I'm glad we got there in the end, but shouldn't this basic info be readily available on the Apox website - not tucked away as an additional feature on a video release?

Whispers Of The Tribe itself turns out to be Apocalypse Theatre's first attempt at a 'proper' film. Not just a bit of fun with a video camera and a bunch of mates, this one actually has a story, a script, characters, dialogue, flashbacks, all that real-deal stuff. In a nutshell, it's all about a girl who has strange dreams, hears whispers in her head, goes a bit loopy, and gets chased by frightening zombie-like goths. Hmm, maybe Apox haven't progressed quite as far with their film-making ideas as I'd assumed. But it's a fully-realised project in the way that Zombie Street is not, so, to that extent, we've moved on. The one rather jarring note is the over-use of effects: it's all done in a very slick manner, but Apox's inability to get through a scene without editing in dancing monsters, nuclear explosions, or employing slo-mo or speeded up sequences, random colour changes, or turning everything to negative, soon becomes carpet-chewingly frustrating. After a while, I find myself shouting at the screen, 'OK! OK! We get the point! You know how to do all the fancy FX stuff! Now for God's sake give it a rest and just tell the story!' I suspect it's V. Mercy himself on the virtual editing desk - the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach to the post-production seems entirely consistent with his generally rather OTT approach to his band in general. Methinks the man needs to chill.

There are also some audio MP3s, which allow me to hear more of the Apox sound in all its glory. This time round, I fear I can give you no song titles at all, because when I went looking for them (yep, you've guessed it, the band hide this information away, rather than slapping it up on the virtual front page, or otherwise making it *accessible*) my entire computer froze up. Well, bugger that for a game of soldiers. No song titles, then. But I *can* give you an overview of the three songs here. Think of Hole. Now think of Hole going techno-metal. Now think of every distorted-chant industrial band you've ever heard. With Lene Lovitch on guest vocals. Put all that into a blender, and that's what you hear.

So, after all that, what do I think of Apocalypse Theatre? I like their ruthless independence, and their willingness to dip a toe or two into any pool of creative endeavour. They can obviously make all the techie stuff stand up and dance, and some of their music is intriguing and cool. But, for all that, they can be an infuriating bunch. The ideas behind both their music and their movies veer wildly between the genuinely creative and the crashingly obvious. V.Mercy's constant grandstanding, his absurdly manic dissertations on life, the band, and everything, grow rather tiresome after a while. The utter lack of any simple, straightforward, accessible, one-stop source of information on the band is just plain idiotic - I've spent far too much time scrolling up and down web-pages, or clicking through the obscure recesses of the CDs, just to find the kind of basic details which most bands would slap up on their websites as a matter of course. And even then, I've frequently drawn a blank, or discovered info so cryptic and confused it tells me nothing useful.

I think Apocalypse Theatre has got some good stuff here, but it lacks structure and focus. They're a random match thrown into a box of fireworks, when they'd be so much more effective as a guided missile. It's probably nothing that a manager, a webmaster, and a scriptwriter couldn't fix. Given that Apocalypse Theatre seem ever-willing to accept new people into their collective, if you feel like applying for any of those positions, by all means get in there. A certain skill in herding cats might be an advantage. But don't tell 'em Uncle Nemesis sent you!

The current Apocalypse Theatre website:

The Primal Tek website:

An older Apocalypse Theatre website, now out of date:

Download Apocalypse Theatre videos from this site:

The United Voice Livejournal - a forum in which bands on the Invisible and Underground, Inc. labels post tour news, on-the-road updates, and general musings on life. V. Mercy of Apocalypse Theatre is a regular contributor:

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:

Arcane Art
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

KritaRan is the most boring CD I've heard in a long time. If you don't like droning, highly repetitive dark ambient rock-ish music that's sometimes not really even music, then you won't like Arcane Art's bizarre sound manipulations and experimentation. On the other hand, if you're a fan of artistic experiments and aren't looking for music with diversity (ie, you enjoy styles that you aren't supposed to constantly attend to), then you may just like Arcane Art.

I'm half-tempted to quit the review right there, because this band is really sort of difficult to describe. Their sound is rooted in a form of ambient rock, partially improvised and partially planned, where strange overused guitar effects weave in and out of the soundscape over looping drum rhythms, distorted bass, and other synthetic sound creations. At any given moment, the music is really quite nice. The band creates an atmosphere of empty sadness, or a sort of hollow darkness.

However, after minutes upon minutes of the same riff and beats... it tries my patience. I like ambient and experimental music insofar as it has progressions or alterations to the sound, even subtle ones. Arcane Art essentially play very subdued electronic ambient with rock instrumentation. Ulver's ambient music adroitly captures variation in a minimalistic context, whereas IDM artists such as Upland, Aphex Twin and Plaid use ambient sounds to craft powerful atmospherics.

Arcane Art, comparatively, does none of these things. The experience is roughly like listening to a 54-minute introduction to some larger work. It would function well enough as part of a recording, but fleshed out into a complete CD it is severely lacking in depth and variation. If you want an unobtrusive rock-ish ambience, then Arcane Art has a good sound. But for the vast majority of us, 54 minutes of that same sound with only minor variations is utterly dull and uninspired.

Track List:
1) Chapter I
2) Chapter II
3) Chapter III
4) Chapter IV
5) Chapter V
6) Chapter VI
7) Chapter VII
Arcane Art is:
Bernt Edvard Egeland - drums, percussion, guitar, programming
Karsten Hamre - sound effects, sound manipulation and samples

Arcane Art - Official Site:

Dragon Flight Recordings:

Alien Sex Fiend
Information Overload (13th Moon)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis

At the risk of boring you with blatherings from yesteryear - me and Alien Sex Fiend, we go back.

Alien Sex Fiend were, of course, one of the original 'Batcave bands' - one of that select group of weird-art loonies who made their initial name via some appropriately manic performances at the original Batcave club in London at the turn of the 80s. But their real success came a little later, when they struck out onto the UK live circuit. I particularly recall a stonker of a gig at the Electric Ballroom in London in 1984, where the Fiends played with Bone Orchard, Inca Babies, and Sunglasses After Dark - just about as cutting-edge a line-up as you could get at the time. The Fiends' own set was post-punk gone postal: a crazily surreal spectacle of cartoon-horror imagery, ludicrous props and gimmicks, and, in the centre of it all, Nik Fiend himself, fixing the audience with a mad, bad, stare, roaring and hollering like a preacher from another planet. Later in '84, I saw Alien Sex Fiend again, at the Fridge in Brixton - the original club, which was no more than a room above a shop, all painted white, with old refrigerators piled up around the room like an arctic scrap yard. Alien Sex Fiend were in their element in this surreal setting, and exploded onto the Fridge's small stage like a carelessly discarded hand grenade. I've still got a flyer for that gig somewhere - printed on greaseproof paper. Fridge, geddit? Oh, we were all so conceptual in those days.

