~review by Mick Mercer

‘Nazi Goths Fuck Off!’ the sleeve trills, and so say all of us, whoever they’re on about. The rest is a little more subjective as they rant and rumble in that infectious manner of theirs, and when they’re not shoving noisy music out they’re also part of a devious plan to thrust Industrial Punk out as a tangible source of inspiration, with a website and club, containing names formerly associated with being Industrial-Goth. But no, things are changing! First Deathrock and now Industrial Punk? Are people waking up? Is this revolution?

I don’t know but an interview should prove interesting, assuming these shadowy characters can be found. It’s always been patently obvious these chaps were carrying on the snotty tradition once carried out with some vigour by The Redskins, but nobody else really seemed arsed about red-painted politics, and they do so with humour, which will horrify some diehards. They also make great records, but what have we here this time?

They’ve upped the guitar ante with ‘Better Dead Than Red’ while bemoaning the mangling of football by the Business Men (tell me about it, Terence Brown ought to be tried at the Hague) and how they’re not in love with Tony B. Now, as it roars along and makes you think it’s simply Punk, it also hits the exact same melodic pulse of Carter USM’s ‘Sheltered Life’, which can’t be bad. (Pump it up, Jack.) Industrial? Well, no. Battering hell out of the song they’re not far off being the bastards sons of Blaggers ITA or Leatherface!

‘Spirit of ‘89’ is flooded with equally lively guitar and the thing sweeps along, allowing the bending shapes of the guitar to dictate the impact the song has which really is a change. It’s action, indirectly. ‘Official Hooligans’ has Bush recreating the old SMASH instant potato ad, as they scowl grimly at us with bumpy power and you know why – this record has a real drummer!

So – it’s the crossroads, and Robert Johnson has already passed through. Things are quiet, but choices still need to be made. Action Directe aren’t what they were, but then they’ve made a typically noisy record which could reach other people with its slacker feel, but rampant reach. (This could be a first – a band that Sold In?!!) The interesting part must come with the next album. Having ditched, on this showing, all dancey direction, they’re Born Again, but more pink than red, because this new approach isn’t yet as effective, and instinctive, as what they’ve done before, because they're slightly over-emphasising things. When they start handling it naturally the impact could be tremendous, and if it’s what they actively desire, so be it!

Punk is a Republic. Vive Le Resolution.

All My Faith Lost…
As You’re Vanishing In Silence (Cold Meat Industry)
~reviewed by Stuart Moses

The mournful piano, the soothing swell of synthesisers, the whispered words. I have been here before, but with different companions. No matter, the dream remains largely the same, it is still a refuge from the real world and I welcome it gladly. A gentle acoustic guitar opens a gateway to far distant worlds that only exist on the transient tide between wakefulness and sleep.

We spend so much time trying to escape the mundane elements of our existence, but how much time do we spend thinking about where we want to go? Italy’s All My Faith Lost… provide a soundtrack to your waking dreams. It’s the sort of music that you can let wash over you, as a gently tricking stream or an invigorating waterfall, depending on how much attention you pay.

Viola and Federico take turns to sing, which provides variety. It’s hard to differentiate individual songs, but all are lovely, so that’s not really a problem. Normally when I review this sort of ambient ethereal music I say something flippant about it not being suitable listening for when you wash-up. In the interests of science I decided to conduct an experiment and this album does work as a soundtrack to domestic tasks, as long as you don’t have people coming round any time soon. The temptation to drift into reverie and stare in the middle distance is great.

“Rain Has Fallen All The Day” is a favourite. Viola’s childlike voice complements Federico world-weary monotone. I’d love to see this band play live, though they deserve to play in cathedrals, castles or ancient forests rather than the usual sort of dives I frequent. I also worry that their fragile sound would get lost with a drinking, smoking and laughing audience.

My only problem with All My Faith Lost… is that I wonder how essential they are to my life. If they were the first band of this type I’d ever heard then I’d recommend them unreservedly, but in my CD collection there is Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Faith & Disease, Frolic, Lycia and Soulwhirlingsomewhere. Each of these bands offer subtle variations on similar moods. The days when I could spend hours wandering around the house full of gentle regrets of the past have largely gone. If however this is the sort of stuff that you are into then go investigate All My Faith Lost… with my blessing.

The tunestack:
Come close my lover
Your silent tears
Rain has fallen all the day
She came to me
At that hour
Triste quiete
All day I hear your voice
Disclose your eyes
Sleep now
Silent lady

The players
Viola – vocals, flutes, piano
Federico – vocals, acoustic and classic guitars
The website:

Licked (Shakedown)
~review by Mick Mercer

You can count on them. Despite the years and the strangeness of a comeback now, here is a band with such a solid cortex of shape and drive, that even in more fullsome form, with less time changes, and sleek rock shenanigans added to their repertoire, you can get a real feel for all of these songs. Okay, some are re-mastered, which doesn’t mean grossly involved alteration, but with two new tracks, a cover and a newer version, plus four oldies, it all hangs together like swinging corpses for modern lovers.

‘I Wanna Be Your Dog” is a weird opening choice too, as I haven’t heard that covered in an age, with Max strangely authentic on Ig-manouvres, and the mood suitably grimy, as rigorous rhythms and an extended guitar grip are established on the proceedings. It’s leaner and meaner than we have any right to expect too, then they crunch into “Big Big Love”, labouring happily up that rhythmic hill, typically raucous, with a adorably abrupt ending.

“I Fear The Fear” seems repetitive at the end without more lyrics, but Max manages to sound urgent and upright to cover his dive into sentimentality, the guitar sheds sonic skin and the bass is big, bad and bold, before “Lick” is revealed as a capricious caper and a big spirited mess, with wild, smeared vocals riding angular, compressed guitar. The album is worth buying just for this vivid tumult alone for any newcomers who have wandered by. You will love it. They also crush up some stiff bass and brittle zest in the attitude-strewn wok of “Itchy Fingers A Go Go” where the jangling, jarring guitar takes you into the heart of their beastliness, with a totally distinctive fat sound. This turns into something surprisingly Antish during “Your Role Is To Tease (As You Roll In The Lens)” with a rawness to the beat, and a weird fake ending. “Wasted Land” gets even more frantic, as demented vocals swarm all over the agitated body being beset by badgering drum and oozing bass.

And so to “10 Year Old Bastard Children”, which is scratching and sawing and disgracefully exploring the adventurous possibilities, because Ausgang were never content to stay in one place. It is hollowed out, then distended, until a brawling meltdown is the only logical conclusion, and they melt, and they brawl.

It’s a record you need.

~review by Mick Mercer

Some people just enjoy being difficult, or don’t realise they are. Maybe they realise, but don’t mind, the bastards! Black Aura are one such amalgamation of infuriating abstractions within modern music. No website, it appears, and no real info for me to give you about this fine record, and it isn’t even their first recording: it’s their fifteenth! Considering that my one contact for them, Levi, is a mate of Justin Foulkes, who also dwells on the very edges of conformity and expectations maybe I shouldn’t have been too surprised.

When you notice the first song is called ‘A Peppered Cockatoo’ you know you are hardly getting the usual thing, and you don’t, but you can tell a lot from an opening to an album, and here noises swirl, the rhythm grows and the synth is lightly and beautifully brushed over heavily involved vocals that sound almost clumsy, with an ugly guitar riding shotgun.

If what they describe as experimental psychedelia sounds like anyone it’s close to the electronic indie of mid-era BTFABG or Lycia, although ‘Monsters’, and its more conventional sister ‘In The Morning It’ll Be Alright’, features trance-induced keyboards and remind me of the music in Stephen Poliakoff dramas (which is a compliment), and it’s nice to find ‘A Means To An End’ constantly creepy, with the unusual feature of rank lyrics pressed into a pretty sound ~ until the guitar slides in.

‘Bad Dream’ is an idea made into music, and as Davids Lynch and David Cronenberg, and Stephen King, are included as influences, that’s not too unusual, just as ‘Buzzards’ could be JG Ballard thinking of forming a band. ‘Unfamiliar Calling’ has ambient curtains pulled to showcase another eerie drama, where a metallic beat heralds vibrant, becoming keyboards and the sun finally falls on the vocal leprosy, so that you wonder why they don’t make a whole album in this intoxicating form. Or they could do an album in the manner of ‘Three Parts Red’, with its austere, dignified guitar and cold beats. But no, they have style after style, which seems haphazard to me, but presumably comes from capturing whatever has inspired as the months trawl by, until a collection slowly gathers form.

The female vocals in ‘Eyes Cicle’ make for a pleasant shift in the thin, greying sound, and ‘Attic’ is emotionally uplifting but intentionally fractious, ensuring you’re kept guessing, and when they do bring in these winsome touches, as with the keyboards of ‘Stress Fracture’ you notice it’s these keyboards which maintain momentum rather than their understanding of rhythm, which is shady at best. Angular, or seeping suits them more.

It’s good, as in interesting, rather than exciting, or necessarily enjoyable. It’s for people who want their music to make them think. If that’s you, I’d seriously advise you to try it. - Levi’s journal

1983 – 1987 (Alternative Tentacles)
~review by Mick Mercer

It’s always a pleasure handling treasure. Something emerges from the dusty annals of the past and when you’ve never heard of it but it comes from an era you empathise with, you understand but handle with care. The same happened when Greg Fasolino sent his The Naked & The Dead CD which showed a band straining at the creative leash during the early Goth period, who had that wild Post-Punk energy which kicked off our scene here, and with Burning Image you have a slightly different type of band whose sound remains emblematic of the original Deathrock sound, because of the ball of confusion on which they bounced.

In his sleeve notes Jello Biafra notes their punk and goth traces but also spots Hardcore influences, and none should doubt his knowledge, but don’t think Black Flag, rather a looser version of TSOL if anything. Similarly, note that the band cite Christian Death and Killing Joke as direct influences, but contemplate the fact they didn’t cloak themselves in intentional mystery, or developed a primal rhythmical assault. They sort of hang to one side, in a thoughtful way.

It’s a fine CD and quite aside from the songs it still sounds good now because they were a band who had a reason to exist, and that hunger remains palpable. When the noises clear at the start of ‘Time Is Running Out’ you’re thrust into a calm narrative despairing at humanity’s foibles. With a punkabilly drum hop, and nice jittery guitar redolent of Ausgang epilepsy, the vocalist is given ample space to become a commanding pilot on this journey. That’s one clear sign of how early it is, because there is no attempt to conceptualise any lyrical direction. They have things to say, and They Will Say Them.

The adventurous spirit also hovers above the plain post-punk body of ‘You’ve Changed’ where it takes a while to notice the subtle shifts of mood and the ghostly quality of the simple but affecting chorus. ‘The Lower Walks’ is also an adventurous, somewhat clumsy, jumble, surprising because of its brevity in dirge territory, and ‘The Final Conflict’ is twangy punk. ‘Burning Image, Burning’ was their epic, apparently. It hsa flickering guitar chimes which predate Big Black, strangely jolly bass, Christian Death-style zigzagging guitar and, assuming it’s Joe singing, he’s clearly going for a Rozz dynamic.

‘Love Mask’ is then decorous and saucy, close in spirit to flirtatious Ants material, ‘Hives’ is dank and powerful, with some bleakly inspiring lyrics and yet in among the frantic darting you get lines about the Queen Mother, as they lurch from cool to conniving! ‘Prey’ comes closest to a traditional Goth opening phase of guitar but it’s light, tuneful and oddly restrained, almost as though they’re testing the textures available to them. ‘Shadows’ finds a maudlin approach tackled with real style and relaxed vocals, and fabulous keyboard colour unless my ears are still playing up - because I couldn’t locate any mention of keyboards!

‘The Image’ has some wonderful twinkling sounds operating throughout which just become increasingly brilliant, but still the vocals clamber easily on top to dominate, although I was a bit mystified by the screeching alluded to on the sleevenotes, which are a mystery sound we’re invited to solve. The best I could do was believe it was a baby crying? ‘Gargoyles’ then has a hardy, sturdy quality as it bristles seriously, with some sustained, howling ire. ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ is basic, almost stern in its determination, going back towards a punkier strain of indie, and there’s a newly recorded track of an early song to end with, in ’Temptation’, although the sleevenotes description cut out before a full explanation emerges, but it faithfully retains the raw feeling of the rest of the album which really highlights the widespread ability with which this band created memorable moments in a variety of interlocking guises, with inquisitive and agile music.

A real find!

The Breath Of Life
Everlasting Souls (Dark Wings)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

Here we have the eighth album from Belgium’s ethereal rockers, and if that expression seems a little contradictory that’s because The Breath Of Life are indeed a contradictory band. Much of their music has a delicate, elegantly finespun feel, the musical equivalent of finely-worked silver - but they’re equally likely to crank up the guitars and launch into barrelling rock songs, throwing down layer upon layer of sounds until they’ve built it all up into an impressive tower of thundering power. If that makes The Breath Of Life sound like they’re a cross between the Cocteau Twins and Hawkwind - well, that’s probably not quite the first comparison I’d reach for, but it certainly demonstrates the band’s range.

The distinctive feature of The Breath Of Life’s sound is, of course, Isabelle Dekeyser’s voice, which has an effortless lightness to it, as she threads her way through the songs with impeccable control and just the right balance between strength and fragility. She always leads from the front, tugging the band along like a kite on a string. She’s calm and unfazed even when the band go into full-on rock mode and things get noisy, and perfectly at home on the mellower numbers. There’s plenty of both extremes on this album, from ‘Fairy Dust’, a rather alarming hippyish title which conceals a song that’s tougher than you might anticipate, to ‘Geima’, a folkie lilt in which a violin pirouettes atop a deep bass rumble, as the guitar, in the background, growls ominously as if hinting at what it could do if unleashed. ‘Forgotten World’ pushes things decisively into the rock zone, the guitar asserting itself with an overdriven fuzz that recalls vintage Psychedelic Furs. But then, if you want a demonstration of the other side of The Breath Of Life, look no further than ‘Sour Memory’, on which layered electronics counterpoint a delicate acoustic guitar and tumbling piano.

The album features three bonus live recordings on the end, and in some ways these are the best tracks here, in that the live mix creates a solid, pulsing sound which puts a useful bit of extra whump and welly into the material when compared to the punctilious studio production. We begin the sequence with the throb and clang of ‘Impromptu’ which features, in the choruses, Isabelle’s sudden vocal swoop from angelic choirgirl to sardonic valkyrie - a piece of vocal gymnastics which never fails to impress. Then there’s ‘Nasty Cloud’, with its driving rhythm, shivering violin, and sudden waterfalls of rough-edged guitar, and ‘Noamina’, which has a gypsy camp-fire feel to it, as the violin dances and the rhythm thunders and swirls.

If you’re new to The Breath Of Life I’d recommend the best way to appreciate what the band do is to catch them live, where I guarantee you’ll be impressed by the way they swing from pastel to primary with nonchalant ease. But if that’s not a practical proposition, here’s a good way to get in. ‘Everlasting Souls’ plays to the band’s strengths, and ties the seemingly contradictory elements of ethereal atmospheres and driving, spiky, rock together in a manner that, as ever, seems effortlessly natural.

The tunestack:
Lost In Myself
Mirror Eyes
The Bridge Of Solace
The Land Of Freeze
Sour Memory
Spreading Heavenly Blue
Fairy Dust
Keeper Of The Ruins
Forgotten World
Nasty Cloud

The players:
Isabelle Dekeyser: Vocals
Benoît Sokay: Bass
Didier Czepczyk: Guitar
Giovanni Bortolin: Keyboards, violin

The website:

City (Toast Hawaii)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

Oooh, I love the smell of concepts in the morning. Client are an ice-cool electro duo who identify themselves only as Client A and Client B (although to their mates they’re Kate Holmes and Sarah Blackwood). They dress like flight attendants from a swingin’ sixties airline, and display a strange reluctance to show their faces in their publicity shots, a policy which gives the band a curiously fetishistic image even as it breaks all the rules of what a pop group’s image should be. This, the band’s second album, comes to us via the label set up by Depeche Mode’s Andy Fletcher, who gets a credit as ‘Executive Producer’ in the small print. All of which should give any self-respecting fan of Die Elektronische Pop-Musik cause to sit up and take notice.

Client’s music is precise and note-perfect. It sounds like it’s been downloaded from 1981 and then given a twenty-first century soup-up. It’s assembled from electro-beats and squiggles, phat farts and effects, as if Client have stationed themselves equidistant between the DIY garage-rumblings of early Cabaret Voltaire and the effortless, slick pop sheen of...well, Depeche Mode. You could spend all day picking out the influences and references (there’s a bit of Soft Cell, there’s a bit of Yazoo, and wasn’t that a bit of Yello I just heard go by?) but Client always stamp their own identity on their songs. They’ve got the essential attitude. And the patent leather heels.

It’s all in the songwriting. Client’s songs have more hooks than a coat rack, and you’re never more than a verse away from a hear-it-once-it’s-in-your-brain-all-day chorus. Client B sings with a splendidly deadpan oop-norf accent that suggests a subtly arched eyebrow even as she’s doing that hand-on-heart sincerity thing. The lyrics are dryly witty and direct. ‘Radio’ sets out its stall in no uncertain fashion, right from the first lines: ‘Life is cruel and then you die/Can’t be bothered to try to survive’ - and even though those words might sound like a typical piece of teen bedroom angst, when the incongruously uplifting chorus comes round - ‘There’s no music on my radio’ - Client manage to make the depths of existential depression sound like a great place to be.

‘In It For The Money’ sees Client switch on the cynicism circuits - ‘I’ve got a high end job, sucking corporate rock’ - while the music hammers along like an electric train. ‘Pornography’ has a splendid mutant-fairground plunk and twirl to the music, and some frankly pathetic backing vocals from that whey-faced twit out of The Libertines, Pete Doherty, who mumbles his way through the song as if crooning tunelessly to his iPod. I think we’ll file that one under ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’. And then there’s ‘It’s Rock And Roll’, a wonderfully paradoxical anthem to the redemptive power of ye olde rock music, delivered with equal measures of irony (this is, after all, an entirely electronic song) and real feeling.

But my fave Client tune, I think has to be ‘One Day At A Time’. Here we have an instant classic of the ‘my lover’s gone, woe is me’ genre, in which Client B suffuses her voice with a melancholy that’s as bleak and pure as vodka, as a neat little beat tip-toes around her gloom. When the swooning synthi-strings come sliding in, like a poignant piece of thirties film music (imagine the camera closing in on Judy Garland’s bravely up-tilted, tearstained face) I guarantee you’ll be blubbing on the carpet. Or maybe that’s just me.

Client? Count me in.

The tunestack:
Come On
One Day At A Time
In It For The Money
Down To The Underground
The Chill Of October
Don't Call Me Baby
It's Rock And Roll
Everything Must End

The players:
Client A: Electronics
Client B: Vocals

With assorted contributions from:
Pete Doherty, Carl Barât, Martin Gore, Joe Wilson: Backing vocals
Scott Fairbrother: Guitar

The website:
The label:

~review by Mick Mercer

Initially they’re quite controlled, and ‘Intro: Back To Zero’ is noise strands that give way to a glowering guitar and the heaviest use of cymbals you’ll find anywhere, which seems quite a feature of their work. The drums are about as slow as you can have, the dour bass keeping them company as the seething guitar bubbles away stage right, fretfully. Then we start to hear them unravel meaningfully, because ‘The Coming Of The Waters’ has more of this solemn bass slowly ticking over, as monotonously basic drumming trudges along. The bass thrums into sporadic bursts, which is highly charged, then the cacophony of guitar explodes in their midst, causing My Cymbals to start flashing audaciously and crazily again. The rhythm starts to crawl back into view beneath this greater intensity, and some order is restored, along with a finer sense of what they’re doing, for in creating a static atmosphere like this they could pretty much do what they liked, especially when some surprisingly attractive guitar begins to rise out of it all.

Most people would probably point to a similar impression being made as that of very early Joy Division, but these characters are coming at music from a more unusual angle, with in-built destruction of the sound itself and there’s no vocals here to enhance what is already laying there, ugly and scowling. ‘Flight Of The Earls’ is like a condensed, quieter version of the above, with more clattering drums, and piercing guitar pinpoints, but towards the end they once again set the power up, and the guitar starts to create more direction through its friction, which sounds like a tougher version of early MBV or Loop, without the softer side bands like that always had. Any sonic experimentation here occurs without anaesthetic.

‘Winterkill’ is equally slow, but the guitar is positively languid to begin with, until anguish sets in and they hare off into a drum-ruled cul-de-sac, then reappear with sorrowful rhythm and a nagging, jutting guitar, but it’s not long before they’re thudding into one another again and creating more lethal mini-interludes. The moment ‘Outro: Sky Obscured By Mist’ starts with gentle acoustic you know there’s a disaster looming, but in fact they see this out with light samples and strumming, the peculiar bastards.

If you’re not into Indie music per se, or understand various strands, you could regard them as unruly neighbours of History Of Guns, or any of he 80’s-inpsired French bands I’ve reviewed here the past couple of years, but they are certainly different, and highly distinctive. Being a complete dotard when it comes to film I have no idea in what the Dogme ’95 movement might be, or why and how the band plan to do for music what this movement has apparently achieved, but I know reckless abandon when I hear it, which this bunch have lunging out of every orifice they possess.

~ review by Kristina Rogers

It’s a rare delight to come across an independent artist who’s managed to defy the odds and put out a truly polished and professional indie release.  Collide, a vastly talented California duo who has successfully released a string of remarkable albums on their very own Noise Plus label, is precisely such a band.  Vortex, Collide’s latest offering, is a sleekly packaged 2-disc set, containing a variety of tracks off their last few CDs, remixed by an eclectic variety of both recognized and lesser-known artists.  Impressive really doesn’t begin to describe it.

While it’s probably fair to point out that, as with most remix collections, the listener who’ll be most excited about this release (with its multiple mixes of certain tracks) is the die-hard Collide fan, there is still a wide enough range of deliciously mysterious electronica here to pique the interest of virgin ears.

Disc 1 (Vortex) boasts the most variety, including fresh new takes on some favorite Collide tracks such as “Euphoria,” “Crushed” and “Wing of Steel.”  To mix things up a bit, they’ve thrown in a few brilliantly executed cover tunes, including Adam Ant’s “Feed Me To the Lions” and a sinister, swirly version of “The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum” by Fun Boy Three (which I think is Disc 1’s absolute highlight with it’s middle-eastern tinge and seductively-delivered sardonic lyrics – as eerily appropriate today as they ever were).  The one thing I found slightly frustrating about roughly half of the tracks was that some of the effects on KaRIN’s voice seemed a little heavy-handed, and the vocals were a bit low in the mix.  I mean here is a woman who could probably stand out in the woods, sing into a paper cup, and still cause songbirds to hurl themselves jealously toward the earth.  It’s that lovely.  So straining to hear it through a myriad of effects I felt might cause one to miss out on some of it’s purity and clarity – but then processing is really par for the course with this genre and it’s likely that I’m alone in that opinion.

In contrast to the majority of tracks on the first CD, which are for the most part pretty mellow and ambient in nature, the band does kick things into more of a rock gear with the “Feed Me To the Lions” cover and with “Like You Want to Believe” – which is straight-up guitar driven industrial rock (courtesy of Remko of Orphanage).  Good stuff.  Disc one finishes off nicely with Statik’s Chill Mix of “Frozen” a laid-back instrumental which is almost like a pallet-cleanser to get you ready for Disc 2.

The second Disc (Xetrov) starts off immediately captivating with “Haunted When the Minutes Drag,” a poppy, partially acoustic sounding Love and Rockets cover song – covers are risky business but Collide is really 4 for 4 here with doing the originals justice.   From here on out, Xetrov may be the more “die hard fan” disc, since versions of most of the tracks were heard on Disc 1 and mixes of some (such as the alluring “Crushed”) appear as many as 4 times on this CD, which isn’t to say that the music isn’t great.  While it might not be the best road trip CD, I’m sure it’s a DJs wet dream when looking for a non-standard Collide edit to spin – and the thought and effort that the various guest artists put into their respective mixes is self-evident.   It’s fun to compare a few mixes of the same song and note the striking variation – Bondango’s Twisted Acid Mix of “Like You Want to Believe” on Disc 2, for example, is in such stark contrast to the mix on Disc 1 it scarcely sounds like the same song.

Vortex really does offer a little for everyone.   If you’re a long-time Collide fan, you’ll revel in the new twists on your old faves.  If you’ve never heard the band, this set with it’s 26 exhilarating offerings – with tracks from their most recent 2 albums plus the incredible bonus material – is an excellent (and cost-effective) place to begin.  If only all remix collections were this diverse.  If only all independent artists were this sophisticated.


Everybody Hates You
~reviewed by Brian Parker

Andy LaPlegua's Combichrist (a side project of his primary band Icon of Coil) focuses on his taste in dance music.  Although the similarities to Icon of Coil are unmistakeable, the listener is in for a much different tone.

For starters, the disc is not for the easily offended.  Not that there are many such delicate sensibilities in this scene, but the misogynistic opener "This Sh*t Will Fcuk You Up" will turn them away at the door.  A synthesized voice recites "I am a bitch, how do you want me, from behind or on my knees?  I am a slut, please hold me down..." over drilling, slightly distorted percussion and piercing synths.   "God Bless" offers a litany of murderers, cult leaders, and psychopaths in lieu of lyrics over fairly banal loops; LaPlegua obviously has no problem indulging in gratuitous shock value.

But some artists offer their shocks without talent to back it up.  Nothing on Everybody Hates You will revolutionize electronic music, nor even feign such ambition.  It does, however, display a mastery of modern dance EBM with amazing precision but little of the coldness that makes artists like VNV Nation or Assemblage 23 sometimes sound too clinical.  There is a power noise influence, but not as much as the spin suggests; it's really just enough to keep things interesting and fresh-sounding.  These are still very much dance-structured tracks (as opposed to the purely electronic, yet often song-structured, music of synthpop-inspired artists) so they aren't for everyone; this is music for DJ's and those who want to bring the sound of danceclubs to their home speakers.

The hypnotic "Who's Your Daddy, Snakegirl?" is a highlight.  Rolling, almost tribal percussion forms the backbone of the instrumental track; the powerful loops would get repetitive if so used by a lesser artist, but there is enough tweaking and well-placed samples that the result is almost trance-like instead of mind-numbing.  This track alone justifies the cost of the CD.  (This is a good time to point out to the digitally savvy on a budget that Metropolis offers their releases through digital music sites like iTunes.)

