Interview: Dope Stars Inc.

“The main fact is the following: to provide music for free does NOT mean you are harming your record label or that you can’t have any kind of deal with a record label. We decided to close our previous deals because that record labels didn’t want or accept this model, which makes an immense difference.”

IVM Introducing...

This section is open to any band who has formed in the past few years and are currently unaffiliated with a record label, but have at least one demo of some variety available to purchase/download.

Live Review: Wednesday 13 – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 14/03/2015

WEDNESDAY 13 (+ Rival State) Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 14/03/2015

Come to Daddy: 5 Things we want to see in the new Hellraiser ...

"... with the new movie on the horizon here's what us fans would like to see, and not to see happen to our favourite slice of darkness."

The best of Record Store Day 2015

"...with hundreds of releases slated to go on sale on Saturday 18th April there's too much choice to get your head around. With this in mind we've made a shortlist of recommendations that will hopefully tempt you to part with your money and keep our beloved record shops open."

Friday, 27 March 2015


A body of one of the most infamous and reviled kings in British history, long thought lost in the mists of time, is discovered buried under concrete centuries after his death. Conspiracy? Cover-up? It sounds like the beginning of a Dan Brown potboiler. But no– it is England! Now!

The discovery of the body of Richard III and his ceremonial reburial in Leicester this week is a very rare and interesting event in British history. For one thing, it is an event in British history – when was the last time we could witness that? In the compressed, condensed multimedia dirge of modern British political culture this counts as Officially Interesting.

But why is it so interesting? The first thing we can point to is that it brought the ancient, bloodthirsty, violent and turbulent age of pre-modern Britain back to life; something happened that belonged to the middle ages but which actually happened in the twenty-first century. It's difficult to think now that the soil of England, which has barely seen anything but sporadic bloodshed over the past few hundred years, was the scene for waves of wars, coups, invasions and political instability. It's a culture shock which – removed by centuries – is escapist and almost romantic. Kings are buried beneath the car parks of provincial English cities – no, really!

It is also interesting due to the fact that it represents a development; it represents something new. What we thought were the circumstances surrounding the disposal of Richard's body were incorrect. It was a historical finding of great importance, and there haven't been many of those recently.

What is also fascinating is how the old links between church and state in England, having been secularised and modernised for much of the past decades, can swing back into action like a sleeping spy upon hearing the code word. Ceremonies of reburial such as we are seeing this week in Leicester are not things that tend to be standard fare for the state in 2015. It is also important to note how important is was considered not to skimp on the pomp nor circumstances for the reburial of a man who died over 500 years ago.

However, the two most prescient points are regarding Richard the man. The process of excavation, analysis and reburial have led us to re-evaluate the man who has been a byword for English villainy since his defeat. We have few genuine, universal hate figures of authority in England – Cromwell or Thatcher spring to mind, but even they divide rather than unite; we would have to look at a Chamberlain or a Richard III to find someone so universally reviled (and I can write that even as an avowed republican). The man we now see emerges as more complex and maligned, and the very patrician façade of classical British history appears to be de-stuffyfying as we speak.

And finally it shows us that these revelations from the past change nothing at all; the complicated process by which reality is created rolls on, regardless of whether we correctly judge what is happening. If the continuous narrative of British history was to change by dint of new evidence we would encounter nothing but mass shrugging of shoulders and washing of hands. That, though, is the risk of leaving others to make your history – so undertake your own archaeological dig, and discover what secrets you hold.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Review: iVardensphere – 'Fable'


iVardensphere are one of those acts that seem to just get better with every release. Their last full-length studio outing, 2013's 'The Methuselah Tree', was a high-watermark for their tribal infused rhythmic industrial formula. The band proved they could be experimental, cinematic and club friendly all in the same breath and set the bar high for this year's follow-up 'Fable'.

It is immediately obvious though from the stunning opening of 'Million Year Echo' that the band are continuing to push themselves. This one track on its own encompasses everything to love about iVardensphere with it's noisy intro, apocalyptic samples, deep bass, hard but danceable beats and sheer ferocity setting the pace for the rest of the album.