But it wasn't just the manic, loopy stage shows that made Alien Sex Fiend's name. Beneath all the horrorshow larking about, they were a genuinely innovative band, one of the first to mash up guitars and electronics. At a time when simply using a drum machine was considered pretty darn radical, the Fiends would construct entire songs around towering, shuddering synth riffs, and then layer bloops and bleeps and electronic stomach noises over the top. The Fiends were using
samples back when they were called 'cut-ups' and 'found sounds'. Then they'd drop a crashing slab-o-guitar over the whole caboodle, Nik Fiend would start his mad ranting, and the whole damn thing would *rock*. It's my firm belief that Alien Sex Fiend were hugely influential in this area, more so than anyone's ever acknowledged. Try this simple test. Play 'Dead and Buried' by Alien Sex Fiend, 'Uberman' by Sheep On Drugs, and 'Firestarter' by The Prodigy back to back and you won't need Burke's Peerage to trace the lineage. Alien Sex Fiend were innovators and originators. They *started* all that!

I was, therefore, rather disappointed to find, as the 80s rolled into the 90s, that Alien Sex Fiend seemed to coast to a gentle halt. They stopped touring, the flow of new releases became a trickle (at precisely the time that the flow of re-releases became a flood) and the band more or less took up residence in the 'Where Are They Now?' file. Occasional Fiend-sightings rang alarm bells. I recall an interview with Mr and Mrs Fiend in Lowlife fanzine sometime in the 90s, where their responses to questions about current music seemed vague and evasive. They implied enthusiasm for the dance scene, but couldn't name any particular favourite artists. They seemed to like the idea of dance culture, without particularly knowing much about it. Only two new Fiend-releases came our way during this decade: the computer game soundtrack 'Inferno' and the 'Nocturnal Emissions' album, both of which hinted at a stripped-down, slowed-down, dance scene-wannabe Fiends, making blandly functional trance-dance for ravers on a come-down. Frankly, it seemed to me that the Fiends had driven their rocket up their own arses. The music wasn't innovative any more - other artists had taken the Fiends' early ideas, and by the 90s were pushing those ideas further than the Fiends themselves could manage. The watershed moment, I think, came in 1993 when Sheep On Drugs released their genuinely groundbreaking first album. All of a sudden Alien Sex Fiend started to look like an old jalopy puttering along in the slow lane, while newer, sleeker, faster models streaked past - with Fiend-fuel in their tanks.

Still, I showed faith. When I became a promoter in 1995, I approached Alien Sex Fiend's management with a view to dragging the band out of semi-retirement and putting them back on a stage. The response was cautiously favourable, but the idea foundered on the Fiends' insistence on a four-figure fee and a large theatre venue such as the Astoria before they'd deign to tread the boards again. After such a long time off the circuit, I thought this was pushing things a bit. I was thinking more in terms of a three-figure fee and a medium-size club venue like the Underworld, just to see if the band could still command an audience. We could move up to bigger venues (and more money) *after* the band had proved themselves, not before! Well, suffice to say that the gig never happened. Alien Sex Fiend didn't play live again until '97, by which time the 'Nocturnal Emissions' album was out. Jason of Caged Bat Promotions recruited the band to headline a small-scale goth festival in Nottingham. Presumably, by this time, the Fiends had dropped their Spinal Tap-esque negotiating position, because they ended up playing the 500-capacity Rig club - exactly the sort of gig they wouldn't play for me! Notwithstanding a strong support line up, the gig wasn't a sell-out, which backed up my doubts about the band's pulling power. I felt vindicated. I also felt disappointed by the band's performance, which was pedestrian and bland compared to their earlier incarnation. Nik Fiend literally strolled through the set. He simply wandered around the stage, chatting out his lyrics without exerting much effort, and without even particularly acknowledging the presence of the audience. I felt quite relieved that I had not ended up promoting the band - if they'd done a set like that for me, I would've asked for my money back!

Jason Caged Bat obviously had more faith in the band than I could muster. Later in '97 he put them on in London, at the Electric Ballroom, a venue which had all sorts of old-skool resonances for those of us who'd been there in the early days. But the Fiends' insistence on portraying themselves as part of the dance scene raised its head again. Jason's original selections for the support slots - The Marionettes and Die Laughing, as I recall - were unceremoniously bumped off the bill because the Friends didn't want to play with goth bands. They insisted on their own choices of supports, and thus it was that we endured the anonymous trancey meanderings of Pod and Killa Instinct, two faceless dance acts whom I'd never heard of before - and I've never heard of 'em since, either! But that, it seemed, was the company Alien Sex Fiend wanted to keep.

Now, given my earlier remarks regarding the Fiends' influence on such rock/dance crossover artists as Sheep On Drugs and The Prodigy, I would certainly never diss the band for wanting to extend their feelers in the direction of the dance crowd. An obvious crossover audience existed in this area in the 90s, which Alien Sex Fiend could've claimed for their own - if only they'd been a bit more sussed about it; if only they'd had a bit more scene-level knowledge. If only they'd kept on pushing forward, instead of dropping out of sight for several years, and then coming back re-invented as a dance act inside their own heads, but without anything like the appropriate audience, and without any real idea of how to handle the slightly delicate crossover manouevre. Potentially, it was all there for them, but frankly I think they blew it.

So, here we are, five years on from all that, and slightly to my surprise a new Alien Sex Fiend album has arrived. I'm surprised because I was under the vague impression that the band had split up - or, at any rate, had coasted to a complete stop, unremarked by anyone. But it seems Alien Sex Fiend do still exist, albeit in a sort of half-life as Mr and Mrs Fiend's occasional studio project. Five years between releases - yes, I think we can justifiably use the word 'occasional', don't you? I'm not quite sure if we can justifiably describe this album as 'new', though: a glance at the archive section of the Alien Sex Fiend website reveals announcements relating to the recording and release of the album going back to 1999 - and one track, a cover of The Doors' 'Five To One', was actually released on a compilation back in 2000. This, I suppose, illustrates how slowly Alien Sex Fiend move these days. Even their new material is several years old. No wonder they can't seem to grasp the zeitgeist.

'Information Overload', then, can perhaps be described as more of a compilation of relatively old Fiend-emissions, rather than a genuinely new album - and there are certainly moments here which sound...well, a bit nineties. But let's take it from the top.