Many other tracks also offer only sampled vocal snippets, or at best a synthesized voice.  More traditional vocals are used on some tracks, but the lyrics (with gems like "I swear I'll fist-fuck your brain") will make fans who come by way of Icon of Coil feel like they've gone from reading Gibson and Bradbury to snuff Star Trek fanfic.  (Note to readers: if the latter actually exists, I don't want to know about it.  Ever.)  To be frank, Combichrist is at its best when LaPlegua is concentrating on the programming.

"Happy Fcuking Birthday" deserves special note: it's such a brilliantly obvious piece of self-marketing that I can't believe nobody's done it before.  How many times will DJ's play this as a request, with its repetition of the phrase "Combichrist" alongside "Birthday Boy, Birthday Girl" over and over?  Good thing it's as catchy as anything else on the disc.

After multiple listens, there isn't a weak spot to point out.  Combichrist is offering a consistent love-it-or-hate-it experience here.  Although the noisy, relentlessly high-tempo dance EBM isn't something I'd want to listen to exclusively, I also wouldn't want to eat nothing but cake my whole life.  And if Combichrist is serving dessert with Everybody Hates You, it's a decadent well-presented concoction of rich chocolate.  Sure, some people hate chocolate, but most of us are happy to enjoy a few bites now and then.

Tracks:  This S*it Will Fcuk You Up; Enjoy The Abuse; Today I Woke To The Rain Of Blood; I’m Happy Anyway; Blut Royale; Who’s Your Daddy, Snakegirl?; Feed Your Anger; God Bless; Like To Thank My Buddies; Happy Fcuking Birthday; This Is My Rifle; Lying Sack Of S*it; Without Emotions

Combichrist is Andy LaPlegua.

Website/contact: and
Metropolis Records ( offers a bio and brief song samples.

Cradem Aventure
Alles Gut (Self release)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

They look like they’ve just waded ashore from their longboat, they play bagpipes and drums as if rallying an army, they dress in leather kilts and tattoos...this, clearly, is not what you’d call rock ‘n’ roll.

Nevertheless, Cradem Aventure represent a popular strand of music within the German schwarze szene, where there’s keen interest in, and a substantial audience for, bands which play music heavily influenced by the distant past. Some bands make great efforts to maintain authenticity, to the point of using period instruments and eschewing modern contrivances such as microphones and amplification. Others simply add a bit of historical spice to what is, in all other respects, straightforward rock music. And still others pitch their musical tent somewhere in between these extremes. It’s a fascinating sub-genre, which as far as I know doesn’t have any parallel anywhere outside Germany. The equivalent situation in the UK, I suppose, would be if the bands of our contemporary goth scene evinced a sudden and sincere interest in morris dancing.

Cradem Aventure are happy to mess up the historical stuff. They’re a German band, portraying themselves as a bunch of marauding Vikings, and yet, oddly, they all seem to have given themselves names hinting at connections with Italian nobility. Their slogan is ‘Die Letzten Ostgoten’ - which translates, if I’m not mistaken, as ‘The Last East Goths’. This, I assume, is not a nod to today’s goths, but a reference to the tribal hordes which grabbed chunks of the Roman Empire for themselves in the sixth century.  Maybe that’s where the Italian names come in, and maybe that’s the historical era Cradem Aventure identify with, but you’ll have to forgive my confusion on this point. Besides, it doesn’t really matter. The music, boisterous, rumbustious and immediate, transcends the concept.

Cradem Aventure’s instrumentation thrusts bagpipes and traditional drums to the fore, but also sometimes incorporates amplified bass guitar and scrap metal percussion. Here and there on this album I also hear the plink-plunking of a hurdy-gurdy and the low-end rumble and squawk of a didgeridoo. Just about everything is instrumental - vocals, when they do appear, are stern and deadpan. Crucially, everything is delivered with a powerful force that might come as a surprise to anyone expecting the polite hey-ho-nonny-noes of traditional folk music. This may not be rock ‘n’ roll, but Cradem Aventure kick up a solid blast of sound that easily equals anything you could do with a Stratocaster and a Marshall amp. The drums thump their rhythms of doom, the bagpipes keen like seagulls outrunning a storm. This is music that works best in the live arena, where it’s possible to see the musicians working up a sweat, but even on CD the raw power comes through.

Erudite enthusiasts for historical culture, or be-kilted conceptual nutters? Possibly a bit of both, but I’m glad they’re out there doing it.

The tunestack:
Vollmond Erwache
Zauber Der Harfe
Kind Der Sonne
Sluoc Vünv

The players:
Zarina De Marco
Don Shadran De Marco
Don Hjalmar De Marco
Don Carlos De Marco
Don Sebastian De Marco
Don Raimo De Marco

The website:

Dead Artist Syndrome
Prints of Darkness
~reviewed by Brian Parker

I can't say how I ended up with an out-of-print, roughly sixteen-year-old album in my queue for review.  Even the "13th Anniversary Edition" re-release (which is not what I've got) is three years old now and just one of several releases (some more recent) available.  Nonetheless, the twist of fate was happy enough.

The vocal quality channels goth sterotypes: the effects sound like he's in a steel chamber underwater.  It never sounds like he's straining to reach too deep, but that's because he's wise enough to stick to his limited range.  Nothing a decade of chain smoking wouldn't fix, though...  A listen to tracks they've got online indicates things have improved over time.  Lyrically, it's all as it should be, wistful and kind of dreary, but sometimes he takes the idea of a vocal hook and grinds it into the ground by repeating a striking phrase over and over and over.

The drum machine plods on like a heartbeat, unambitious even for 1990's tech, but the guitar brings some life to the tracks.  The biggest fault is that it always sounds like there are the seeds of a real rocker but they never quite sprout.  The guitar hooks kind of lap at your feet like low tide instead of roiling up and crashing over you; there's too much dreariness without the depth and layers needed to make dreary rock interesting.  While often haunting ("Dancing Without Touching" is a standout) there is little that compels me to listen again.

I can't in good conscience really recommend this record when browsing some of the other music they've got online.  One listen to the caustic, upbeat "Christian America" from the album Saving Grace and you'll want to skip straight to their more recent material.  (Incidentally, Brian Healey's personal Christian beliefs-- which can be discerned in the lyrics to Prints of Darkness but never get preachy-- make "Christian America" all the more scorching an attack on the hypocritical faithful.)

Prints of Darkness was a good listen once or twice, but save your money for something else they've done.

Tracks:  Christmas; Amy; Dancing Without Touching; Vision; Hope; Dance With Me; Think of Me; Red; Reach

Dead Artist Syndrome is Brian Healey ("and a cast of thousands")

Website: /

The Deadbillys
Genuine Hellstomper
~reviewed by Brian Parker

As you might guess from the name, comparing The Deadbillys to Johnny Cash or The Cramps would come easy; but there's more Reverend Horton Heat or Southern Culture On the Skids than there is Bauhaus in their sound.  Think Cult of the Psychic Fetus with a little more bluegrass and you're just about there.

They've got the chops to pull it off, too.  The vocals sometimes fall a little short, especially when stretching for some of the covers (like the lighthearted take on "Horse With No Name"), but the rollicking guitars and none-too-serious cool carry you along.  It's pretty clear this is a band that would be at their best live, when a few flat notes from the singers (both male and female) would disappear in the mix and the fantastic songcraft and playing could shine.

There are plenty of other covers, at their best when they aren't too faithful (like the more rocking "Harper Valley P.T.A."); the band wears its influences on its sleeve and throws in everything from Cash and Hank Williams ("Jackson," "Kawliga") to Concrete Blonde ("Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man") to the Misfits ("Halloween").

But it's the originals, written to the band's strengths, that are the best.  In a world of mediocre artists whose highlights are the songwriting of others, you've got to love a band that balances genuine talent with respect for their predecessors.  "I'd like to think that all of my songs have been heard before in one way or another" sings Bobby "Fred" Dickson in "The Dead Billys," immediately following "$31.32," a song with nothing but hootin' and hollerin' by way of vocals.  This blend of talent and self-deprecating humor captures their essence perfectly.  "Kingpsychobilly" is a genuine stuck-in-your-head, road-trip-mix kind of track.  This is a good-times band, so the token slower number ("The Ghost of Luther Perkins") that ends the CD doesn't work as well; but that's barely a complaint when you've had such fun en route.

As of this writing, Genuine Hellstomper is not available from the Deadbillys' website; a CD titled
Blood, Roses, and Angel Wings is, and they've since had a lineup change.  But if you get a chance to see them live, I highly recommend taking it.  How many shows will you see this year with zombie cowboys (and cowgirl) playing washtub bass and banjo?

Tracks:  The Legend of the Dodge City; Jackson (Cash); Kingpsychobilly; Halloween (Misfits); #13 (Danzig); Horse with No name (America); $31.32/The Dead Billys; Cold Steel Track; Harper Valley P.T.A (Jeannie C. Riley); Twang Zombie (Deadbolt); Kawliga (Hank Williams); Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man (Concrete Blonde); The Ghost of Luther Perkins

The Deadbillys (on this release) are Bobby "Fred" Dickson, Alfred "St. John" Smith, and Heather "Queen B" Dickson.


~review by Mick Mercer

Like an 80’s futurist baby, they plonk away in their brittle synth fuselage, through which burst growling, gurning vocals. The guitar sweeps along in ‘Rule And Control’ like noisy sewage and it’s a quaint mixture, with sexaholic samples, and a plain, thorny beat, kept just the right side of mild. It has a certain charm, despite some mouldy lyrics, and also manages to make you wonder what they’ll do next. It isn’t remotely bleepy or aimed at the faux-Goth generation. It’s just rather obvious, but ends well, sweeping back on itself.

Void handles the vocals, and sings in English rather than Polish, along with his robust guitar. Betrayal plays bass and concocts all the tapes in the first place. When they kick into ‘Away From You’ you realise only a decent production has stopped this flowering in an evil fashion. The vocals crawl around the floor, the spaces are neatly strung out and the guitar or synth chatter at just the right moment to herald a switch in atmosphere. It’s about the noises really, which they handle well, especially the chuntering rhythm with a veneer of cracking guitar. When ‘Dead Hours’ started I thought they were covering ‘Holidays In The Sun’ but no, that was just me being dense. (I know, who’d have thought?!) It’s a slower, moodier turn of events and shows a simple elegance, with ticklish bounce and damp vocal entrails hanging from the song.

They bravely tackle a cover of Christian Death’s ‘Spiritual Cramp’ to close the EP and with an old school determination they actually sound closer to very early Danse Society (a fine place to be), and it shows how Rozz had such vocal style in that Void intentionally follows his delivery without trying to impersonate his tone. It’s a great song, and a good cover, which makes things clearer, but misses out on just the right level of intensity. The song doesn’t shiver, because they’ve given it a springclean, which is really rather strange as it means you can hear things more with their version, although the guitar isn’t incisive, or icy, enough.

So, their name may be shite, but they’re obviously stuck with that. The music isn’t, and I think we can look forward to further grubby delights.

~review by Mick Mercer

I must be doing something right, as the excellent records continue to flow my way. Also-rans and electro-bores steer well clear but it’s no longer a question of wondering why, it’s really fairly clear. Those who have nothing to offer will get what they deserve. Those who struggle to get heard at least know they get a chance here. We may all fail in the end, but at least it all makes sense.

I could have track listing wrong here, but Domiana listing a sixth song entitled ‘Fate’ which doesn’t seem to exist could simply be a philosophical eccentricity, or maybe the sample at the start means something, being babbling religious fervour. I’m assuming ‘’Hours’ is where the art starts, to begin with, and this song doesn’t take long to reveal the band’s finer side. A slow and mournful thing, its emptiness throbs until the guitar slides in and the vocal entreaties escalate in intensity. Quaint, but hypnotic, vocals, aided and abetted by some thumping percussion, high stabbing synth, and occasional ringing guitar, inflate this thoughtful Goth, which is modern without being brash. The bass needs consistent boosting, and the song ending is certainly protracted, but this has dignity and stealth combined.

‘Disgrace’ emerges out of swirly noises throwing quick, stiff synth over a low guitar and the light, sonorous vocals have some great lines to offer, including, ‘Asked if you still had love for me. You just had nothing to say, never looked so beautiful, as when you were walking away.’ The synth rather interferes with the vocals at times, highlighting the basic production levels they had available, and while some might call the vocals ambitious at times in their pitching it’s a pleasing sound.

‘Away’ sees vocal burrs and languid guitars creating a deceptively vague environment in which cleverly shifting lyrics conspire to tantalise, as you get various lilting variations of, ‘nothing here is different now, and everything is changed’, with a word changed here or there, which is cunning. It maintains a steady feel and the curiously mood attitude. (‘I have fallen victim to my own disease.’)

There’s no great mood change during ‘Absence’, with nicely damp music seeping around the moping vocals, and with delicate touches this is a fine example of a very modest beauty. ‘So Much Of Nothing’ opts for the historical lament, with lolling vocals showered by synth sprinkles, and although not quite cohesive enough (like a kit-form Unto Ashes) it is quite still, quite dark, and has a lovely ending.

A cracking record, and full investigation is not only merited but encouraged..

~review by Mick Mercer

All songs are based on true events, they’ll have you know, and this pristine, watertight songwriting comes from having first formed in 1978, only reforming after two decades recently to pulverise astute and suspicious audiences alike into submission. This is a good thing, although the title track’s gently cooling indiepop is a bit Fant-tast-ic Day, with a soupcon of energy to fling behind the fruity lyrics. ‘Last Disco In Korea’ is looser. Knowing guitar winks as they create a semi-maudlin feel, with a sweet upturn between choruses, and the feeling you need to dig deeper than thinking it sounds like Tom Robinson receiving a humour transplant.

There is no time however, because they hit you with a song you can’t do anything other than adore, entitled, “Morrissey Stole All My Ideas”:

Look at him, the little shit,
with his receding quiff,
hit him, put him in a sack,
throw him, over a cliff.
It seems a break-in occurred around 78/79 where the lanky one relieved them of their ideas and legged it, and it these galling details they reveal to some simple blunt punk-pop riffing.
He escaped in a stolen car,
driven by, Johnny Marr
on all of my ideas
Cut his throat with garden shears
impale him on a thousand spears.
I’d run him over and grind the gears.
They’re not happy, and the very cool ‘Bad Orgy’ doesn’t cheer them any, despite being like a well-mannered, modernised Senseless Things, with seriously gruesome lyrics!!!!

How they’ll fare with today’s slumbering indiekids who regard Franz Turdinhand and Athlete as exciting will be interesting, and we’ll have more from these lunatics later in the week. (love the chatty news section!)

LIVE IN NEW YORK (Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!)
~review by Mick Mercer

The main difference between The Disco Students and the first Western visitors to America is not the way the music they took with them was used, because they possess a song older than 20 years which they unveil there, as must also have happened during the days of Columbus or the Pilgrim Fathers. No, The Disco Students take with them a mystifying form of humour that requires a silly voice, redolent of Frank Sidebottom, which we are led to believe occurred onstage. I am not sure nobody understood what to make of it, and I can assure you that in its Peter Kaye kind of way it is deeply annoying after just one listen, severely truncating any life this record has in it.

There is also the question of the sound. They sound unspeakably gentle. This instantly quashes the life and bile and wit and grit of ‘Morrissey Stole All My Ideas’ and as they breeze into ‘Lake Superior’ it’s like late 80’s indiepop minus the melodies, or what was known as either the Jangling or Shambling scene. (Think Mighty Lemon Drops, and then move on, abruptly.) ‘The Chrysler Building (1976)’ is a jaunty blot on their otherwise plain and simple landscape, featuring gleaming guitar, and their original release, ‘South Africa House’ comes over as disappointingly dull.

Be not afeared, disgraceful reader, for while I am indicating much of this record is limp and uninteresting they save the best for last. ‘The Most Handsome Man Of TV’ is a one-trick musical pony and drably repetitive, but ‘I Ain’t Been With No Prostitute’ (yes, that’s I Ain’t Been To No Music School) is warmly glowing indie and manages a partial rescue, and then things start to pick up, with ‘My First Day Out Of Jail’ which is snottier, sporting more twisted lyrics, and finally a rampant ‘Mark E. Smith’s Dead’ - in a flaming bed, allegedly. If nothing else, The Disco Students leave you wondering who might play Smith in a film of his life. James Bolam probably, although he looks a bit too young.

Peter Ulrich
Enter The Mysterium
~reviewed by Stuart Moses

It had been a hard week. I was recovering from illness. I got home from work and had to go to bed. To block out the sounds of the outside world I put on Peter Ulrich’s Enter The Mysterium. Listening to an album for the first time as you fall asleep is a dangerous endeavour. Yet I felt confident having heard Peter’s collaboration with Dead Can Dance and 2001’s solo effort Pathways and Dawns that his new CD would transport me into a magical – and restful – alternate world.

At first my expectations were met. The opening song “At Mortlake” which includes an invitation to ‘enter the mysterium’ and features the sort of gentle acoustic guitar you might hear from your balcony if artists signed to Projekt were in the habit of serenading you. Peter’s experience playing on Dead Can Dance’s Within The Realm of a Dying Sun and Garden of Arcane Delights informs this song with subtle but highly effective percussion.

We take a more medieval turn for “The Scryer and the Shewstone” which reminds me of Dead Can Dance circa Aion, which, while intriguing, is not as immediately emotionally relevant as their “Spleen and Ideal” style. There was a time when I met a music student who was deeply offended when I laughed upon discovering that her main instrument was recorder. It’s a tribute to Peter’s talent that he can combine such an instrument with one that sounds like a kazoo and yet demand you take it seriously.

Listening to this song I feel uneducated for the first – though not the last – time while listening to this album. I must confess ignorance of the mythology that inspires “The Scryer and the Shewstone”. I know only what the enigmatic lyrics tell me about the adventures of Uriel, Soyga, Micharl and Kind Camara. There’s still much to enjoy here, but I am aware I am merely paddling in the shadows, while deeper waters still keep their secrets. If I knew the stories of these characters I might be more easily distracted from the 5-minute plus running time.

Peter has made much of his Dead Can Dance collaborations and if you are an open-minded fan of the Australian duo then you’ll find much to enjoy here. Maybe it is my lack of familiarity with this album – compared with the many listens Dead Can Dance have had over the years in my house – but Ulrich’s work seems less immediately accessible. “Across The Bridge” shows strong Dead Can Dance influences. While Peter’s voice has a pleasant tone, he lacks the gravitas that Brendan Perry might have brought to this song. The song is generally mythic rather than being tied to any explicit mythology, which means it is easier to comprehend for the casual listener.

“Nothing But The Way” has what can only be described as an ethereal drum solo. I’m not a fan of drum solos. This one in particular is particularly bewildering as it interrupts the flow of the song. I was busy deciphering the meaning from mediaeval times and enjoying the central riff, when Peter decides to take us in another direction. While he is to be applauded for surprising the listener, I am more interested in percussion that serves the song rather than provides the central attraction.

Things take a darker turn for the seven-minute plus “The Witch of Suffolk” which features a spooky church organ providing backing for demonic chanting. You might recall I tried sleeping to this album. This song soon stopped that, even before I got to the unholy scream that punctuates the narrative. This song sounds as if it is adapted from an old folk tale, though I am not sure what moral we are supposed to draw. I find little solace in the conclusion that: ‘This wretched world brings only pain.’ Overall it is a harrowing listen and I feel quite exhausted by the effort.

My attention wandered during the first five minutes of “The True Cross”, then the oboe d’amore kicks in and Peter begins to chant. This song suffers from following “The Witch of Suffolk”; to appreciate both the listener will need more energy than me.

“Kakatak Tamai” re-energises me, simultaneously offering a hint of what a collaboration between the Brendan Perry half of Dead Can Dance and late-Japan might sound like. This is no Vision of China but it does manage to conjure images of faraway lands. Here the hypnotic drums serve the song perfectly and play a large part in the listeners’ transportation. This is my favourite song on the album. Washes of synth usher in “Another Day”. This song sounds more rooted in the present than the other songs so far. There’s a gentle piano which adds resonance to the piece.

“Flesh To Flame” sounds celebratory. The lyrics concern a ritual rite-of-passage. In this case ‘the sceptic and the coward’ emerge ‘triumphant and empowered’. It’s a much more positive point of view than “The Witch of Suffolk”. It’s an exultant finale powered by chants and dulcimer which makes a fitting finale to the journey.

I wish I had been listening to this album while reading Robert Bly’s Iron John. Both album and book I enjoyed and felt I had learnt something from each. Yet each in their own poetic way refused to give all their secrets in a tangible, rational and measurable way. Both deal with the mythic and hint to me of greater truths that I am not yet ready for. I’ve got further to go on my journey yet, more books to read, more conversation to be had and more life to be experienced.

This album is not an easy listen. While there are passages of great beauty it requires repeated listens to appreciate the dirges. I mean this in the original sense of music that is sung at burial or in commemoration of the dead. If you understand the inspiration of the music, ranging from Dr John Dee, Japanese buddhist marathon-running monks and the native American Pima flood legend, you will appreciate deeper meanings. I don’t know much about these, but I still liked this album. Fans of Dead Can Dance’s mediaeval side, particularly when it features Brendan Perry, should investigate but understand that this is not a Dead Can Dance substitute. Rather it is a splintering which shares some of the same inspiration, but which takes these ideas in different and sometimes harrowing directions. Definitely a CD to listen to when the lights are on.

The tunestack:
At Mortlake
The Scryer And The Shewstone
Across The Bridge
Nothing But The Way
The Witchbottle of Suffolk
The True Cross
Kakatak Tamai
Another Day
Through Those Eyes
Flesh To Flame

The players: Peter Ulrich and friends

The website: (containing a detailed explanation of the inspiration behind each song)

Eva O
Damnation/Salvation (Dark Dimensions)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

Behold the apocalypse. Or, at least, its rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. The new album by Eva O (or ‘Mz O And Her Guns’, as she now seems to style herself and her band) goes head-on at the big stuff. Good and evil, life and death, God and the’s all here. But this isn’t just another collection of mystical melodramatics from an artist trying for extra goth points.  These thirteen songs recount Eva O’s own journey from her former life as a Crowley lovin’, Satan stompin’ devil gal to her present incarnation as a full-on God-botherer, and it’s a roaring, thundering epic of Cecil B.  DeMille proportions. On this evidence, getting into bed with God certainly doesn’t mean going soft.

Maybe ‘songs’ is the wrong expression to use here, for the first thing the innocent listener notices is that Eva O has thrown conventional songwriting out of the window in favour of thirteen...what are they? Diatribes? Rants?  Hellfire sermons? Thirteen assertive dissertations, let’s say, which owe little to the usual verse/chorus structure of rock, and most of the time don’t even contain rhymes. Revving up her voice as if she’s simultaneously channelling Diamanda Galas and Big Mama Thornton, Eva O hollers out her heart like a swamp-blues opera diva. She delivers a veritable a tour de force of vocal prowess, and although there’s not a great deal of normal rock song structure in the material, the band keeps things driving implacably forward with a procession of max-heaviosity Black Sabbath-style riffs. Why, you can even headbang to this stuff, should the fancy take you.

Eva O’s lyrics plunge headlong into the blood and guts of her subject matter in a way that makes the most lurid passages of the Old Testament read like an Enid Blyton story. ‘Frustration, mutilation, amputation, obsession,’ she rages on ‘Damnation’, as if listing the hobbies of a particularly disagreeable serial killer. ‘On ‘Blood Lust’ she is at once triumphant and threatening. ‘Oh when you wake up can you feel me, bleeding, panting for love. Blood lust!’ she cries, while some curiously eighties-pop keyboards struggle to make themselves heard above the churning riffs.  ‘Diablo’  is a nimble, danceable thing, the nearest thing here to a club track. The guitars race against the drums (there are even breakbeat interludes) as Satan sets out his traditional bargain, as if he’s decided to go a-tempting down the local disco. ‘Are You Ready To Die?’ brings the heavy artillery back, as the riffs build and build - and, here, Eva is bashing her fist on the door of the church, raging at the people inside as they conceal all manner of bad stuff beneath their Sunday best: ‘A father who was drunk a mother who cried and a day at church was supposed to make it alright’. Just because Eva O has accepted God doesn’t mean she’s switched off her bullshit detector.

If the first half of the album documents Eva O’s sin-soaked past, the second half recounts her salvation. Which doesn’t mean we suddenly come over all Pat Boone - if anything, it all gets heavier. Certainly, the process of discarding her old self seems to have been an eviscerating experience, if lyrics like these, from ‘Harlot’s Tears’, are anything to go by:  ‘Father, God, forgive them for they’ve done what I wanted. I let them in, to rape my heart, I tore my first garments, I stand here bare in harlot tears’. By the final track, ‘Revelation’, Eva O seems to have pointed her life in a much more positive direction, for this is the most upbeat and brightest number here. Which, of course, doesn’t mean it’s anything less than a full-throttle rocker. It’s quite splendidly incongruous to hear Eva O shredding out such ostensibly Charles Wesley-ish lines as ‘All the angels keep singing blessings, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving’ with the gutsy power of full-throated punk rock, while the guitars go mad in the background.

This is an unusual album in all sorts of ways, not least because it’s so personal - but also because the words are delivered in such a full-on half-confessional, half-accusatory style, while the rampaging blast of the music never lets up. It’s a fine rock album which is far more musically left-field than just about anything else you’ll hear in the rock zone these days - and if it doesn’t quite disprove the old adage that the devil has all the best tunes, it certainly makes a strong case for God having all the greatest guitar riffs.

The hymnal:
One By One
Blood Lust
Ride The Madness
Beauty Of Hell
Are You Ready To Die?
Eye To Eye
Who Is Your Father/Do You Hear Me?
Harlot's Tears
Not Seen
Rumours Of War

The players:
Eva O: Vocals, guitars
Edward J. Rodriguez: Rhythm guitar
Steven Nikolaus: Bass
Stevyn Grey: Drums
Josh Pyle: Keyboards, samples, programming

The website:

[SIC] (Wasp Factory)
~review by Mick Mercer

This is a very efficient album which could have been a real killer. While the press release talks of epic music, where electronica and guitars fuse seamlessly, it’s a shame this reviewer chose to listen to an old Republica album on the same day he started delving into this, because this isn’t anywhere near as hard as it really ought to be, or imaginative, and seems constructed to please. It’s not entirely mainstream, yet, but sounds like it would bend over backwards to be whatever the audience expects.

