Preview: Wave Gotik Treffen 25th Jubilee 13th - 16th May

At the early may morning brought by summer, the city of Leipzig rises with top hats being hatted, corsets being laces and black boots being slid on. As come the 13th of May, Wave Gotik Treffen becomes the heart of the East German city.

Lucky Thirteen: The IVM guide to... Doom Metal

Welcome to Lucky Thirteen, a new series of beginners guides to a number of musical genres old and new. For the first instalment we thought we'd look at one of heavy metals most fundamental but perhaps most underrated genres – Doom Metal.

Review: Victor Love – 'Technomancy'


Review: Skold – 'The Undoing'


Review: Goatpsalm – 'Downstream'


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Editorial: April, 2016

It has been a while since my last editorial, and unfortunately this will just be a brief check-in as well. March and April have been busy months personally so I have been focusing on reviews and making plans for the future. These plans include the next compilation download which I will begin working on in a couple of months time.

Well where to begin? Let's start with saying goodbye to Resistanz Festival – for the past five years the Sheffield-based event has been an annual highlight that has attracted some great names from around the world and really injected a bit of adrenalin into the UK scene as a result. There have been plenty of memorable moments and it will be sorely missed.

In other festival related news Infest is shaping up to be a great line-up this year, and there will be a new gothic festival in Leeds later this year as well. But hopefully more people out there will move in to take the space left by Resistanz and give these bands more opportunities to play.

It kind of brings me to another thought. For years now the UK gothic and industrial scenes have existed in a fairly small bubble. A law unto themselves sustained by hardcore fans with a few dedicated festivals and a few respected media outlets. But it still doesn't seem to be taken seriously. While the likes of 3Teeth and Youth Code in the US have had recent mentions in Rolling Stone magazine. UK bands still feel very much on the periphery of national coverage. Perhaps it is time to start making an assault on the more generic rock and metal festivals then? Certainly the likes of The Sisters Of Mercy have done it with Sonisphere in the past, and yes they do have a bit of gravitas still they can muster. But there are some young and hungry bands in the gothic and industrial scene who deserve much more exposure than they are getting and that quite frankly rock harder than many of the bands that manage to score slots at Download. Maybe it seems a little far-fetched to some, but if you don't ask, you don't get...

Anyway, that's my meandering thought of the day in the wake of the final Resistanz festival. There are more events coming up this year that still need your support and new or established, I hope they stick around for a long time to come.

One last thing - if you haven't already got them, go get our three download compilations FOR FREE from out bandcamp – so much free music! What the hell are you waiting for?!

And as always make sure you have these links in your favourites:

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Review: Legend & Sólstafir – 'Runaway Train (Live)'

'Runaway Train (Live)'

Icelandic dark pop act Legend return with a dark and sinister cover of their own song 'Runaway Train' recorded live with fellow countrymen in the form of post-metalers Sólstafir. The two bands had previously released a split EP together(on which Sólstafir covered 'Runaway Train' themselves), but this release marks the first direct collaboration on a track between them. And it is a thing of beauty.

The band's come together to find a unique middle ground between their respective sounds. The dark pop hooks of Legend's original composition are still very much evident, while Sólstafir's raw experimental mindset bleeds through profusely. The end result is a raw, dark and visceral progressive-tinged rock that sounds like a blend of 'Eternity' and 'The Silent Enigma' Anathema. Absolutely beautiful.

The production is excellent considering this is a live performance captured and released in such a short space of time. This is one of those times in music where everything just clicks and sounds great together. You can't replicate that kind of chemistry really, it just has to be present and documented.

This is a great coming together of two different but ultimately complimentary acts that have a genuinely unique bond. Could this be the seeds of an Icelandic supergroup? One can only hope. This certainly shows that there is the potential for such a pairing. Perhaps after the next Legend album there may be time for an EP of original collaborations? One can only dream. But in the hear and now this is a damn fine song and should be heard.   