The first noise we hear is the curiously retro sound of a modem dialling up - the Fiends, it seems, don't have broadband. This introduces the title track, which is all about, erm, the internet, and how there's lots and lots of information available at our fingertips these days via this astonishing new invention. This, of course, hardly counts as a stop-you-in-your-tracks revelation. Indeed, given that the internet is now such a mundane part of everyday life it's rather odd that the Fiends should be so gobsmacked by something that the rest of us have been calmly taking in our stride for quite a few years now. Nik Fiend, adopting a comedy-cockney voice, rasps out some frankly rather obvious observations about the virtual world as if he's only just stumbled upon the world wide web: 'The world gets smaller wiv communication...suffering from an information overload there's a loss of transmission...' Loss of transmission? Hmm, maybe his modem hung up unexpectedly. All this takes place over a vintage, shuddering Fiend-sequence which recalls 'Ignore The Machine' - are the Fiends being post-modern here, and sampling themselves? The track has some engaging moments, particularly the chanted chorus: 'Rape and pillage in the global village!', but overall it has a bizarrely old-fashioned feel. Let me shoot straight from the shoulder here: after five years of Fiend-radio silence I expected something a little more sharply contemporary than a retro-styled dissertation on commonplace domestic technology.

Fortunately, things pick up a bit with 'Motherfucker Burn', nine minutes and one second of bubbling, distorted, ambient-psychedelic-rock-dub-reggae over which Nik Fiend freaks and shrieks thus: 'All for some, some for all/Beat your head against the wall!' The track has a cool, loping  groove to it, somewhat in the same rhythmic area as such 90s indie-dub-dance heads as Dreadzone - but then great chunks of gated, reverbed, guitar come crashing in like tidal waves, pushing everything into the red, whereupon the track recalls the kind of stuff The Young Gods used to do. If you're a DJ, try this one segued with 'TV Sky' - I reckon it would work. Ah, yes, this is more like it - I can hear the influences at work, but at least Alien Sex Fiend seem to have some fire in their bellies again.

'Baby' is another reggae-fied groove, very much in the area of Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound excursions. It even has the down-in-the-mix vocal snippets that are an On-U Sound trademark, and washes of fuzzed-out guitar which recall Skip McDonald's work with Dub Syndicate. Nice stuff, actually, although my ultimate thought as the track draws to a close is that I really should give Dub Syndicate's album 'Classic Selection Volume One' a spin. Now there's a seminal work of left-field reggae - as I suspect Alien Sex Fiend would agree, since they appear to have done their own take on it here.

'Drug Of Choice' is a little squib of samples, a fourteen-second interlude, and then we're into 'Gotta Have It' which has yet more of those Young Gods gated guitars, so much so that If you'd told me this was a remix of 'Gasoline Man' I would've believed you. The track thunders along on a whumping beat and staccato guitar-bursts, without much in the way of vocals - unless you count chopped-up bits of Nik Fiend yelling 'Have it! Make it mine! All For Me! Fuckers!' beneath several layers of distortion. Again, I like what the Fiends are doing here, but my appreciation is tempered by the knowledge that someone else has done this stuff before - and I've got the original take on this sound in my vinyl collection, filed under 'Y'. Ultimately, this track sounds like an extended remix of someone else's idea, and that really isn't what I want to find myself thinking. Whatever happened to the days when Alien Sex Fiend were out on their *own* limb?

Next, there's a pointless four second sound effect which the Fiends have rather pretentiously dignified as a track in its own right - it's entitled 'Lord Of The Sexual Matrix', no less. A more realistic title would be 'Bumping up the track listing without bothering to write any real music'. The next proper track is 'Kiss Arse', which  has a ludicrously long intro which sounds like Nik Fiend farting about with an echo box, but ultimately unfurls into an extended workout of dub tricks and guitar effects. None of this ever really resolves into a *song* as such: in fact, there's nothing like a conventional song on this entire album. This, in case you're wondering, counts as a *good* thing - where does it say that Alien Sex Fiend should follow conventional songwriting rules anyway? However, having said that, this track does rather come across as a bit of self-indulgence in the studio. It just rumbles along without much in the way of tension and resolution - without, in fact, much of a point. I think they needed at least two more ideas in there to make it work.

'Voices In My Head' slinks along on all manner of spooky/ambient effects, like an out-take from a horror movie soundtrack, and as such is probably the nearest thing to old-skool Alien Sex Fiend you'll find here. And then the album wraps up with that three year old cover of The Doors' 'Five To One', which clocks in at five minutes and nine seconds. Surely Alien Sex Fiend missed a trick there - why not time the track to come in at 5.21? It's a good old stompy late-nineties industrial-techno workout, which sounds curiously dated at this distance - think Ultraviolence, Revolting Cocks, that kind of musical area. I can imagine this track going down a storm on the Slimelight dance floor a few years back, but now it's a weirdly retro experience.

And that's it - there is no more. The first Alien Sex Fiend album for five years - and, I confess, there's a certain 'Is that it?' feeling in my head as the final moments of the final track fade away. In truth, there are only four tracks here which have any real substance to them: 'Information Overload', 'Motherfucker Burn', 'Baby', and 'Gotta Have It' - and each of these draws heavily on obvious 90s-scene influences, except for 'Information Overload', where the Fiends seem to be drawing on old-skool Alien Sex Fiend influences. There are moments where it all works well, moments of real dynamism where that essential crazed Alien Sex Fiend spirit comes through - but there's too much here that's just a bit underwhelming, especially after a five-year wait. In the end, I get the impression that Alien Sex Fiend are too isolated, too out of touch for comfort, moving too slowly in a high-speed world. They need fresh ideas; maybe they need to work with contemporary musicians and producers. What the hell, maybe they just need to get out more.

I'm glad to find that the band still exists, because a world without Alien Sex Fiend in it would be a sad and sorry place. But, dammit, I wanted *more* than they give us here.

The tunestack:
Information Overload
Motherfucker Burn
Drug Of Choice
Gotta Have It
Lord Of The Sexual Matrix
Kiss Arse
Voices In My Head
Five To One

The players:
Nik Fiend - Vocals, guitar, scratching
Mrs Fiend - Keyboards, beats, bass, samples

Slice - Guitars
Gonzo 'Dave' Dearnley - Guitars

The Fiendsite:

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:

Ásmegin (Norway)
Hin Vordende Sod & Sø
~reviewed by Joel Steudler

I love Norway, because it is full of crazy musicians. Perhaps they are considered normal over there, in that frozen funland, but from my lofty perch in the realm of darkness and woe (America) they sure look nuts. Ásmegin is full of lunatics who make crazily good viking folk metal (the genre itself somewhat of an insane incongruity). Hin Vordende Sod & Sø will twist your head in a knot and bewilder you with its constant changes in direction and tone, but will also delight and amaze you with its musicianship and creativity.

Ásmegin employ a dazzling array of real folk instruments (along with real people who play them really well) that mix in with the metal-band portion of their sound seamlessly. Each song is so densely packed with layers of instruments both ancient and modern that you could spend a few hours just trying to sort them all out. The truly amazing thing is that the inclusion of so many disparate sounds never feels forced or out of place. The band darts from somber and quiet fiddle fueled folk tunes to accordion laced romps ala Fintroll, then again on to bludgeoning viking deathmetal all within a few skipped heartbeats.