It all starts brilliantly, with three superb tracks. The staggered, accusatory vocals throughout ’Liquid Hate’ give a real, bloody energy to the music and having no real bass depth there is a brightness rather than a harsh sound, but they’re simply an indie band with vivid programming. The guitar carries no menace, while the sounds provide doomy moments of grandeur, and the rest of the album swims in this basic elegance. ‘21’ shifts slower and is simply beautiful; gliding music blessed by delicate vocals conveyed with great confidence and only mild guitar backup, then ‘Like A God’ sparkles; wholly upbeat, with deft percussion enhancing a simple pop throb. Unfortunately ‘Bad Orb’ then seems a replicant of that. It has a cracklier rhythm and brisker shuffle beat with the synth trying hard to instil life behind the vocal still life, ending up with a constipated Cruxshadows.

Trying to give real character into any form of electronica remains the sole preserve of the vocalist, unless a band is brave enough to opt for extremes of sound to produce something new and challenging, but Faetal go for becoming music, so no risks are taken. You can make do with their sumptuous sounds, no problem, but ‘Darkness’ is like a grand europop ballad, with distant guitar grace and a catchily morose charm. When the singer stands up towards the end you wonder why he’s drifted so haphazardly earlier. The curiously restrained ‘Sadistic’ carries on in the same vein, being lightweight drama but melodically memorable, if worrying repetitive, and ‘Phosphor Sky’ finds the guitar sounding stern, but in pleasant ambient surroundings that isn’t difficult. They also fritter away their own impetus, settling back, contemplatively.

‘Can Anybody Hear Me?’ is softer, with attractive guitar swirls, but the ambivalent lyrics and bland vocals are insufferable. ‘Losing Control’ recovers lost ground with wonderful synth work and an aching mood to the song, but the fact they’re a band with a mature, orthodox sound rather than any actual wild intention is clear, even with ‘Divide By Zero’ being a late stab at atmosphere and guile over style. That’s common throughout electronica and what I see as disappointing, fans of this genre would no doubt view as de rigeur. Smitten by music they imagine is rich in intrigue, they’ll rejoice that Faetal push all the right buttons. Those of us who prefer something more demanding should leave them to it.

Los Angeles Synthetic
~reviewed by Brian Parker

FAKE is a side project from Clint Carney, of System Syn (and the live keyboardist for Imperative Reaction).  If you're a fan of these acts, you needn't waste your time reading on; click on through to their website and buy a copy of FAKE's debut Los Angeles Synthetic.  You'll like it just fine.

You'll probably find the percussion unimaginitive, but since there are plenty of interesting enough sounds brought in, it never sounds amateurish or overly repetitive.  Musically, Los Angeles Synthetic does not strive to be much more that dance-oriented EBM of the Nitzer Ebb school, and it succeeds just fine.

The vocal delivery, slightly distorted, is fine but unremarkable; but where FAKE really succeeds is lyrically.  In a genre where most contemporary acts strive for little more than 10th grade insights on relationships or vague Jungian imagery, FAKE bring a political sensibility that is sadly lacking.  Although sometimes they strive and fail ("god hates you / just like everyone / here's a solution / get a gun" on the otherwise catchy "UnEvolved") they are often provoking.  A highlight is "Money To Kill For," which builds a fantastic cadence of repeated phrases.

FAKE is certainly worth checking out.  If you aren't sure, the Static Sky Records website offers several downloads to help you make up your mind.

Tracks:  Non Event; To This Land; UnEvolved; Burning You; Blood and Skin; The Massacre; Money to Kill For; On the Edge; Los Angeles Synthetic; We've Come To Take Your Life; Wake Up

FAKE is Clint Carney


Falling You
~reviewed by Jason Pitzl-Waters

Falling You is the project of John Michael Zorko a composer and electronic musician that melds subtle electronics, ethereal drones, and the amazing vocal talents of some of the most talented ethereal and darkwave artists working today. Touch takes you on a journey of the senses with angelic voices and ambient textures that rivals some of the best work by bands like This Mortal Coil and Enigma.

I would highly recommend that you don’t plan on doing anything else while listening to this CD. I can imagine driving to this only to discover that your mind drifted off to a pleasant memory or deep thought and realizing too late that you were in the wrong lane of the highway.  But considering how beautiful this disc is, what a way to go. The point I’m trying to make is that most ethereal works seem to fade into the background when I’m listening. I can type away at my keyboard or carry on a conversation. But Falling You quietly and insistently demands your full emotional attention, a rare gift in today’s made-to-order music industry.

The CD starts off with the lovely and powerful vocals of Dru Allen from This Ascension on the track “Something About Eve…” the song begins only with Dru’s voice and then slowly is engulfed by emotive ambient soundscapes as the vocal track repeats like a mantra “we’ll meet at the edge of light and darkness”. That lyric from the opening track helps prepare you for what kind of intimate and personal journey you are about to take. This is a walk between worlds, where the rules of our conscious selves hold little sway. Zorko’s music acts as a guide helping to reveal the inner worlds of the performers and perhaps holding up a mirror to your own.

All the tracks feature original poetry by the contributing singers, and Zorko does an admirable job of complementing and enhancing the visions of these artists without getting in the way of the messages, even if that message is one without words like the haunting track “Moth and Flame (Sadness of the Witch)” performed with Erica Mulkey of Unwoman who emotes wordlessly as guitar, cello and rainstick sounds emanate from every corner. There is even a track I could see making the playlists of a discerning ethereal or trip-hop DJ in “The Light Between Us” which features the sensuous vocal styling of Victoria Lloyd from Claire Voyant.

This is a special CD. It is a work crafted out of love and a willing openness to a spiritual world rarely visited by most ambient artists. On top of all that The Fossil Dungeon label once again wraps their treasures with only the finest art and photography. Proving that they strive to make art, not a product to be unit-shifted at the nearest Wal-Mart. If you are a fan of good ethereal music, good darkwave, good trip-hop, good singing and good art you’ll strive to gain a copy of this release. Essential.

01.     Something About Eve…
02.     The Art of Possession (No Escape)
03.     Hope Thrown Down
04.     Less Likely To Believe
05.     Moth and Flame (Sadness of the Witch)
06.     March Thirty-One
07.     …A Cry For the Broken-Hearted
08.     The Light Between Us
09.     The Canoe and The Waterfall
10.     Reading The Leaves (By Moonlight)

Falling You is: John Michael Zorko, Dru Allen, Sara Ayers, Jennifer McPeak, Victoria Lloyd, Erica Mulkey, and Aimee Page

Falling You website:

The Fossil Dungeon:

Faith & Disease
Passport to Kunming
~reviewed by Matthew J.

Since their 1993 debut album Beauty and Bitterness, Faith & Disease have gone through numerous lineup changes and explored genres as diverse as world music and ambient to folk and country.  On their fifth album, named for the aborted trip to China where they had intended to record it, the Seattle-based project returns to the wistful, moody pop roots from which they sprouted.  Their music, however, has grown in many ways, with the light, one-chord guitar strums replaced by intricate, fingerpicked arrangements, richly layered organs and pianos, and a cymbal-heavy, almost jazzy rhythm section.

Although this album has its moments of lyrical surrealism, particularly on “Dyslexia” and “How Far Does the Sky Go” (a reworking of a song from their collaboration with ambient composer Jeff Greinke), the emphasis is still on the lyricism itself.  Instead of the dreamy wordlessness of “Fortune His Sleep” (from the 1995 album of the same name), we get such enigmatic yet evocative fragments as “Ocean song, dyslexia perplexed” and “How far does the sky go?  Mouths full of flowers.”  In lead singer Dara Rosenwasser’s honeyed soprano, these words are otherworldly, to be sure, but from a world close enough to our own that we can at least still recognize it.

The best moments on Passport to Kunming, though, are closer to pop than straightforward ethereal music.  Eric Cooley, the band’s principal songwriter and the only member other than Rosenwasser who has contributed to all five albums, is primarily a bassist at heart, and it’s the lovely bass line that stands out in “She’s Got A Halo.”  This is a track that you could almost imagine dancing to, at least someplace where people still swirl and wave their arms to the Cocteau Twins or the Cure’s “Charlotte Sometimes.”  The old time piano sound and understated guitar of “Girl at the Window” are more lighthearted.  Though the song is still languid and bittersweet, it at least sounds more like a winter nap near a fireplace than freezing to death in a snowy forest.

On their previous two albums, Faith & Disease have explored folk and Americana, covering the Byrds, the Cowboy Junkies, and traditional murder ballad “Banks of the Ohio,” but Passport to Kunming’s one offering in that vein – a version of Jessie Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter’s “Made of Wood” – sounds less like the alternative country of the original than British folk-pop darling Beth Orton without all the techno and trip-hop dabbling.  Taking things in a more grand direction are the lofty organs and soaring vocals of “His Faded Muse,” which also features an extended guitar passage that, if not for the wash of shoegaze reverb, might recall the beautifully intricate work of Current 93 contributor Michael Cashmore.

While Passport to Kunming might not have the elements of surprise – “Oh, she’s singing in Hebrew!” or “Oh hey, slide guitar!” – that characterized previous albums, it is perhaps Faith & Disease’s most accomplished album, and certainly their most mature.  Subtly weaving together all the elements that the band has explored without overemphasizing any of them, it’s the perfect musical accompaniment for somber, gray afternoons.

Track List:
1. She’s Got A Halo
2. Dyslexia
3. How Far Does the Sky Go
4. Between the Folds
5. Lost In Translation
6. Impermanence
7. Girl at the Window
8. Made of Wood
9. His Faded Muse
10. She’s Got A Halo (Remix)
*  Enhanced: She’s Got A Halo (Video)

Dara Rosenwasser, vocals and lyrics
Eric Cooley, electric and acoustic guitars, bass
Barry Semple, drums and percussion
Greg Forschler, electric guitar, xylophone
John Clough, keyboards, organ, piano

Contact Info:

Label: Projekt Records
E-mail address:
Snail mail address: PO Box 180235, Brooklyn, NY 11218-0235

One For Jude
~reviewed by Matthew J.

French trio One For Jude seem to be caught in a middle ground between wispy, uninspired goth and a sort of cabaret-inspired whimsy that’s utterly distinctive and appealing.  This four-song EP comes so close to the mark that you really get the feel that they almost have their thing down perfectly.  Hopefully by the time their next full-length comes out, they’ll have smoothed out the few rough spots.

Although One For Jude started out as a darkwave act, the electronics on title track “Hélice” are limited to piano, organ, and a bit of drum machine programming that’s content to putter along softly in the background.  Four-on-the-floor EBM this is not.  It’s more like chamber music gone pop, with the French vocals and softly strummed guitars giving just a hint of the medieval.  “The Punishment of the White Rose,” on the other hand, is bland and droning.  Although the counterpoint between the two vocalists gives the track a bit more intensity than it might have otherwise, the English-language vocals seem to emphasize the fact that neither singer can stay in key.  Likewise, the twanging guitar strums, though they pleasantly recall Daniel Ash, aren’t enough of a distraction from the monotonous programmed drumbeat.

Far better is “L’Ébloui,” with its characteristically French accordion and achingly bittersweet violins.  The vocals are still off-key, but instead of droning melodrama it sounds light and sad at the same time, even if you can’t understand the words.  Think Morrissey singing at a Paris cabaret.  The disk finishes with a live version of “Hélice” recorded in Prague.  Although the recording leaves much to be desired – the vocals are barely distinguishable, and there’s heavy distortion on the bass end – it’s nonetheless compelling.  With guitar and accordion filling out the melody, it’s more organic and somehow timeless.  It’s got a certain almost mystical folkish quality, a bit like a Gallic version of Fire + Ice (before they went all “Lord of the Rings” on us), close enough to the apocalyptic folk scene to garner an audience there without falling into any of the clichés. It’s suggestive of a live presence more assertive than anything even hinted at by the studio tracks.

One For Jude have something really unique.  If they can focus their energies towards the offbeat Franco-folk pop aspect of their sound and leave the second-rate gothic affectations by the wayside, they’ll really be something worth looking out for.

Track List:
1. Hélice
2. The Punishment of the White Rose
3. L’Ébloui
4. Hélice – Prague, 2002 (live recording)

Benoît Sellam
Billy Amzal
Yonathan Ebguy

Contact Info:
E-mail address:
Snail mail address: 12 Villa St. Jacques, 75014 Paris, France

Label: La Farandole Egarée
MP3 Samples:

One For Jude
~reviewed by Matthew J.

French trio One For Jude seem to be caught in a middle ground between wispy, uninspired goth and a sort of cabaret-inspired whimsy that’s utterly distinctive and appealing.  This four-song EP comes so close to the mark that you really get the feel that they almost have their thing down perfectly.  Hopefully by the time their next full-length comes out, they’ll have smoothed out the few rough spots.

Although One For Jude started out as a darkwave act, the electronics on title track “Hélice” are limited to piano, organ, and a bit of drum machine programming that’s content to putter along softly in the background.  Four-on-the-floor EBM this is not.  It’s more like chamber music gone pop, with the French vocals and softly strummed guitars giving just a hint of the medieval.  “The Punishment of the White Rose,” on the other hand, is bland and droning.  Although the counterpoint between the two vocalists gives the track a bit more intensity than it might have otherwise, the English-language vocals seem to emphasize the fact that neither singer can stay in key.  Likewise, the twanging guitar strums, though they pleasantly recall Daniel Ash, aren’t enough of a distraction from the monotonous programmed drumbeat.

Far better is “L’Ébloui,” with its characteristically French accordion and achingly bittersweet violins.  The vocals are still off-key, but instead of droning melodrama it sounds light and sad at the same time, even if you can’t understand the words.  Think Morrissey singing at a Paris cabaret.  The disk finishes with a live version of “Hélice” recorded in Prague.  Although the recording leaves much to be desired – the vocals are barely distinguishable, and there’s heavy distortion on the bass end – it’s nonetheless compelling.  With guitar and accordion filling out the melody, it’s more organic and somehow timeless.  It’s got a certain almost mystical folkish quality, a bit like a Gallic version of Fire + Ice (before they went all “Lord of the Rings” on us), close enough to the apocalyptic folk scene to garner an audience there without falling into any of the clichés. It’s suggestive of a live presence more assertive than anything even hinted at by the studio tracks.

One For Jude have something really unique.  If they can focus their energies towards the offbeat Franco-folk pop aspect of their sound and leave the second-rate gothic affectations by the wayside, they’ll really be something worth looking out for.

Track List:
1. Hélice
2. The Punishment of the White Rose
3. L’Ébloui
4. Hélice – Prague, 2002 (live recording)

Benoît Sellam
Billy Amzal
Yonathan Ebguy

Contact Info:
E-mail address:
Snail mail address: 12 Villa St. Jacques, 75014 Paris, France

Label: La Farandole Egarée
MP3 Samples:

BYPASS (Les Disques De Soleil Et De L’Acier)
~review by Mick Mercer

With the advent of Punk the record industry’s defences fell away and it was a frenzy of activity everywhere: any band incapable of releasing several singles or an album a year as well as playing a hundred gigs was sluggish bordering on atrophied. KaS Product followed up the sonic, sizzling ‘Try Out’ with this album and while it has its sleeker moments it still crackles with an upright agitated energy which was essential then, and is something a lot of fey layabouts could benefit from now.

‘Loony Bin’ is a wonderfully chaotic opener, with the usual brittle sense of dynamic attack, which actually holds back from dominating the song, knowing that Mona’s vocals are mightier than any musical sword and with tiny guitar sparks fizzing it follows her delivery into left field pop territory, and when it stirs it becomes a whirlpool. ‘Seldom, Often’ caters well for its off-kilter vocal storm, and they wrestle the seething rhythm into shape as ideas just flood a simple premise. Often stern, Mona softens during ‘Smooth Down’ and very raw electronics are used as shading in a deranged, slipper song, and it should amaze you how they can make something so simple sound so different. (Next to them Soft Cell are the Bee Gees.) ‘Mingled & Tangled’ then has a strolling bass, with slight guitar infusions, behind yet more adroit, knowing vocals, as though Billie Holiday has corrupted Gang Of 4.

‘Tina Town’ is gloomy, scary and poignant simultaneously, while ‘T.M.T’ is perky electro-punk, ‘Devil Fellow’ packs piano and growling noises into a gleaming missile fuselage from which leaks dangerous vocal fuel, and ‘W. Infatuation’ is another curious noir tale with its own twisted elegance. ‘Taking Shape’ is a jittery mover, submerged in morose madness, and ‘Tape’ is a bumpy oddity years ahead of a similar approach The Creatures might take, with the guitar uncoiling amidst the nervous tension, which was always a key to what made them work.

The extra tracks are a mish-mash, from the yelping jaunt that is ‘Scape’, or the strangely relaxed ‘Sweet &Sour’ where the vocals strength languidly, through to back to basics cavorting in ‘Crash’ which is more poppy-punk fare, albeit judiciously creepy, and ‘Party’ which is trained but tempting.

After this album they evidently released their final one, “Ego Eye”, which I have never heard, and that was it. Gone but never forgotten and much treasured by collectors, these album still glower and tower over much of what passes for electronic music today, which seems more to do with hoping for commercial success through generic familiarity than having even a hint of attitude or character.

Really, you could put everyone from the EBM scene in a vast hall and their combined cool quotient would be less than one tenth of Mona and Spatsz; their musical charm requiring an even smaller figure. More recently, after the duo’s unproductive comeback in the very early 90’s as Extravaganza, Spatsz is rumoured to have done some minimalist electronic work, and Mona has worked with triphoppers Zend Avesta, but really we need them back as a unit, recording again, and receiving their just recognition.

Living legends. – 27 euros the pair!

TRY OUT (Les Disques De Soleil Et De L’Acier)
~review by Mick Mercer

Some bands simply defy time. It is quite fitting, and remarkable, that I have yet to meet anyone who once confronted by Kas Product’s work hasn’t either got the point immediately (during the 80’s) or been awed by how far ahead this duo were, when hearing it so long after their demise. For any band handling dark electronics, especially with a basic form, this band are like the original source. Where they differed and excelled was their ability to bend the music to fit their mood, which is the one thing modern electronic music fails so spectacularly to achieve. The reason the Goth-Industrial hybrid throws up so many faceless entities happens for the same reason, and only the more human sounding singers are the one closer to the Goth scene. With EBM you find an ocean of mush for people with laborious, dull tastes. It’s just the way it goes. With Kas Product you had a band so good that even the lumpen dullards of RCA swooped to sign them, and then had no idea what to do with them.

These are sparse songs which seem big beyond all expectations, with the poisoned honey voice of Mona Soyoc, and the lethal, fractured electronic stabbing of Spatsz. They impressed people to a remarkable degree during the early 80’s, and despite having an album in the mid 80’s in France then seemed to all but vanish, despite very, very occasional, and depressingly inconsequential, sightings ever since. In fact even their website is a testament to a total lack of activity. It’s rubbish! If they came back as a duo now and still had it, the electronic scene would fall, quite rightly, at their feet.

For the record they initially had two bleepy, mild seven inches singles, like a vastly improved Ludus, before the albums, the debut “Mind” containing ‘Mind’, ‘Seven’, ‘Black & Noir’ and ‘Doctor Insane’, with the following “Take Me Tonight” having ‘TMT’, ‘In Need’ and ‘Malena’. These were included on the “Black & Noir” album (and CD) issued by New Rose, along with ‘Crash’, ‘Mezzo, ‘Electric’ and ‘Party.’ Then came this ‘Try Out’ album, and it still sounds magnificent.

And it is partially insane. Mona drags a torch style into her opening line, ‘Don’t wanna hear another lie….” and then the beat canters in behind her, linear and angry. An absurdly fast and ugly set of backing vocals blunder in, but it doesn’t matter. The way the synth line and vocals coalesce and bulge is melodic glue sucking you into the sound. Some of the best spindly guitar outside of Bauhaus starts ‘Man Of Time’ and you can see the punk energy flowing through the seedy canal of their direction, brittle pulses and scratchy sounds pulsing beneath the dark vocals and every thing is Spy Noir and you won’t a hear a better stark electronic song throughout 2005, so why even bother?

‘No Shame’ is coquettish and drowsy, ‘Countdown’ nips at your ankles like Blondie undergoing ninja training, ‘Never Come Back’ is a hungry post-punk fusion with a crazed dialogue and a wonderfully catchy curvature, ‘Underground Movie’ goes for the cinematic jugular, and ‘So Young But So Cold’ is an adrenaline cocktail. ‘Digging A Hole’ is more open, with the simplest beat shuffle, frisky guitar scrappy funk and deeper vocal control, ‘Sober’ is a disturbingly bitter tale, with amazing vocals dripping from the ceiling. The album is worth it just for that display. ‘Break Loose’ is slacker, with more conventional commercial charms, clanging with a potent force, and ‘Pussy X’ minxes the album to a close with a creepy cat conversation over a gently strolling tune.

Now the album, has been reissued in digipack form you also get ‘Mind’, ‘Seven’, ‘In Need’, ‘Malena’ and ‘Doctor Insane’ included. Tomorrow I review the equally amazing “Bypass” album, which later spawned a 12” single version of its track ‘Loony Bin’ with ‘Sweet & Sour’ and ‘Scape’, both of which are included as extras on the new CD issue, along with ‘Crash’ and ‘Party’ from the early days, which just leaves ‘Mezzo’ and ‘Electric’ to find I guess, along with a “Shoo Shoo” single featuring ‘Shoo Shoo’ and ‘Ain't It So Good.’ – both CDs available at a special combined price.

~review by Mick Mercer

This has been out since last summer but is worth giving attention to because of how different it is to much dark rock that flows out beneath a solid Goth banner. They have taken immense detail to sound and texture, so that each song will dazzle you with detail and feel, as it punches relentlessly into your startled face. And that is a good thing. ’Icy Stars’ is a directly linear song, as most are, but every element of the song is polished and appears to vibrate. The fact that Kooper himself has a Bowiesque style is no drawback as it isn’t a plain copy, and the lyrics are interesting, as it ends with, “I’ll tell them all exactly who you are, those things are tricky in the trees.”

Unexpectedly, they also have bleepy interests, which are slowed and stretched and certainly don’t sully ‘Sentence Now’ in any way. It has a penitent, creeping beauty, while ‘Breach’ rejoices to exultant vocals over slick sounds, creating a good sense of friction. And so it goes on, in very impressive style. ‘Crowded’ is deep and powerful, ‘All That’s Needed’ brings more feeling into their torpid glow.

‘Flicker, Flicker & Out’ sees huge guitar and elastic vocals skim the surface, and the variety is consistent enough to keep you enthralled, although their current limitations are quite clear. There are occasional tendencies to sound like 80’s studio stylists, and not having a drummer means virtually no injections of pace can be done without exposing or embarrassing the band. Instead you get a faster rhythmic patter which goes back to rave territory and is heavily disguised with other sounds.

It’s also a long album, so a few comparatively bland tracks peep over the brutal parapets but my only real regrets are things like ‘Too Far Gone’ being worryingly well-mannered, as is ‘Red Satin Rivers’ which comes over as a soppy tribute to New Romantic ways, but they finish beautifully on ‘Orchid’ and then add on two ambient exercises, ‘Goodnight Lustmord’ being fairly ineffectual, and ‘The Cowboy Vampire’ features “the quiet murmuring of an old vampire who rests at the bottom of an abandoned mineshaft” (oh, him!) as they are determined not to waste any space.

A seriously impressive piece of work, and a band to take notice of.

SINister Records:

~reviewed by Matthew J.

Scratch a nerdy EBM boy’s surface, and likely as not you’ll find a closet techno fan underneath.  If your interest in industrial is in the computer programming instead of the robotic vocals, chances are you’ve got some Aphex Twin or Mu-Ziq CDs buried somewhere in your record collection.  The music of KiloWatts – weird and noisy without actually crossing the line into unpleasant – should fit right in.

Most of these pieces are very soft and warm, which makes for a nice break if you’ve been listening to a lot of hard, cold industrial.  “Algae” pleasantly warps organic analog tones over laid-back rhythm patterns, while “Scraped On the Way Out” takes a theme and runs it through numerous permutations, from pleasant to crunchy to pleasantly crunchy and back again.  Though it all seems to be laptop-created, there are also enough sample sets of actual instrumentation to keep things from sounding too processed or robotic.  “Enter Lilly” lays a mournful piano line over a blanket of drones, for example, while the wistful “B. Sprout’s First Fight” utilizes thick organ tones and string pads.  There’s also abstract material for the more experimental-minded.  Ethereal fans will enjoy the haunting processed voices of “Rocketeer,” while fans of weirder, more minimalist stuff will appreciate the fuzzy drones of “Tank Park” and the pretty but bizarre glitch music of “E Suffix.”

More suited to mellow head bobbing than actual dancing, KiloWatts is great for unwinding after a night at the clubs.  Fans of Coil’s chilled-out techno side should especially take note, as should folks who went from the relatively straightforward electro of Skinny Puppy to the stoned knob twiddling of their Download and Plateau side projects.

Track List:
1. Tank Park
2. Two Days Off
3. Scraped On the Way Out
4. Rocketeer
5. In the Mist
6. Algae
7. 4am Highway
8. Enter Lilly
9. B. Sprout’s First Fight
10. Last Hoorah
11. E Suffix
12. Forget

Band Members:
James Watts, all writing and production

Label: Artificial Music Machine (

~review by Mick Mercer

The band make a sweaty job of explaining how remix albums are a fairly common practice and it is up to you, the listener and/or fan, to decide whether they’re any good. This seems a fairly specious argument to me, and I gather the literally correct term for the suggestion this process might bring ‘new life into songs’ is bollocks, especially when the Remix album takes on the resuscitation role in the same year as the originals! The songs are either personal to the band or not, a commodity or not, and the only reason these albums are done at all is to raise profile, or cash, and no other.

Taken from Whispers In Rage these tracks have been doled out to various artists who have clearly taken the matter pretty seriously. I found no flippant laziness, which was a relief, or any ego-driven attempt to stamp another personality on a work, which was a relief because it was a fine album.