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Review: nTTx – 'Objective EP'

'Objective EP'

nTTx craft a classic blend of industrial-tinged ebm meats synthpop. The project is the work of Toronto-based musician Gord Clement formerly of Atomzero. With only a single in the form of 'Falls Beautiful', a compilation appearance and a handful of remixes for other artists nTTX's début 'Objective EP' has a lot of ground to cover in order to make its mark. But with a sound that melds the rhythmic expertise of Nitzer Ebb with the likes of Spetsnaz, Cryo, and Covenant it looks like a place on the dancefloor is pretty much guaranteed.

Musically the tracks sit around a pretty solid core of classic ebm augmented by nice synthpop melodies and harder more aggressive industrial elements added when things need kicking-up a notch. It's a solid formula perfectly crafted for the dancefloor and the four tracks here perfectly illustrate that.

'Falls Beautiful' takes the lead with a straightforward blend of steady dance beats, ebm bass, catchy leads and sing-a-long vocals that show why this was an obvious choice for a single. 'cRave' follows with a more industrial leaning feel while keeping that pure ebm core intact for another infectious cut. 'Bastion' feels harder still with the vocals getting a bit more distorted and some nasty guitar sounds cropping up in the mix. While 'We Kissed' pulls out all the feels for an emotional and melodic closer that rounds the original tracks off nicely.

The remixes included courtesy of Stars Crusaders, Caustic and Kiss Is Kill who all add their own take to the originals. But in particular its Caustics stripped-down 'Teknotronikon' mix and Kiss Is Kill's throbbing club mixes of 'cRave' and 'Bastion' respectively that really do something fun with the source tracks.

Production-wise the EP is really well-constructed. The album is true to its dance-friendly core throughout and particularly those who enjoy the old-school industrial and ebm hits of the 90s will be able to dig this with ease. It's punchy and fresh, has that nice classic edge without falling into the trap of trying to sound dated.

There are some great tracks here and a hell of a lot of potential. There are a couple of points where I feel Clement could push himself further though to make nTTX a really great act. One is in the vocals, which sound a bit safe and turn of the millennium and could be varied up in terms of delivery. The second point is illustrated by the remixes somewhat. The core ebm structure of the songs is again a bit safe and particularly the final two remixes just go to show how different they can sound if Clement were to get a bit more experimental. But on the whole this is a damn catchy bunch of songs that will undoubtedly get his foot in the door and it will be interesting to see how this translates into a full-length release.  

Review: Merzbow – 'Life Performance'

'Life Performance'

Out of the vaults by way of Cold Spring records comes a long overdue reissue of some very rare classic noise. Originally released on his own ZSF Produkt label, 'Life Performance' by Masami Akita (AKA Merzbow) dates back to 1985 and was originally put out on cassette. Fast-forward thirty years and Akita has dug out the original master tapes and given them a remaster for 2016.

The album title suggests this is a live performance, but it isn't. The pieces 'Nil Vagina Mail Action' parts 1-5 were recorded in Akita's own Merz-bau Studio. With a discography in the hundreds of releases (in one format or another) so far there were plenty of other candidates for the remaster treatment, but 'Life Performance' is one of those nice succinct time capsules that demonstrates some of Akita's great analogue experimentation in an era when the synth was being pushed harder than ever before.

'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 1' unloads with a wall of static noise that slowly evolves into a drone and then into heavily distorted minimal rhythm before once again becoming engulfed in a swell of static noise eventually punctuated by bass. 'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 2' begins with a dissonant sample overlayed with distorted waves and swirling static before reverting to piercing pitches and becoming engulfed in layers of heavily distorted samples. 'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 3' like the first track opens with a swell of static noise, this time punctuated by piercing notes and gurgling distorted synths that evolves into a dark droning wall of sound thick enough to bludgeon you with.

'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 4' opens with a distorted vocal loop slowly becoming in a blend of static and rapid monophonic bleeps that sounds like a dial-up modem being possessed by the devil. The final assault on the senses, 'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 5' continues on somewhat from the previous track with swirling tape sounds and heavy static creating a psychedelic dial-up sound.