Vocally, things are no less unpredictable. Seemingly dozens of singers wandered through the studio while Hin Vordende Sod & Sø was being put together. Crazed witches, blackmetal raspers, lilting forest elves, sandpaper throated growlers and serene chanters all show up at one time or another... and often all at once. Everything and anything goes when it comes to the vocal direction across the album's eleven tracks. The chaos is carefully orchestrated, brilliantly staged, and though manic in pace is never incomprehensible. Anyone who gets bored listening to this album can probably vibrate through walls. Far more likely is succumbing to sensory overload, but Ásmegin has arranged and paced everything so deftly that the music is never overwhelming, but always engaging, like an expertly designed amusement park ride.

I recommend this album to everyone who likes metal. Only hard hearted jackasses or teenagers who hate everything will come away from Hin Vordende Sod & Sø disappointed. It is an artistic triumph and an ass kicking album full of catchy brutal riffs and stunning beauty. All of the musicians involved are of the highest caliber. The album trumpets everything that Norway and its neighbors have offered to the genre of metal and then some. Where other bands like Fintroll, Borknagar, Ulver (in their metal days) and Vintersorg all seemed to have a few pieces of the puzzle, Ásmegin assembles them into a brilliant and complete picture of the best of modern Scandanavian metal.

Track List:
01.) Af Helvegum
02.) Bruderov Paa Hagstadtun
03.) Huldradans Hin Gronnkledde
04.) Til Rondefolkets Herskab
05.) Aver Agirs Vidstragte Sletter
06.) Slit Livets Baand
07.) Efterbyrden
08.) Op Af Bisterlitiernet
09.) Vargr I Veum
10.) Blodhevn
11.) Valgalder

Ásmegin is:
Marius Olaussen - Guitars, keyboards, vocals
Raymond Håkenrud - Guitars
Tomas Torgersbråten - Bass
Tommy Brandt - Drums

Additional Musicians:
Lars Nedland - Vocals
Anja Hegge Thorsen - Jew's harp
Oddrun Hegge - Norwegian zither
Lars F. Frøislie - Piano, mellotron, keyboards
Sareeta - Fiddle, vocals
Anne Marie Hveding - Vocals
Børge Finstad - Percussion
Gunhild Førland - Country flutes
Nikolai Brandt - Vocals

Ásmegin - official site:

Napalm Records:

Belborn and 3 DREI THREE
~reviewed by Goat

On the opening page of the Belborn website, one finds the following message:
"BELBORN was brought into being by Holger F. and Susanne H.!  We present melancholic and heroic music with German lyrics.  The ideal accompaniment for all who live awake and prepare the way to a GOLDEN AGE!"

Belborn are now Holger F., Susanne H., and the smallest Belborn, Skadi-Lilja.  I love the idea that this music comes from, and reflects the spirit of, all three of them; a family. So much of what is supposed to be "folk" music these days actually includes very little of the folks who make it; not so with Belborn. This is very powerfully emotive music, music which appeals to the spirit and to the soul on a very honest and open level.  It recalls a lost romantic age; an age of heroism and bravery, or, as Holger has said in an interview, of, "Trust, honesty, pride, honour, love of the homeland, individuality, paganism!"  One cannot help but be touched by the honesty of this music; the simplicity of it, both musically and lyrically.  The music is mostly guitar, with some 80s synth influences, and two people singing their hearts.  The first CD, "Belborn" is definitely the more (dare I say?) 80s influenced of the two CDs, since the keyboards are more often felt, but the overall atmosphere of the CDs remains decidedly folkish, regardless. The keyboards, guitar, and vocals create a warm, organic sound rather than the more industrially disconnected sound associated with most keyboard-driven 80s bands.

Another thing I appreciate about the Belborn CDs is that, with the exception of one song, every song is sung in German.  I enjoy hearing CDs from European countries that are sung in their native tongue and do not sing in English just because it might sell more CDs, or because an English audience demands it. I feel it reflects a great laziness on the part of the English-speaking listener when there is whining that there are not enough songs in English.  Certainly an American band would balk if Japanese fans kept pushing for songs to be sung in Japanese!  So, I also respect Belborn for the fact that they do not change themselves just to reach an English audience.  They do include lyrical  translations in English, and I find it enjoyable to
follow along and learn some German words on the way.

Lastly, the graphics on these CDs are exquisite.  Many of the graphics are drawings by Holger, and some are photographs, or graphics from old copperplate engravings.  The entire presentation of the CDs, the graphics, the lyrics, the music, it all reflects a great care and tenderness for the art; it is beyond refreshing.  If the CDs were only the music, it would be enough, but what a grand thing to hold two discs so delicately  and carefully crafted; with so much thought put into them, and so much of the minds and hearts of the artists who dreamt the dreams that became the art.  CDs of this quality are rare.

Distribution of both the "Belborn" and "3 DREI THREE" CDs is through WorldSerpent.

*Stateside readers can find Belborn CDs and vinyls through the usual WorldSerpent distributors such as:

Visit the Belborn website for photos, interviews, discography and more:

Perhaps to fully appreciate folk music, one must also know a little about the country of the folk.  Here are some sites about Bavarian Rosenheim, from whence Belborn hail:

Betray My Trust
A Million Miles from Everything
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

A Million Miles from Everything is a half-hour EP from Maryland's Betray My Trust. The music falls into the realm of 'popular gothic rock that isn't popular'. By that I refer to the genre of gothic rock that is by no means goth, but is nevertheless a more depressing take on popularly accepted radio rock sounds (see: Katatonia, Anathema, et al). The general feel on this EP is that of sadness, and the extended instrumental sections beautifully capture both haunting and surprisingly uplifting passages (reminiscent of Agalloch). Excepting these moments, the music largely focuses on the singer, who laments about the standard things musicians tend to be down about.

Unfortunately, the singing lacks the emotional power of groups such as Opeth and Katatonia. Betray My Trust will not depress or move you in any significant regard, it will simply sing about depressing or moving subjects for you to do with what you choose. This difference in approach is not a flaw (and I'm not criticizing the group), but it is an important mention for metal fans. A Million Miles from Everything does not present the metal aesthetic that Katatonia manages even in their friendliest rock songs.

Instead, Betray My Trust is reaching into that same pool of musical creativity that all the aforementioned bands do, except they're dipping in as a rock band while the others approach the sound from a metal background. The distinction is subtle - but it implies two key things: 1) Metal fans who only appreciate bits and pieces of gothic rock won't get into this EP; and 2) Rock fans who like a lot of mildly depressing rock probably will.