‘Nightmares’ seeps and ‘Rage’ gambols perversely across unpleasant, sucking rhythms with both emerging as pert beauties. In the hands of Vinnie Saletto and Corvus Corvax the former is made into two wispy dance tracks, one cool, one reedily fractured, but both allowing the vocals to keep their drama, and Obbstar simply soften the latter. L’ame Immortelle improve the fullsome quality of ‘Whisper’, putting more blood into the shrunken arteries. Manuskript and Thou Shalt Not both tackle ‘Voices’, the Manuskript mix being less rock and more agile, while TSN opt for scooping out much of the surroundsound leaving it bleached and bony, but in both cases they’re still pro-active tunes. Often simplicity is the remixing key, as when Ego Likeness make ‘Terribly When’ accommodating and shy, and Hearts Fail’s take on ‘Somewhere More’ is to emphasise some fragility and emotional clarity.

I won’t go through all tracks as there’s no need. It’s a gathering of sensitive tributes basically, but guess what? The original is better, because the cohesion track by track is there and builds to create character overall. To make matters stranger The Last Dance bring us the semi-sedate ‘Desperately Still’, a foreboding, tinkling ‘Simplicity’, and the final cack-handed surprise of ‘Oops I Did It Again’, which is shite because in a stark, powerful way they could have given the lyrics a totally different perspective and - wait! - brought new life into the song! Instead, they lumber along, too self-conscious to enjoy it or to really pound at it.

To their credit, the enhanced multimedia part allows you access to a special website with rare remixes, some video and great photos, and the most important fact is it’s still a great collection of songs even when tinkered and lightly perfumed by others, so if you didn’t get it first time round do so now, being succulent electro-Goth with no delusions and a real sense of humanity. It’s not something you’ll regret.

~review by Mick Mercer

From wild screaming laughter to distraught, abused guitar noise, La Peste Negra (The Black Plague) bring their own sense of debauchery to the party, and they’re definitely a noisy bunch. They’re a wild bunch, and they must be mates with Quidam, yes, or is Spain simply awash with sonic degenerates? Trust me, it’s no accident they can howl and laugh through a song, with flashes of guitar, and make it make sense, without them being seriously imaginative. ‘Pa Puda’ is a ludicrous, and ludicrously good, opener.

‘The Attic’ remembers itself and acts more Goth-like. Doomy organ, sniping drum machine, and flat, insistent vocals surfing the delicate debris, and at times Lady Stardust sounds like a female Rozz, as her lyrics frisk like kinetic kittens through the spaces left by the plonking bass and shivering guitar, and you’re going to love those bemused vocals.

Sure, it’s very basic, but as with Quidam any limitations become irrelevant, because the character is flooding from them like their intestines are bursting; pitching them backwards and forwards as they leak energy all around. They say in their own press releaser that musicianship is no handicap when they’re concentrating on the 80’s ideal of, “take an instrument and play the feelings.” The rhythmical approach seems to give them the most problem, and the curiously slow keyboards/bass phase seems to go into slow motion unintentionally but it’s all builds up to a shrieking, faltering end.

‘Why You Say Dead?’ is crisper and keyboardist Caligula gets to sing and show us that, yes, he is well named. He’s quite mad. The guitar dances around him, taunting, and the bass acts very superior. It all hangs together like a giant jellyfish in a dusty wardrobe, wobbling desperately, then ‘Losing Taste’ is softly eerie, and squabbling with devious vocals, and while it could all do with being far more graceful and fluid rather than tapping its way blindly towards a conclusion, it’s still a wonderful sound. ‘June 6th, 1966’ finds them lurching around, disregarding rhythm again as we try and fathom what this date represents. It’s sing-song, minus melody, in a bleary, baffling way which is utterly lovely, especially the ending.

It’s more Goth than a barge full of preening musos, and I love everything about this, from the quality illustrations to the rough and tumble of the sounds, to the sheer sense of contagious spirit. Give us more! (a bit wobbly – too popular for its own bandwidth!)

The Machine in the Garden
Shadow Puppets
~reviewed by Jason Pitzl-Waters

The Machine in the Garden, consisting of the duo Roger Fracé and SummerBowman are creating some of the most invigorating and fresh music to sport the “darkwave” label in a long time.  After a brief hiatus, during which Bowman joined Dru Allen from This Ascension to form the neo-classical side-project Mirabilis, the band has returned stronger and more confident than I have ever heard them.

The main problem I had in reviewing this disc is singling out which tracks are the most deserving for commentary. When the whole CD is of such high quality and production this becomes almost like picking which organ is the most essential to my continued life on this planet. The band seamlessly blends organic and electronic elements without lessening the effect of either. Hypnotic beats, swirling guitars, ambient textures, and the powerful voice of Summer Bowman all merge to create a sum greater than their parts. It would be easy to say that Shadow Puppets is a quantum leap forward from their last CD Asphodel.

Despite my reluctance to single out tracks, I will say that “The Inside World”, with its insistent dance-floor-ready beat makes me imagine the Darkwave Army winning club territory back from the forces of EBM. Meanwhile “Suspend” which starts off quietly enough, slowly grows stronger and more emotive until you find yourself moved in ways modern songs can rarely achieve. “Spider’s Bride” one-ups the Cure’s “Lullaby” by singing from the perspective of the spiders. Fittingly the CD ends with “Goodbye” a touching, poetic song about saying farewell.

I would highly recommend this CD to anyone who has an interest in the future of dark music. The Machine In The Garden, like the latest incarnation of Black Tape For A Blue Girl seems to have reached a new level of quality, both in terms of song writing and production. If this trend continues we could see a real musical renaissance within the dark subcultures. There are great tracks here for both the dance-floor and for radio airplay. Not to mention just sitting at home with Shadow Puppets emanating from your stereo. These ‘shadow puppets’ put on a most intoxicating show, be sure you don’t miss out.

01.     This Silence
02.     The Inside World
03.     Winter Fell
04.     Mantra
05.     Suspend
06.     More Unto Fire Dreamt
07.     Mother
08.     Spider’s Bride
09.     Illusions In Rain
10.     If Ever
11.     Goodbye

The Machine In The Garden is: Roger Fracé and Summer Bowman
The Machine In The Garden website:
Middle Pillar Presents:

Chasing Eva (XIE)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

Here’s a little bit of history. Back in the early 90s, Melanie Garside had a ramshackle crusty-indie band named Tabitha Zu. The band had a certain wayward brilliance - and, in Melanie herself, a vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter with a knack of creating quirky, clangourous and off-kilter songs, and then singing them in her unique ululation of a voice. Tabitha Zu released two singles before morphing into the abbreviated, and slightly more mainstream-friendly, Zu. But Zu only lasted a short while before Melanie Garside re-invented herself as a (yet more mainstream-friendly) solo artist. At that point, I ducked out. While I still rated Melanie as a singer and songwriter, I wasn’t about to hang around while she was groomed to be the alternative scene’s Shania Twain. But a few years afterwards, Melanie Garside re-emerged as part of a band once again: the loud, abrasive (and splendidly named) Our Lady Of Miracles. That band, in turn, gave way to a slightly tweaked version, under the name of Vertigo Angels - before, apparently, becoming defunct. Along the way, Melanie has also played bass for Queen Adreena and has even been a member of the Medieval Baebes. If all this makes Melanie Garside seem like a serial dilettante - well, perhaps she is. Personally, I’ve always believed she could be a big star if only she would stick at something for more than five minutes.

So, it’s with a mixture of interest and resignation that I investigate her latest incarnation - another solo project, this time under the name Maplebee (although, just to keep confusion levels traditionally high, the name also seems to be rendered ‘Maple Bee’ at times). Is this Melanie Garside’s permanent identity from now on? Or just another brief excursion which, in turn, will give way to something different within mere months? I’m not taking any bets here - but I will say this. Chasing Eva is actually a rather good album.

Lack of material is clearly not a problem for Maplebee. This is a double CD package, which features 21 songs and one video. The music, if it fits into any category at all, is a kind of dark, epic folk, in which traditional instrumentation such as acoustic guitar, strings, and accordion is stitched together and underpinned by programmed noises, electronic burbles and clatters. Maplebee’s voice (an instrument which, it must be said, is a bit of an acquired taste for some) is the familiar querulous wail, although here she sounds more at ease with her own vocals than at times in the past, as on ‘Hello Eve’, for example. This seems to be a song of self-discovery, and is a warm and delicate thing, built around a tingling acoustic guitar, with Maplebee coming across as confident and quietly assertive, happy with herself.

That’s not to say that every song here is upbeat and warmly inviting. On occasions, Maplebee gets melancholy, downbeat, and, sometimes, downright bleak.  But she always comes up again: many of the songs seem to serve as memos from Maplebee to Melanie (or, indeed, the other way around), and when all is said and done, the message is positive. I suspect that the Eve/Eva character Maplebee mentions is essentially a third-person way of referring to herself - a theory that is bolstered by references to a mysterious ‘she’ in assorted other songs. I’d say that this album is Maplebee’s notes to herself. A compilation of contemplation, if you will; a glimpse inside her head. Where, incidentally, she’s always ready to have fun. Her version of Doris Day’s ‘Perhaps Perhaps’ has a delightful carnival feel - and also features some fine examples of the Garside vocal wobble in full effect.

I’m not even going to speculate how long Melanie Garside will continue as Maplebee - her previous form suggests she’ll be off chasing a new idea before too long. But I’m glad that, for a short while at least, she’s seen fit to open this little window into her soul.

The tunestack:
Bell Song
Moth Touch
Turn In
Hello Eve
Around For Eva
Sun On Snow
The Messenger
Perhaps Perhaps
Sadness Landed
City In A Belly
Fit In

Rare Colours
Old Ties
Alright (Build Me A House)
This Time
What's Coming Next?
State Of Waiting
Got Her Way
The Wing

The players:
Maplebee: Vocals, guitar, piano, organ, flute,recorder, noises, odd machines

With the various contributions of:
Andrew Nice: Cello
Catherine Browning: Violin
Reece Gilmore: Programming
Laurence O'Keefe: Bass
Steve Ferrera: Drums

The website:

Waiting For Another Fall
~reviewed by Jyri Glynn

Waiting For Another Fall is the second full length release by the duo, Mera Roberts and Byron Brown.  Brown also contributes his musical talents to such acts as Kommunity FK and SuperFiends, while Roberts is probably best known for being the cellist in both Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Faith and the Muse.  She has also made countless live and studio appearances with such acts as Ministry, Pigface, Cassandra Complex and the Last Dance.

Musically, I would have to compare the overall sound of Mercurine to some of the late eighties/early nineties bands such as the Cocteau twins, Lush, Opus 3 and Poe.  At times Mera’s whispery vocals even remind me of Kate Bush, yet this is not to say that she doesn’t skillfully demonstrate a modern and distinct style of her own.  With much of her past acclaim being contributed to her extraordinary cello talents, I was impressed to see her diversify by vocally fronting a project of her own.  This being said, I do feel a bit more cello throughout the album would not have done the band any harm and may possibly have given this album an edge to its over-populated electronic genre.  Fortunately, Mercurine’s final track, “Another Ending” does feature this rare cello commodity, leaving the listener breathless.

Another of my favorite tracks on the album is “Bluemouse,” where Byron’s guitar work is skillfully underscored with electronic textures and whispery vocals.  The gentle swaying of Mera’s vocals on “Format HD” blend with the tranquil synths and guitars, once again revealing how well the duo works together. With tracks like, “Nu Groove” and “StrangeTimesLove,” the band reiterates my analogy between Mercurine and their clear tribute to, and influences from, sounds of the past.

Having never heard Mercurine’s first full album, Music is Chemical, I was unable to draw a comparison to their previous release.  However, I found Waiting For Another Fall to be a strong and beautifully crafted album which features multi-textual electronic content, lovely airy vocals and melodic guitar riffs.

Miss Pain
Heartbreaker/Caught My Eye (Tbilissi)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

A brand new crisp vinyl biscuit from Miss Pain, those electro-art-punkers from Brighton. Here they continue their front-line reports from the battle of the sexes in two charmingly cheesy slices of fuzzed-out new wave pop noize. 'Heartbreaker' tells a story of unrequited love, expressed in swoonsomely bathetic Adrian Mole-style love poetry: 'You've got the looks and you've got me hooked/You turn my head and my loins are on fire'. The guitar fizzes like Lucozade while analogue electronics kick up a fuss in the background. The whole thing sounds like a long-lost Buzzcocks track, and that's entirely fine by me.

'Caught My Eye' shows us the other side of the coin. Here, our nerdish hero finds his fantasies rather alarmingly coming true as the ladies turn the tables. He's got a girl moving in on him, and he's trying unsuccessfully to escape. Twin vocals, male and female, argue it out through the song, but we know there can only be one result. 'I'll slip my chain and I'll keep you waiting,' announces his unexpected girlfriend, 'In my heart we're already dating.'  The guitar thrashes away, the drum machine thwacks and clatters in authentic vintage style, and - yes! - there's even a  handclap interlude.

Fast, brash and as instant as an electrical spark, Miss Pain are unashamedly lo-fi and lovely. All this and a sleeve that perfectly parodies a Mills & Boon romance novel. One day, all pop groups will be built this way.

Miss Pain are: Sarah Pain, Verity Pain and Dom Pain

Miss Pain's website is:

Miss Pain MP3s at Vitaminic:

This single is not widely distributed, but you can mail-order it for a very reasonable two quid from Miss Pain's record label:

The Mist of Avalon
Demo' 05 (self released)
~reviewed by Stuart Moses

I first became a fan of The Mist of Avalon when I saw them support Fields of the Nephilim spin-off Last Rites. At that stage I was more impressed by the synchronised hair swinging carried out by the two guitarists than by the band’s brand of gothic rock with chugging guitars on the side. It was only later when listening to the band’s Tears EP at home that I realised they mixed subtle atmospherics with the heavier guitar-driven side of things.

Fast forward four years and I see The Mist of Avalon open London’s Gotham festival. Despite being the first band on - in the middle of the afternoon -The Mist of Avalon get a good reaction from the surprisingly-full dancefloor. Greater familiarity with their repertoire means I was more able to appreciate the band’s delicate side in a live setting. The band amicably split with one of their guitarists recently, so there was 50% less tress swirling. What was more disappointing was what sounded like a hole where more guitars should have been.

There’s no such absence of guitar on this three-track sampler from the band’s forthcoming album. I was initially underwhelmed by the opening song “I Said It All”. It’s proficient enough gothic rock, but nothing Paradise Lost, Depeche Mode or - for that matter - The Mist Of Avalon haven’t done better before. I already have lots of music that sounds like this in my collection. I’m not sure I need any more. The Mist of Avalon are at their best when they place the heavy riffing in a wider emotional landscape. The production sounds suitably epic, with a middle eight which builds and builds. Yet this song sounds like an album track rather than the song I would put first on a promo CD.

Suddenly all my doubts are washed away. Gentle currents of electronic noise are suddenly swept away by a dreadnought of urgent guitar. We are in a sea of “Lies”. The magic of The Mist of Avalon has returned. Feelings of longing and betrayal are fully present, essential ingredients for classic Mist of Avalon.

Singer Aram berates a loved one with the caustic: ‘You can tell the world about your father’s death and pretend your mother’s dying.’ before asking ‘Who’s to know it’s all a lie.’ What seems especially hurtful is revealed in the chorus: ‘When you said all this to me. I cried and I believed. You even stole my heart.’ Despite everything the person has done Aram still feels a strong connection with them. After all, if it he did not, there would be no need for this outpouring of anger.

Where “Lies” scores over “I Said It All” is in its use of dynamics. It’s a rollercoaster ride of tangible emotion, with the interplay of guitars and electronics working perfectly. The instruments are stripped back for the verse, while all hell breaks loose for the chorus. The middle eight reminds me of The Mission circa God’s Own Medicine. The Julianne Regan-style female backing vocals at the end adds to this feeling. With The Mist of Avalon though the mood is much more desperate. You can tell that there has been genuine suffering that burns to be expressed.

Finally we have “Forever Lost” which is the heaviest song on this promo.  Aram’s voice is distorted during the verse and then screamed hoarse during the chorus. It’s the verse that really impresses though. The chorus is too full of full-on shoutiness, though I know that too has its fans. It’s well done, but a bit balls-out straight-ahead guitar attack for me to truly engage.

It’s difficult to judge what a whole album will sound like having just heard three songs. In the context of eight other tracks the imperfections I hear in “I Said It All” and “Forever Lost” may become less noticeable. In an attempt to grab the listener’s attention you can forgive the band for selecting less subtle songs. I’m hoping for music that recreates the majesty of the band’s previous peaks; “The Witch” from Tears and “A Wolf’s Lullaby” from Here and After.

The fault might be with this listener - hoping for the band to be what they are not, or more poignantly what they once were and no longer are. The Mist of Avalon aren’t the most original band around, but where they earn their place in my CD collection is the way in which they communicate emotion. The music they make has been done before, but when it comes to conjuring feelings of longing, desperation and regret The Mist of Avalon are without peer. Sadly sometimes the emotion is squeezed out when the guitars are turned up too loud.

The tunestack:
I Said It All
Forever Lost

The players:
Aram Yildiz - vocals
Malin Yildiz - keyboards
Magnus Ewald - bass
Joakim Jonsson - guitar
Tony Lind - drums

The website:

Midnight Syndicate
The 13th Hour
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola

Outside, the blistering sun pelts the pavement of a city entrenched in mediocrity. To sway me from the dog days of summer, Midnight Syndicate has come to the rescue. The long awaited release of The 13th Hour follows in the wake of their other morbidly sublime releases meant to chill the darkly inclined.

The air conditioner is turned way up and the blackout curtains are drawn to deter the heat and light from entering the abode.

Initially, we are treated to outside sounds of footsteps and the cawing of crows in conjunction with the crickets on the Forgotten Path.  The cascading essence of Time Outside of Time reminds the listener that keeping a darkened home is the correct ingredient to fully appreciate the musical work to follow. Up ahead, Fallen Grandeur utilizes harpsichord with a full orchestration of haunted instrumentation; we have begun the journey of The 13th Hour as we are brought headlong into the presence of the Haverghast Mansion, that malevolent edifice full of grandiosity with a penchant for ghoulish things.

Some listeners may not be aware, but this release is a tribute of sorts to a real mansion with a horrific history. It was that story that catapulted the idea into the musical brilliance that was to become The 13th Hour. That particular mansion, like this one, contained a rather deranged family, satanic worship and a whole other assortment of fiendish things to whet the ghoulish appetite. You can read all about it on the band webpage as it is a great read to accompany this soundtrack. That story puts all of this in grisly perspective and is highly recommended.

Midnight Syndicate pushed 24 tracks to a new level of horror by incorporating crisp sound effects along with the signature gothic orchestration and 80's style horror movie music that is severely lacking in today's horror film genre.

Repeated listens are a must for this and any Midnight Syndicate release simply because they are the best at what they do. Too often, bands who started out with a macabre sensibility end up becoming the latest dance electronic band. While it is one thing to grow with an audience, it is quite daunting to find that many bands get their foot in the door with an underground/goth fan base and then become something completely different once they made a bit of money. Thankfully, Midnight Syndicate has not abandoned their goth and horror admirers who are worldwide and legion by now.

The 13th Hour has a production quality that will make it one of the hottest sellers for Halloween year after year. With this release, you don't just get orchestration and sound effects, you get to be a PART of the haunted mansion itself. From the opening on Forgotten Paths, the clarity and realism is beyond what we have heard via the recorded medium thus far. The sound was tweaked to such an expert degree that you are IN the music as it is simply oozing from the walls and stalking your every move. Distant menacing and chilling voices seem to be coming from various parts of the room that you begin to wonder if it is actually happening or a part of the CD itself.

If you miss good old fashioned horror music, tap into The 13th Hour, as it is time malevolently spent.

Track Listing:
Forgotten Path
Time Outside of Time
Fallen Grandeur
Hands of Fate
The Drawing Room
Mausoleum D'Haverghast
Family Secrets
Last Breaths
The Watcher
Cold Embrace
Hand In Hand Again
Harvest of Deceit
Footsteps In The Dust
Veiled Hunter
Sinister Pact
Grisly Reminder
Deadly Intentions
The Lost Room
Living Walls
Gruesome Discovery
Return of the Ancient Ones
The 13th Hour


AUTOPSY (Pandaimonium)
~review by Mick Mercer

It really is extraordinary how the influence of one band can continue to emerge through the releases of other bands, and in unexpected ways, which concentrates the focus on what might have happened. The band in question is, as you might expect, Christian Death, and the influence here clearly pinpoints it as coming from their most epic force, Only Theater Of Pain. There has never been any attempt by Morthem Vlade Art to refuter the suggestion because it obviously meant something to them at the time, and as the album came out on a French label it isn’t that difficult to imagine shockwaves thudding into the willing and able underground ranks of French musicians back then.

It is funny picking your way through this retrospective CD, containing the work originally released on cassette albums during the 90’s, to hear how their work sounded then, when they now have such an ‘artistic’ 80’s sound (the decade overall having quite a wow factor for them), but where once they burned like a violent fuse now they have an art-installation aura about them.

The 90’s was the era when Industrial music reinvented itself, from the cathartic origins of often quite horrendous noise, into something which managed to house both soundtrack music of varying hues, and less Neanderthal rock inclinations. It also attracted a lot of indie artists who simply didn’t favour the verse/chorus approach, and so ‘Ceremony’ kicks off with a suitably disquieting soundscape with consciously shadowy, wordy vocals, and then keeps the same doomy vocal presence during ’Inferno Psalms’ but introduces attractive, undemonstrative bass, and displays gentle orchestral order in the music to offset any bleak extremes. The Goth relevance leaps out of ‘Wine Of Rose’ with a real Rozz delivery, and some compelling guitar phases, winds down into noise, like a Goth-Indie amalgamation, rips it all up again, and the ebbs away strangely. ‘Museum Party’ contains the same climactic angst, with lighter rhythmic sentiments, before we plunge into the pointless noises of ‘Vluneskudothey’.

‘Occident Genocide’ is conventionally arty, as the title suggests and as with many songs here the real strength of the piece isn’t emphasised by any instruments or vocals, because the sound is an ensemble piece, and fairly compressed. Instead of sumptuous detail, it’s all flat and wriggling. ‘Ectoplasm Part I and II’ is drifting calamity and a sonorous lament, before ‘Louis-James Day’ introduces seriously pretty synth and allows a glimpse of what they would become; still Rozzy, but becoming fluid and open. ‘Obsessis A Daemonio’ is eerily muffled, and all tension is gone, ‘The Day Of Karlls Death’ sees the music floating but in a simpler and more direct fashion, as the layers fall away, and in ‘Venomous Sin’ a medieval twinge gives way to a really romping rhythm which should have been fantastic but because they’ve gone for such a band sound it simple becomes great sludge.

‘The Ravenous Wolves’ is an increasingly majestic, portentous noisework, ‘Spirits’ shows how the indie elements won through, with a bubbling concoction of synth , rhythm and solemn vocals, and then you get two extra tracks, ‘Endless Dream’ being piointless and empty, and ‘The Worm’ taking us back to gargling Goth’, so it’s an interesting snapshot of the 90’s but in how someone chose to reinvent the 80’s!

They’re a weird band in many respects and this fascinating album maintains their record and reputation.

Live and Unleashed (Jungle)
~review by Stuart Moses

It seems that hardly ten minutes goes by before an album gets the re-release treatment these days. A bonus CD might make an attractive proposition to the casual listener, but it is frustrating for the dedicated fan that rushed out and bought the CD in the first place. Credit due to NFD then for making this CD available separately via their website. So having avoided the accusations of dodgy dealings we are left with the question: is this collection of live songs, a solo studio outing and a remix worth your hard earned cash?

No details on the inlay say where it was recorded. In the live situation it pays to keep the pace up, so this makes initially for a more exciting romp through the songs than the album version. Then NFD drop the tempo for the brooding “Enraptured”, “Break The Silence” and “Stronger”. The guitars chime more clearly live and singer Bob just about manages to avoid injecting Wayne Hussey-style double entendres into the lyrics. Elsewhere “Unleashed” makes a return performance from the Break The Silence ep and decides to forgive me for overlooking its gothic magnificence on our first meeting.

“Move In Closer” is a fantastic upbeat rock-flavoured goth, worth the price of the CD alone. It has NFD’s signature tempo drop before the instruments come crashing back in. My only qualm is that while one of the reasons I like the band is because they sound like Fields of the Nephilim, I like to think they take the flavour of Stourbridge’s finest and write new songs around this style. The way Bob intones: “Move in closer…” is a little too close to Carl McCoy’s “Move back… step outside yourself” in “Laura II” in delivery and content. It’s probably a trivial point, those that love Fields of the Nephilim can forgive NFD and those that don’t won’t have listened this far. I’m sure that NFD are capable of being much more than a Nephilim-tribute band, though I’d probably enjoy that too if that were the direction they took.

“Break The Silence” remains the epic Pink Floyd/late Fields of the Nephilim-inspired epic it has always been. It sounds great live though. New song “So Let It Begin” has the sort of brooding magnificence that we have come to expect from the band. It lumbers a little over its near 7-minute running time, but still hits the target. If I’m honest my attention wandered a little towards the end as Bob sings: “So let it end, so let it begin” which is hardly an invocation on a par with the “Xi dingir anna kanpa, Xi dingir kia kanpa“ of Fields of the Nehilim’s Psychonaut. While some NFD songs benefit from their extended running time, here a little judicious editing would have improved the listening experience.

I have rarely found a remix that I’ve liked so kudos to Art Stanton who manages not to commit the cardinal sin of most remixers and remove the guitars. The remix of “Blackened” manages to make it more friendly to Nine Inch Nails’s fans and dancefloors without losing what made the song good in the first place. He also knows the value of leaving the audience wanting more and doesn’t stretch the material beyond the four and a half minute mark. I’d rather listen to NFD’s original version, but this makes a decent substitute.

This Live and Unleashed CD strips some of the fat from the original album. Occasionally I feel that the band sound hollow – lacking in soul somehow. Then I’m swept away by the torrents of gothic guitar goodness and I start to believe again. This CD won’t convert those wary of the band, but maybe it will persuade a few ditherers to join the flock. Ideally this CD would be given away as a thank-you to fans that have supported the band, but I suppose NFD aren’t in a position to show this sort of generosity yet. Perhaps we shall have to keep the faith longer before our devotion is rewarded.