Tracks such as 'Stygian', 'A Tale Of Two Wolves', 'It Is As Blackness Is', And 'Yesterday's Giant' give the album a dark footing with their groovy and rhythmic dance leanings and industrial hardness. While the likes of 'The Woodsman And The Serpent', 'Papa Legba', and 'Terra Sapian' preserve the tribal / world music influenced side of the band's formula creating some more accessible club appeal.

The album is completed by a series of tracks featuring female guest vocalists that add a nice counterpoint to the masculine overtones of the rest of the album with 'Tribes Of Moth' featuring Mari Kattman and 'Disir' featuring Nymm in particular really making an impact on the course of the record. 'Tribes Of Moth' is a great trippy, rhythmic blend of experimentation and pure melody. While 'Disir' layers up acapella vocals to create a tapestry of light and almost mediaeval chorus.

Once again it is evident that the band are pushing themselves harder than ever. The scope of the song writing continues to grow and the production is always able to match it. The band's global rhythms are reflected in a cinematic style of production that even with such heavily layered tracks they sound beautiful and expansive.

The lessons the band learned in creating 'The Methuselah Tree' have been built upon. They've not rested on their laurels and have written an absolute stunner of an album that in its diversity still remains cohesive and focussed. If their previous album was a game changer for the band, then 'Fable' should cement their spot as one of the most interesting and unique bands at the top of the industrial pile.

Review: PIG Vs. M.C. Lord Of The Flies – 'The Compound Eye' EP

'The Compound Eye'

Three years ago Marc (Cubanate) Heal and Raymond (PIG/KMFDM) Watts teased us with "the first new PIG track in 8 years" with demos from their studio sessions together. Ever a perfectionist it took Watts another two years to finish fiddling with them, and added two more new songs and a sprinkling of remixes to keep us sated. Considered a split EP, the release is actually more of a collaboration piece, created all in the same sessions with the same team. Along with these British industrial heavyweights we also see Phil Barry joining his fellow Cubanate cohort, as well as Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly) providing a remix and Eden (Killing Joke) on the producing role. "In a way it's a Cubanate reunion" said Heal, what with Phil's remix and use of his guitar samples."

With it's opening track 'Drugzilla' it is clear we are in for something special. The thick bassline and iconic guitar riffs are what we've been waiting nearly a decade for, and it doesn't disappoint. There is a modern twist to this classic industrial metal piece that rivals anything KMFDM, NIN and (sorry to say this) Godflesh have released in quite a while. 'Drugzilla' oozes a cool mentality with just a pinch of sleaze. Next is the more upbeat title track 'The Compound Eye'. With an obvious nod to Heal's previous work with Cubanate and as Ashtrayhead, this track is what Cubanate's last album 'Interference' should have been like. With it's polished production and Heal's voiced rage bubbling beneath the surface, it's a sure fire hit, and a perfect spring board for any new works he may have coming up. 'Shake' was one of the two demos and is a deep down and dirty jaunt that has a real 'join in' quality. It has a gritty Southern vibe that is sure to raise a smile to any Revco fans out there. The final original track is 'The Doll'. This song is unlike the others in that it's style leans more towards the alternative late 80's style. With a guitar riff that resounds a Sisters of Mercy anthem and a no nonsense attitude from it's vocals, 'The Doll' is a great departure from the faster more electronic heavy tunes on the EP.
By far the greatest remix is the Fulbertron remix of 'Compound Eye'. Turning what was already a great track into a definite club hit, Fulber subtly adds electronic elements without totally masking the original material. This is by far the greatest remix of his career and it couldn't have been with a better set of artists. Watt's own mix of 'Drugzilla' takes us back in time to the 80's style of remixes. Chopping up the samples and drums yet keeping it's vocals in tact, it's the minimalist style that is appealing the most. Phil Barry's Tsetse mix of 'Compound Eye' is a loud and brash sound which won't be to everyone's taste but is a pleasing version non the less. Last is Marc Heal's more somber and simple mix of 'Shake'. Taking everything back a step and letting the vocals have centre stage, it's what you'd expect from the man who gave us 'C-Tec'. Both this mix and Watt's redux are what remixes truly about.These different interpretations of what a song can sound like creates a welcome return to the old skool style made popular in the 80's.