The six songs on A Million Miles from Everything are just a little on the rough side in terms of composition and execution, but really, Betray My Trust shows a lot of promise for becoming an important gothic rock band in the vein of Katatonia. The singing style feels a bit too 'rock' to fully engage me. To use a crude comparison, the basic vocal sound reminds me of the Goo Goo Dolls, but used to a more depressing end. So, essentially, if you dabble in listening to this style of music from a firmly rooted metal standpoint, you're best off sticking to the known greats, but if you enjoy a lot of rock and wish it were more dejected without being lugubrious like that awful showy theatrical metal stuff, give Betray My Trust a listen.

Track List:
1) Intro
2) I Love You, But Goodbye
3) The Saddest Year
4) Letting You Go
5) A Million Miles From Everything
6) The Bridge

Betray My Trust - Official Site:

Black Funeral
Belial Arisen
~reviewed by Goat

Black Funeral, nee Sorath, nee Abaddon, have released what is probably the death knell of any band.  The "old and unreleased" material; this following the release by a formerly "black metal" band of an "experi- mental/electronic" album, and then, the imperative move to Texas, as if proximity to Averse Sefira will help.  Perhaps so. Time will tell.

I'd say this release is probably for posterity only; for fans of the band whose cassettes are wearing thin, or who want this material on a cd with artwork rather than just mp3.  It's fairly mundane black metal;  nothing to get your asbestos knickers in a wad about.  The press material compares this release with the work of Emperor, Bathory, and Mayhem, which is laughable at best.  Of course, it can be argued that this is an American black metal band, which explains why the mediocrity is acceptable, compared to the Nordic masters. No American band has really *ever* held a black candle to any of them, I don't care what the Texas converts say.

Again, if one is a fan of the band, one will definitely want this release to round out the ol' collection. Otherwise, get something by any one of the other bands mentioned in this review.

Track List:
-Infernal Majesty
-Book of Belial
-Antichrist Rising
-Lycanthropy and Flames
-Light of Satanael
-The Crimson Dragon

Behemoth Productions/ Masterpiece Distribution

Babylon Mystery Orchestra
Divine Right of Kings
~reviewed by Joel Steudler

I can tell you right now that if you're reading this site by choice (and aren't being forced by a squad of well armed goths to peruse our pages), you will find nothing of interest in this wretched example of Christian-agenda-driven tripe. Move along, nothing to see here... unless you enjoy it when reviewers bash bands who make garbage. Personally, I sort of get a kick out of that kind of thing, so I'd probably keep on reading this. That might just be me. I'm kind of odd. On to the trashening: Babylon Mystery Orchestra is neither mysterious nor particularly orchestral. Additionally, I bet its sole member, Sidney Allen Johnson, hasn't even -been- to Babylon. That, however, is neither here nor there. I wish this album was neither here nor there... but I digress. Again.

My main bone of contention with Divine Right of Kings is that musically, it is of very, very poor quality. The songs are exceedingly simplistic, childish concoctions that plod along at a snail's pace. Before you think 'oh, doom metal!' ... it's not. Think 'sedative laced classic metal' that has no drive, no power, and no compelling reason for ninety nine percent of metal fans to listen to. Mr. Johnson also seems to have cribbed his riffs and slow-mo solos from the 'Metal for Morons: The Worst of the 80's!' handbook, and plays what seems like a humorless caricature of all the cheesiest old metal cliches. Making matters even worse, ol' Sidney's singing voice is akin to that of an uncommonly deep-voiced muppet. His sleepy delivery borders on 'comical' but usually lands in 'intolerable' when he veers from singing into spoken word segments. Even Reverend Lovejoy from 'the Simpsons' is cooler as he preaches from the pulpit than Sidney is as he spews out his fundamentalist screeds.

Those selfsame screeds, in fact, are what push Divine Right of Kings over the edge from harmless crap into offensive trash. In true fundamentalist Christian fashion, Sid seems to feel we're all going to hell. Shooting down the fast track to Hades, according to the Sidster, are homosexuals and black people who complain about injustices done to their ancestors. The track 'It's My Right' tells the tale of Little Suzy in her schoolroom suffering moral outrage as her classmate Little Johnny tells a tale of 'a kid with two mommies'. Then another student, Little Willie is given an 'A' by his teacher while 'trying to shakedown the crowd' with tales of the injustices done to slaves, as he says he's 'owed money to help his people cope'. While the song mainly appears to be an indictment of the educational system, it can't be construed as anything other than an attack on homosexuals and blacks. Way to go, Sid. Keep thumpin' that Bible... right up against your fat head, preferrably. Maybe it will knock some of the sensless intolerance and hate out of there. Or just put you in a coma. It's a win-win proposition. The rest of the lyrics are of the 'mostly inoffensive but right-leaning' variety, worthless in their hollow platitudes.

As much as I've derided all the Satan-lovin' black/death metal bands out there in previous reviews, I can do no less when evaluating Babylon Mystery Orchestra. Both the satanic and fundamentalist christian viewpoints share an extremist and negative worldview that serves no purpose other than to incite hatred. Is that what we really need? Sometimes I tolerate all the satanic nonsense since it is often coupled with fine metal music, and typically seems so over-the-top that the calls for baby eating and indiscriminate slaughter seem ridiculous and cartoonish. In my estimation, Mr. Johnson actually believes the message he seeks to deliver on Divine Right of Kings, and there is no excellent music to back it up. I therefore have nothing at all to recommend about this worthless album, which I hope sells little enough that Mr. Johnson is dissuaded from ever picking up his guitar again.

Track List:
01.) A Habitation Of Devils
02.) We Are Power
03.) Road To Madness
04.) Whore
05.) It's My Right
06.) Savages With Cash
07.) Save My Soul
08.) Evado Eversor
09.) Mourning Glory
10.) Divine Justice
11.) Crestfallen

Babylon Mystery Orchestra is:
Sidney Allen Johnson

Babylon Mystery Orchestra Official Homepage:

We Are Childhood Equals
This is what you asked for
~reveiwed by Basim Usmani

 Okay, I confess, I never quite understood the mass appeal of bands like Smashing Pumpkins or Sonic Youth. I knew they played around with interesting song ideas, but they never wrung me about by the throat the way this does. What we have in This is what you asked for is the culmination of the swirling Indie sound; it never meanders and it always hits you right in the chest. This is one of the most violently dynamic bands I have heard in recent years. They have an arsenal of songs that lure you in with a rhythm worth lusting after while a seething melody suddenly swoops in to ambush you. You’ll be left with the ruins of your former self after listening to this, and the songs will take on a life of their own upon further listens. The intimacy between the bass and drums is unbelievably tight; I wonder how long they’ve played together…

When they lock in together near the end of Veranda, they create an exothermic reaction within your upper body the way warm cider does. The frothing 8th-note guitar strut is delightfully volcanic between verses in "Sunday She said I was Sick". "City Mimicry" is the easiest to consume, but it will dissolve in your mind much more rapidly than the others will. The other four tracks are far more spicy, and if you give them the attention they deserve, they’ll prove to be much more filling. I urge fans of all music to take cues from the masterminds behind We Are Childhood Equals, who once again show us that good songs aren’t about posing or showcasing. Good songs take you somewhere. I urge you to buckle up.