The tunestack:
Omen (Live)
Unleashed (Live)
Darkness Falls (Live)
Turbine (Live)
Stronger (Live)
Move In Closer (Live)
Enraptured (Live)
Break The Silence (Live)
So Let It Begin
Blackened (Art Stanton Remix)
The players:
Peter 'Bob' White: vocals, guitars
Simon Rippin: drums
Tony Pettitt: bass
Stephen Carey: guitar
Chris Milden: guitar

The link:

Noblesse Oblige
Bitch/Daddy (Don't Touch Me There) (Horseglue)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

Ah, performance art hooliganism, set to a mutant disco beat. It could only be Noblesse Oblige.

This, the first single from the duo who have been bringing their own brand of stroppy electropunk minimalism to the UK's long-suffering gig circuit for the past twelve months or so, arrives like a mad uncle at a respectable family party. 'Bitch' is a slice of bad-attitude boystown, all galumphing dancefloor beats overlayed by an abrasive guitar-grind that sounds like the guitarist is squeezing feedback out of his instrument like toothpaste. Add a female vocal that does that assertive-yet-sultry Eartha Kitt thing - all gravel-voiced come-hither suggestiveness - and you've got a rude and lewd dance track which I'm sure is provoking dirty moves on all the murkiest dancefloors even as I type.

'Daddy (Don't Touch Me There)' is a nightmare nursery rhyme. The jaunty teutonic disco rhythm, rolling electronics, precise male vocal, and bleakly humourous lyrics ('It's just the two of us/My coitus feels fabulous') disguise a starkly descriptive tale of incest. It has me squirming uncomfortably even as I'm tapping my foot to the beat. There's a kind of weird genius at work here: the collision between the immediate, insistent beat and the lyrics, which, while never getting too explicit, certainly leave the listener in no doubt about what's going on. I can't help wondering how many DJs will be playing this one. Grimly groovy, unrepentant and effective. Noblesse Oblige go dancing into the heart of darkness.

The website:

~review of Mick Mercer

This is unusual – a big romping Goth cover of ‘Transmission’ by Joy Division, with a crosscut Metal guitar interface squiggling away. Normally you find bands all nervously respectful and so caught up in the hesitant emoting of Ian Curtis that their covers fall down like soiled pants, and make you wonder why they’ve bothered.

This bunch have gone in a different direction. The guitar juts out so firmly you can’t ignore it, and the vocals may try to ape the Curtis wobble, but are treated in such a way they also become somewhat alien, like a resentful dalek, with a curious rapid echo or delay. The guitar sound of Tempestade remains huge throughout and the rhythm also pulses weirdly, while the singer does the dance, dance, dance part as if in pain. This all makes it a song which comes alive, even if it actually sounds rather funny, and I said a Goth cover, remember? Joy Division were never Goth, but this sounds right, with raucous backing vocals and waves of energy. A strangely workable creation, and congratulations to them for doing something different with it, especially as they’re clearly fans.

The one track CD (with gargoyles on its label) also includes a modern moody video of their ‘Bad Dream’ songs from the After The Curse CD which I wouldn’t mind reviewing, because these boys have the power!

Noise Unit
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola

At the helm of Noise Unit is Bill Leeb, most known for his work with Frontline Assembly, among many of his side projects. To read of the bands incarnation and the many transitions they went through, it is a testament to determination that Noise Unit came to being at all.

That being said, one may think, as I did, that the band name was an homage to some spine shattering bits of noise and growled vocals as prevalent with many underground electronic bands floating around these days.

Admittedly, when I first put this CD into my player, I was not sure what to expect, so the fingers were rather close to the ears just in case instant relief was needed. Dear reader, I must tell you, if you are not in the habit of buying music, do yourself a favor and seek this CD out!

Instead of noise, Voyeur is an electronic amalgamation of sonic seduction. I know most don't think of electronic music as being sensual in any sense, but Noise Unit pulled it off! I am not talking about the wussy type of sex ploys either. It is curvaceous, yet jagged, intense, yet gentle. The premise behind the CD is as though peering into the lives and worlds of other people from oddly placed vantage point. This accounts for the seductive quality of the work

The body of music encompasses space like atmospherics and weaves them between pulsing bass and drum lines. In addition, there are whispered vocals layered over distant vocals. To think this doesn't amount to a work of great hypnotic proportions would be deceiving. Even the odd bits of electronic noise are strategically placed to enhance rather than detract from the enjoyment of this CD.

The only negative thing I can say about this particular CD is that it doesn't have the same magnitude when played in a moving vehicle as it does in your home.

Do yourself a favor, grab a copy of this CD and put it on next time you and your significant other need to have a romantic interlude. You won't be disappointed!

Track Listing
Illicit Dreams
Tighten Up

Available through

BORDERLINE (Str8line Records)
~review by Mick Mercer

This band already have quite a history through their various members, and it more than explains the prowess and distinctive qualities they bring to sleek dark indie rock. Paul Fiction is no musical slouch, having worked with Lol Tolhurst, Vincent K is ex-Cyanhide, Dominique Oudiou was in Neuttral project and Kristian Dernoncourt is from Renaissance Noire. They know what they’re doing, in other words.

With drummer Fernando Million joining last year they finally went in to create an album that their press release calls cold wave, on the lighter side of rock, and by its inquisitive nature it becomes highly pertinent to Goth ears, if only because Vincent K is a bassist quite capable of leading the band and his blending of tone is just as skilful as tangibly direct as anything you ever got from New Order. Opener ‘Void’ is testament to that, a beautifully forlorn song, with the keyboards and guitar caressing the fuller bass shading. More thoughtful than morose, this is speculative darkness. ‘Night Effect’ starts clumsy but gives way to catchy, then the sadness wanders in, reminding me of the weaving, wandering approach of Cassandra Complex. ‘Prisoner’ also highlights how the French voice can make barren English double-edged. It is a restless, gripping song, as you follow the pain in the vocal delivery, and in ‘16 Years’ seemingly based on another dismal fallout from love, it is again the bass which idles beautifully, aching. An empty, lovely sound.

‘Sade’ has the same approach but hushed vocals and piano give way to intensity and an intelligent elegance. It isn’t exciting, which is unusual, but its impact comes from their experience. They don’t need to get over-fussy or blustery to make their points, and ‘Tears’, with its doomy synth, and repeatedly distraught vocals, also plays with us. The rhythm escalates and the synth is chirpy, but instead of following that more vibrant pathway the bass pitches in and bleepier sounds tuck in behind guitar gusts.

‘Mauvais Farce’ has dour bass and sour guitar; a beautifully crafty song, with subtle and attractive use of French vocals, while neon guitar hovers moodily during ‘Madness’ that reminds me of Danse Society minus keyboard frills. ‘Feast’ then breaks the spell which has lasted so long through the album by being rather messy, with drippy vocals and while it is their liveliest number by far it is strangely irritating indie drivel, the shock of its slight frivolity enough to also detract from the closing ‘L’amour Froid’ which is unusual in being bi-lingual and has lovely echoing guitar swirls and tapping percussion. (I now start the CD from that track.)

There is much of the early 80’s bravery to this music, which is a feature I have noticed on recent French records before. Instead of being impressed or influenced by the obvious vapidity of Club music from the 90’s many people are looking back to how and why bands created their own character before such easy access to technology created an overall blight of blandness. No Tears have certainly succeeded, with a superb album.

Observe & Control
~reviewed by Brian Parker

VNV Nation's first album, Advance and Follow, was widely ignored.  It took a second album (and a little more maturity) before they exploded into popularity.  Although comparing Observe & Control's music to VNV Nation's would be superficial, I predict a similar sophmore explosion if Tom Cohen's Observe & Control continues to mature.  There's a lot of raw promise here.

Observe & Control might be classified as EBM.  When the BPM count is pushed way up, like on the title track and "Introspective," the catchy dance-oriented tracks sometimes sound a little cookie-cutter.  But the simpler "Obedience" has all the power of any classic industrial boot-stomping anthem.

However, if pressed for a genre, I'd call them electronic rock.  Tracks like "Scissors Doll" retain the simplicity and vocal sensibilities that would appeal to fans of classic goth rock, even if built around entirely electronic sounds.  (Perhaps "darkwave" is appropriate at points, for those who simply must have genres.)  Not that Cohen's afraid of a guitar; you'll hear one in several songs, and "Light" is built around a heavy guitar riff.  Although the strings are probably synthesized, a nice variety of sounds are used as a palette, and Cohen's style provides a more organic rock-like sound than most electronic artists offer.

The production is not rich, but is functional, giving the music a chance to stand on its own with neither adornment nor distraction.  The lyrics (written by Iris Idelson) never rise to the lyricism of some in the genre, but are certainly better than the adolescent tripe most acts offer, often mature and subtle.  Vocals are fairly clean and Cohen's voice is certainly sufficient for what he attempts.  There are some gratuitous samples, but at least they are used with restraint.  Arrangements are sometimes simple, but never boring; more layers and unusual sounds are really the only things required to move this act from "promising" to "fantastic."

Utopia is not a masterpiece, but it's an album you won't regret owning from a fresh voice with a lot of potential.  And you'll be able to say you were into them from the very beginning.

Tracks:  Utopia; Scissors Doll; Purges; Monsters; Creatures; Obedience; Introspective; Black Flies; War; Light; Hope; Defeat Me; Epilogue; 79 Seconds of Defeat

Observe & Control is Tom Cohen.

Opened Paradise
Occult (promo)
~reviewed by Stuart Moses

I was first drawn to Greece’s Opened Paradise by a review I read on the internet which described the band as ‘very Nephilim-esque’. In the opening seconds of this CD the band managed to convey both Carl McCoy’s love of using movie samples and Wayne Hussey’s portentious introduction to God’s Own Medicine, ‘I believe in God … but God no longer believes in me.’ I don’t recognise the sample, nor understand the language, but it’s a safe bet to say it’s from a horror film of some sort.

Singer Periklis has the deep-voiced vocal trad-goths love. While “Dancing With Shadows” makes an effective opener, it doesn’t do anything truly dramatic. Here the influence of Nosferatu – a perfectly competent band which never truly scaled the heights of their potential - on Opened Paradise is shown.

“Hopes On Crystal” has more room to move and the FX-laden guitars conjure images of The Chameleons. This song would sound good as you travel through a city at night. Around the two minute mark the guitars surge like the sea and allow the listener the chance to drift away. “Deep Waters” is also carried by the guitars. Periklis sounds more McCoy that ever before. Considering that the only singing Carl is doing at the moment is in his shower we should be grateful for what we should get. Opened Paradise know a thing or two about keeping the listener interested.  “Deep Waters” is less than three minutes and each time I arrive at the end – with Periklis solemnly intoning ‘We lost at sea’ – I wish the song were longer.

The lyrics on this album contribute to the mood of the music without standing out particularly. With this sort of music it’s how much conviction the singer puts into the delivery and no criticism of Periklis can be made here. I’m sure these words are meant to work on the emotional part of the brain, rather than the logical. Much inspiration seems to have been taken from HP Lovecraft with talk of invocations, to “Rise from eternal sleep” and the idea that ‘A prophecy comes true if you believe’. The latter sounds like advice from an occultist’s self-help book.

Is this the sinister voice of Aleister Crowley here? Goth rock bands are going to wish he’d recorded his shopping lists at this rate. “Prayers For The Damned” is all atmospheric drum work, no repetitive drum machines here, and a hypnotic synthesizer lead. I like the way there’s two and a half minutes before the vocals come in. It gives the listener a chance to ponder this world the band have created without a guide.

I like the way in which Opened Paradise say they are seeking to take this sound in a new direction, acknowledging their love of what has gone before, but seeing it as a guide rather than a template. Though they risk alienating fans if they stray too far from the path, which is just the same problem Fields of the Nephilim would have if they were still around. It’ll be interesting to see where Opened Paradise go next. I see this debut as a statement of intent, I’m sure their second and third albums will see them really carve their own identity.

“Opened Paradise” is an up-tempo Garden Of Delight-influenced number. While I am a fan of the mixture of pace on this album I think I prefer the band’s slow and brooding songs. I’d make an exception for next song “Senseless”. If there was any justice in the world this would be the band’s first single. If a band like Opened Paradise were in a position to release singles. With its The Nephilim-era catchiness and Perkilis stentorian vocal performance this deserves to be played on dancefloors for the black-clad masses. Each chorus is a climax, while the verses are just as delightful foreplay.

The start of “All Dreams Are Men” is a little pedestrian, until just after the two and a half minute mark when the instruments are stripped back and Carl, I mean Periklis, whispers seductively. There’s a curious keyboard sound which keeps the interest. There’s no doubt that Opened Paradise swim in the wake of what has gone before, but they manage some innovative strokes to keep themselves and the listener interested. There’s some effective drumming, which leads into a bass solo which manages to be quite good (quite a triumph considering). The song returns to the way it was at the beginning – which suddenly sounds much more interesting and I’m tempted to listen to it from the beginning again.

As soon as I read the title of the next song “Distant Walks Through Shifting Light” I knew that we were due an epic of “Last Exit For The Lost”-proportions. Sure enough, following what sounds like footsteps (of distant walks possibly) we get a languid guitar, somnambulant bass, mysterious synth and vocal full of ominous intent. Yet while the song does last almost ten minutes it does so in a most curious manner. After three and a half minutes the song lurches unexpectedly forward and I expect a gallop to the end. How wrong I am. After five minutes the music stops and we get a “Layla”-style piano break. Against all odds it’s quite wonderful and I’m delighted to be so completely wrong-footed. There’s even an acoustic guitar. Then the main music starts up again and we get the gallop to the end I was expecting all along. Apart from the bit where we just get Periklis whispering.

This would be the perfect ending to the album, but it is not. There is a bonus song called “Closer”. Why is it billed as a bonus track? Is it part of the album or not? Either way I’m surprised, but delighted to say it makes an appropriate coda to the album. Beginning with a doleful bell, that rings throughout much of the song Mr P intones menacingly for a few minutes until all the instruments kick in – which I wasn’t expecting – and we’re in full-on goth-rock territory. When Periklis chants “Closer … closer … closer” I feel for the first time on this album the band have got a little too near to Fields of the Nephilim. Ironically this sounds more like the “Last Exit For The Lost”-climax.

But what if you don’t like Fields of the Nephilim, Garden of Delight or Nosferatu? If you are still reading this review then you are obviously related to me (Hello Mum!). If you do enjoy the gothic delights of the above bands then you should definitely get hold of this CD. The band succeed in taking what is great from what has gone before. They may be taking us on the same journeys as those that went before them, but Opened Paradise take us down different roads and so we get to see different things, even if ultimately we end up in the same place.

The tunestack:
Dancing With Shadows
Hopes On Crystal
Deep Waters
Prayers For The Damned
Opened Paradise
All Dreams Like Men
Distant Walks Through Shifting Light
Bonus Track: Closer

The players:
Babis:    Guitars
Kostas:   Bass
Elias:      Drums
Alex:      Keyboards
Periklis:  Vocals

The website:


Opened Paradise
Occult (Self-released promo CD)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

From Greece, a band which delivers the classic dark 'n' mystical gothic rock sound, very much along the same lines as Fields Of The Nephilim - a band which Opened Paradise namecheck as an influence in the accompanying blurb. But even if they hadn't mentioned McCoy's mob, you could guess almost immediately where Opened Paradise's principal inspiration comes from. The imagery with which the band surrounds itself (arcane symbolism a-go-go) drops the first hint. The music confirms the suspicion.

'Dancing With Shadows' sounds like Opened Paradise's answer to 'Moonchild' - a barrelling rocker with a gravel voice of doom rasping out the vocal, and words which, frankly, look like they were put together by some sort of Instant Goth Lyric Generator:

Venus in her face, a girl that cries out falls from grace
Help re-unite her broken tears they shatter every night
Demons haunt forgotten dreams
An angel paints her dreamscapes
Awaken from eternal sleep
In depths she holds her secrets.

That little extract gives us the flavour, and illustrates the territory we're in. Elsewhere, Opened Paradise demonstrate a lighter touch: not every song is a roaring rock blast. Their arrangements are precise and delicate, as on 'Deep Waters', where the vocal croons spookily over a plangent guitar and warm, drifting keyboards. 'Prayers For The Damned' sees the band going off on a slight tanget, for it's a kind of tribal/ambient mash-up, with a rumbling bass deep in the guts of the song, and driving, tumbling drums. In a way, this is the most successful track here, in that it owes least to the band's classic influences, and shows some of their own creativity coming through. But then we're back to the Neph-rock zone, as the song 'Opened Paradise' corrals all those generic gothic rock influences once again, and assembles them into a number which, while put together with impeccable skill, doesn't do anything that hasn't been done by many others over many years.

I was waiting for the band to bring on their big, slow-burn epic, for surely, influenced as they so clearly are by the Neph, Opened Paradise must inevitably have written a track in the style of 'Last Exit For The Lost'? Sure enough, they've done exactly that. Here it comes: 'Distant Walks Through Shifting Light', all nine minutes and twenty-seven seconds of it. The track unwinds slowly, kicks up a gear into a big rock interlude, before easing down again into a piano-led ballad with some delicate acoustic guitar twingle-twangling along....and then it all rocks up again in a burst of grandiose drama before descending once again to a smouldering, sensitive finish.  As with everything the band do, the standard of musicianship and production is impressively high, but I wish it wasn't quite so easy to guess what they're going to do next. I knew they'd do a lengthy, showstopping number, and the fact that it's all done very well does not make up for my disappointment that the band just can't pull any real surprises out of their musical hat.

This is the essential fact about Opened Paradise: they clearly aren't in the business of pushing any envelopes. They are, unashamedly, a very generic gothic rock band, influences worn unrepentantly on their sleeves. If that's the stuff that floats your boat then I'm sure you'll find much to delight you here. But it's all very familiar territory, to the point where, although you might appreciate what the band are doing, I suspect you'll find it hard to get excited.

Apparently, Opened Paradise are keen to sign up with a record label, having progressed as far as they can on their own efforts. I wish them well in this endeavour, but I have to point out that the band's 'generic gothic rock' approach is likely to work against them here. There are many, many bands out there doing much the same thing as Opened Paradise, and if the band can't offer a genuinely unique selling point I think they'll find it hard to raise themselves out of the crowd of hopefuls. Certainly, I find it hard to envisage a label in, say, the UK, or Germany, or even the USA falling over itself to sign up a band from Greece when there are without doubt many other bands making the same style of music, with all the same influences on parade, on their doorsteps. But if you are a record label, Opened Paradise would be very happy to talk to you. Tell 'em Uncle Nemesis sent you!

The tunestack:
Dancing With Shadows
Hopes On Crystal
Deep Waters
Prayers For The Damned
Opened Paradise
All Dreams Like Men
Distant Walks Through Shifting Light

The players:
Babis: Guitars
Kostas: Bass
Elias: Drums
Alex: Keyboards
Periklis: Vocals

The website:

I Psydoll (Planetghost)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

Back in 2003, I reviewed a couple of Psydoll's self-released CDs, The Daughter of Dr. Neumann and A War In The Box. At the time, the only way dwellers on planet Earth could obtain the band's outpourings was by contacting Psydoll themselves in Japan. But now, thanks to the Planetghost label, Psydoll product is more widely available. Those two early DIY releases are out again in combined form on this 14-track album - which means there's now no excuse whatsoever not to have Psydoll's glorious weirdness in your life.

It's a pleasure to revisit Psydoll's music in its lavish new packaging (although it's only fair to point out that the band's original DIY packaging was pretty lavish first time round) and plunge once again into the surreal world they effortlessly, naturally, create. Sometimes, Psydoll sound like a bizarre mating ritual between Kraftwerk and Motorhead; at other times they sound like folkie troubadours from the future. Their musical vocabulary is wide; their ideas tumble out in a torrent. They employ mashed-up electronics and thrashed-up guitars, delicate acoustics and brutal slabs of treated distort-o-sound. Sometimes, they do all of this in the course of one song. And yet, always, there's a pop sensibility at work, which ensures that although things get loud and brash and defiantly punkish at times, you're never more than a few bars away from a lilting refrain or catchy chorus. But if it's noise you want, they've got that, too.

So, let's cheer for the return of favourite tracks. We kick off with the songs first released on The Daughter of Dr. Neumann - such as 'Faraway', featuring that round-and-round harpsichord motif which makes the song sound like a cyberpunk Stranglers. Then there's 'Machinery Lemmings', which riffs furiously, the vocal coming in like a nursery rhyme phoned in from outer space, and 'Theme For Psydoll', which in '03 I described as 'a march-of-the-robots anthem with a heavy heavy heavy low-down bassline, as if someone had filled Skinny Puppy up with hallucinogenics and then asked them to lead the Easter parade', a description upon which I certainly can't improve this time round.

A little further down the tunestack, we find ourselves among the tracks originally available on A War In The Box, all as groovy as they were when originally released. One of Psydoll's more baffling titles has been made slightly more comprehensible - 'The Ship of Steel/The Screw of Glass Work' becomes 'The Iron Battleship With The Screw Made Of Glass' (well, I did say it was slightly more comprehensible) - but the tune itself is still the atmosphere-laden electro-ballad it always was. The alternative version of 'Theme For Psydoll' is also here, a glorious collision between a slamming industrial rhythm and a neat, melodic pop song. When I first encountered this slice of weird genius, I said 'it's as if Madonna had suddenly experienced a moment of madness (no, make that sanity) and recruited Laibach to make her next album for her.' Well, Madonna still hasn't seen the light, but who needs Madonna when we've got Psydoll?

There's one new track here, the mad and delightful 'Rose, Rose, Rose', which sounds like Napalm Death trapped inside a vending machine. Nevertheless, amid the heavy-duty guitar riffing, the bleeps, clangs, crashes, loony samples and speedfreak beats, Psydoll manage to pull off their trademark trick of making the whole thing sound like a pop song. By the time the track slams to an unceremonious halt, you'll find yourself wondering why this music isn't in the top 40. On Planet Psydoll, I'm sure it is.

The tunestack:
Sleeping Beauty
Machinery Lemmings
Aka I Tuki (Red Moon)
The End Of Faraway
Theme For Psydoll
In The Fog
His Melody
The Song Offered A Hunter
The Iron Battleship With The Screw Made Of Glass
Theme For Psydoll #2
Rose, Rose, Rose

The players:
Nekoi: Vocals, keyboards
Ucchi: Guitars, programming
Uenoyama: Digital percussion & drums

The website:
StarVox reviews of the original releases from which this album is compiled can be found on this text-only archive page: (Scroll down!)

Planetghost, Psydoll's new label: (Warning: Flash 6 site - plenty of impressive, if rather pointless, animations, but no quick version for those who simply want to dip in and grab info!)

Vodka Milk (Nova Diem)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

Electronics throbbing, guitars squalling, and a voice that scrambles everywhere like a cat on a climbing frame. It could only be Psychophile.

In a way, this is Psychophile’s coming-of-age album. Although the duo of Lucy and Smogo collaborated on the very fine Transition album in 2003 (and the band has much earlier history behind it as founder member Mat Hook’s own project), Vodka Milk introduces us to a new and improved Psychophile, brimming with confidence and sense of purpose. You’ve only got to glance at the front of the CD to realise that Psychophile are now definitely in take-on-the-world mode. While so many bands choose to hide their identities discreetly - or timidly - behind blandly anonymous exercises in ‘design’ (something which, I recall, Psychophile themselves did on their previous release), now they’re confident enough to show themselves on the front of their own album. It’s as if they’re sending out a defiant message: Here we are. This is us. Deal with it! It’s a strong image, and I’m sure record store browsers who come upon this album by chance will be immediately interested. In fact, I can think of two things about that cover photo which would certainly grab anyone’s attention...

The music exhibits a similar big-boots stompy confidence. Psychophile’s essential ingredients - that mash-up of electronics and guitar-noise - are, of course, fairly familiar these days. But Psychophile aren’t just another goth/EBM hybrid outfit, hoping to touch all bases with the divergent scene crowd of today. Their music is, in fact, quite unique - and far more left-field than you might at first assume. There certainly aren’t any straightforward goth-club dance tracks here, although there’s plenty that would certainly fill more adventurous floors. Let’s dip in.

‘All In The Mind’ is all assertive samples and a treated, grinding guitar, as Lucy wrenches out a sardonic vocal. On both ‘Naked’ and ‘Cracked’ she unleashes her vertigo-inducing vocal swoops, her voice a dipping and climbing rollercoaster. ‘Naked’, in particular, is notable for the way the song churns and strains at the leash, but never quite takes off into the dancefloor number that you half-expect it will. That’s a trademark Psychophilke trick: leading the listener to expect something familiar is coming...and then doing something completely different.

‘Is This Real?’ zooms along like a skateboarder on Brighton sea front, great gusts of guitar powering the pell-mell racket. ‘Waves’, an old song rebooted, is a little gem of pop songwriting, now polished up in a way that makes the melody shine. The mysterious burst of military drumming that now crops up in the middle is a bit of a surprise, but Psychophile incorporate this odd effect so seamlessly that it sounds entirely natural. ‘The Otherside’ chops and changes, as if the band had spliced several versions of the song together, but, again, it works, and the whole thing just keeps on rattling forward. ‘Gentle’ is a complete departure, in that it’s an otherworldly croon, a ballad based around the sound of constantly falling rain, as outer-space electronics throb and pulse, while Lucy seems to sing almost to herself. It’s as if we’ve peeked into her diary and are stealing her innermost thoughts. In a way, this is perhaps the best thing here, although it’s miles away from what most people would think of as the familiar Psychophile sound.

‘Dreams In Vain’ is probably the number long-suffering club DJs will latch on to, for it’s a rare example of Psychophile playing things (relatively) straight, on a song with an insistent, regular, move-your-ass beat and a vocal that snarls and soars in equal measures. And, finally, ‘Pigs Pots And Pans’ wraps things up with a subtly shifting electro-pulse that slowly builds into an assertive guitar-grind, and then fades as if the spaceship is leaving planet Earth. At the very end, the escape velocity rockets fire...and it’s gone.

