3SKS (Tri-State Killing Spree)
~reviewed by Blu
(photos courtesy of the band's website)
“Out on the ocean, round and round, she breathes across the brooding sea, traveling over and over, her hands came over me, For everything I had loved, Those everythings she kept above, As she pulled me into her smiling ocean tide…” – from “Mendocino Girl”

The first time I really listened to this CD was a few days after having seen an amazing live performance by 3SKS in Portland, Oregon at the Pre-Convergence concert (see http://www.starvox.net/cr/tonic.htm). At the time – I was spending a day with my dad (and Spinmistress Batty – consequently), on a boat – tooling around Seattle's waterways. The sun was bright but the wind was cool and it was a peaceful, relaxing day after the hustle and bustle that was Convergence. The music on this CD rolled out the speakers on the boat – smooth and perfect. I fell in love with their music then and haven't let that CD out of my sight since.

The beauty of this band is the almost perfect assemblage of melody and counter melody. Sean's vocals are smooth and full and reminiscent of a more somber Robert Smith. Jyri adds a special texture with his electric violin that rounds out the guitar, keys and bass. Everything from the artwork on the CD sleeve to the production on this CD is seamless. The “tone” of this CD is dark without being overbearingly sad or traumatic.  The words are delicious gothic tones and images of desires, pain, fears, hope and dreams. This CD almost embodies a sense of “relief” – that feeling you get once you've suffered through the worst night in your life and the sun starts to come up just to remind you that another day lies ahead with chances to make things different.  It is a soundtrack to time – as words go up on the screen from your latest adventure – it'll define that moment for you from now until eternity.

There's not one track on this CD that I don't love -- but I'll spare you the long winded version and touch on my favorites briefly. “Chance” opens the CD – the guitar melody giving you that “beginning of an adventure” feeling while Sean sings of disappointment, concealment and missed opportunities – “Dazzling the broken dreaming of things that never last to find the dreary remains of yesterday.” Usually I'm not a fan of covers – and certainly not covers that take too much leeway with the original. However, 3SKS’s cover of “Time After Time” is one of the most beautiful things I've heard. They never even fall into that too familiar chorus – which would seem to put them at a disadvantage, but in this case, it magically works. The torment and pain of those lyrics takes on such a deeper meaning the way Sean and company present them. Its haunting.

“My Socrates” and “Empty” are darker, brooding songs. The guitar work on these is splendid – insistent and urgent. Although the amazing violin work by Jyri Glynn is superb on all these tracks, my favorite has to be on "My Socrates"-- the runs in the chorus line is infectious and beautiful. Another stand out track is “Saints Possession” with its lumbering guitar and bass line that meander like a dream world – “Chase me into the sky so we bleed rain down like angels.”

“Sometimes Silver” is one of their songs that has a huge emotional effect on me. Its sadly sweet lyrics roll over a danceable beat and all I can do is close my eyes and swoon to it.  “Stronghands and Makebelieve” is the more up beat song on this CD and probably the most accessible to a wide range of listeners . “Toy Matinee” is one of the fan's favorites as witnessed when they played live in Portland. With its child-like chimes opening and Jyri’s lovely violin lines, this song is fantastical and reminiscent of childhood memories. “Antarctica” closes the CD with ice-blue keyboard lines and that sea-going rolling feeling they're so good at producing – going where the wind blows sure to be full of heartbreak, love, darkness and light – and plenty of magic.

I cannot recommend this CD enough for its professional presentation, production and musical quality and beautifully haunting songs. Its one of my personal favorites and I think if you listen to it, you'll agree.

Time After Time
Mendocino Girl
If Not For Heaven
Saints Possession
Sometimes Silver
Stronghands and Makebelieve
Toy Matinee
Somewhere As Me

3SKS on this recording was:
Sean Sonnet - Vocals, Bass, Keys
Matt Bayne - Guitar, Bass
Jyri Glynn - Violins, Baritone Violin
Thomas Atwell - Guitars

Tri-state killing Spree - http://www.3sks.com/

The Third Storm of Cythraul
~reviewed by Kirin

First off, for those of you already familiar with Absu, this is *not*
the new Absu album, (In The Eyes Of Ioldanach,) but then again, I suppose if you're familiar with Absu, you know that already! Third Storm is a 1997 release, which I am including here for the sole purpose of giving American black metal bands a little exposure.  Whilst the Norwegians virtually re-animated black metal out of its previous state of repose from the "Venom days," their monster has now crossed the ocean and has been busy, spawning seed.  The new monsters, of course, contain traces of the old, but also are distinctly American which is why, in some circles, American black metal bands will always be hated, because the mere IDEA of America is part of what black metal so furiously stands against.  This said, I think some Europeans don't realise that there are plenty of Americans who live in America, and are profoundly unhappy with our government, and with most of the people who live in this country. Who better than Americans to plunder and destroy the beast of America? Bands like Havohej, Judas Iscariot, Thornspawn, Myrmidon, Blood Stained Dusk, Khisanth, Noctuary, The Chasm, Profanatica, Demoncy, Grand Belial's Key, Black Funeral, December Wolves, Usurper, Centuries of Deception, Blood Storm, Krieg, Lycanthropy, Forest of Impaled, Yamatu, and many others, are proof that the beautiful, evil spirit of black metal will survive in America, even as the bigger American record labels sign and become active partners in the selling out of band after band from Norway, Finland, and so on.  I'll take a Havohej album ANY day than have to sit through anything Emperor is doing right now.  Absu are a grand example of what can be achieved when Americans, (who've been mostly influenced up until the mid-90s by Swedish death metal,) take on black metal.  This particular Absu album is enjoyable because the vocals are quite trollish, but also veer occasionally into an almost Mercyful Fate type styling.  The guitar work is incredible;  psychotic, chaotic, and wondrous.  The guitars are a veritable wall of sound and cacophony; the drums offset the guitars as they blister along, and the forays into "Celtic-inspired" folkish drumming mix well with the violent black metal styling.  If you're a fan of Waylander or Primordial, you should definitely enjoy Absu.  This album is one that American black metal fans can purchase without shame.  We are not solely responsible for the death of Emperor and Dimmu Borgir.  Century Media does not represent the whole
of American black metal nor its fans.  We don't all want to ride around in limousines and be big rock stars.  Some of us do care passionately about the corporate American cancer that is eating the world, and some of us do care passionately for lawlessness and chaos and virility because disorder must overcome the deathlike rules and regulations that threaten to strangle the human spirit.  Absu are a glowing ember in the fires that burn  furiously and in despair beneath the BritneySync gloss of this joke we call freedom.

Track Listing:
Preclusion to Cythraul
And Shineth Unto The Cold Cometh
Highland Tyrant Attack
A Magician's Lapis Lazuli
Swords And Leather
The Winter Zephyr (...Within Kingdoms Of Mist)
Morbid Scream
Customs Of Tasseomancy (Quoth The Sky, Nevermore) ACT I
Intelligence Towards The Crown
...Of Celtic Fire, We Are Born
Terminus (...in the eyes of Ioldanach)

Absu are:
Shaftiel: Electric lead guitar, electric bass guitar, acoustic
guitar, and voice.
Equitant Ifernain: Electric lead guitar, electric bass guitar,
and lyrical obscurity.
Sir Proscriptor McGovern: Trap kit, dumbeck, gong,
ice bells, octotron, voices, and lyrical magick.