The summing up above doesn't really do the pieces justice though. The heavy atmosphere and sustained attack of them (they're twelve-to-fifteen minutes long) are endurance testers for even hardened noise fans.

In terms of production it is hard to tell this was a mid-1980s cassette release. Yes it is primitive and analogue from the ground up, but it has been remastered really nicely and to a high quality which gives an extra level of clarity to the din of sonic dissonance.

This will be one for the collectors or very, very intrepid explorers. It isn't Merzbow's most stunning works, but it is a relentlessly hard lesson in noise music from one of its undeniable masters. It is intense but rewarding if you are a fan of noise.  

Friday, 22 April 2016

Live Review: Acey Slade – Yardbirds, Grimsby 20/04/2016

ACEY SLADE (+ Ruby And The Knights)
Yardbirds, Grismby

Grimsby might not be the first town you'd expect to be on a list alongside usual stops such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield, but Acey Slade has made sure he drops by on his low-key acoustic tour. The Brooklyn, NY musician famous for being a part of acts such as Dope, Murderdolls, Wednseday 13, Amen, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts as well as his own bands Trashlight Vision and Acey Slade & The Dark Party gets as stripped back as possible on this tour. It's just him, a semi-acoustic guitar and electro-acoustic accompaniment from Billy Liar. It's different... maybe even a bit of a gamble for someone known for raucous rock 'n' roll, but it pays off.

Kicking things off is local act Ruby And The Knights. Playing a serviceable blend of classic rock and metal sent through a deathrock filter with their classic goth aesthetic creating a nice visual hook. The songs are in places a bit generic pub rock, but the band display some great songwriting in places and their performance is solid throughout their set. The only real criticism is that despite the strong vocals for front-woman Ruby, they do get a bit repetitive as she uses the classic rock wail a bit too much. Otherwise they look to be a promising local talent.

Yardbirds, if you haven't had the pleasure, is a small biker bar with a long history of putting on live bands. It looks and smells of rock 'n' roll and despite it's intimate dimensions it is a comfortable fit for the US rocker and his smaller than usual entourage.

The tag-line for this tour is “Playing hits and talking shit” and that's exactly what you get. Despite the acoustic set-up it is evident from the very start that Acey Slade has more punk rock in his little finger than most full bands could muster in their entire being. The performances from Acey and Billy liar are bristling with energy and full of life as he hurtles through his own hits as well as those from his time in Joan Jett's band as well as Murderdolls. Particular highlights included 'Allergic To You', 'Love At First Fright', 'Welcome To The Strange', 'Crimson And Clover', 'Radio', '197666', 'Black Apples' and the brief Bowie tribute in the form of 'Moonage Daydream'. There was even space for Billy Liar to take the microphone for a rendition of his song 'Pills'.

Between songs Slade told stories, made jokes and interacted with the crowd. It felt open and personal, like a homecoming show. It was a raw, honest and fun performance that showed off the power of his skills as a vocalist and performer in general. It was a gamble playing this kind of show but it works really well and more than payed off for Slade and co.  

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Review: New Zero God – 'Short Tales & Tall Shadows'

'Short Tales & Tall Shadows'

Greek post-punks New Zero God will not be a new name to a lot of people. They have over the past few years been working hard and the early spirit of the post punk and proto-gothic scenes alive. The band's last studio outing was 'MMXIII' which provided a solid offering of tracks that were only really held back by less than perfect production. Fast forward to last year and the band's first live album showed them on top form giving their songs a fervent energy and playing off the rough and ready atmosphere. But their latest album 'Short Tales & Tall Shadows' is a bit of a departure. Their punk roughness is smoothed out in favour of gothic theatrics. A move that is reminiscent of when The Damned made 'Strawberries'.