This album sees Psychophile confidently staking out a territory that’s all their own. I’m not sure if that will give them an easy path to scene-superstardom - in fact, I suspect it probably won’t, since they’re obviously not in the business of giving the listener a comfortingly familiar ride. But they’re cool and unique, and for that we should cherish them. What’s more, the CD inlay lists a menu of seven cocktails (including the rather potent-looking ‘Psychophile’), all of which include both vodka and milk, and which, apparently, it’s assumed the listener will knock back while listening to the album. Guitars, electronics, soaring vocals and mind-altering drinks. You really can’t say no, can you?

The tunestack:
All In The Mind
Is This Real?
The Otherside
Not Listening
Dreams In Vain
Pigs Pots And Pans
Darklight (Video)

The Players:
Lucy Pointycat: Vocals, prograqmming
Smogo: Guitar, bass, programming
Mat Hook: Additional guitar and programming
Jo Quail: Cello

The website:

Barking, Mewing, Hissing And Mocking (PSM)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

It's impossible for me to listen to Quidam without an incredulous grin spreading over my stupid face. Or even a stupid grin spreading over my incredulous face. Here's a band which seethes and fizzes with their own peculiar, manic creativity, like a dose of musical bicarbonate of soda. Quidam pay scant heed to the rules of conventional rock, and, notwithstanding their presence in the goth scene, certainly aren't about to follow any of the generic rules of goth, either. If you've ever yearned for a complete antidote to that staid, conventional, deep-voice-over-tick-tock-drum-machine gothic rock sound, or you harbour a secret desire for a band that exists on a total tangent to everything usual and conventional, get this stuff in yer ear 'oles.

Never was an album so accurately named, for, as the title hints, Quidam do indeed brew up a racket akin to a brace of mad scientists fighting in a sack of cats. Bass guitar thunks implacably, underpinning the songs and dominating the programmed drums like an aggressive big brother. Guitar elbows its way in at all angles. Keyboard sounds, sometimes plunking like mad piano, sometimes mellowed out in beatnik style, and sometimes spooked-up like an organ recital at Castle Dracula, loom behind the mix. And the vocals - ah, here we have Quidam's secret weapon. Two different voices, male and female, yelp and croon and shriek and, unexpectedly, sometimes even talk over and around each other. It's nothing so conventional as a lead vocal plus a backing vocal - it's more like the counterpointed vocal lines the Gang Of Four used to employ on their early songs. The interplay of the voices is both baffling and exhilarating, as they diverge and converge, often singing entirely different lyrics in the verses before, somehow, they collide and coincide on the chorus. I'm sitting here, Quidam's voices swooping round my head like aeroplanes buzzing King Kong, thinking, 'How do they do that?'  What's more, they do that in three languages - Spanish, English and German. That's Quidam all over: creatively crazed in three European tongues.

'Aníbal', the, uh, instrumental intro, sounds marvellously like Quidam's bath water going down the drain. 'Retratos Inmaculados' drops a drum beat that makes it sound like Public Image's 'Flowers Of Romance' is going to break out any minute, but then it all tumbles over itself and becomes a splendidly frantic splurge of noise. 'Mankind' wrong-foots the listener by starting off in a (relatively) conventional manner, but then, as if the crazy pills have just kicked in, it all goes gloriously haywire. 'Goblin's Market' sees the guitar getting assertive, then dropping out as the two voices chase each other around the verses.

'Long Ages Ago' is a wayward epic, which you can almost sing along to - I was going to say 'sing along to the chorus', but I don't think the song actually has a chorus. It simply has three verses of entirely different lengths and structures, a classic bit of Quidam-esque songwriting weirdness. 'Horrores' is an angular almost-rock song, punctuated by hoots and yelps, while 'This Road' features a rumbling bass and a Georgie Fame organ run under dilated-pupil vocals. There's a little neo-classical interlude mid-song, to lull the listener into a false sense of security, and then it all comes back in a rush. 'Brich Aus!' features one of Quidam's freaky Captain Beefheart guitar riffs and much shrieking and shouting, while 'Cypress Perfume' is an epic poem with some neat imagery - 'Just a little child/Amusing as a kitten'. And, finally, 'Accidente Feliz' wraps up the Quidam experience like an the accidental meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella in a recording studio.

'Barking, Mewing, Hissing And Mocking' is a thing of bizarre beauty in my book, but I can see this album leaving many people bemused, confused, or even simply dismissive. Quidam are so far outside anything resembling the mainstream goth sound that I wonder quite what they're doing in the goth zone in the first place. They're much like to Cinema Strange, in a way: they have that same art-rock conceptual approach which is as inexplicable (or, at least, Quidam themselves aren't about to explain anything) as it is fascinating.

Barking? They most certainly are. And I wouldn't have them any other way.

The tunestack:
Retratos Inmacluados
Goblin's Market
Long Ages Ago
This Road
Brich Aus!
Cypress Perfume
Accidente Feliz

The players:
Paco Bolí: Guitar, bass, programming
Whitby: Vocals
Bela: Keyboards

The website:

The Further We Fall
~review by Mick Mercer

And so to people, once we get past forest noise and pretty synth strings. The difference with a band like Redemption, compared to electro-Goths, is that here we hear humans. Humans using some machines, rather than humans surrounded by machines, or at the mercy of them. Just as bands like Quidam, RBK and Miguel & The Living Dead throw a spanner into Goth’s conventional prosaic world with unruly and/or playful antics, so someone like Redemption are a prime example of Trad Goth getting gilt-edged convincingly, showing how songs of lofty moodswings benefit from a sense of power behind the synth, how the dried out husk of a vocal conveys so much more, even when barely distinct, than mimsy twittering. That said, here we have a band with a severe identity problem. ‘The Further We Fall’ came out in 2003, with much evident cap-doffing in the direction of The Sisters, although the damp orchestral mannerisms also suggest Lacrimosa. Until they chop down these tangible signposts their own direction isn’t entirely free and inspirational. Given the talent they have, the sooner they start drawing their own maps the better.

‘Judgement Day’ is a misleadingly leisurely opener, with mordant vocals, flash storms of drum input, for emphasis, and idly scrolling guitar, out of which spills a ever-strengthening chorus. It is a wonderful, compelling slab of music across which the vocals loll, bruised and on their knees – and you want to know something? It’s as good as anything off the Sisters’ finest moment, ‘Floodland’; in a very similar vein, but without being a copy, and that amply demonstrates their potential.

After such a mesmerising, stirring opening the truth is that the other five songs don’t come close. You might expect ‘No Revelation’ to fly, but it marks time; the light coming from the synth as the vocals keep low in the musical shadows. Guitar scissors in and the song begins to lurch along on splintering crutches as stereotypical 90’s Goth vocals bark defiantly about something, and in ‘Point Of No Return’ the deficiencies in the vocals can be heard. When it’s fizzing and upright the vocals aren’t cloaked and Miah’s a bit spindly here but I liked the thin, silvery guitar snaking around, which either comes from Miah or J Murphy (who plays the synth?), and the way Ashe’s bass is a tasteful shimmer. ‘Stealing Your Breath’ is a whiskery, whispery ballad which slips along neatly, hailing marys left and right, because the Sisters traces are present in all the last songs, the way the words envelop the melody is too similar, but the answer is right under their noses.

They’re making it work with their own melodic strengths, and the slower, less grave ‘A Trick Of The Light’ has more modern and lively synth work. Stacking up the feeling, the song gradually fills with its own energy, and the synth pulls the vocals out of the dust. It makes them vivid and mobile. It brings out their own character. ‘Oblivion’ then ends with questions still hanging over them, because they lightly slide away rather vaguely.

To an average Goth all that matters is how Gothy it is. Well, extremely. To people who just want music and don’t think beyond that, the question is simply How Good Are The Songs. Very. To someone like myself, being objective and using perspective based on experience, the real question is how they develop, because they could become truly sensational. 2003 is also a long time ago. About time we heard the next stage?

BENEATH THE LIES (Ethereal Sound Works)
~review by Mick Mercer

First let’s mention the sleeve. With the case and CD tray being clear plastic they’ve ensured the photo on the last page of the booklet, and the inside back plate photo join, to form a panoramic view. That may be common, but I have never seen it before, and it’s a wonderful idea, even if the picture chosen isn’t that interesting. It also reveals the sense to try new things, although you’ll frown sternly as the initial vocal impact makes you think of an Eldritch stylist. This soon passes, so there is no need to fear vomiting.

With ‘One Day’ they roll out bright, vivid guitar which is somehow modest, and relaxed. At no stage during the album do they get ‘heavy’ and that’s an important point. Maybe by living in heat they have an economy of effort where everything is required, nothing excessive or fussy. The guitar merges with a pretty synth pattern, which ensures the vocals aren’t a morbid professor with his tongue caught in his desk drawer. A wonderfully deft rhythm section coax out the warmer side of the vocals to fantastic effect and this is dark rock, stranded in the light.

That stirred Goth thoughts, and ‘Falling’ eases off, being plainer fare, retaining sonorous vocals, but with understated, descriptive guitar and more emotion, before ‘Perfect Isolation’ has a fine double guitar/piano intro and works slowly towards a big, nagging chorus, which is something they do well. They don’t have catchy melodic chorus, they have somewhat wordy, pushy choruses, which rise up out the greyness and strut about. ‘Secrecy’ has great ideas, because the guitar and drums break up the flow, like a death metal band in slowmo, and the jumbled chorus pulls it all together and leads a breakout. ‘A Myth’ is brilliant, with tiny, rhythmical ideas flowering and bursting behind beautiful piano and guitar, as melancholia floods the air, with stunning guitar throughout.

It isn’t anywhere near perfect, mind, as no debut should be, so ‘Who’s Talking, Who’s Crying’ is hushed drama, for all its rousing guitar, and nowhere near as enchanting, but you’ll be into their sound by then, and it carries you along because the vocals orchestrate the movement, then they hit us with ‘Wonderful Life’ – yes, that one – which shows they’re perverse bastards. On into ‘Cold As Ice’ you’ll find breezy rock, skidding forward over Goth riffing and briefer vocal utterances. Building slowly, it should be fairly dull and predictable, but they do it so well, with subtle touches and seamless energy that in many ways it’s the punchiest of the lot. ‘Hollow Man’ has twinkly synth, ominously grave guitar and you fear the Metal side finally appearing, but the song just wriggles, full of rocky howling, but somehow imploring and then involving, surging along magnificently.

‘Arise & Fall’ is very slow, but often it’s the shadows which define them. Glowing guitar lights up the singing, and when it threatens to be fanciful bile, whoosh, a boosted chorus, which then send us hurtling into the springy morass of ‘Cry’, a very weird ballad, and an odd way to end it all, which leaves you just going, huh? And that is good, you see, because you simply have to get stuck into it all over again.

A confusing band in most ways Secrecy call themselves Death Grind, noticing that the borders between Goth and Metal are so easily blended nowadays, and it was only the other month I reviewed The Escape and remarked on how post-Mission Gothic Rock could still be a thrilling thing. That was talking about a stereotypical style we have all come to recognise. What Secrecy have managed to do, despite being deceptively plain (think of a de-boned Artica mixed with Theatre Of Hate) is to step to one side, in a fairly phlegmatic manner, and redefine things. And if that doesn’t inspire inquisitive Goth minds I don’t know what will.

The Sins
The Last One Kills
~reviewed by Matthew J.

The Last One Kills is the second full-length from Seattle quintet the Sins, which includes former members of Abney Park and Tri-State Killing Spree.  Blending classic gothic and punk elements with guitar-driven pop, folk, and even country influences, this album is all about putting the “rock” back into “death rock.”

Jyri Glynn’s electric violin is a signature part of the Sins sound, but don’t be misled: this isn’t some darkwave chamber music thing – this is straight-up down-home fiddlin’ on the country punk “Mirror,” a rock ‘n’ roll shriek of bowed strings on “The Herd,” and even a manic gypsy melody on “The Ballad of Mr. Thicket.”  On the mellower songs, like the moody Bunnymen-inspired pop of “Girl In Glass,” Glynn’s playing harmonizes hauntingly with the strummed guitars, while its dissonant creaking adds atmosphere to the ballsy guitar licks of “Day I Die.”

Lead guitarist Lee Tillman’s playing is also inseparable from the Sins sound, transforming this from an unremarkable goth album into a real rock masterpiece.  His playing is often heavy and gritty, drenched in evil wah-wah effects on “Moral Man” and speeding along energetically on the more punk-flavored “Eva,” but he’s also an able enough musician to play manic, braggadocio-filled solos on tracks like “Cold Air for Katie” without sounding like some self-indulgent glam rock has-been.

Lyrically, the unfortunately named front man NightMare Boy has a tendency to give into clichés.  While this adds a welcome sense of levity to the necrophiliac horror punk of “Love In Blood,” lines like “Our love was so tragic” nearly ruin the otherwise lovely “Into the Chaos,” which is nonetheless redeemed by its beautiful acoustic guitar strums, which propel the song along with the same sort of urgent sensitivity that made early Human Drama so great.  Still, even if Boy’s unadorned vocals are occasionally enough to make you wince, even at their worst they can’t manage to diminish the impact of the music.

Though it has a few imperfections, The Last One Kills is full of memorable songs that should appeal to a broad cross-section of fans.  Drawing on influences as diverse as the Cure and the Misfits without directly imitating any of them, the Sins have managed to put together a collection of songs worthy of pit-diving punks and tragic depressives alike.

Track List:
1. Devil Behind the Door
2. Cold Air for Katie
3. Day I Die
4. Into the Chaos
5. Nothing
6. Love In Blood
7. The Herd
8. Walk
9. Heaven
10. Girl In Glass
11. Eva
12. Moral Man
13. Ballad of Mr. Thicket
14. Mirror

Band Members:
NightMare Boy, vocals and guitar
Fish Jones, bass guitar
Kris “The Cannibal” Kilian, drums and percussion
Lee Tillman, lead guitar
Jyri Glynn, electric violin, bass, keyboards, and mandolin

Label: SINister Records,

~review by  Mick Mercer

Okay, what happened here?

In ‘The Beginning’ there was light, and shade, and it was a good time for listeners, pulling you this way and that with inventive touches galore. Now their focus narrows and creates a form of harrowed stomping, accompanied by bleak imagery. ‘Devil Behind The Door’ turns out to be something of a cute trickster, like a de-stressed Empire Hideous, leading you to suspect other rhythmic smooches are coming, when we plummet instead into the dour, sullen ‘Cold Air For Katie’ then stumble through Danzig territory, complete with grim solo, in ‘Day I Die’. The simple stark sentiments of ‘Into The Chaos’ are interesting, but that blighted feel simply continues within ‘Nothing’. ‘The Herd’ is presumably meant to be a thoughtful anti-war song but feels vague and stagnant, and the foreboding, boastful protagonist in ‘Walk’ is the plainest rock nonsense.

Things improve with the heartfelt ‘Heaven’ which brings through some humanity, ‘Girl In Glass’ has some visual lyrics and a bit of sparkiness, but the intentionally ugly ‘Eva’ with its gruesome story comes across as coarse and deadened. ‘Moral Man’ is nice enough with steely guitar trailing away in its serious, slow stewing sound, and ‘The Ballad Of Mr Thicket’ is odder and crazed, but seems forced, as another disturbing story is played out. The finale, ‘Mirror’, confirms that any Goth sensibilities have shrivelled.

Their own website champions their ‘cutting edge diversity’. Unless I have gone deaf that has become blunt, unrepentant rawk.

SINister Records:

Skeletal Family
Sakura (Gepek)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

First release from the reformed and revitalized Skeletal Family, and here's something which might surprise (and perhaps alarm) the diehard old-skoolers who recall the band from their earlier line-ups: this album is most definitely not an excuse for a bout of retro-goth nostalgia. In fact, if you kept the band name secret and told me this was the debut recording by an abrasive, punchy new outfit, eager and hungry to make their mark, I'd be highly inclined to believe you. Certainly, if you're expecting a xerox of the band's old sound, or some sort of exercise in pretending that it's 1984 all over again, then you may wish to pass quietly on to the next review. This is new...and it's also rather fine stuff.

Having said all that, the album does actually open with a brief nod to the band's past. The tune of the first track, 'Faithless Whore' makes reference to the old Batman TV theme, which was Skeletal Family's novelty cover number at gigs in the past. The band don't exactly cover the tune here (in fact, I suspect they've deliberately introduced enough musical differences to ensure that this version doesn't count as a cover) but the connection is clear enough for anyone who can spot it - that familiar riff doing its thing under what is, in other respects, a lively slice of new-wavey rock. And that's very much the overall style here: Skeletal Family have re-invented themselves as a bunch of new wave surfers with a spiky, spunky, punk-pop sound which, in these days of The Bravery and Franz Ferdinand, comes across as very fresh and contemporary.

It's not all a frantic rush, mind. The album features a few slowies along the way - in particular 'Waiting', which marries crashing power ballad chords to plaintive vocals, and 'Alive Again', which is all atmospheres and swooning. But the uptempo numbers are where the band really stakes out its ground, as on 'Lies', with its sixties-inspired garage-rock feel, all distortion and keening keyboards, and 'Hearts Beating', which almost has a touch of vintage Cure about it. 'Delirium' is the atmospheric weirdness piece, very early-Blondie in a way, while 'All My Best Friends' packs a real post-punky wallop, with its thunking, gutsy, bass, hard-hitting drums, and electronic helicopter noises rattling in the background. How, I ask you, can you fail to love a track which features electronic helicopter noises?

Skeletal Family also throw a brace of covers into the mêlée, and here I think the band drops a couple of clues to their musical territory, as if we hadn't guessed already. Iggy Pop's 'Nightclubbing' is given a raunchy but minimalist makeover, blues-metal guitar solos and all, and emerges sounding like the kind of striptease music you might hear down in some of Soho's more interesting late night establishments. I can imagine Jimmy Page propping up the bar as he listens to this one, nodding along appreciatively as the guitar grinds and churns. And then there's a gloriously bug-eyed rush at Devo's geek-classic, 'Gut Feeling', upon which the band stay very faithful to the original, but are obviously having fun.

What's more (and here's a definite plus point from my point of view), the production throughout has that splendidly raw feel of the band right there in the room with you. Anyone who wants to know how to record a live rock band on a limited budget - which, given that Skeletal Family are operating in a DIY fashion these days, I'd guess is very much how this album was made - should give this album a listen, because these songs really do insert themselves into your ears in no uncertain fashion. Nostalgic 80s heads may find themselves reluctant to file this album under G for goth, but that won't matter. The rest of us will simply file it under G for good.

The tunestack:
Faithless Whore
Hearts Beating
Only Sometimes
All My Best Friends
Alive Again
Lullaby Of Hate
Gut Feeling

The players:
Claire: Vocals
Stan Greenwood: Guitar
Trotwood: Bass
Karlheinz: Keyboards, saxophone
Martin Hendersion:Drums

The website:

Sleeping Children
Lullabies for Debauchery
~reviewed by Johnny Bubonic

Sleeping Children were tentatively formed in 2003 when founder and bassist Sap~phire’s previous band, Regard dissolved, and he fortuitously met singer-to-be Murmur at a party in Paris.  Soon after they recruited a guitarist and recorded their first demo entitled In Vivo Tests  which debuted along with the band at their first live performance later that same year.  The band disintegrated the day after that performance, and the songs contained on In Vivo Tests were released to the world at large via the seemingly stillborn band’s website.

Later that year, in October, the band reformed and devoted itself to the recording of new songs to be released as their second demo.  For some unknown reason, the demo was never, and according to the band’s website, will never be released.  The band played a couple of additional live shows eventually splitting up again over creative differences.  One week after their latest split the band reformed with Murmur, the original singer, once again on vocals and a new guitarist Lois John Slut.

Shortly after the band reformed they recorded the Automatic Mass Amnesia E.P. which contained early versions of songs later to appear again on Lullabies for Debauchery, and went on a short tour of Europe.

Soon after these shows the band signed with Germany’s Strobelight Records, and recorded their first official full-length record Lullabies for Debauchery.  A record that I definitely recommend if you like fun twists on clichéd styles of music from a group of musicians who, based on the quality and zeal of Lullabies for Debauchery, and, if they can keep their act together long enough, could become one of the most invigorating, and lauded names in the modern Deathrock/Goth Rock music scene to emerge in the past decade.

The sound of Lullabies for Debauchery I think can best  be described as hallucinatory synths supported by some  rather simple yet effective bass grooves and drum beats  spliced with occasionally sobering bursts of anguish and  aggression.  Lyrically, the songs are terse, simple, and to the point, which is a saving grace for Sleeping Children because too many contemporary Goth bands seem to feel obligated to resort to turgidity and trying to say so much more than is possible or necessary in the course of a 3 ½ minute song simply squeezes the life out of it, and makes it dull and clumsy.

Make no mistake, there is melodrama here, and even a little classic Gothic angst such as in the song “Dusty Shades of Red” where we hear: “I’ve been walking for some long years/In a gloomy tunnel without light, with no life/I made nightmares out of my dreams/I turn every single hope into a failure” But, the tone of the song is so well tempered by the no-nonsense up-tempo nature and groove of what’s going on musically, that the effect is one of involvement rather than alienation.

There is also a distinct atmosphere of surrealism that permeates the record.  A tendency that I suspect will earn them more than a few comparisons to their genre peers Cinema Strange.  Like the Cineasts, the atmosphere of Lullabies is one of dream-like unreality. “Let’s watch the mirror/Break to pieces again/Let’s watch the decay/Of our perfect days” from the song “Love Sucks” exemplifies the surrealist ethos that runs throughout Lullabies. Even during its more cynical moments one gets a sense of either drowning in opiate reverie or fleeing from a waking nightmare, and not necessarily being able to separate the two.  It’s all in good fun, though, and explained in a typically succinct manner as Murmur sings in the song “Poppies Screen the Light”-“Pleasures are blind/Poppies screen the light.”

This is a fine record that should not languish in obscurity.  There is plenty of material on this record that could easily find its way onto the dance floors of every Goth club in the world if people would simply familiarize themselves with these songs and demand that the display them.  Try it.  You’ll like it.

They aren’t perfect, and I don’t want to heap unadulterated praise on anyone.

I have to say the titular final track of Lullabies is really nothing more than an ethereal sleeping pill, and I feel that the record wasn’t given a proper or satisfying ending by its inclusion.  I don’t understand why they would name their album after such a disposable and pointless exercise in laziness as the one note wonder they did.  Nevertheless, this record does stand out amongst the rabble of such an appallingly misguided Gothic music scene these days.

The bats have returned to the Batcave, and it’s bands like Sleeping Children,  not the atrociously overrated, computer generated  crowd of glow-stick waving cyber-beeping travesties that are advertised as Goth, who are it’s true heirs.  Bands like Sleeping Children should be supported as such and not ignored.

Track Listing:
1. Mo Love for the Dead
2. Love Sucks
3. Murderer;s Dance
4. Dusty Shades of Red
5. Poppies Screen the Light
6. Life of Vice
7. Couve Bien Les Pres Du CoCoeur
8. Lili's Dead
9. Between Your Legs
10. Lullabies for Debauchery

Band Members:
Murmer - Vocals
Sap~phire - Bass, Keyboard, and Programming
Lois John Slut- Guitats

Sample Mp3s available for download at website.


Sleeping Children Yahoo Group:

Licensed by:
Strobelight Records


STROBELIGHT Records & Mailorder GesBR

Catch The Breeze (Sanctuary)
~reviewed by Stuart Moses

Timing is important. When Slowdive were around I was a teenager discovering indie music for the first time. I couldn’t afford to buy their eps, so I’m glad to have this anthology collecting all the songs I had poorly copied onto cassette. If you weren’t there at the time, would you still love Slowdive so much? They do seem to be a band that polarizes opinion. I get a narcotic rush as I listen to the heavily FX-laded guitars which are the focus of these mainly mid-paced songs. Sure Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead both sing, but never has the cliché about voices ‘being just another instrument’ been more true.

It’s undeniable that Slowdive followed in the wake of My Bloody Valentine. Thankfully Thames Valley’s finest always erred on the side of listenability, never going for that is-my-tape-despooling? sound so favoured by Kevin Shields et al. Dubbed by the music press as shoegazers, due to lack of stagecraft and a propensity to share at their feet, Slowdive caught the imagination of music journalists and students everywhere. One can only imagine how much student journalists liked them.

I’ve never gone for misty morning walks listening to Slowdive. I’ve always meant to. There’s something soothing about the crashing waste of ethereal guitar that threatens to sweep me away from mundane life. It isn’t too hard to go with the tide. Just because Slowdive create exquisite atmospheres, this doesn’t mean they neglect more traditional forms of song. The up-tempo “Alison” and “When The Sun Hits” – thrillingly covered by The Gathering – both deserve to be in the collection of any fan of early 90s guitar-based indie music. Slowdive save the best for last with the enigmatic “Rutti”, which at ten-minutes plus still strikes me as too short. It is reminiscent of Verve, back before the band were forced to acquire a ‘the’, and when they created songs that were trippy and epic rather than drippy and tragic.

There’s only one previously unreleased song - a Peel session of Syd Barrett’s “Golden Hair” but I suspect this album is aimed at people like me, who always liked the band but who can’t be bothered – or can’t afford - to track down the early eps. Signed to seminal independent label Creation at the time, if you’re into Slowdive you might also want to look out for re-released material from contempories such Swervedriver and The Boo Radleys. Truly it seems like the early 90s are with us again.

The tunestack:
Avalyn I
Catch the Breeze
Golden Hair
Golden Hair BBC Peel Session
Spanish Air
So Tired
Country Rain
Machine Gun
When the Sun Hits
40 Days
Souvlaki Space Station
Here She Comes
Melon Yellow
Blue Skied an' Clear
Crazy for You
J's Heaven
Vision of La

The players
Rachel Goswell – vocals, guitars
Neil Halstead – vocals, guitars
Christian Savill - guitar
Nick Chaplin – bass
Various (none of whom exploded) - drums

The website:

State of Being
~reviewed by Matthew J.

State of Being’s sound is less industrial than late ‘90s alternative rock with occasional keyboards – the closest stuff to actual “industrial” that ever got radio airplay, in other words.  Remember Filter or God Lives Underwater?  Yeah, neither do I, but people who were into that scene will probably be into this, too.