Track List:
1.) City Mimicry
2.) Veranda
3.) Sunday She Said I Was Sick
4.) N Judah
5.) This Is What You Asked For

We Are Childhood Equals is:
Peter – guitar, vocals
Michael – guitar, vocals
Melanie – bass
Phil – drums

Official Website:

Pop Faction Records:

cEvin Key
The Dragon Experience
~reviewed by Jyri Glynn

There is hardly an industrial act around who can’t claim some influence from the music of Skinny Puppy and its founding members.  Equally, enthusiasts of the band’s music have over two decades of cEvin Key’s own music to follow.

A quick overview begins with cEvin Key’s musical launch of electro-pop band, Images of Vogue.  Most notably he was one of founding member of Skinny Puppy and also released two albums with fellow bandmate, Dwayne Goettel under the name Doubting Thomas.  Key teaming up with Bill Leeb (aka Wilhelm Schroeder) from Front Line Assembly/Delerium on release Cyberaktif and with the Legendary Pink Dots’ Edward Ka-Spel to create the Tear Garden.

During the turbulent last rites of Skinny Puppy, Key and Goettel created a series of exploratory works under the name of Download.  After Goettel’s premature death, Key continued working with avant-garde stylings, which can be heard on consequent Download recordings, as well as his Plateau side project.  In conclusion Key releases his third solo album with The Dragon Experience.

If I were to draw a reference point for those familiar with Key’s numerous earlier releases and projects, I would catalog The Dragon Experience somewhere between the Remission/Bites era of Skinny Puppy’s music and Key’s own Doubting Thomas project.

Though the majority of the tracks on The Dragon Experience were written and composed nearly twenty years ago (between 1984-1985) the music is nowhere near dated.   Anyone familiar with industrial music knows that Skinny Puppy and its members were always a bid ahead of their time and with cEvin Key’s latest release this fact is once again reaffirmed.

For the final treatments of Dragon Experience, Key joined up with Ken Marshall, though how much contribution Marshall has to this album is a bit of an unknown.  The music has a contemporary feel to it, which leads me to believe both Marshall and Key did do a bit of tweaking with the original mid-80’s recording.

Much of the archival release resembles an instrumental score for a horror movie yet still maintains a refreshing blend of electronica and danceable drum loops.  Samples are fluid through out the album ranging from mysterious voices and screams to the precise sounds of a knife blade being sharpened.

A great deal of the album reminded me so much of earlier material from Skinny Puppy that I found myself half expecting Oghr’s growling vocals to punch in at any moment.

This is a must buy album for any admirer of early Skinny Puppy’s work or simply those looking for great electronic-based tunes.

01. Shortwave connector
02. diagnosis
03. destructor beam
04. running
05. Metamorphosis
06. maniac Shuffle
07. The Chamber
08. Skeletal Mask
09. Dr. Seymour
10. Incandescent glow
11. Ambient Fruit (chapter 2)

cEvin Key:
Metropolis Records:

The Cramps
Fiends Of Dope Island (Vengeance)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis

I'm very envious of The Cramps. It must be so cool to be able to live your entire life like you're starring in your very own B-movie; to construct your own world of chrome and leather, high heels and tail fins. That's The Cramps' great achievement: they're trash icons, prophets from planet rock 'n' roll. We can't all live our lives like The Cramps, but once in a while they'll put out an album and invite us to their party.

I've lost count of the number of albums The Cramps have released to date, and I certainly can't remember how many different line-ups they've had over the years, so don't expect any erudite contextualising or scene-setting with this one. I'll simply predict that Fiends Of Dope Island will go down in Cramps-history as a bit of a classic. It's got more fire and energy than we have any right to expect after all this time, more wit, humour and gung-ho spirit than most bands can muster in an entire career. The Cramps fuel themselves up with all the enthusiasm and glee of a brand new band, and plunge into a set of classic Cramp-o-rama that's easily as good as anything they've ever done.

You know you're in for a rollercoaster ride when the very first song on the album is entitled 'Big Black Witchcraft Rock' - and yes, it most certainly lives up to its name, with Lux Interior hog callin' the lyrics over one of those magnificent rock 'n' roll bashabouts that The Cramps always do so well. Poison Ivy's guitar grinds and churns, unceremoniously rough 'n' ready on the big bad riff. It's a song which steps right up and dares you to suggest that The Cramps' bellies are any less full of fire than they used to be. And then there's the utterly wonderful 'Doctor Fucker', a song which I suspect exists purely to allow Lux Interior to have some fun with the rhythm of those two words.The whole thing is soaked, nay, marinated in so much reverb that 'Doctor' and 'Fucker' crash into each other like particles in an accelerator as Lux gets loose on the chorus. It's a mad and marvellous stomper with some great voodoo drums thrown in along the way. And the good Doctor's final piece of advice? 'Take two weeks' worth of drugs/And call me in the morning'. Don't try that at home, kids. Oh, all right, go on then.

'She's Got Balls' is a warped love song, a hymn of praise to 'Miss Mascara Monster' who's 'Thin as piss on a plate/And high as the sky above'. A very fine companion song to 'Big Balls' by AC/DC, if any DJ is brave enough to try it, I'd suggest. And then we meet the 'Mojo Man From Mars', inventor of a strangely addictive dance which will getcha any time of day: 'It's too early for the bars/And I done wrecked both the cars' sings Lux, helpless in the grip of the Mojo Man's compulsion and convulsions. The lyrics on this album are as gloriously funny and surreal as ever. Rather unfairly, you'll seldom see The Cramps given any credit as lyricists, but they've always had the uncanny ability to set up a weird, wired world in just a few words; they can take us to another place and have us dancing and laughing within a couple of verses and a crazed chorus. It's a rare skill, and there are plenty of instances of that skill at work here.

But if I was to name one song as my favourite, it would be 'Elvis Fuckin' Christ'. Now, there's something about that title that kind of clues you in to the fact that this isn't a nice little ballad, right? It's a dangerously insane romp, a grand proclamation of undiluted rock 'n' roll attitude, with Lux roaring and railing against the 'Big rock awards' on TV, which have apparently 'Crowned a brand new king'. And, of course, it should've been him, because he's 'Chicken pluckin', go-goo muckin', Elvis fuckin' Christ!' The entire song is an insane, assertive anthem, a steaming, fire-breathing theme song, a statement of intent, The Cramps unceremoniously planting their black flag right in the front yard of anyone who thinks Nickelback is as good as it gets. All this and a harmonica blasting away like a train. What what more could you want?