The Cythraul Klan of ABSU
PO Box 743307
Dallas, TX  75374-3307
(USA residents, send two stamps, elsewhere
send 3 IRCs.)

Osmose Productions

Related:  http://www.geocities.com/Xytraguptorh/usbm.html

Bogus Blimp
Cords and Wires
~review by Sonia

Bogus Blimp describe themselves as The Spectacular Rock Orchestra and their music in Cords and Wires as ...“13 channels of seductive stereo sound.” This is their second international release. Their first being Men-Mic. They are men are out of Norway with a very artistic vision. It is entertaining in it’s oddness. Some of it make you shake you’re head and chuckle.

Their music is very, very  surreal  and equally surreal are the lyrics. Here is a small example of the lyrics;

256 shades of grey.
Flight to the future,
to the world of plastics.

Song Reviews:
1. "Hello World" - A short song with what sounds like a military march with bad reception.

2. "Brothers of Space" - If there was gothic Lounge music this would be it. I love the all out strangeness of the vocals in this one. From what sounds preachers and demons, to a frightened man, very kooky.

3. "No Cords. No Wires" - Spoken vocals with keyboard. It sounds like something you would hear on the game 7th Guest.

4. "Marching to Rome" - Short track of cartoon/video game type sounds.

5. "By Five O’clock Tea" - Gravely vocals, dark metal/rock. Probably the most danceable song on the cd. Really catchy. I especially liked this one.

6. "King Inst. King" - A lot of cool white noise which is very reminiscent of NIN. Kicks in a really good beat and then stops to continue with various sounds. Which is too bad, because the beat is done well. Samples are rampant in their repetitiveness. Trippy lyrics and vocals again. The voices at the end sound kind of like Loony Tunes on musical acid. Pretty interesting.

7. "The End of the World" - Starts off sounding like a clock chiming and walking around, very much illustrating the title of the song. Again vocals are slow and desperate. Sounds like the vocalist is dying with all the hate, despair and realization about  “end of the world” everytime he repeats it.Use of lite gong and symbol with a bit of ambient guitar which is eerie.

8. "Under the Sea" - Dominating keyboard is a bit repetitive. Slow vocals again, this time there is a resemblance to a melody in them. Very mellow beat and lyrics. “So drowsy” does what it implies. So long as to begin to irritate at 5min. 23 sec.

9. "Oxygen XX" - Instrumental keyboard. Calming but very short. Nice interlude in it’s briefness.

10. "Sugar and Fear" - Piano and keyboard, once again lazy vocals. Very mellow. Melody seems looped in it’s short sighted cadence. I imagine it as a being derived from a strange children’s song.

11. "Making Room For God" - Begins like a old science fiction film teleport sound. That kind of low hum that gradually gets louder then dissipates and dies off. If you don’t have your radio turned up loud enough it may seem that the song ends after this. Listen close enough and you will hear an insistent beeping. Like the sound a car door makes when it is open. The volume gets a bit louder with the introduction of various sounds like radio static. (Which seems to be a favorite effect) And even louder still. Eventually distant vocals and a beat cut in. It seems to play forever and you may find yourself realizing the song is still on after a minute or two.

12. "Fight To the Future" - Lovely piano accompanied by keyboard. Very dreamy.  Vocals seem to match this song better than the others. Symbol and guitar seem to intrude as the song gets away from it’s intro. gradually. Instrumental noise,   mainly in symbol, distorts the song till it’s end. White noise drowns out everything except what seems like some faint sampling.

13. "Things to Come" - Starts out with a ghostly feel in a lonely call and distant piano. I consider this one the best on the cd. I can really imagine a ballerina in a deep red and black tutu, with fishnet stockings dancing about gracefully like in a slow dream, and when she turns around, her face is a skull...

I can appreciate the originality in this cd. The sheer individualistic vision that was sure to have been a major part of the cd, is almost overwhelming in it’s oddity. Give it a listen. You’ve probably heard little like it before.

Check out their website at http://www.bogusblimp.org. they have some great band pictures!
Or order one or both cd’s through Apartment Records;
or call
+47 22 11 57 95
fax: +47 22 87 00 68
(Remember kiddies, they are in Norway.)

The Broken Men
Various promos
~reviewed by Blu
(photos courtesy of the Broken Men website)

The Broken Men are David Love and Ed Ellerbe.  Lyrics to their songs read like something out of a gothic novel…

"What are you thinking?"
says the shadow at my side,
"Nothing too extraordinary.
If that's what you had in mind?"
"Are you thinking of the girl
or the youth that dies away?"
I pulled my face from my hands,
and just stared at his fateful shape. - from "Time Kills the Boy"
This music…these words, are the magic that's been missing from the gothic genre for so long ago. The Broken Men embody the romance, the misery and the mystery that attracted me to this music in the first place. I cannot listen to these songs without tears welling up in my eyes. They conjure up feelings and memories that had been tucked away and forgotten. It makes me remember who I am.
"I'm sleeping away the heures, until something better comes.
I lie with all these lovers, until true loves comes along.
The funeral is perfect,
I just hope they all will come.
These are Dark and Misguided paths I'm on."  - from "Dark and Misguided Paths"
Add to these lovely lyrics - an incredibly sexy voice that sounds something like you always *wished* David Bowie would sound - if he'd only do a really dark album nowadays, and you might have some idea of the seductive sound this band produces. The music itself contains the best elements of all the greats - from The Cure, Bauhaus, Bowie, Depeche Mode - they're all in here buried in the immeasurable things that inspire David Love to create. The utterly amazing thing is the number of songs this talented duo have produced (available on mp3) in such a short time and the fact that they're so unknown. I'll say it here and now - a needle in the haystack has been found. This is truly one of the best bands I've heard in years - professional, underground/indie - whatever the case.

David has been sending me songs as he made them, even when he was in the Florida band Winter Kills - and now I have quite a collection: 12 songs on a cassette and 12 on a CD. I've been promising him a review for a long time now - and in all honesty, I've procrastinated because it's hard for me to accurately express my feelings on this music. Its hard to write about something that pushes your own buttons and  touches your feelings so vividly and forcefully that it drives you into a whirlwind of emotional confusion when you listen to it.

All of their songs are tremendous and rather than writing a novel about them all, I'll mention a few of my favorites. "Big Machine," with its darkwave 80's keyboard melody line and breakbeats floods my mind with memories of Bowie and the sexiness that oozed from songs like "Little China Girl."  If old school dancing is your obsession, you'll fall hook line and sinker for "3:16" with its seductive bass beat al la the Sisters (think "Vision Thing"). This song never fails to make me move. "In a Dark Place" has to be mentioned for its eerie beginning alone --  a high pitched wailing something along the lines of a native american flute is the back drop to a phone ringing and a conversation in French before breaking into the catchy melody line.

"Confession" is a solid darkwave dance hit -- a guaranteed floor filler with standard David Love lyrics that are pure goth in their tragedy: "I made love to the ghost of you. And held what I thought was your heart..."  Vocal manipulations stand out in "My Greatest Obsession" as we're teased with bits and pieces of French phrases giving this song an exotic and worldly atmosphere. "Spinning Dream" is one of the most accessible songs with its light-hearted Cure-styled melody line pushed by a nicely strummed guitar and I'd venture to say, it would even work quite well on top 40 radio.