The band blend gothic rock, psychedelic pop, a hint of their post-punk past and a dose of dark blues, the end result is like a cross between The Damned and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. Songs such as 'King Pest The First', 'Garden Of Mazes', 'Cloud Of Dreams', 'My Reaper', and 'Bastards' are the most consistent examples of this sonic formula and also lyrically the most literary in construction. While the likes of the spoken word 'Deadly Dollhouse' and the sinister instrumental outro 'Ouroboros' add a nice experimental edge to the proceedings.

In terms of production this is by far the band's best effort so far. It has a nice retro, mid-1980s feel to it. But in terms of the mix and the overall sound it is still fresh and modern. They have maintained their grittiness through their individual performance but aimed high and improved the quality as a result.

This is the album the band have needed to make. The gothic and psychedelic elements are fantastic. Mike Pougounas' vocal performance is utterly compelling and there are a lot of sumptuous guitar lines and grooves throughout to get your teeth into. The band have made a bold move with 'Short Tales & Tall Shadows' and it has paid off in a big way. The songwriting, the performances and the execution are spot on. Hopefully this will be a path the band continues to explore moving forward.   

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Review: Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio – 'Vision:Libertine – The Hangman's Triad'

'Vision:Libertine – The Hangman's Triad'

Six years on form their last full-length studio album the duo of Ordo Rosarius Equilbrio return with one of their most ambitious albums to date. The band's latest album, 'Vision:Libertine – The Hangman's Triad', was originally planned as an EP, but over the course of three years it steadily evolved into an epic double album that revisits the band's earlier tribal leanings with their more recent darkly sensual tones. The themes of lust, ritual and spiritual sexuality still loom large over the eerie and sombre sonic formula as they do on all ORE releases. But this album take things deeper and darker than ever before.

The songs are as sexy as they are bleak. The haunting neoclassical and ambient electronics blended with neo-folk are given a boost by percussive and acoustic support from Empusae’s Sal-Ocin. Songs such as 'Eschatos And Hedone - The Killing of Ataraxia', 'Flesh 4 Flesh & Kingdom Come', 'The Fire the Fool and the Harlot (The Hangmans Triad)', and 'Holy Blood Holy Union' dominate the first disc with their strong rhythms and sinister classical strains. While the likes of 'The Misanthropic Polygamist (How Gods Dream)', 'Venus In Nothing But Nylons And Pearls', 'The Tribalism Of Tribadism (Evil Men Have No Songs)', and 'Four Pretty Little Horses And the Four Last Things On Earth' kick disc two into submission in similar fashion.

The album builds on the near cinematic scope of the band's previous release 'Songs 4 Hate & Devotion' and pushes the band's conceptual framework further than ever before. Their Sade-esque erotica and Crowlian symbolism collide with some of the most apocalyptic compositions in their back catalogue so far. The production keeps pace nicely and keeps a wonderfully cavernous atmosphere for the percussion while the guitars and vocals sound close and intimate.

'Vision:Libertine – The Hangman's Triad' is the result of a band pushing themselves harder than ever before, and the result is a joyous listening experience. Heavy on atmosphere and explicit of content this album feels like the culmination of a career of effort distilled into an immersive two-disc album.  

Review: Helalyn Flowers – 'Sonic Foundation'

'Sonic Foundation'

It has been three years since the last full-length studio album from Helalyn Flowers, 'White Me In // Black Me Out ' was released. The band's surprise release of the 'Beware Of Light' EP last October gave a hint of things to come on the Italian duo's new album, but even that was on;y scratching the surface. The band's latest outing, 'Sonic Foundation' looks to push their boundaries further than before taking in ebm, electro rock, industrial, ambient, gothic rock, techno, and even black metal influences to create a rich blend of sounds.

The album is a heady blend of styles that N0emi and maXX handle with ease. Club-friendly electronic anthems hit hard guitars to create a strong backbone of tracks that compel you to dance as well as bang your head. The likes of 'Beware Of Light', 'Frozen Star', 'Karmageddon', 'Maths Of Chaos', and 'For All The Bad Things' lead the charge as the best examples of the previously mentioned formula.