So, it's time to get a little attitude in your life. It's time to fire up the hot rod and get down to The Cramps' virtual drive-in. Neck those funny green pills, turn it up loud, and spend a while with the Fiends Of Dope Island. I'll guarantee the party will be a blast.

Oh, and a postscript. Just in case you were still in any doubt about The Cramps' warped, genius wit, I note with great delight that Lux Interior and Poison Ivy's songs are published by 'Hiss And Hearse Publishing'. Now tell me you don't love 'em!

The tunestack:

Big Black Witchcraft Rock
Papa Satan Sang Louie
Hang Up
Fissure Of Rolando
Doctor Fucker M.D.
Dopefiend Boogie
Elvis Fucking Christ
She's Got Balls
Oowee Baby
Mojo Man From Mars
Color Me Black
Wrong Way Ticket

The players:

Lux Interior: Vocals, harmonica, maracas
Poison Ivy: Guitar, theremin
Chopper Franklin: Bass, rhythm guitar
Harry Drumdini: Drums

The Cramps don't have an official website, but these fan sites contain the essential stuff:

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:

The Creatures (UK)
Hai! (Sioux Records)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis

I am officially seething with jealousy here. In the sleeve notes which accompany this album, Budgie remarks that while he was in Japan for the recording sessions which eventually became Hai!, he went out for dinner with eX-Girl. Being a huge fan of those surreal art-punks myself, I would've sold my granny for such an excursion - although I can't help wondering what was on the menu. Frogs' legs, perhaps?

Yes, Japan. That's where much of this album was recorded, and there's a bit of a story to be told here. It seems that in Tokyo last year, during the Banshees' reunion tour, Budgie took a day out to record some percussion improvisations with Leonard Eto, a leading exponent of the art of Taiko drumming. These sessions, essentially a few hours' worth of spontaneous drum-jamming between two musicians who'd never even met before, form the basis of this album, and as you might imagine there's a heady sense of 'anything goes' running through much of the music. It's not simply an improv-sesh, though - further recordings, including Siouxsie's vocals, were added at The Creatures' home studio in France. The end result is a set of tightly structured rhythm-and-atmosphere workouts which owe virtually nothing to conventional rock 'n' roll, but which will capture the hearts and feet of anyone with a rhythmic bone in their body.

In a sense, these recordings mark something of a return to the original Creatures concept, inasmuch as the band originally comprised just Budgie's rhythms and Siouxsie's voice, although the drum tracks here have a richness and depth that the earlier recordings never quite achieved. What's certainly obvious is that the latter-day 'full line-up' version of The Creatures, the band which made the 'Anima Animus' album and subsequent stuff, has been well and truly kicked into the long grass here - and that perhaps illustrates the principal difference between The Creatures and the Banshees. The Creatures can do anything they like; there is no blueprint, no rule book, no expectations on the part of the fans beyond the knowledge that the *next* thing The Creatures do will quite possibly be utterly different to the *last* thing they did. After 20-odd years in the Banshees, that freedom must be a heady brew for both Siouxsie and Budgie, and I'm sure that's why there's a sense of gleeful abandon in much of the music here. There are even little touches of humour in Siouxsie's lyrics, particularly 'Godzilla!', which, as you might infer from the title, isn't exactly an excursion into the land of the po-faced. 'Godzilla! He trashes cars/Godzilla! He's not from Mars!' she sings, in a lyric which sounds so gloriously daft you'd think she'd been hanging out with eX-Girl. Hmm, come to think of it...

I suppose there will be people out there for whom the odd tangents of The Creatures just won't work. This album, which is absolutely not 'rock music' of any stripe, will probably fall on stony ground for all those people who used to go down the front at Banshees gigs and wail for 'Love In A Void'. But if you can keep up with Siouxsie and Budgie's ongoing, eclectic, quest for the new and the bizarrely cool, their willingness to jump into any musical pool which presents itself, they're an intriguing and rewarding band to follow. Here, they give us the opportunity to come with them on their latest excursion, and it's a journey I'm happy to make.

The tunestack:
Say Yes!
Around The World
Seven Tears
Further Nearer
City Island

The players:
Siouxsie Sioux: Words, vocal melodies & arrangements
Budgie: Drum kit, marimba, piano, yueh ch'in, percussion, synthetics
Leonard Eto: Taiko drums
Hoppy Kamiyama: Chaos tapes

The website:

Leonard Eto:

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis:

Royal Straight Flesh
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

The subtitle to Royal Straight Flesh is "battle hymns in eleven acts..." The CD proudly displays sweaty old men in battle gear, riding horses, and pointing their menacing spears while charging onward. The rest of the CD booklet revels in gory decapitations and battle scenes that look kind of neat, if you're into that sort of thing. The song lyrics, however, talk about car engines: "To tuning up my engine / is all I can imagine / To me there's nothing that feels / like the burning of my wheels."

On the one hand they're trying to create a violent fantasy death metal image, but on the other hand they sing about nukes and machine guns. Royal Straight Flesh is kind of like a modern interpretation of an old classic, as if they'd stumbled across many real battle hymns and conformed them to the necessary modern equivalents. As an experiment, I can appreciate that, but the sepia-toned drawings of ancient battles don't exactly mesh with motor engines and burning wheels.

Defleshed's music sounds kind of like a heavy death metal version of rock songs about fast cars and blowing things up. The riffs are thrashy and fast, the drums rapid as hell, and the vocals are manic and aggressive growls. Each time I listen to this CD, I get into it for the first couple of songs. And then, as far as I can tell, the same basic ideas repeat for the rest of the 11 songs, inspiring a humdrum reaction because I learned all of the band's tricks in the first four minutes of this 32 minute album.

I'd feel remiss if I didn't at least admit that Defleshed play good metal, but the general incongruency of their themes and the never-ending fast tempo makes Royal Straight Flesh into a blurry mess that is hardly a mandatory purchase. If you can't get enough of fast driving heavy music, then you could do much worse than checking out Defleshed. They get a good sound going, it's just too bad that once they establish it across the first two songs, you won't hear anything else.

Track List:
1) Hand over Fist
2) Fire in the Soul
3) Friction
4) Warborn
5) Feed on the Fallen
6) Royal Straight Flesh
7) Back for the Attack
8) Blood Brigade
9) Pick your Poison
10) Dangerous when Dead
11) Brakefailure

Defleshed is:
Mathias Modin - drums
Gustaf Jorde - vocals and bass
Lars Lofven - guitars

Defleshed - Official Site:

Regain Records:

The End Records (US):

Destination: Oblivion
Thirteen Beginnings to the End
~reviewed by Kristina Rogers

Okay so I have to admit when I first started listening to this CD I was a little worried. I mean when a band starts off its album singing its own band name over and over... sure, it's bold... it beats the name recognition into you. It also makes you go "so what's this? Eminem? Kriss-Kross? Wham!?" And weren't we treated to quite a bit of that by the artist formerly known as "My name is Prince and I am funky?" "Maybe...," I thought, "this is a KMFDM side project" (yes, it's true, some darker bands too are known for singing about themselves). So yeah, I was worried. But not for long.