I could not, of course, end this review without talking about  "Time Kills the Boy" whose lyrics I mentioned above blew me out of the water the first time I read them. I had fallen in love with the imagery of this song before I had even heard the lyrics set to music. Perfection. The music is bliss - a dancer's delight; and if you know the words, you'll cry as your feet move.

In short, the music from The Broken Men is everything I've always wanted in this genre of music. Its danceable. Its contagious. They lyrics are nothing short of well-written, heart-breaking prose and even though they contain  the best elements of all your favorite bands of the past; they are unique and new and something quite extraordinary. Check them out yourself by downloading some songs from mp3. Their DAM CD is highly recommended.

Official Site of The Broken Men

MP3 Site:

~reviewed by Kirin

Christ, the price of CDs is outrageous.  And they wonder why people are settling for a song or two culled from the likes of Napster.  I paid, yet again, close to $18 for this CD in the name of trying to support my local independent record store.  I actually thought about taking the CD back, because it's not the greatest Borknagar ever, but then I figure it's not bad driving music so I decided to keep it.  The thing is, it's not black metal, (which is nothing new, Oystein himself has always chosen to call Borknagar's music "epic," not "black.")  So my point is, if anyone tells you that this is how black metal should sound, you can just know to yourself that the person you're talking to doesn't have a
clue what they're talking about.

Honestly, I prefer the earlier Borknagar albums, and I was a little
disappointed by this one because Oystein had said to me after the last tour that when he went back into the studio, he intended to make the next album harder than ever.  I'm not sure what happened between then and now, but Borknagar seem to have fallen into a bit of a rut where they're becoming rather predictable.  At the same time, the predictable thing they create is not altogether unpleasant.  Meaning, they're not breaking any ground like they used to;  they've ceased to be overwhelmingly beautiful in their passion-- and yet, there is still a spark present in this music that makes me think Borknagar still have it in them to create something much more outstanding than what  Quintessence reflects.

One thing that gives me hope is that Simen, (aka ICS Vortex) has left Borknagar to concentrate on Dimmu Borgir.  Simen's disappearance, in my opinion, is Borknagar's gain.  Borknagar have weathered the loss of singers before, and maybe this is the chance they need to find someone who will dedicate himself to Borknagar, a band that certainly deserves someone's full attention.

As I said, even though I don't think this is the best Borknagar ever, I've decided to keep it because it does still contain that epic feel which was so elegantly expressed on albums such as The Olden Domain.  On the other hand, I find the 60s prog-rock guitar meandering around in the mix to be a bit irritating.  I don't like the "heavy metal" influence creeping into the Borknagar sound.  I love Iron Maiden, but I don't want to hear Maiden on a Borknagar album.  I'm so weary of Northern European "formerly-black-metal" bands falling one by one into an abyss of slick American production values and expectations.  Progression does not mean that one completely trashes the values and standards that one stood for, progression does not mean turning one's music to shite and waiting for someone to call it genius.  I have faith in Oystein Brun.  He's a talented man, and I know he lives to make this music.  I trust that his musical spirit will guide him in directions a little less Abba-esque in the future, and that he and the band can find themselves a singer who will bring back the demonic element I so loved in the epic sagas of Borknagar's past work.

My advice is that if you really love Borknagar, go ahead and put your money down.  Don't expect anything like their previous albums, but enjoy it for what it is;  a transitional phase, an album made in a time of change and a time of experimentation if you will.  Pray to the Olden Ones that when Borknagar tour again, they find that gut-level passion and inspiration that made their last live shows so fantastic.  Let us hope that in the future, Borknagar will return to their former glory, and we shall forgive them this tolerable bit of redundancy.

Track Listing:
-Rivalry of Phantoms
-The Presence is Ominous
-Ruins of the Future
-Inner Landscape
-Icon Dreams
-Genesis Torn

Borknagar, on this album, are:
"ICS Vortex": Vocals, bass guitar.
Oystein Brun: Guitar.
Jens Ryland: Guitar
Lars Nedlund: Synth
Asgeir Mickelson: Drums

Borknagar website:

Century Media:

Catharsist Promotional CD Vol. 1
~reviewed by Mike Ventarola

It is a rare occurrence to be in the company of musical genius, especially in light of today’s studio gadgetry which can make something from nothing at the touch of a button. I contend that Catharsist, a.k.a. Elijah Shepard, falls within the parameters of said genius and will rank among the greats in the halls of music before long. Shepard does not conform to any genre boundaries and by doing so, he releases the wild muse who constantly haunts his psyche to lay down the next refrain of a melody.  Despite the harmonious touches his songs convey, there is always a pensive, deeper level beneath the tune. True to the name he has chosen as an artist, he takes the listener on a purge like journey to remove the cobwebs of one’s mind. Catharsist doesn’t just play and sing a song, he becomes the song, pouring his entire being into each note in an effortless fashion. His vocal range and intensity is somewhat akin to Chris Isaak and like Isaak, can utilize understatement to hit the listener over the head with intense poetry and poignancy.

"Echoes of Repression" starts off the disc with mesmerizing notes suffused with gentle percussion. The vocals and guitar work seem to cascade across our nerve fibers to pull us into a reverie. Shepard croons "only another sees what covers your eyes/if we knew what we were looking for- we could move on."  This is a bittersweet song that depicts that thought process of a new born cynicism and disappointment which leads many to the doorway of mid-life disenchantment.

"We Never Say" is a tumbling mellow rock groove about the difficulty of expressing love and hiding in a facade of emotional avoidance and distancing. The vocals are tweaked to at first sound as if they are coming from a transistor radio and then come fully to the forefront with Shepard harmonizing with himself flawlessly.

"Sometimes Vain" remains the one song that I am fully addicted to and must have heard at least 300 times by now.  The guitar work and the percussive groove on this track are hypnotic that one would swear Lindsey Buckingham had his hand in the creation of this work.  The lyrics depict someone who is a vain and opportunistic person with a bit or irony in the fortune/misfortune scenario. " Self acclaimed you are- the glory ill gotten/ you could have built the things that mattered when you died/ greeting us with a smile, you stepped off the stage…/only to meet a truck coming the other way."

"Oblivious" pensively takes us into the realm of one who seems invisible to the rest of the world. Despite the observations and feelings of life around the character, there is a mournful questioning of how such a curse came to be. We are led into this exploration and self analysis through the multifaceted layers of music and lyrics.

"To Be Making Us Happy" blends trip hop, darkwave and electronic sounds in a song that questions if getting what you want really makes one happy. The simplicity of this song’s focus should not be underestimated. Catharsist seems to play notes and utilize vocal tones and refrains that jar the mind to pull out our memories and thoughts. It is as if there is an invisible cord connecting the artist to the listener’s mind. His dynamic vocal range is fully evident with this song as well.

"Take My Memories" comes to life with a suffused gentle cry of the guitar reminiscent of some of the greatest blues artists.  At one point in everyone’s life, we deal with losing a loved one who just walks out of our lives.  Shepard seems to channel the muse of Muddy Waters, Chris Isaak and Alison Moyet and serves up a frothing, painful tune that seeps into your bones to the point of breaking our own hearts as well.

"Somehow" demonstrates the reflection and puzzlement that one has when they are unconditionally loved. "Somehow I always seem to make you proud/somehow though I always let you down/ somehow I always seem to make you smile." If the sound of the mind could be recorded when it is contemplating such ironies, one would need not go further for a sample than the work of this artist.