In keeping with the general theme of “almost mainstream enough not to be a genre band,” lead singer Christopher Foldi has some painful rock star tendencies.  “Overload” is a little too dramatic – you can just see him striking poses with the microphone stand like that guy from Creed – while “Shameless” is just generic alternative metal; even the nifty French spoken word bit during the bridge isn’t enough to save it.  Then there’s “Apathy,” a song about being apathetic sung apathetically.  Sorry, Mr. Foldi, but I’m afraid that whole grunge attitude is passé now.

That being said, the vocals aren’t entirely bad; the male/female harmonies on “Wondering” are actually quite nice, and “Beneath the Skin,” which could almost be a Machines of Loving Grace B-side, is catchy enough to sing along to.  Besides, the musicianship and arrangements are more than enough to compensate for the occasional vocal affectations.  “This Thing” works some nice guitar melodies over trip-hop rhythms, and “Losing It” shows a real flair for poppy hooks.  “I Could” simmers quietly with delicately broken chords, and “Take Me Away” mixes some techno-inspired electronics with a wonderfully tight bass line.

Andy Kubiszewski, who used to play drums for Stabbing Westward and Prick, produced this album, so it’s no wonder that it ended up with such a commercial feel, but though it doesn’t exactly work as an industrial music, it’s still a decent rock album.  Don’t think KMFDM or Ministry.  Think something more along the lines of Alice In Chains, but with keyboards and drum programming.  If the sound of that doesn’t automatically turn you off, you might like State of Being.

Track List:
1. Haywire
2. Overload
3. Levity
4. Whitespace
5. Shameless
6. Take Me Away
7. Wondering
8. I Could
9. Apathetic
10. This Thing
11. Beneath the Skin
12. Losing It
13. End of the World

Christopher Foldi, lead vocals, guitar, and programming
Shara Foldi, keyboards and vocals
Scott Foldi, guitars and vocals
Rayanne Turek, bass and vocals
Randy Blaire, drums and percussion

Contact Info:
E-mail address:
Snail mail address: PO Box 770413, Cleveland, OH 44107
MP3s and song samples:

Label: Reverse Image Records (self-released)

Grave New World
~reviewed by Matthew J.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an album as perfect as Grave New World, the debut from Chicago’s Soulscape.  Not only is it a powerful and inspiring collection of grand, old school gothic rock anthems, but even the elements that shouldn’t work – space aliens, heaping portions of mysticism, and Aleister Crowley, not to mention the pun in the title itself – end up sounding resoundingly cool instead of overwrought or affected, thanks in no small part to front man Mel Draper’s vocal work, which blends Wayne Hussey’s dramatics with Dave Vanian’s punk edginess.

This is no weepy gothic rock, either.  Although “You Are My Disease” uses a standard trope to deal with themes of codependency, Draper’s lyrics evoke triumph and perseverance instead of self-piteous wallowing.  Songs like “Dreamfree” and “Rise Again” depict a bleak world that will be intimately familiar to anyone who’s ever listened to Nine Inch Nails, but Draper urges defiance and transcendence instead of giving up and sinking “down in it.”

The mystical references also fly fast and thick.  Few people will get such Qabalistic references as “In Characith now she cannot face the sun” at first glance, and secret societies and extraterrestrial conspiracies get their due on “We Are Your Kings” and the Zechariah Sitchin-inspired “The Crossing,” which – unlike the overrated Cruxhadows – turns science fiction occultism into an honest-to-god, sing-along-with-the-chorus rock and roll song.  Not an easy feat, especially if the chorus in question has words like “Nibiru” in it, but Soulscape not only manage to do it with a straight face but make you want to pump your fist in time with the drumbeat.

Musically flawless, Grave New World is a kick in the head for everyone who thinks goth has to be depressing.  Your stereotypical moping teenager wouldn’t even be able to handle this; this is gothic rock for the new aeon’s Nietzchean Ubermensch.  It sounds like a grave new world, indeed, but if this is the soundtrack I say bring it on.

Track List:
1. First Blood
2. Dreamfree
3. You Are My Disease
4. Rise Again
5. Wyrd Sisters
6. The Crossing
7. We Are Your Kings
8. Under the Sun
9. Hearts are Hollow
10. Torment
11. Grave New World

Mel Draper, vocals and programming
Sam Ruppert, bass guitars and programming
Michael Verzani, guitars

Contact Info:
MP3 Samples:

Label: Chaocracy

~review by Mick Mercer

Or not about the money, we suspect, as this is a limited edition CD and, having made an impressive early start supporting Placebo at Brixton last year, the band seem to have gone strangely quiet, which is not unexpected.

Michael J Sheehy is a misguided songwriting genius of sorts. In person a scandalous individual with a ready wit and vivid imagination, the sombre tones of his records are such a direct contrast they also place into question the poor man’s sanity. From the Dream City Filmclub days, with two albums on Beggars, to a solo career on the same label which spawned three albums before being offloaded, his has been a wayward path. The quality of the records has been undeniable, and there are sufficient Gothy touches for him to be rightly lobbed into the same leaking coracle as Tindersticks and Cave, but these records instil only gloom and it’s hard to imagine when you’d play them. With Goth the bands create an atmosphere to match the lyrical concerns. Michael has plainer moods than his lyrics, so sedation seems implicit.

Teaming up with one of his brothers and some old mates for this band it’s time for more raucous fun (which DCFC often managed live, then left on the hook outside the studio doors), with a bluesy demeanour, and despite the name we are momentarily spared any catholic guilt trips too. The title track has a greasy, groaning blues riff and big, bellicose shouty vocal parts, and with the raw energy fuelling it, the agile anger doesn’t let up throughout. A blunt rhythm and straight-ahead guitar dominate the exasperated, bloodshot fury.

‘You Don’t Live Here Anymore’ is wigglier blues, pitching and tossing capably despite garbled vocals, and there’s a proper blues twirl, with traditional vocal styles grandly subverted. ‘My Share’ has more roaring vocals, where the guitars are more controlled and, higher in tone, it’s almost America Punk, lashing out happily and blankly. ‘Caravan Park’ is very punk, tumbling over the barking vocal and assuming a solid shape, where sparks fly from the guitars and you can’t help but be impressed.

They’d need to bring through a greater clarity of sound in future, or it could feel one-dimensional, but Sean Organ has clearly done them a favour releasing this, and it’s intentionally low budget stuff. Let’s hope it isn’t a one-off.

~review by Mick Mercer

I see a case of musical multi-tasking here, from a duo with fingers in so many electronic pies they’re bound to break the circuits at parties, and then again I don’t see much at all, because the picture is a cloudy one. On the one hand there’s the sleeve with its perverse humour, but on the other you have very little human connection through their lyrics, bar generalities, leaving us with a band not trying to wow with atmospherics, but throwing out feelings in a direct manner. (Electronica with a dancey bias isn’t my thing, so you’ll need to read between the lines.)

After the disquieting instrumental setting of ‘Fight With Us’, which gets a reprise that is gloomier still, they slip from the light trance intentions of ‘King Of Flies’ like a downbeat Shamen, to the crazed chatter of ‘Classified’ where they highlight the vacuous horror of a potential near-future society, as if these are musical snapshots: ideas rather than songs, with no lyrical resolution, or any great changes during the compositions.

What is odd is finding from the sleeve notes that the neatly handled cacophony that is ‘Passenger On The Menu’ is, apparently, an old GBH song, which I would never have guessed, regarding it more as a cross between Action Directe or Nitzer Ebb. Similarly, the attractive turn of events that sees ‘Sunrise’ grow warm is an old Implant song, whoever they are, but that charm is matched just as well by ‘The Sound Of You’ which borders on conventional mild indie-electronics, with little bass input. The only thing they don’t do convincingly is with a guitar, when a terse, grim one is wielded during ‘Horror Show;’ encouraging some vocal hysterics. It‘s as if they don’t understand the dynamics of the instrument.

They have a way with mood, and show a healthy lack of respect for expectations. The album ends with drab, indie droning in ‘Quality Of Life’, the penultimate ‘Soviet’ is glittering fog, and ‘Burning Romance’ is a sprawling mess, with some snappy ranting.

Dazzling, no, but definitely diverting.

Tears for the Dying
To the Birds
~review by Basim Usmani

You can download this album for free from Go grab “Time” and “Go Die” now!

In a world where everything that was once tasty is being perverted by Splenda, comming across something that is half genuine is aweinspiring.  I was attempting to wince away the nutrasweet on my molested tastebuds when I had begun openning the unassuming brown paper package that was marked TEARS FOR THE DYING. In such fake times, you can imagine my suprise when a carefully singed brownpaper tracklist and black lace covered cdsleeve fell out of the envelope. I shook the envelope feverishly, eager to see what other goodies were inside... gravesoil? A noose? Locks from a widowed whore?  A lone, dried up rose pedal mournfully dwindled out of it’s paper morgue and into my omnious cup of black coffee.

I’ve never bedded a virgin, but the care with which I unwrapped the lace from this CD revealed some sort of recessive tenderness which was suprisingly uncharacteristic for me. I heaved the cd into the cd player and gingerly touched the play button.

The first thing I noticed was this grinding, top-heavy bass tone, and it doesn’t let up in any of the remaining 14 tracks.

The rhythm section is locked down on the table and unmercilessly stretched until the heroin addicted guitars can spring off it’s taut tendons like a trampoline. You’ve got great breaks before the wail-a-long choruses and even forays into tribal drumming.

Dynamics like these can’t be faked by amatures. I’m so thankful to hear a disc that has distinct songs on it. Anyone remember “Master of Reality” by Black Sabbath? How about “London Calling” by the Clash?  There’s a reason why these records still get referenced today. It’s because they’ve got good songs on them!

Good songs have to have character. They need to be individual. We’ve got so much individuality on this album that the two covers sound uninteresting in comparison to the originals.

“Go Die” sounds like a grinding, midtempo, almost “The Dark - Masque” style heavy punk number. “Time” is a jagged, rhythmic descent into bass driven Minutemen territory but played at a brooding midtempo with chick vocals. Most bands that play fast, punky stuff wouldn’t be able to attempt an instrumental, much less write something as beautiful as “Porcelin”. It’s like the morgue’s been invaded by bouncing funk bass and the guitarist has set his phaser to Agnew to fight back.

I really love the bass playing on these funkier songs.  There’s so much melody, and the riffs are the kind that leave you humming for hours after the first time you hear them.

Malaria sings with a LOT of fire. The way she changes from snarling “HATE” to cooing “loove” on “Love” really gets the point across. Vocals like these are so unaffected by ego. Personality in singing is important, and I could pick Malaria’s out of a pool of hundreds instantly.

Before listening to this record, I was ready to throw in the towel with music. Technology has ruined so much. Musicians who are driven solely by vanity can record and manufacture a fancy looking album for under five hundred dollars. Some of the dumbest people I’ve encountered can set up an account at live journal and have their groundless opinions broadcasted to thousands.

And while the amount of dignity retards can command in cyberspace is nauseating, listening to this debut by Atlanta’s Tears for the Dying rekindled my faith for what real artists can do with technology. Go take advantage of it and download those songs already!

Tears for the Dying is...
... mostly just Malaria playing everything and drummers Chris Me Under and Adam Onstott. But for future recordings and live shows it looks to be:
Malaria - Vocals, guitar
Dara Bishop - Drums
Ethyl Hodges - Bass

Promo 2005 (TNM)
~review by Mick Mercer

The thing which will always hold your attention is when an artists’ delivery is unselfconscious, because then it is coming out naturally. In Goth terms that always means it doesn’t cling to a formula, and here you have these signs of brave confidence, and an attitude of like-it-or-lump-it as regards audience expectations. If people don’t get it, they don’t deserve to get it, that’s my motto. Not an actual motto, obviously, but the point is still accurate. Thatch Noir are class, so they don’t need to adopt their sound towards an existing Goth genre. Songwriting this good stands on its own merits.

Thatch Noir are Goth internally, and the way the songs come out are a different matter. For all the Eighties icons listed as influences, from Christian Death and Sex Gang, Virgin Prunes to Nina Hagen, the songs sound nothing like that! They are simply, fluid tunes, with steadfast vocal focus and a propensity for subtle, nagging melodies which are downplayed rather than flung out like caustic gifts.

I don’t know how overly-ambitious Sydney-based Andi is being, but plans start with Australian dates next month and the year is intended to include European dates (including the UK) as well as Japan. Still, ambition never hurt anyone, and even turning half your dreams into reality is better than none, and with these songs I would expect sufficient interest to grow around a reputation. ‘Cat In A Box’ unveils a mature sense of mood, where acoustic guitars articulate the space around gracious vocals, and intriguing lyrics. Out of this psychedelic-folk sound (closer than Goth) there emerges a very sweet, plaintive chorus, and it is this same self-assurance which turns ‘Wizbang!’ into a flow of thoughtful imagery and doomy undercurrents made catchy. Light synth, low guitar and total vocal mastery.

The guitar is measured electric during ‘Awake (And)’, accompanying straight, agitated vocals. (Still no attempt at flash, or melodrama.) The only low point is you can’t snag all the lyrics, as the drums tap along, the guitar circles, the vocals dart and dance. Then the sparse beauty of ‘Tone To Tone’ with warm, sliding guitar introduced humour. “Too damned paranoid to answer my own phone, it seems that my psychosis, it has grown.” This is crafty, sparky indie in many ways, but if you want the best comparison I can give, in this form Andi is like a younger, perkier Damien Youth, and if you don’t realise that’s a platinum compliment, you’ll have to take my word for it.

The perverse ending comes in the scrawny Rozz fumes of ‘Right In The Ass!’ Thin guitar lays prostrate, and Andi squeals, excitable. It’s very early Goth in sound and not a patch of the other songs. It sounds like a weirdly puny demo, but it’s fun and send you away chortling, but it’s obviously the first four songs that mark him out as a major player.

LAST LIGHT (Strange Fortune)
~review by Mick Mercer

An interesting chap, being both a musician and a painter, I would imagine Tor can be more contemplative than most, having already completed a series of CDs based upon the seasons, and introspection is bound to intrude or impede. You typically expect the independent solo artists of the dark variety to unfurl maudlin sonic tapestries and while Tor doesn’t disappoint on that count, these gentle entities are ambient snapshots stretched out and then used to wallpaper your room.

‘Rust’ is a gloomy instrumental and a very standard opener, but ‘The Pond’ has weary vocals circa early 70’s Pink Floyd draped over the soft piano grace. Mentions in the press release of Lycia are also apt, although ‘It’s Over Now’ would be a warmer variation. The vocals are gently ambling while the musical eddies shimmer sweetly, having that same frayed academic frame, but without any of their tension.

‘Silver Wash’ is an ambient sliver and ‘Last Light’ haze-become-solid, as the vocals provide conventional musical glue, even if the words are of no great consequence, being a vocal illustration of a musical notion. It’s a vague picture, a soft, sighing and artistic wash. ‘Storm’ is also simple to the point of banality. Very attractive and casual, almost too easy, this is a beat massaged into the background behind milky soft vocals, like a restful Sting without a bass handy. So, the notion of an indie artist bleeds capably into more orthodox areas, without any great need to boost the sound, thereby retaining dignity.

‘Soft Bipolarity’ wanders back and settles happily a little trench, there to paddle in its own musical piddle, as vocals drop to the puddle like diseased feathers. In tracks which clearly have no intentional vigour, the attractive music is just lurking at the edges of your senses, never doing anything as unseemly as pulling you in, quite content to merely be visiting. ‘Blue Room’ even finds our hero whistling at the end of another little dusk memory, but this time he seems to be moving away.

‘Sunday Evening’ takes the non-existent journey one stage further, as he moves from bed to door. It’s subliminal at times, and also so vague. Has he stepped out into the garden by the time ‘Cold’ or ‘Still’ arrives? The former seems to be almost palpitating, but that’s just a sense of rhythm manifesting itself, and confusion, because in the dark he is apparently watching the light. ‘Lost At Sea’ then just dwindles away. Maybe he got into a boat with a bad man?

Ending up as the most mysterious form of cajoling background music, this is a beautifully realised album, unusual in that it’s like a form of sleeping sickness. It moves with a deceptive lack of pace. Things are happening all about, but you’d swear it wasn’t moving at all. – check out the gallery

Uninvited Guest
Faith in Oblivion (Resurrection Records)
~reviewed by Stuart Moses

Most uninvited guests are a cause for concern. Have you set enough places at the table? Have you made the bed? Do your bra and knickers match? Thankfully, Yorkshire’s Uninvited Guest sound like the sort of band that wouldn’t mind a bit of slovenly house keeping.

This line-up of the band has been around since the spring of 2002 and this is the debut full-length release. Kicking off with the chant ‘I don’t understand you! I don’t understand you!’ singer Dean takes the petulant mantle of London After Midnight’s Sean Brennan and mixes it with the electronic pop fun of Manuskript. The wonderfully bitchy: ‘I’ll cross my heart and hope you die’ mixes religion and death in eight words. This is why I like goth music, it’s all the important stuff in a concise manner.

It’s an effective start, but nothing compared to the brilliance of the next track “Angel Boy”. This is the kind of song that reminds me why I started writing about music. It’s the best bits of a Poppy Z Brite novel condensed into five glorious minutes. It’s the story of the titular character:

Born in a part of the city
Where boys will be boys
And girls will be girls.
The lyrics set the scene:
To the crowd he hung around with
Angel was a star
Anyone who put him down
Wasn’t welcome at the bar…
Not only is the plot good, but the soundtrack is excellent too. The band have an excellent grasp of dynamics. The verse is slow and quiet, which makes the explosive chorus all the more effective.

We never hear the end of the story, instead our hero is frozen in time,

Creating his own sexuality
With one middle finger
Stuck up at the world…
Which is exactly how it should be. No-one likes to sees their heroes grow old. I originally misheard the lyric thinking it was one ‘metal’ finger, which made me smile.

I’m not normally a fan of songs lasting five minutes. Either you should be able to say everything in three and a half, or go for the full epic ten minutes. No song on this album outstays its welcome and all deserve repeat listens.

“When You’re Dead” is the second Uninvited Guest masterpiece. A theatrical diatribe against people who believe their reward is waiting for them in heaven. There’s a quiet intro of Nine Inch Nails-style electronic atmospherics before the almost heavy metal guitars kick through the church doors. It’s all too easy to imagine the video – an Adam and the Ants-style extravaganza as the band walk down the aisle mocking the faithful. Standing in the pulpit Dean declares:

Sycophantic priests
Tell their pompous lies
To the simple minded and the hapless…
While established religion is an easy target I can’t find fault with the songs central philosophy:
Better live while you’re alive
There’ll be no encore when you die…
There’s something wonderfully onomatopoeic about the chorus, you can almost hear the hammering of the nails on the coffin lid. Does anyone know if they really still do this? No matter, it’s still a wonderfully effective image.

What follows is a breather appropriately titled “Hollow” which works marvellously following the Sturm and Drang of the previous song. It gives the listener a chance to recover from the emotional onslaught. It’s so gentle it’s barely there for the first three minutes, but shows the band can do ethereal as well as full frontal assault.

As a parent I find “Holy Infanticide” an uncomfortable listen, but there’s much to enjoy for those souls less sensitive than I. Once again the target is established religion, hatred and hypocrisy. And again Uninvited Guest’s grasp on dynamics remains firmly in place.

There’s such quality song writing on this album that there is usually one moment per song where you catch your breath. In “Tool of Control” it happens around the four-minute mark when things get bass-heavy and Dean regales us with the intensity of Zack De La Rocha of Rage Against The Machine.

If there’s a criticism to be made by this point then it is the limited range of lyrical subject matter. Sure the songs tackle different aspects of religion, but they aren’t quite different enough. What Dean says is hardly revelatory. While I agree with what he says, I wonder if in rehearsals any of the band roll their eyes when Dean brings in another attack on ritual belief.

As if in response to my complaint we take a break from pulpit-bashing with “The Devil’s Toybox”, which brings me memories of The Horatii (whatever happened to them?) Humour and music rarely make good bedfellows, but here the humour is black and mixed with horror, which gives it a more durable edge. There’s a groan at the end of the line, “We’re freaks and miserable Goths…” which always makes me smile. Or groan anyway.

Dean asks: “Do you really know for certain just what dwells beneath your bed?”

Of course for some finding Uninvited Guest lurking beneath your bed might lead to pleasure, rather than terror. Tim Pope should be hired immediately to direct the video to this song. He can always be relied upon to bring the right mixture of horrific and humorous to the screen.

“Requiem” is Uninvited Guest’s “November Rain” moment, the video should feature at least one wedding and one person needlessly diving over a table and knocking over a cake just because there is a bit of precipitation. It’s an epic torch song to which only Dean – or possibly Marc Almond – could do justice. It’s full of melodrama and is hugely entertaining.

At the time of writing Uninvited Guest have only played a handful of dates. I can’t wait to witness them live. If they sound this full of life on CD I have high hopes for the live experience. No-one else blends the electronic and symphonic like Uninvited Guest. This lot deserve to be huge stars. They can come round for tea at my house any time they like… and can consider that an open invitation.

The tunestack:
 Cross My Heart
Angel Boy
Beautiful Orchid
When You're Dead
Holy Infanticide
Tool of Control
The Devil's Toybox
Bows and Angels

The players:
Dean Hathaway - Vocals
Robert Baker - Bass
Shaun Cope - Guitar
Lucas Swann  -Keyboards

The website:

Faith In Oblivion (Uninvited Music)
~review by Mick Mercer

Without wishing to appear too pompous, I have always believed that to true Goths an artistic element, rather than any aesthetic rush, has to be present, and it is that which has always ensured an unnaturally high proportion of good bands in the UK scene, whereas in indie circles you’ll always find 90% are also-rans, at every level. In Goth we had that late 80’s/early 90’ phase when Sisters and Neffs copyists brought the scene to its puny knees, but ever since the scene may have been obscenely small, but the average quality of the bands has remained remarkably high. Look at Screaming Banshee Aircrew, Razor Blade Kisses and Undying Legacy as prime examples of bands emerging with absurdly good music, and now welcome Uninvited Guest to the fold.

They call themselves Gothic Rock and that R word is more appropriate than with the other bands just mentioned, as ‘Cross My Heart’ has a brilliantly lunging opening, with a mean riff and sparse, sharp vocal offerings, creating a choppy impact. With the lyrics keeping you hooked they confirm their sense of presence with ‘Angel Boy’, story of a cross-gender gadfly, although the lyrics had me squirming, and it’s very rocky in places. ‘Beautiful Orchid’ is better, with intricacies dusting the turbulence and lean guitar. Thoughtful, and precise, with a huge soppy chorus, it also has some stunningly clear vocals at the end, that can’t but fail to impress and alert you to a special talent. You’ll be singing along to this on the second listen it’s so classy.

‘When You’re Dead’ also rams home their anti-religion slant and someone must have gone to a Catholic school! I liked the blood and bread imagery being ‘vampirism for the righteous’, but otherwise it’s traditional angst, saved with a frantic, clamouring ‘Dead, dead, dead!’ ending. ‘Hollow’ is the perfect contrast being so slow with exquisite keyboards. ‘Holy Infanticide’ with its squealy riffs and developing lyrical framework is very clever and a similarity finally struck me – complimentary at that - Sunshot, with male vocals.

‘Tool Of Control’ is maudlin, religious venting, with a great percussive slipstream to distract us from the sub-thrash guitar posture and a bloated dance direction, but then ‘The Devil’s Toybox’ lands like a defective UFO on your table. Playful, albeit in an obvious fashion, this is a great song, especially the giggling girl offering, ‘I’m…..wearing….mummy’s….skin” and the vocals keep you entertained.

“In the Devil’s Toybox where we hide
Yeah, we’ve all been to Hell, but then we came back again,
Undead, unsanctified
We’re freaks and miserable Goths
And we live inside a toybox.”

Then it’s the ‘Requiem’ ballad and a rather average rock experience in ‘Bows and Angels’ and you will be hugely impressed. But!

There are problems associated with this album that run fairly deep. Firstly it doesn’t feel authentically relaxed in its style, as though they have moved away from a rock setting and crafted some of it to facilitate a Goth ‘take’ on things, although the orchestrated approach probably does much to take them to one side of what we might logically expect, and more power to them for doing it. The metallic version of thrash riffing is well to the fore, but this is kept clinically clipped and energising. The lyrical infatuation with Religion As A Worrying Thing fast becomes tedious, and the lack of lyrical denouement in ‘Angel’ is truly feeble. We learn Angel’s left unhappy surroundings, finding reassuring infamy as talk of the scene in city comforts and then, without needing an actual ending, we certainly need the next step, the point of this story, but we simply don’t get one. That is just poor writing.

Those are very noticeable points, but they don’t in any way detract from a fantastic record and where their difference kicks in is with Dean Hathaway’s vocals. I would imagine he has a theatre background, because this man has the best voice in UK Goth, by a mile. There is simply no-one to touch him. Full and clear, without ever being particularly rich in tone, he conveys all the songs in an authoritative manner, and during ‘Requiem’ not only are the lyrics delightfully descriptive, but the delivery is tender and involving. In fact, it’s pure musical territory, strangely close in feel to Michael Ball’s rendition of ‘Empty Chairs At Empty Tables’ in Les Miserables, it’s that good. The Russian li-li-li bit is unnecessary, as if the song had ended at 4.00 precisely it would have been a true classic, because the way his voice comes over is simply remarkable.

So, this is a wonderful full debut (a mini-album preceded it, with earlier versions of some tracks), and some of the touches border on quite awesome. As they sink more slowly into natural Goth surrounds they’re going to be coming up with amazing things, you can count n that,

Don’t just get excited. Wet yourself, with confidence.

~review by Mick Mercer

Pity the poor Goths who never saw UK Decay, or experienced the kind of days which may never come again, where, with a fully functioning music media, Goth started and grew effectively in the UK because small amounts of coverage were enough to get a hard working band sufficient exposure to spread their name throughout the country. If their records were any good they could be playing to thousands within months. Word-of-mouth was like a plague back then. Bands who ventured abroad spread their reputation further, and assumed a larger form onstage, as confidence inflated their imagination. While nobody was bigger than Adam & The Ants in the underground channels, UK Decay were one of the biggest bands behind them. If they had mainly concentrated on the UK they would eventually have got onto a bigger label, as they were quite capable of headlining the largest venues.