All joking aside, a minute or two into the first track it became pretty clear that Destination: Oblivion is a talent. And not just your run-of-the-mill, one-sided repetitive synthpop talent. They are diverse. They incorporate the heavy, crunching guitars that the electro-industrial scene has been lacking (and screaming for!) these past few years. They pull back with some subtle, more reflective melodic tracks, and then delve head-first into dirty, grungy guitar-driven mayhem once again. They incorporate simple, yet insightful (and somewhat humorous) lyrics. They aren't afraid to pay tribute to their influences - and when I say influences, I'm guessing Navratil & Co. listened to a bit of NIN in their day? And they aren't afraid to rock.

The lengths of the tracks as well as the moods they convey are extremely varied on this disc, which provides the listener some refreshing variety. The second track, "The Flow," for example, is a brief, 2-minute romp of unadulterated guitar-driven industrial beats, that flow somehow seamlessly into the atmospheric, down-tempo melancholy of "Waiting for the Storm," punctuated by eerily lull of piano keys. Track 4, "Desensitize," more than adequately showcases the band's Metal edge, while songs such as "Last Stop" hint at Destination: Oblivion's more melodic capabilities.

There are quite a few tracks on this disc and it's honestly difficult to keep them all straight the way they all spill over into the next (whether that's a drawback or not depends on the listener). Tracks 6-8 are welded together in such a way that they play out as sort of a 3-part epic - whether or not this was the band's intent. Track 6, "Shell," comes on strong and doesn't pull its guitar-heavy feedback-laden punch for a minute before fading effortlessly into the slower-paced, swampy angst of the 11-minute, "Buried", which is an epic in itself that toward its end features my favorite lyrics clip of the CD: "A society of hate... breeds... a society of hate... breeds... a society of hate..." You get the picture. Not reinventing the lyrical wheel of course, but a cool quip nonetheless. The end of "Buried" soon becomes obscured by the beginning of "Tendencies," a pleasant and appetizing composition of hatching maggots, decaying corpses and shit-circling flies, which you probably wouldn't want to play for your mom.

"Claiming Victim" is probably the most obviously Nine Inch Nails influenced track here (and I'm talking early NIN). Understated in its simplicity, "Claiming Victim," at its core, is not much more than a simple piano tune over a deep droning bass, accented by the breathy vocals of a singer who's obviously got a bone to pick with someone. The simplicity may have something to do with why I like it, but I'm quite sure the lyrics did. I couldn't help cracking a smile or two at "They'll all die in their ignorance. They'll all die in their stupid fucking ignorance..." I mean shit how many times a day do you look around at the world and can't help but think THAT... someone should've put it to music sooner. Or maybe it's just me...

Probably my favorite song on the CD is "Our God Greed." It's catchy as hell and probably the most likely club hit this CD's gonna have if it has one at all. I was a little disappointed by the total loss of momentum around the 4th minute, after which the song abruptly switches gears and becomes 4 minutes of some experimental/noise endeavor - but who cares, that's what editing's for. I loved the incorporation of "We can't close our eyes all night. We may wake up changed." from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Nice touch.

All in all, I think this is an incredibly strong debut effort, which doesn't sound amateur in the least. I think Destination: Oblivion has some room for improvement, but then what band doesn't? The vocals at times come off a bit dispassionate and "recited," but it certainly doesn't detract from the overall triumph of this album. I'm hoping that "Thirteen Beginnings to the End" doesn't suggest that Track 13 is the end for this up and coming Portland-based act, because I'm looking forward to hearing what they come up with next. And in the meantime, I'd highly recommend that industrial-metal fans get out there and buy this one for their collection. I'd even suggest paying full-price.

1. destination
2. the flow
3. waiting for the storm
4. desensitize
5. lies
6. shell
7. buried
8. tendencies
9. claiming victim
10. our god greed
11. hope
12. last stop
13. wormhole

Artist Website:

Devilish Presley
Disgraceland (November 10th)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis

Back in the mid-80s, there was a cowpunk band from...oh, Oregon or somewhere, called Elvis Hitler. They had an alterno-scene hit with a lunatic psychobilly trucking song entitled ‘Ten Wheels For Jesus’, which you’ll find on their classic album Disgraceland. That’s if you can find anything at all by the band at this distance, of course. I imagine they split up long ago. But I mention all this because Devilish Presley seem to be channeling that same irreverent gung-ho spirit of rock ‘n’ roll - not to mention the same punning references to Elvis-related matters. Devilish Presley’s album title, of course, is exactly the same as Elvis Hitler’s, and it was this odd coincidence which first made me sit up and take notice of the band.

Devilish Presley don’t come from Oregon, or even anywhere in the USA.  They’re based in the East End of London, although you’d never guess this from their music. They’ve deliberately set out to create a sound which places them on the never ending freeway of rock ‘n’ roll, any year - no, make that *every* year - between 1955 and 1977. You can hear plenty of classic rock ‘n’ roll influences in their sound. Even the names of the two people in the band, Jacqui Vixen and Johnny Navarro, sound like characters from a Jerry Lee Lewis song. The big, fat glam-rock guitar sound of Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson is reflected in Johnny Navarro’s own playing, and the whole caboodle is thrown together with a healthy dose of punk rock attitude. While we’re trawling for influences, let’s mention the vocals:
Jacqui Vixen has the most splendid I-won’t-do-my-homework howl I’ve heard since I last played ‘The Best Of The Runaways’, while Johnnny Navarro wrenches out his vocals in a querulous yet aggressive tenor which, at times, sounds bizarrely like the style of Brian Molko. In fact, if you’d told me that ‘She’s Not America’, with its taut guitar and splenetic vocals, was a long-lost Placebo song, perhaps from around the same time as ‘Nancy Boy’, I’d have believed you.

I don’t mean to turn this review into a never-ending list of comparisons, but you can certainly hear Devilish Presley’s influences and inspirations churning away in their own racket. Fortunately, they *do* have their own racket. They’ve brewed up a noise which is all their own, regardless of where they’ve got the ingredients from. This is a stripped-down take on ye olde rock ‘n’ roll, no unnecessary frills or luxury trimmings, a collection of rally-spec rockers rather than softly-sprung boulevard cruisers. It’s worth pointing up the fact that Devilish Presley are strictly a two-piece band, with a drum machine where a drummer would normally be. Too often, that’s a recipe for weedy beats and over-programmed busy-busy ticky-tocky rhythms, like overwound clockwork toys whirring away in the background. Ah, but not here. Devilish Presley’s drum tracks