"Shallow" opens up the chasm of the mind to make for a lonely bedfellow of total introspection. "now I know that which is in me is shallow/ only a reflection of my insecurities…no easy words to say/ I am used to paying the toll at the end of the road and living in hindsight."

Catharsist does not create background music that is the fodder of many artists in the independent circuit. His work delves into the emotional levels that are akin to the inner workings of everyone’s mind but few choose to reconcile. Shepard unleashes the ponderances and emotional demon’s that sometimes veer people down the chasm of isolation and offers up musical anecdotes to show us the way around it. His music is reflective of the multi-faceted aspects of his personality and he serves it out flawlessly. Catharsist is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve however, he does not succumb to self pity. Instead, his music seems to offer a means to segregate a particular complexity and render it harmless. Many artists are able to make music that can float one along on a nebulous cloud. Catharsist, like his contemporaries, does this as well, only on his cloud, your mind will be forced to think, work and react in subtle ways that other artists seem to fall short of. This is brilliantly done through the many echoes and layers of sound that seems to peel the emotional baggage like layers of an onion until we are left feeling purged and cleansed for the experience.

Track Listing:
1. Echoes of Repression
2. We Never Say
3. Sometimes Vain
4. Oblivious
5. To Be Making Us Happy
6. Take My Memories
7. Somehow
8. Shallow

Web page and sound samples:
Email: Catharsist@onebox.com

The Changelings
~review by Brian

The Changelings are an assemblage of 5 musical and artistic individuals playing music for the world to enjoy. Epicycles Incidental Music 1997-2000 is the Changelingss fifth album, and they will be recording material for there next release over next few months. Their music cannot be described adequately by my words -- the only way to fully experience them are through listening to their music yourself. (You can check them out at www.Mp3.com). In the following review I am telling a story on how their music makes me feel and what I see. The first four songs on Epicycles are comissioned by HGI for the computer game www.Noblearmada.com. The last two songs were recorded for NetherWorld Haunted House.

In the year 4996 our beloved warrior of the lost worlds of humanity forsakes his battle with the diabolic foe of the Noble Armada.  As the RED SHIFT hovers in position her steady beat persuades delusion; her timing dwells on ther route for those who have succeeded.

The ECLIPSE transforms the descendents of the ancient technology, as the war masks our neighbors with ethereal beckings of subtle and diverse melodic sonances; crippling them.

The Changelings proceed through the mystical TANNHAUSER GATE recalling ancient lore and verse armed with experience and knowledge of time before.

DULCINEA appears with strength and fury to join the battle to fight the empire with her deadly drum, and  precious strings as the voice flows free, paralysis begins as they fade away the Noble Armada Begins.

The YOUNG MERLINS enter the NetherWorld in an enactment of emotionable outbursts through their extensions known as instruments. They tame the evil with the strike of a key as her voice lurks through the NetherWorld the spirits collide with JOY.

The percussion beats sombrely; as the vocals wail with its true strength for all to avail as she wakes with a DREAM IN A WITCH'S HOUSE the voice speaks loudly and does not repeat in a deifying defeat.

The Changelings are:
Paul Mercer..Violin, Viola
Regeana Morris..Voice, Hammered Dulcimer, Musical Saw
Nick Pagen..Keyboards
Chandler Rentz..Percussion
Damon Young..Guitars


King of the Dead
~reviewed by Kirin

There are some bands which, in retrospect, were a lot more important than they seemed at the time they were still making music.  Cirith Ungol is one such band.  Listening to this re-release of King of the Dead, one realises that perhaps in July of 1984, no one was quite ready for it. Happily, since Metal Blade have been so kind as to re-release this beast, it can now be enjoyed in the context of the year 2000, where the likes of Electric Wizard and Sleep have made this creeping doom part of the contemporary landscape, and what with the recent tour of the original Black Sabbath lineup, ears are more open to the psychotic psychedelic dark dirges that Cirith Ungol coughed up.

Furthermore, I think it's fascinating that Cirith Ungol took the
name of a Tolkien creation for their band, and then, lo, these many years later, Tolkien's darker nightmares have become an obsession for countless black metal bands.  (Another strange precursor to what happened in black metal years later, is that Cirith Ungol played Bach's "Tocatto in D minor" on this album-- and black metal is unquestionably the classical music of the Apocalypse!)  For those of you interested in such things, the name "Cirith Ungol" is the "pass of the spider" which Frodo had to traverse on his way to Mordor, and the spider in question is the disgusting, beautiful, Shelob.  The music on King of the Dead aptly articulates just the sort of  resplendent gloom and paranoia the name Cirith Ungol should conjure, and for anyone interested in picking up a Cirith Ungol album (Metal Blade have, I believe, re-released three of them,) this album, "King of the Dead" is the one I recommend most. It is the darkest, the gloomiest, and probably the most fully realised example of the band's vision.  The other Cirith Ungol album I'd recommend is "One Foot in Hell."  "Frost and Fire" is a decent album, but not as heavy and full of delightful despair.  Frost and Fire seems to fit more into the 80s power metal sound instead of the darker, more Sabbath-inspired atmospheres of "King of the Dead" and "One Foot in Hell".  I cannot, with a straight face, recommend the album "Paradise Lost," as it is more of a product of Restless Records than of the band itself.  If one must have every single thing Cirith Ungol ever did, then sure, Paradise Lost isn't the worst thing ever created in metal, but try to find it in a used bin!

The other thing I absolutely adore about Cirith Ungol are the album covers.  Michael Whelan's art is, <gasp> even more appealing to me than Frank Frazetta's.  Don't tell anyone-- it's so uncool not to worship Frazetta!  <<laughing>>  I highly encourage you to check the Cirith Ungol website to take a gander at the covers, and then go to Whelan's webpage for more of his magick.

All in all, I can fully and happily recommend Cirith Ungol's "King
of the Dead" to any metallion who loves to spend afternoons (mornings, evenings, middles of the nights...) completely off their nut, listening to Sabbath, Electric Wizard, St. Vitus, and so on.  You will be pleased, and you may find yourself staring at the CD cover for inordinate amounts of time.  Enjoy!

Track Listing:
-Atom Smasher
-Black Machine
-Master of the Pit
-King of the Dead
-Death of the Sun
-Finger of Scorn
-Tocatta in Dm
-Cirith Ungol
-Last Laugh (bonus track.)

Cirith Ungol, on this album, are:
Tim Baker: Vocals
Jerry Fogle: Guitars
Robert Garven: Drums
Michael "Flint" Vujea: Bass Guitars

Cirith Ungol web page:

Michael Whelan web page:

Metal Blade Records:

Viking music list:

Tolkien inspired music list: http://www.telia.lv/~witchcraft/jrrt/

Various Artists
Cleopatra Millennium Sampler
~reviewed by Blu

I usually enjoy samplers -- its an easy way for me to check out a current line of artists on a label and decide what CD's I'd like to purchase without taking a chance on CDs I might not be too sure of. As a DJ, samplers are a nice way to pad your collection cause there's usually an abundance of songs you can use in one night. Of course there's usually a few duds in the batch, but overall, you get your money's worth -- as is the case with Cleopatra 2000.