That’s the nostalgia over with, as we start a New Year, knowing full well the possibilities/limitations our bands face these days, but I started that way because someone raised an interesting point with me recently, asking who was the most important band – Bauhaus or UK Decay? The answer was the latter, in every way imaginable. Bauhaus were simply an excellent band who had the music but needed to wait to discover an image, then went their own way. UK Decay had the sound, didn’t give a toss about image, and had the Punk ethos, so they helped bands along the way, understanding the communal aspect. (Prime beneficiary of their support, for instance, was Sex Gang Children, but many benefited.) UK decay were cool, as well as responsible.

You know, there never was a more tumultuous band as UK Decay in full flight either. This CD finds them at a time when Eddie Branch’s bass and Steve Harle’s drums together would blow away any Goth band on the planet today, and with Spon’s guitar guile, their style was like an angry fountain. Songs which grew and developed in ugly, violent environments (they hardly ever had time to rehearse!), these are also celebratory items, which the crowd love. ‘Unwind’ twists handily into the exuberantly scummy ‘Werewolf’, and ‘Dresden’ is on fire (oops!), while ‘Barbarian’ and ‘Barbarians’ are dollops of ratty noise, the latter made skittishly acceptable by Harle’s flashing finesse. ‘Sexual’ still shivers in a masterful way, with a grizzly bass/drum rope ladder across which Abbo plunges and bucks, as guitar arrows fly in all directions, and ‘Stagestruck’ is a slinky bass-boosted bastard, with a hearty, howling punch.

‘Rising From The Dread’ is a lolloping spree of rusty sparks, ‘Twist In The Tale’ cavorts with wordy jousting and ‘Unexpected Guest’ has one of the greatest bass openings ever, out of which the rest crawl into a punishing roaring, semi-commercial style, where the macabre intensity festers beautifully. ‘Testament’ is as mesmerising now as it was then, with gaseous guitar drifting over rhythmic barbed wire, on which Abbo is caught, roaring happily. Then they flip backwards and give us the early ‘Black Cat’, charming by comparison, before they pound to a finish in Hammersmith with the brittle ‘UK Decay’, a Pistolian ‘For My Country’ and another ‘Unwind.’ The bonus tracks included then come from St. Albans, four months earlier. These are more faded in quality but include a blunt ‘Duel’, frantic ‘Jerusalem’, jerking ‘Mayday Malady’ and a rumbling ‘Stagestruck.’

UK Decay split up far too soon, when Abbo went off to form the thunderously dull Furyo, and with no CD reissues, due to difficulties between the band and Southern Studios agreeing on what to do, their reputation has dwindled disappointingly. Many people just don’t appreciate the essential part they played in Goth’s birth, or how fantastic they sound. Now Spon has at least got everyone to agree this can come out maybe things will change and their roles as Dark Midwives will be recognised, as well as the quality of their songs. I have no idea as to what difference the re-mastering’ element makes, but the Klub Foot material is superb, while still not as exciting as they could be! Other releases should soon follow, including their sole ‘For Madmen Only’ album.

The single most important band in the initial Goth phase, these are your spiritual forefathers and, for once, respect is due.

(This limited edition version is only available to registered members of this site. Go into the forums for details. No set date has reached my ears for a normal release. I’ll let you know when I hear.)

Godspeed For Good
(ROMANTIC VISION/ Worldwide Panic/ Ultranoir split 7”)
~review by Mick Mercer

‘Godspeed For Good’ seems fragile, but is pretty too, as the synth dawdles along between fractured vocals. Languor, that’s the prime feeling coming off it, and it throws me way, way back in time to toe the home of Postcard Records, which so many indie bands rarely do – the world of Josef K and early Orange Juice or Crispy Ambulance. Where frail voices and firm, resiliently slow tunes merged together to create a winsome whole.

‘Worldwide Panic’, from a 90’s synthpop band Romantic Visions, has more changes, with little bass squirreled away, delicately joyous twinges of percussive patter and the occasional guitar jangle, lilting and sweet.

A curious record to release, on vinyl, but in this day and age it’s a gracious experience. - ordering details


~review by Mick Mercer

Blimey! If they’re not careful they’ll have a hit on their hands.

‘Everything Else Less’ is definitely rustling with more urgency than before, and there are sounds trapped inside it that are aching to expand, as well as a bass line which fills the emptiness and throws a healthy spotlight on the thinner scrapey sounds. As I hope you know by now it’s indie with a lightly distorted sense of being, and distracted vocals, but here the rhythm goes and up and down and some highly unusual guitar and synth patterns move like inept kleptomaniacs, stealing out attention. It’s a truly wonderful song, with a sweet, harmonious counter-melody which is chased by some of the more seething bass.

‘Blowing Feathers’ is even more attractive, with some fine downplayed guitar decoration and moody vocals. It seems quite quiet and respectable, but it’s shimmering with anxious energy. They’ve acquired a real knack for making angelic, soft surrounds, and instead of pushing angst into the surface it’s more distanced human emoting. Observational exasperation, if anything. ‘Dismember Me’ will have some young moles running around going, ‘Oooh, Cure-like!’ and yes, the vocals aren’t very good at times. I think that will come with experience, because the voice would be better if fully presented rather than lurking in the songs. However, it has a solid, despotic rhythm, over which little sugary guitar rolls, and if you need encouragement to investigate, it is actually as good as early bittersweet Cure.

I did ask whether there’d be an album soon so I could do can interview, but there isn’t. They’re happy having fun with how they’re developing and who can blame them? If it ain’t broke, don’t fidget.

The Unquiet Void
Poisoned Dreams
~reviewed by Nar’eth

The press copy for this sweeping, cinematically etheric album describes Poisoned Dreams as “the soundtrack that H. P. Lovecraft would’ve written.” While I doubt anyone alive can demonstrate the veracity of a claim like that, I will say that the disc is an expertly fashioned soundtrack to some of the stories that Lovecraft wrote, primarily those involving Great Cthulhu and the Deep Ones. This is the third CD from The Unquiet Void’s Jason Wallach, his second Middle Pillar release, and is presented as the first in a promised trilogy of Lovecraft-inspired projects. And if the two to come are as impressive as is Poisoned Dreams, then I will be looking forward to their completion.

Like his inspiration, Wallach understands that the creation of disquiet stems as much from what isn’t said as what is. Here, the absence of sound is at least as important as the things we do plainly hear.  Suggestion is key to invoking Lovecraft’s moldering harbor towns and Elder Gods. With this disc, Wallach has employed dark ambient to fashion vast, yet understated, submarine and subterranean soundscapes built from synth and sound effects, and he has done so, largely, through the skillful use of suggestion. It’s what we think we hear that sends shivers up our spines, more than what’s actually been recorded.  There are moments, as with “The Esoteric Order,” where the album uses more overt references to HPL’s mythos, as Bryin Dall (A Murder of Angels) chants refrains from the accursed Necronomicon. In an album that trusted the imagination less, this could easily have wrecked everything. Instead, it comes as an unexpected moment when the whispers and echoes, the footfalls, discord, rain, and sonar bleeps part the slightest bit, and we are permitted a glimpse of the source material that reinforces the mounting disquiet effect of the disc, rather than allowing it to collapse into camp and spooky silliness. As with all good works of dark fiction, there is great beauty here, as well (“We Shall Dive Down Through the Black Abysses,” for example), and even a jangling, suspenseful march of sorts (“Return to Innsmouth,” with its steel-drum and sea crash harmony).

Poisoned Dreams is a very admirable effort at expanding the horrific visions of the Old Gentleman into another medium, another dimension, and is a fine companion for a stormy night and an antique Arkham House volume of Lovecraft!

Track listing:
1. A Troubled, Dream-Infested Slumber
2. Cyclopean Monolith
3. Necronomicon
4. Return to Innsmouth
5. The Esoteric Order
6. The Shadow Over Innsmouth
7. We Shall Dive Down Through Black Abysses
8. R’lyeh Rerisen (has mp3 samples)

Voodoo Church
Unholy Burial (Strobelight)
~review by Uncle Nemesis

Back in 1982 or thereabouts, the original incarnation of Voodoo Church were a bunch of LA scene graveyard-punkers playing the proto-goth club circuit around their home city. The band was strictly a local phenomenon, and only survived long enough to record one four-song EP. Voodoo Church might have remained a small footnote in goth history, the name only recalled by a handful of 80s-scene deathrock aficionados, but for the fact that now, more than 20 years on, the band are back. Or, at least, the name has been resurrected. Aside from Tina Winter on vocals, the rest of the band are newbies who were never part of the old line-up. So, what we have here is not so much the reformation of the band as a relaunch of the brand.

Given the current popularity of all things deathrocky, it doesn't take a genius to work out why the relaunch has taken place at this moment, rather than at any other point in the last two decades. The present surge of interest in music from the post-punk era means that there's a whole new audience for any band which can claim a bit of old-skool history, and in many cases, it's a bigger audience than the bands ever enjoyed first time round. That's certainly the case with Voodoo Church. But is this new version of the band the result of a genuine outpouring of creativity, or just a means of hitting some belated paydirt? Let's press play and find out.

Unholy Burial comprises 12 songs with an overall theme of death, graveyards, darkness, corpses, blood, assorted evil spirits, and (inevitably) zombies. The lyrical subject matter, in short, is the usual grab-bag of spooky-escapism that characterises a great deal of today's deathrock. Much of the material is written in an overwrought, melodramatic manner that makes me wonder if Tina Winter created her lyrics simply by digging out all the blood-soaked gothic poetry she used to write as a schoolgirl. 'My lost soul twirling longing to see, touching death as lightly as darkness sits with me' she gravely intones on 'Who's Fault' - a title which, due to that incorrect apostrophe, makes the song look hilariously like it concerns Doctor Who. Maybe Tina bunked off English grammar lessons in order to write her gothic poetry. [It should, of course, be 'Whose Fault'.] Elsewhere, she abandons flowery cod-Victoriana in favour of venom. 'Shut your mouth you stupid bitch I've had enough of all your shit' she snarls on 'Ragged Souls'. I dare say this is supposed to sound raw and visceral: to me, it sounds more like Tina is documenting a hair-pulling incident in the school playground.

It's disappointing, in a way, that for all their supposed 'legendary' status, Voodoo Church pretty much recycle the standard cliches of the deathrock genre that have been done to, erm, death by so many other bands. In terms of songwriting, there's very little here that raises Voodoo Church above the crowd. The band could redeem itself if the music was a coruscating blast of left-field rock, but here, again, I'm a little let down. There is no reference in the music to the band's origins in the post-punk era - instead, Voodoo Church play mid-tempo metal that chugs and churns away without ever breaking loose or letting go. The riffs go chugga-chugga-chugga, like a diesel engine ticking over, but nobody ever seems willing to open the throttle. It's bar-band stuff, frankly. The band sounds like a buncha good ol' boys gettin' together to play a little o' that there rawk geee-tar. Even the cover of The Cure's 'The Figurehead' - which, for all the band's downbeat rumbling, still sounds recognisably like a Cure song - features that regular diesel engine riff. Throughout, Tina Winter enunciates the lyrics in a curiously precise manner - she sounds more like she's delivering a lecture than fronting a rock band. Often her vocal is submerged beneath layers of effects which, I suspect, are used to give a little variety to a voice that doesn't have a particularly extensive range.

To be fair, it's not all dire. 'New Death' is the most musically interesting song here, in that it has a neat little bubblegum lilt to the tune, and a nice bit of doubled-up snare on the offbeat. I'd like to hear this one covered by a band which can do more than the mid-tempo metal-riffin'  thing, and sung by a vocalist who can bring some range and expression to the proceedings. It might even work as a Kurt Weill-style operatic lament, although I fear such a musical adventure would be far outside the capabilities (or even imagination) of Voodoo Church. But this, for me, is the one gleam of light on an album which is otherwise an extended holiday in dullsville.

I'm sure the relaunched Voodoo Church brand will generate a suitable return for its investors - the deathrock audience is large and, frankly, not particularly discerning when it comes to bands which appear to hit all the right spooky-schlocky buttons. But divorce Voodoo Church from deathrock, and consider the band purely on its own merits, and what you've got is just a bunch of metal-chuggers, no more, no less.

The tunestack:
Who's Fault
New Death
Ragged Souls
Drums & Voodoo
Zombie A Go-Go
Eternal Waltz
This Life This Death
May I
The Figurehead

The players:
Tina Winter: Vocals
Brian Elizondo: Guitar
Tony Havoc: Drums
Randall Cole: Bass

The website:

~reviewed by Matthew J.

I can see why people are down on some of the industrial scene’s most recent offerings.  I mean yeah, Ronan Harris is singing better these days, but that doesn’t mean the new VNV Nation isn’t more disco-pop than EBM, and Project Pitchfork don’t seem to know where the hell they’re going these days.  And don’t even get me started on the new Skinny Puppy.  But bad-mouthing :Wumpscut:?  Sorry, but that’s taking things too far.  Just because Rudy Ratzinger’s slowed things down and branched out from the EBM-with-faux-harpsichord of “Soylent Gruen” doesn’t mean the man’s lost his talent.  Besides, since Evoke’s got a little bit of everything that his various subsets of fans have come to love about :Wumpscut:, even if it won’t please anyone all of the time, it’s damn sure going to please everyone at least some of the time.

You want hard EBM to stomp your boots to?  Just put on “Rush,” crank up the bass, and stomp your little black heart out.  Better yet, put on “Churist Churist.”  It not only fills the quota for aggressive beats quite nicely, it’s also so catchy that even though Rudy made up his own new language for the lyrics, you’ll still find yourself singing “Wiran etejo, churist churist!” in the shower for days or weeks.  Slower, more atmospheric stuff more your speed?  Listen to “Perdition” or title track “Evoke,” and you’ll be tramping gloomily along with Blondi, the slavering demon from the album cover (and:Wumpscut:’s new mascot).

Rudy also offers a nice selection of instrumental tracks this time around, ranging from the mellow darkwave of “Tomb” to the heavier “Krolok.”  There’s even something for those miserable people who just can’t get enough of speculating and arguing about whether or not their favorite music mavens might be Nazi sympathizers.  Never mind that Rudy’s stated in no uncertain terms that :Wumpscut: is “no racist or fascist project,” people love to talk, and the samples on “Breathe” will have the tongues wagging.

It’s the big diversions from the :Wumpscut: style, though, that tend to garner the most attention, positive or negative.  Remember how different “Wreath of Barbs” and “Christfuck” sounded when they first came out?  Now they’re guaranteed floor-fillers at any gothic or industrial club.  Time will tell if Ratzinger can convert people to the softer side of his new album, typified by the songs starring new vocal collaborator Jane M.  “Don’t Go” is a bona fide break-up song, while the medieval textures of “Maiden” could almost be mistaken for something by QNTAL, at least until Rudy’s trademark vocal growl kicks in.  Meanwhile, “Hold” features a lovely piano melody and lyrics like “Hold your darling in your arms.”  Hardly the kind of thing you’d expect from a man who put out a concept album about fetal suicide.  It is in part a song about life’s impermanence, so at least it’s sort of about death, but still.

It doesn’t take a soothsayer to predict people bitching about this album.  “I don’t know what happened,” they’ll say, “but :Wumpscut: sucks now.”  Ignore these people.  They’ve been saying the same thing since the second full-length, but they’ll still be packing the floors to dance to it, same as they have for the last four or five albums, and :Wumpscut: really is one of those rare cases of a musician who’s popular and talented all at the same time.  Besides, who else could manage to piss off his fans so many times in a row and still put out an album stuffed with club hits every year?  Complain all you want, but it doesn’t seem like Rudy’s going anywhere.  On the contrary, he just seems to be getting more and more interesting.

Track List:
1. Maiden
2. Churist Churist
3. Don’t Go
4. Evoke
5. Tomb
6. Hold
7. Krolok
8. Breathe
9. Rush
10. Perdition
11. Obsessio
*  Churist Churist (Recently Deceased Remix)
*  Maiden (Nersoton vs. :W: Remix)

Rudy R., arrangements, production, rendering, and lyrics
Jane M., vocals on “Hold,” “Maiden,” and “Don’t Go”
Clara S., vocals and lyrics on “Obsessio,” vocals on “Churist Churist (Recently Deceased Remix)

Contact Info:
MP3s and song samples:

Label: Metropolis Records

~review by Mick Mercer

Punk & Roll has to be nimble and seared by snide character, which ZATS have in great quantities, and this title song lets vocals that are marinated in drollery ride the scummy beat beautifully, with confidence, leading from the front, oblivious to all but the story. It manages to be trim, with a smart shift midway on the lyrics to draw us in, and all the time it’s both bubbling with fast-paced ideas and disgracefully catchy. The only thing letting it down is the scuffed guitar sound could have been sharper and should have been chomping alongside greater drum oopmh to really punch the chorus out. Still, a fabulously snotty song.

‘I Love Rock ‘ n’ Roll’ is shorter, and not as good but very sweet, whereupon they turn abruptly into the wonderfully messy ‘Punk Rock Vampires: Destroy’ which is ludicrously under-produced and could have been huge. Instead it’s a wilfully precocious grot-fest that teems with maggoty life, hideous guitar noise, chirpier vocals and a double-barrelled brief, shattered chorus, rushing headlong into a brick wall of a finish.

It’s on vinyl!!!! Remember that? It also has the original genuine Punk spirit too, which simply can’t be faked, so if this band aren’t careful; they’re going to go far.

~review by Mick Mercer

I don‘t usually go for people with club imagery of electro activity, but there’s a depth to the music here which is interesting. They admit to terms like electro-goth and cyber-metal being relevant, yet the guitar is always downplayed and sleeker than grumpy rock ingredients, the vocals often move slowly, and synth isn’t bright and brash. After the opening sliver you hit ‘Decay’ and the heavy beat seems curiously relaxed. They have the necessary fluidity but in not being strict they don’t restrict themselves, and if anything it’s electropop with an actual awareness of 80’s pioneers of the sound. As the same approach is used throughout ‘Outside’ the little bursts of synth sparkle have a serious tone behind them, and the vocals are clever, creating a sense of personality within, which isn’t exactly a prerequisite of this scene.

‘Dark Lullaby’ is slow again but with plenty of life munching its way through the melody, and the layered vocal creates an energy of their own, then they go for more funereal bleakness opening ‘Kill Your Idols’ which wanders in a guitar-nudged direction, but there’s the next shock. The guitarist knows how to do more than just slot The Riff neatly intro place. It undulates surreptitiously, and works in cunning unison with the vocals to create a seriously strong sound, and a great song. ‘Tombstone Tourist’ is a little too metallic, but it’s their arrangement which should sustain a hunger in, and appetite of, the fans. They also pour life into the simple rhythmic sense of purpose, and the way Teresa snaps out “among the dead” is brilliantly emphatic.

‘Pins & Needles’ rolls happily around in its own droll mire as weird synth sounds pop and burst, while they pull the lid of accessibility down over their heads, becoming even more closed and secretive than previous songs, which is another good sign. It isn’t obvious, and it highlights their abilities all the more. ‘Bride Of Frankenstein’ is harem-scarem you’d expect more from The Brides, seething over wiggling vocals which are reading myopically from the Debby Harry songbook and this is kitsch fun. ‘Madam Obligator’ then has a funny opening sampler, so we’re not going to get grim, but the lyrics certainly allow something dark to pervade the wide, flaying sound as the sound becomes thicker as it twists around the vocals. ‘Pearls Of Wisdom’ creeps along, assisted by bass from Sara Tonin (geddit?) and this is almost a different band, jaunty and jaundiced simultaneously, with sweet ticklish piano and superb singing, then they remember their past and splat and squiggle through ‘Beasts Under My Bed’ and once again we have faux organ pop with neat guitar taking flight as they head off into a strangely commercial sun without any factor 10.

A great record, which rewards you further on successive plays, they’re far more than the surface suggests, so don’t be put off by any generic imagery when you visit their site. They have insight.

Nostalgia Del Buio
~reviewed by Jason Pitzl-Waters

It is rare for those on the cutting edge to send postcards, so when you receive one, the wise thing to do is to pay attention. This double-disc release compiled by The Vanishing’s Jesse Eva and Manuel Cochon, the head of Cochon Records, gives you a picture of a new kind of dark underground music fomenting in places like San Francisco, Portland, and Berlin.

Sporting an impressive forty-three artists (at a budget price to boot) this compilation will have you up all night tracking down artists you never heard of until you pressed ‘play’ on the first CD. The styles range all over the place, but a good majority highlights bands making waves with clued-in deathrockers and savvy club-goers on the West coast.  Some of these bands should quickly become household names for any self-respecting goth, so when you’re name-dropping The Vanishing, Sixteens, Black Ice, The Phantom Limbs, and Glass Candy at your next gathering, you will know who to thank.

The fact that most of the tracks seem ready for the dance-floor suggest to me an alternate world where the works of Public Image Limited, Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, and the early Industrial innovators formed the lasting inspiration for dance-floor fodder at goth clubs, instead of the dominant trance-focused work from the EBM subculture. If you squint your eyes and look hard enough while listening, you can almost see it.

On a compilation this large, it would be almost impossible to do a track-by-track rundown of the songs. But I was most impressed by the new, silkily menacing, track by Black Ice, “Stripped Body,” the manic insanity of Veronica Lipgloss and The Evil Eyes belting out “Unicorn Song,” and the darkly-tinged, lo-fi synth-pop of Sixteen’s “Community People.” These are just a few of the tracks that have haunted my brain since first hearing them.

This is a great introduction to an underground musical culture thriving just outside our notice. If you love to explore uncharted territory, this compilation is a must-have. Don’t miss out, because who knows when we will get another such postcard from the dark musical fringe again?

Disc 1:
1 Anti Quark -Lopoff Effect
2 Black Ice -Stripped Body
3 Dada Swing -Ru-Diculous
4 Sixteens -Community People
5 Hanin Elias With Khan -Honey
6 Gravy Train -Kottonmouth BJ
7 New Collapse -Reconstruct
8 Krmtx -Curtains
9 Love Sharks -Bipolar Nation
10 Mahjongg -Jam Dek
11 Nervous Patterns -Robot's On The Loose
12 Swarm Of Angels -Narcoleptic's Romance
13 Autonervous -Lovesick
14 Paradise Island -A Bloody Mess Sprayed The Soil
15 Secret Skin -Taped Up And Boxed In
16 Dame Darcy -Psycho
17 Husbands -I Idolize You
18 Lost Sounds -There's Nothing
19 Metal -Disco Trinket
20 Zonetech -Paranoia In The Disco Theque
21 Phantom Limbs -Murder Us Crack Pipes
22 NTX + Electric -Downtown

Disc 2:
23 Abunda Bida -Mean Old Devil
24 Kill Me Tomorrow -I Require Chocolate
25 Spector Protector -Steps Define Lines
26 Spooky Dance Bands -Bungalo Ranch Style
27 Pro Con -Methwhore
28 Veronica Lipgloss And The Evil Ey -Unicorn Song
29 Dirty Ass -Dirty Ugly Germie Jerck Off
30 Dynasty -Animals
31 Nora Keyes -Small Apart
32 Rollerball -Bontempi
33 Veuve Clicquot -Red Panax
34 Vanishing -Idle Eyes
35 Von Iva -Same Sad Song
36 Best Pals -I'm In Love With The Night Life
37 Ice Machine -Sea Stick
38 Obsolete -Fall Out
39 Samsa Asylum -Ravens In Autumn
40 Garland Ray Project -So Bright
41 Six Foot Sloth -Hi-Ho The Wind
42 Larry Yes -Si Evol
43 Glass Candy -Lady From The Black Lagoon

Nostalgia Del Buio:

Cochon Records:

STROBELIGHTS VOL 2 (Strobelight Records)
~review by Mick Mercer

It isn’t unusual to find compilations having a certain theme, as they are often a labour of love by certain individuals for a very specific reason, but in the case of this high quality archive collection, we don’t have any actual explanation for why it has been done, or any reason why one track was chosen over another. It simply leaves you with a very good selection of tracks that most Goths under the age of 25 will be largely unfamiliar with. I’m assuming that may be the actual point.

If it was one bag placed among many, some astute passer-by might pick it up, look inside at the contents and shout, wildly, ‘this is a mixed bag!’ at which point an unseemly crowd might gather. This would be understandable, because it flaps about from Post-Punk and early Deathrock through to Goth and experimental. So the rough pustular drama of ‘Death Disco’ by Exedra isn’t a PIL cover, but sees basic programming pushed to the limit, then Mephisto Waltz’s ‘Hunter’s Trail’ is the most colourful Goth sounds being threshed. ’Staring’ sees Corpus Deliciti being grandly poised, Passion Play are relaxed and mannered during ‘Running On Empty’ and Chrome are a curio. Their ‘In A Dream’ has phased, smeary vocals, set against footling syndrums and squidgy guitar.

Sunshine Blind’s ‘Regodless’ is efficiently rising, melodic Goth angst, Children On Stun is nicely cantankerous, darting Goth Rawk, and then nursery-age drum machine and earnest synth of ‘Fliehende Sturme’ bemuses me. ‘Die Axt’ seemed like a down at heel DAF to me, just as Rikk Agnew’ ‘Falling Out’ generally strikes me as perky poppy punk with almost ludicrously fast vocal spats. Madre Del Vizio’as ‘Stanza’ is lovely, with its criss-cross Goth guitar and thrash-in-waiting drum punctuation, creating classy atmospherics. By contrast Superheroines’ ‘Apathy’ is an immediately passionate, endearingly clumsy song, top-heavy through rockist guitar tendencies.

‘Creeping Death’ by Calling Dead Red Roses is interesting, full-bodied Goth with moody vocals, Vendemmian’s ‘This Bleeding Heart’ catches them at their mobile best; mid-paced but with decorative guitar and convincing vocals, although it is Play Dead who score the best vocal display during the sparse sounding, bass-swayed ‘Sin Of Sins’. Best song maybe goes to Stimmen Der Stille who’d I’d never really heard before, that I recall, and ‘Sahara’ seems to reveal them as a post-Punk version of Xmal, with a gentler feel. Pin Turns Blue seem an odd choice, like a bland ‘Cassandra Complex, so ‘Missing You’ did nothing for me, and Modern Eon’s ‘Euthenics’ had lots of bass, twangy guitar and some sax, none of which seemed terribly cohesive. It was left to Sex Gang to nail the thing down, with ‘Barbarossa’ flaunting a constant drum battery, guitar hovering just below the helium-fuelled Andi and his crystalline delivery.

All in all, highly recommended for anyone of above-average inquisition.