While tracks such as 'Eerie', 'I Saved And Angel', and the bonus track 'Beware Of Light' featuring Chris Pohl (BlutEngel) throw a few more surprises into the mix with elements of sci-fi ambience, heart-tugging piano, and vampiric decadence respectively adding more depth and diversity to the experience.

In terms of production the album is spot on. It is clean and modern right across the board. The guitars are heavy, the electronics are bold and well mixed and the vocals cut through like a knife to entice some undeniable sing-a-long moments.

'Sonic Foundation' is a strong album. Perhaps Helalyn Flowers' strongest so far. The band hit hard and fast and walk a fine line between their club-friendly side and their rock and metal leanings. It could have gone painfully wrong in a few places. But it doesn't. It works and it works damn well. This is the album that solidifies Helalyn Flowers place.  

Friday, 15 April 2016

Review: Drumcorps - 'Falling Forward'

'Falling Forward' 


After nine years of wait, endless touring across the globe and a DJing junket that would make any EDM tosspot wince, the second album from  Drumcorps (Aaron Spectre) is finally here. 'Falling Forward' is a true labour of love for Spectre, and it's no wonder it took so long to come out seen as he is well known for being a perfectionist. Although many tracks on the album are under the three-minute mark, these little bursts of anger, frustration and melancholy are a worthwhile glimpse into the insanity that lies within Drumcorps mind. Mixing the usual suspects of metal, industrial, breakcore, dub and more 'Falling Forward' is a massive step forward since the début release 'Grist' and is more of a journey than an all out warzone.
Mixing rough with the smooth, tracks like 'Blacklist Whitelist' contrast brilliantly from the noize/breakcore roots to atmospheric numbers like 'We Turned At A Dozen Places, For Love Is A Duel'.

Stand out track is clearly 'Cradle To Grave', a roller-coaster ride of industrial bliss with catchy vocals and a schizophrenic beat that is incredibly addictive. Songs like 'Open Arms' and 'Choose Again' are proof that this is the intended direction for metal and with some of the instrumentals it's a wonder how Spectre hasn't been asked to work in movie or game soundtracks.

Where 'Grist' was a harsh anger-fest bent on provoking raw emotions and tinnitus 'Falling Forward' is a more balanced piece of work, offering listeners a rest-bite from the harsher songs and is far more focused than it's predecessor. 

Also check out Drumcorps mixes from Rob Zombie's remix album 'Mondo Sex Head'.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Review: Atrament – 'Eternal Downfall'

'Eternal Downfall'

Broken Limbs continues its already impressive track record with the release of Atrament's latest offering 'Eternal Downfall'. The Oakland, CA based blackened and crusty death metal outfit that blends influences such as Darkthrone, Unleashed, At The Gates, and Napalm Death into an anarchic and unrelentingly grim pressure cooker.

Spiky riffs and death metal grooves combine with a dense atmosphere of searing brutality. Tracks such as 'No Beyond', 'Aberration', 'Hericide', 'Aeon Of Suffering', 'World Of Ash', and 'Dusk Abuse' are hard, fast and heavy attacks by a band who are methodical and surgical in their musicianship. It may not be the kind of album you'd recommend to someone just beginning to explore extreme metal – as this would probably scare them off after 30 seconds – however for those who love it brutal and in particular miss the heyday of the 90s in the extreme metal genre, this will be an essential album.

The production courtesy of Greg Wilkinson is spot on. Plenty of grit in the mix but not at the expense of the quality and lots of fat bottom end to preserve the grooves. So many times a bad production job anc kill an otherwise good album stone dead, but this isn't the case here. Wilkinson has given the band the exact presentation they need to maintain maximum heaviness and still show off their collective skill.

'Eternal Downfall' is a great album. It's unrelenting, fast, and doesn't set out to do anything other than be as heavy as hell. Fans of extreme metal will easily be able to get into this, and they should. It is has a refreshing no nonsense approach that still manages to sound grand and artistically valid in its execution. It will be very interesting to watch this band develop over the next few releases.

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