The first track is Switchblade Symphony's "Wicked." I don't  know what it is exactly, but Switchblade hasn't been "doing it for me" for quite some time. I've only found one or two songs I've liked off their latest material. This song is not one of them. Its predictable and sounds like every other song of theirs I've heard lately.

"The Devil Inside" is covered by The Electric Hellfire Club. Its not too bad if played in the right atmosphere (mindless club/dance atmosphere where recognizable songs will go over well) but I never liked the original song so I have a hard time digesting this more electric cover of it.

I do however, think that Kevin Haskins' remix of Missing Persons' "Mental Hopscotch" is worthy of some praise. Normally songs from the 80's get tired when played over and over (and over) at dance clubs -- even remixes, but Kevin was able to bring this song into the new millennium without being cheesy. It features the essential good dance beat but has added a few minimal loops without distorting the vocals too much. Infact, I think this mix compliments the vocals more than the original did.

How can you go wrong with Gary Numan -- master of electronic music? He can do no wrong in my eyes. He contributes "Dark" to this compilation which is as futuristic sounding as it is sexy (love that voice!). This is one track that will definitely get alot of play from DJs.

"Remnants" by Spahn Ranch took some getting used to. I found it annoying on first listen, but then it grew on me and now those cutesy cyber sounds are embedded in my brain. Fun to dance to.

Quite possibly my favorite track on this CD, KMFDM did a remix of the Genitorturer's "Sin City" which I absolutely LOVE. Infact, I like it better than the original (sorry Gen!) and I usually don't like anything KMFDM does. Maybe they should do more remixes, eh? This song is danceable, upbeat and made for the club scene but still has enough gritty guitar to make the rock n' rollers happy. I played this song when I DJd in Dallas a few months ago and it went over wonderfully.

The next two tracks you probably already have in your collection if you're a music addict like me - The Mission UK's "Wasteland" and Bella Morte's "The Rain in Her Hands."  They're not remixes or anything different from the originals but its nice to have these located conveniently on this disc. They're great songs of course... some of my favorites.

And unfortunately, unlike their 80's counterpart mentioned above, A Flock of Seagulls contributes a remix of "Telecommunication - JLAB remix" that is just horrid. Its still cheesy and too reminiscent of the 80's.

Track 10 sees Eerive Von contributing "An Investment in Hate" with its crunchy guitars and Danzig-like vocals. Its not a bad song... really. Think of Elvis and not Glen and you'll agree.

Culture Kultur, always a band that I think doesn't get enough publicity and credit, is on here with a remix of "Inside of Me" which is just lovely. Rivetheads will adore it and the goths will dance to it too. Yummy -- where are my boots?

Ever the energized performers, Razed In Black perform "Caught." Again - there's nothing new here, its the original but how lucky are those listeners that have never been exposed to RIB before. You'll like this... guaranteed.

Leather Strip mixes up Information Society's "Walking Away" giving it a more cyber/industrial feel. Pretty good - but so was the original.

And finally we are presented with Keith LeBlanc's mix of "Rope" by PIG which I like considerably more than the original as the electronic beat and minimized guitars are more "groove friendly."

All in all, this a great sampler to pick up and goes a long way to show the diversity of bands Cleopatra is now distributing. From the infectious synthpop sounds of Bella Morte to the comeback kids of the 80's and even the guitar laden world of dark rock, this is a well rounded CD sure to please most. There's probably three tracks out of the 14 on here that I'll never play -- and that's not bad.


13428 Mexella Ave, #251
MDR, CA 90292

self-titled 3-song promo
~reviewed by Sonia

I had the chance to review the 3 song cd off of Complicity’s’ upcoming release Welcome to the Real Life. I sat and listened to it and it hit me that this music got me thinking about
how some of the older “goth” music  of the late 8O’s sounded. It was a bit reminiscent of it and that is one of the reasons I liked it I believe. This band comes from England though at first glance of the cd, I thought  that they may have been from the States and formerly in a metal band. Maybe it was the font and picture on the cd... They are neither. A wonderful surprise.
Okay, on to the music!

1. Hide and Seek- Starts off real dreamy , drums and guitar kick in for a Bauhaus feel. Vocals are reminiscent of the Cure. It seems like if Bauhaus and the  Cure ever spliced themselves together in a rock goth format this is what they would sound like. Drums are really well done toward the end of the song. If you forget the name of the song, you will be reminded as it is repeated more than necessary I think.

2. Drug star- Very interesting piece. It’s like retro goth with a slight punk flavor with the vocals. The vocals are a bit lower in volume with the music being the most prominent. The symbols in the songs got a little on my nerves. If they were toned down I think it would have been better.

3. If Only For Today- A nice intermission song. Slow and dramatic. Again, good drums. Repetitive guitar, very nice string accompaniment. I like the melody of the chorus. It can make for a very dramatic slow dance if you are like the majority and prefer dancing alone. Also good for all you Creepers out there. ( the dancers who keep to the floor, not the shoe!) I liked this one best out of all three.

If you would like to recieve information on distribution contact:
Resurrection Records
228 High Street
Camden NW1 8Qs, England
or e-mail
or use the Tele and call,
+44(0)207 813 2917

The Confessionals
4 song demo
~review by Cyberina Flux

There's a new band in Dallas. I'd certainly been hearing the band name around, it seemed like the words "The Confessionals" were being slipped to me frequently enough for me to wonder if folks were getting paid per mention. It started about a month ago, and it was coming from well respected area bands, DJs, recording techs, soundguys, managers, and general scenesters. People were asking me to book them, others were asking me to write about them, and others were asking me to come to a show. It was getting to the point of surreal.

Revelling in the humor of this mystery band situation, I mentioned it my boyfriend.. That's when he tells me "Oh dude, I have one of their CDs. They came up and brought it to me at work. They're GOOD, you ought to check them out." But, alas, he couldn't materialize the CD from his endless shelves of music so I could listen.

Yesterday afternoon, walking through the hallway in our apartment, I took a quick glance to my right and there it sat inconspicuously on a shelf of our newest CD rack.. "The Confessionals". My heart skipped a beat.. FINALLY.

In much anticipation, I watched as my CD drawer on my player slid closed in seemingly slow motion. Seconds ticked along like hours as my CD player attempted to scan and read the CDR..


It was!

In a clash of symbols, random wailing on a guitar, and an occasional thump of a bass my introduction was staged. The nonsense quickly organized, and what then came out of my speakers floored me.

The beat started on the bass in a low and sultry kind of way when the guitar started in reminding me significantly of a Current 93 track. Then Bella came. Oh did Bella come! In a husky and powerful voice the lyrics just bellowed out of her.. Like Boyd Rice meets Jarboe, she huffed and chanted and wailed. Her voice gave me goosebumps before simply reaching out and lashing me with its ferocity. All the while the guitar kept rhythm in that slightly dischordant Swans kind of way, following the lead of very distinct and martial beat pounded out on the tympani. And thus "The Parting" was over, leaving me a pool of jello on the floor.

I took a few long, deep breaths to catch my air before venturing on to the next track.

"Scar" had a slightly more punk feel to it. The beginning of the track was carried by guitar and bass with spoken word vocals seeming a bit Velvet Underground meets "Boys Don't Cry" era Cure. When the vocals built up, the instrumentation still screamed "Boys Don't Cry" to me, but the vocals were so much more passionate than anything Robert Smith ever mustered. It almost sounded as if Valor had written the lyrics, and they were sung with a P.J. Harvey kind of frenzied intensity. And then with a roll on the drums, "Scar" was over.

"Closet" started kind of bluesy on the vocal side with a beat carried distinctly on bass, drums, and one of the guitars, while another guitar fuzzed in the back. Again the execution reminded me very strongly of Current 93, and towards the end of the track it took on a form similar to Sugarcubes right down to a Bella growling in a huffy kind of way that's so angry its cute.

The last track on the CD, "AOD" takes on a Nick Cave, Birthday Party kind of feel to it. A very hypnotic drum marked the beats while a guitar carried on in a distorted wash, and Bella held absolutely nothing back as she put forth her vocals so raw and loud that it made my throat hurt just listening.

All in all, I'm so very glad that I finally got to hear them. They carry a unique quality that just simply hasn't been found in new acts in a very long time. Fans of anything from The Birthday Party to The Swans to The Sugarcubes to Current 93 will find something that they love about this band. If The Confessionals can convince me this much after their debut performance being only last May, they most definitely have what it takes to grab the Gothic scene by the proverbial horns (goat, of course). I'll be here in Dallas with a lot of other faithful fans trying to help them hold on for the ride.

Track Listing:
1. The Parting
2. Scar
3. Closet
4. AOD

The Confessionals are:
Bella Ted - Vocals, Guitar
Shawn Mauck - Lead Guitar
Justin Frank - Drums, Tympani
Lane Kirby - Bass

The Confessionals

Cosmic Slut
A Cosmic Slut Production
~reviewed by Blu

Cosmic Slut is a beautifully dark band from Dallas. They defy specific categorization but have obtained an almost cult following of goths and underground scenters. And as much as I hate to make comparisons because this band IS so original and unique – I must say that the best way to describe them is a darker sort of Portishead. And that’s no small compliment in my book. Their music is liquidy, sometimes dark and thick like you were on the bottom of an ocean. There’s this overwhelming feeling of being in another realm – another environment or reality. Its heavy and the temperature is cool. Things move more slowly and sounds that you normally wouldn’t hear are accentuated – breaths and gasps, echos, silence.

The band credits give you a clue about this music… Marisa is listed as providing “voices” not merely “vocals.”  She whispers, purrs, growls, speaks… sometimes lets muse-inspired melodies slip out smooth, sometimes harsh. Some songs, like “Seashell” and “Japanese Toys” feature intense spoken-word murmurs over top the music. I listen to this CD rapt with attention – focused on Marisa’s voice – listening to her words take shape and form. The end effect is calming – a sedative of sorts to those of use who would walk around in a blue and purple colored world. I haven’t stopped listening to this CD since I got back from Dallas – its one of my favorites and if I had my way – would be in heavy rotation on airways around the country. If you’re looking for something new this summer – if you want to be one-up on all those folks who think they know what the best up and coming music is… get a copy of this CD and show off.

walking on the knife
japanese toys

Cosmic Slut is
Marisa – Voices
Gibbon – Guitars
Puppy – Bass
The Fonz - Drums

PO Box 742652
Dallas, Tx 75374

Dreams in Exile (with vidnaObmana)
3 Song Preview to Since Long Before
~reviewed by Blu

Seems like I'm doing a lot of catch up on reviews here on bands that are quite outstanding. This summer had me traveling from New Orleans to Dallas to Portland to Seattle. Along the way I accumulated quite a collection of demos and CD's from bands. Kirk Kristlibas of Dreams in Exile was one such person who introduced himself to me in Portland at the Pre-Convergence show (see http://www.starvox.net/cr/cr.htm). Dressed to the nines, gracious and polite I was immediately taken with the degree of professionalism he conducted himself with. As things are usually hectic at concerts, I didn't realize until later just exactly what he had given me. There, on a very unassuming CDR was something quite extraordinary. This sampler featuring 3 songs that are included on their new full length release Since Long Before, is a delectable gift and shows just how promising and outstanding Dreams in Exile is. The fact that the legendary vidnaObmana produced and collaborated  with the band on this CD is a validation of their outstanding musicianship.

Dreams in Exile was originally formed in New York in 1988 and have since relocated to the ever-green bliss that is Portland, Washington. Their website describes their music as "a unique alloy of ambient, atmospheres and textures..." which is an accurate and truthful description. Furthermore, its one of the most relaxing and serene CD's I've had the pleasure of listening to in a long, long time from the spatial textures and percussion to the utterly beautiful acoustic guitar and vocals. I am beginning to wonder if its the atmosphere of the Pacific northwest that has such an affect on these bands. Lately I've found that Sumerland, 3SKS and now Dreams in Exile all produce a lovely mix of serenity and melancholy in their music that almost always reminds me somehow of nature and moreover - water -- a life force within itself, often spiritual and sometimes dark. It carries and eases the sadness of life's burdens -- even as it was Ophelia's final companion. Take for example the lyrics to "Jennie Haniver":

Sweet serpents slide by me
enfashioned by the deep
to shores with foaming wave
she calls me to the cave

Jennie Haniver, pull me down
drag me overboard and take me down
Jennie Haniver, pull me down...

This song rolls along on waves of keys and guitar, sad yet comforting as Kirk pins away with subdued yet rich vocals. I could get lost in this song for days if I left it on repeat.

"Conifer & Fern" makes me homesick. If you've ever stood in awe at the majesty and mystery that is a forest, this song makes perfect since and dives straight to the heart. Standing alone in the lush vegetation amid grand trees and giant ferns, I remember how chilling and beautiful a crow's call echoing through the forest was. Outstanding acoustic guitar on this track.

And finally "Oarthanalea" starts with a bit more "rock n' roll" feel before settling down into an almost bluesy melody line. The more uptempo beat guarantees the swirly goths will love to dance to this (DJs take note).

This CD will appeal to fans of vidnaObmana (obviously) and of such bands as Dead Can Dance, Delirium and ambient music in general. Beautiful, sweeping and serene, its a perfect CD to come home to and relax. Highly recommended for late night musings over tea....<wink>

Jennie Haniver
Conifer & Fern

Their full length CD Since Long Before (Crowd Control Activities) is available through the usual underground distributors like Metropolis, Soleil Moon, Middle Pillar etc.

Visit their website at: http://www.dreamsinexile.com
email: dreams@aracnet.com
mp3 site: http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/46/dreams_in_exile.html

Diana McCrary
Diana Obscura
~review by Brian
The first song on Obscura's solo album is "St. Cecelia".  St.
Cecelia  being patron saint of Music would be proud of this assemble. It correlates a given emotion with each of the instruments and vocal accomplishments. Its baroque style with the intricate melodia of music. Its a soft subtle song that reminds me of a tale of ancient times with lyrics like:  " A path of thorns to my loves's heart she is not kind Yet I would not have her otherwise" , "And what I give oh all that's mine my gold and tears my Blood and Pride".

On the second track we find an antediluvian tale of "Twa Corbies" which is a variation of "The three Ravens" which dates back to 1611.  Corbie is another word for Raven or Crow.
"As I was walking all alone, I heard Twa Corbies making mane; An one to the t'other say, Where sall we gang and dine the day".  In these first 2 songs and as with the rest of this Cd she uses an antiquated choice of words throughout the CD, utilizing all her knowledge of literature and times passed.

The third track is "Evangeline and the Devil."  This song is filled with a jazzy melisma running lightly on the veracity of a Gospel telling a tale.  In this song the cello speaks as much as the words do.  "The Devils got a sharp deck of cards. Cut you in for an inch and drag you in for a yard". "Ask if you want to double your bet and he'll offer you a pull on his black cigarette"

Track four is  "Hylas" --  a sweet song of softness starting out with "We crawl among the water lillies cold. "  My favorite line is "Slither softly sister and behold A Sailor, just a boy, so fresh and young".  Diana's voice speaks as if she was one of he Nymphs tempting Hylas to join them in the water. Close your eyes and picture yourself on the island of CIOS. And soon you too will disappear as Obscura's Nymphetic voice takes you far and away.

The next song  "Seirenes".   Seirenes tells a tale of a deadly Seirien singing her song to attract her prey. "Come down, Come down and swim with me you'll touch my lips and taste the Sea".
"The Moon will sing a dirge for thee. All washed in brine thy bones will be. Come drown, come drown, sink into me".
If you listen long enough you might be tempted to meet that deadly seiren at the bottom of the sea.

Song six  is  " A-9 APU/ST1200" it is the hardest song on this album and one of my favorites I kinda felt like it was a Punkish  sort of Poem. With lyrics like:  "I've got a new identity four legs and a platinum eye."  "I've got a switch where my Heart should be I can hear your thoughts at night," this song is filled with a steady Bass and matching percussion by the talented Chandler Rentz. To match Diana's demanding voice that seems to split into another dimension with the fury in this song.  The diverse lyrics were provided by brother Nathaniel McCrary; talent is evident in their blood line.

In the end there is  "Estoria" --  last but not least on this incredible album. This song delegates a softer more classical sound.  "Estoria, Estoria....I was completely deceived. You sized up my most precious thing and you waited for me to leave".  What else can I say about Obscura's solo project with the help of her friends they created a musical tale that I will cherish and I hope you do too. Also with Joseph Budenhoizer of Backworld on guitar and Tambourine .

Diana's next performance will be August 28 at Innovox at 9pm and its FREE !!!!!!  Coming soon Concert Review of Diana Obscura's solo Cd release.

For more info check out the following:
website: www.dianaobscura.com
contact:  diana@dianaobscura.com
snail Mail: P.O Box 5554,
               Atlanta, Ga 31107

Diary of Dreams
One of 18 angels
~reviewed by Vassago

I personally waited anxiously for the release of this album from the time I interviewed Adrian Hates and he told me the title of the new Diary of Dreams album.  I was very excited  to listen it since D.O.D is a group different from all the others and leads the 90’s Goth scene today with many fans all over the world. After Cholymelan, End of Flowers, Bird without Wings, Psychoma? and Moments of Bloom, this album comes to continue the legend that Diary of Dreams created 7 years ago.

As a D.O.D fan I have high expectations of their music. From the first album to Psychoma?, new ideas, feelings and dreams were created in my mind that haunted me for a long time. When Adrian told me that the new album would be darker than anything he had done so far; I believed this new CD would earn them world recognition in the scene. I was expecting it as a new child -- as a rebirth in my soul -- since all of D.O.D's songs remind me something of my life.

The new album, unfortunately is not the newborn child my soul was expecting but more a clone of the previous one… Psychoma?. Most of the songs, except the fantastic "Rumors about Angels", had nothing new to present to the D.O.D fans since the whole mood and atmosphere is same with Psychoma? Be careful;  I am not saying that the album is not good….I am just noting that I have higher expectations from this band.

One of 18 Angels could be the continue of Psychoma? or songs that could not fit in the specific album and were released in this one. It is more electronic album, with the well known D.O.D elements in it and of course Adrian’s fantastic vocals. The best moments of the CD are "Rumors about Angels", "Chemicals", and "Babylon".

I am not saying anything else.  The D.O.D fans (including me) will buy it anyway. I’ll be looking forward for them in the future.

“I see a face that was imminent image in my soul.  Now it is past. What was full of life and joy is now flesh and dust. It is now time for grief and recollection. It is now time for death and resurrection”

Accession Records
Postfach 110614
40506 Dusseldorf

Luna Productions Management
Colin Gibbens - cgibbens@symantec.com

The Official Diary of Dreams Website:

To subscribe to the Diary of Dreams Mailing List:

~reviewed by Edwin Somnambulist

Draemgate's Twilight is the first non-Canadian release on Interdimensional Industries -- a label best known for its paramount support of the Canadian independent music scene and local music. Of course, my first reaction was "Why an American band?" After hearing Twilight, my apprehensions were put to rest. Interdimensional believes in Canadian music, yes, but they also have a mandate to release enlightening music, and that's what Draemgate is all about.

Draemgate is a project out of Knoxville, Tennessee, composed of two brothers, Matthew Everet Kieren and Robert Shawn Kieren.

While the term "experimental music" gets bantered about incessantly in music today, its actual meaning seems to have been distorted. An experiment in music is much like an experiment in science: it is a process that has no definite predictable outcome, of which the product is not certain. Draemgate's style of making music embodies the original definition of "experimental". The brothers have developed a method by which they can use computers to convert images to sound. Their belief is that pictures hold not only visual information, but auditory as well. The visual media that they use to produce their sounds are of strange and natural formations, such as crop circles, and nebulae.

Perhaps my only complaint about this album is that I would have liked to see the pictures that were used in creating the music, to give a deeper connection to the sound, and a feeling of understanding where the music originated.

The soundscapes that Draemgate create through their process are rich and varied, and very relaxing. Easily good background music.

1. Illud Tempus
2. Gamma Draconis
3. Flight of the Feathered Serpents
4. The Seven Bonds of Heaven and Earth
5. Heliocentric Descent
6. Resurrection of Nemesis
7. Tower of Syene

Draemgate is Matthew Everet Kieren and Robert Shawn Kieren
Band Website: http://www.draemgate.com/
Band Email: contact@draemgate.com
Label Website: http://www.interdimensional.com/
Label Email: regan@interdimensional.com

The Electric Hellfire Club
Witness the Millennium (promo Cd)
~ review by Aaron Garland

Like it or not, Thomas Thorn and his unwieldly Satanic entourage are back with their fourth full-length installment appropriately monikered, "Witness the Millennium".  After a series of personnel and stylistic changes on previous outings, this one in many ways resembles their classic debut "Burn, Baby, Burn!" and is arguably their most aggressive release to date.  Understandably, keyboards are kept at a minimum (sans the late Rev. Dr. Luv) focusing instead on heavy and driven guitar work that may surprise the dance floor crowd.  As always, Thorn's lyrics (somewhat buried in the mix) and attitude of decadent revelry will either delight or dismay, but it's credit to his writing talent that he can breathe new life into a genre that's practically been done to death by much lesser outfits who've come and gone.

As with all EHC releases, one track in particular carries on inside my head days after hearing it only for the first time, case in point being "The Bishop's Folly" - which contains a catchy refrain of a choir amidst a frenzied wall of guitars and drumbeats.  "Invisible Empire" takes on a more esoteric aspect of the dark side (guess which empire they're referring to?)  while "Paradise Reclaimed"  is a call for revenge on the sterile and self-righteous of aeons ago that would make Milton proud.  "Wormwood" is a brief swirl of keyboard washes and low-end voice, paying tribute to the mind-altering substance used in absinthe, and finally metamorphosing  into an enthusiastic rendering of the Iron Maiden classic, "Number of the Beast."
Overall, this release will probably win new fans and foes alike, although I doubt it will shift their audience in any way, save for attracting new ears in search of a heavier sound.

Track listing:
- Kirkcarrion
- One Dark Horse
- The Bishop's Folly
- Invisible Empire
- Speed Demon
- My Name is Legion
- Paradise Reclaimed
- The Monkey's Paw
- Wormwood
- Number of the Beast

pmb 251, 13428 Maxella Ave.
Marina Fel Rey, CA 90292

~reviewed by Blu

"Sounds almost fade and softly sway, Be swept into that realm of dreams, Both mythical and new" -- from the song "Dream Catcher"

After a five year absence from the music scene, Engelsstaub is back with one of the most breathtaking and beautiful collections  put out this year in my opinion. They say  their new CD Anderswelt is, "a world between time and space, between here and now where the invisible turns into visible, where the consciousness pours out in infinite nature." Polished, cinematic, deeply rooted in spiritual and cultural themes and imagery, this is a CD that will do well at the more ethereal gothic clubs as well as among fans of neo-classical music and new age music.

The CD opens with the song "Dreamcatcher" which of course refers to the spider web-like Native American object that is used to catch dreams. "Oh come deep sleep. Oh come my dream. Spun into sleep's quiet yarn, the journey has begun."  In addition to the soothing feminine vocals, a Native American chant and drum beat is introduced half way through the song in keeping with its cultural theme. Continuing on their fantastic adventure, " A Dream Within A Dream" is a vast track filled with symphonic elements like timpani drums rolling from one climax to another. Suddenly there is a transition and traditional pipe and drum (bagpipe that is)  fill the space accompanied by flute and later an electronic beat taking this song out of ancient tradition into a new worldly sound. The melody breaks for ominous percussion and brooding, deep horns like something out of a horror movie. You get the feeling you are entering yet another realm.

"A Tale" is next - with sounds of the ocean in the background, the vocals are like mystical sirens in the night. The song is indeed a tale narrated by both male and female voices..." A raging wind her light does choke. A fearful wave reaches up the cliff, so steep she sinks into the ocean, dark and deep."   As sounds of the ocean fade, the delicate flute and urgent drumming and chants of "L'Apell De L'Ange" rushes in to breathe life into lost souls -- you can almost hear them swirl out of the darkness.

"Faerieland" is perhaps my favorite track off this CD if forced to pick. Rooted in the style of new age celtic music, the march-style beats contrasted to synthesized melody lines and vocals akin to Dead Can Dance make this irresistible for me and probably one of the most club-friendly tracks off this CD.

"The Kingdom of Blindness" again employs beautiful symphonic elements and the male lead vocals remind me much of the favorite elements of Dead Can Dance.  "Die Erlosung" follows with mournful bell tones and a lamenting oboe taking the lead melody. The tone of this song has an Eastern European flavor to it -- proud and traditional.

Most haunting on this CD is "A Spirit Awakens" which opens with spectacular cinematic music before transitioning into a acoustic guitar and melody carried by male vocals. The song is delicately sad and strongly romantic. Love lost to death -- who can compete with that. This is a song I would dance to passionately.

"Namiros" comes in softly with faded gongs and finger chimes -- narrated with mystical spoken-word and followed by exotic chants, its a fitting tribute and ending to such an accomplished CD.  "In a time of infinite darkness an angel crossed my way, Brightened my world with his kiss..."

Breath taking and beautiful, I only hope that readers will appreciate the musical superiority and rare effort that has been put into this delightful CD. Bravo!

A Drean Within a Dream
A Tale
L'Apell De L'Ange
The Kingdom of Blindness
Die Erlosung
A Spirit Awakens

email: engelsstaub@yahoo.de

Mercy and Touched
~reviewed by Adrian

It seems these days that everyone is coming out of the woodwork in a ‘goth-ethereal’ band iced with the token female vocal wash. Projekt has done it with much success, as has 4AD. So when I heard of Falling You, I kind of threw them into the mix, or the grab bag if you will, of washy ethereal goo. Now is the time I insert foot into mouth.

Falling You, a collection of artists formed by John Michael Zorko, out of all places, Kent, Ohio, is a beautiful collection of experimental, ambient, and noise laced aural landscapes. Their sound has a unique feel that takes you back to the early days of 4AD’s His Name Is Alive and Projekt bands like Loveliescrushing mixed with the shoegazer sounds of Flying Saucer Attack, AMP and even, at times, the sanity crushing sounds of Ant Zen’s Ambre. This form of ‘Bliss Rock’ has every quality that I find positive in this type of music, from the subtle yet powerful slicing of vocals by Jennifer McPeak, Sara Ayers, and Krista Tortora, to the cascades of energy and fuzzy velvet-like peaks of sound that seem to tie you up and make you dizzy. Their debut full-length album, Mercy, was voted best vocal album of 1998 by David Hassell of Wind and Wired magazine and has received much acclaim for the direction they have taken by various other magazines and zines around the world. At times you can hear the people that have major influences in their music like Brian Eno, Mike Harris, Sky Lab, and Phillip Glass, and such creative backing has laced Falling You with a style that creates a wonderful departure from your average ‘ethereal’ band. Touched is their upcoming release due out sometime this year and has much promise and desire wrapped in its songs. After browsing through their sounds, I have picked a few highlights which include ‘Crystil (Austere remix)’, ‘Druid in the Works’, and ‘Still Life’, that can all be downloaded at www.mp3.com under Falling You (http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/16/falling_you.html), and while your at it, may I highly suggest their labels website at www.adastra-records.com which has several more audio tracks to browse through. A quiet giant in the experimental, bliss, ethereal arena, but one to watch out for in the coming years to be sure!

Atmospheric loops, crunching percussions, electric static hums, and vocal styles that would make the angels in John Milton’s Paradise Lost green with envy. Now tell me, what more could you want? Although not a danceable cd, it is definitely one to throw on the cd player late at night, light the candles, get the sushi and sake out, and share a quiet evening with a loved one.

Group Members:
Various vocalists: Jennifer McPeak, Sara Ayers, Krista Tortora and others
Instrumentation / production: John Michael Zorko


Mercy (1998) Tracklist on Mercy:
When Will it End?
No Voice
The Dream Begins
Running Still

Voyager (Compilation, 1997)

Touch (to be released sometime in 2000)

Falling You on Mp3.com

AdAstra Records
PO Box 2342
Streetsboro, OH 44241 adastra-records@adastra-records.com

Fayman & Fripp
a temple in the clouds
~reviewed by Michael Otley

Robert Fripp has become a rock guitar legend with his work with King Crimson, leading the band that is, over the years.  His work with Brian Eno in the seventies brought even more recognition in the art rock world.  In contrast, Jeffery Fayman has been more involved in film music, especially scoring trailers.  In the early nineties, Fripp contributed guitar to four tracks by a band Fayman had founded, which was their first collaborative effort.  While Fayman soon quit the project, Fripp left him two hours of
master tape of "Frippertronics Soundscapes", which Fayman let sit for about 8 or 9 years.  The release here is the result experiementation by the two musicians after that period of time, in part organized and created at an ancient temple in Greece.