In the years to come fans of the genre and the artists will look back on this release has the perfect precursor. With Watts stating that the new PIG album is near enough finished and Heal promising a retrospective of Cubanate's work within the year, as well as talk of a join tour between the two acts in 2016, it's clear that this is only the beginning.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Review: Various Artists – 'Pistes Noires* (de préférence)'

'Pistes Noires* (de préférence)'

The third compilation release from French label Boredom Products, 'Pistes Noires* (de préférence)' is an electropop tribute to the French pop singer Etienne Daho, and sees seventeen bands taking on his expansive back catalogue from his most recent single 'En Surface' all the way back to his 1981 début 'Mythomane'. Daho may no be an international name, and is best known in Britain for his appearance on the Saint Etienne single 'He's On The Phone'. But in his native France he has enjoyed a long and successful career as both a performer and producer and has collaborated with the likes of William Orbit, Fischerspooner, and Marianne Faithful among others.

Appearing on the album are such names as Tourdeforce, Cyborgdrive, Electrosexual, Destillat, Auto-Immune, and Celluloide who each bring different elements of synthpop, ebm, electroclash, futurepop and new wave elements to the already diverse range of Daho's work. Despite the differing styles, and tackling a varied collection of tracks the compilation maintains a fairly unified sound that works as a traditional album.

It's one of those rare tributes that even if you don't know the originals, the sheer quality of the contributions from the artists render that unimportant. Instead you can look at it as a strong collection of underground electro bands who deserve winder attention. The likes of Tourdeforce's 'En Surface', Cyborgdrive's 'San Antonio De La Luna', Phllox & Blue Belle Nonne's 'Le Premier Jour', Electrosexual's 'L'enfer Enfin', 360°'s 'Des Heures Hindoues', Destillat's '4000 Années D'horreur', Auto-Immune's 'Paris Le Flor', This Grey City's 'Epaule Tattoo', Celluloide's 'Le Grand Sommeil', and Polynomiq's 'Mythomane' are all great tracks and would easily be a centrepiece on their own albums.

The compilation is mixed and mastered well which helps to create the previously mentioned unified sound and gives it more of an album feel as opposed to a collection of songs. Each artist brings their best to the songs and it reflects well on the label for the time and effort that has obviously been put into every aspect of this release, even the packaging is great.

The subject of this compilation might not be well known to many outside of the French speaking world, but as a representation of the French electropop scene it is a great advertisement for a number of bands. 'Pistes Noires* (de préférence)' is a strong album, let alone a compilation and will surely open quite a few people's eyes.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Review: Naked Lunch – 'Evolve' EP


Before this old school electronic act went off to tour with the mighty Covenant across the UK, they released this little slice of what they do best. Evolve is a 4 track EP of re-versions of some of their classic works. since starting in 1979 the group have been more concerned about the music and the ride than getting signed and releasing a back catalogue, and it's because to this that they have formed a quiet cult following. "We used to hate record companies" states lead singer Tony, "Back then it was hard to record and release your own work. Besides, songs will evolve as they get played frequently and we didn't want to get stuck with a sound once it was recorded".

Now with technology creating a more ambient and atmospheric sound, it seems that Naked Lunch are right were they need to be, while also enlisting the help of the smoking gun that is Jet Noir on synth and back vocals. "I've known Tony since I was a teenager; mused Noir "and when I heard his band needed a keyboard player I offered my services."

By the time Jet joined the group she was already doing quite well with her own solo project, and promises that she can easily flit between the two.

Beginning with 'Alone' the EP has a sombre yet effective start. Tony's vocals are deep and formidable, and Jet's backing is a mist upon the tracks landscape. It's follow up 'Glow' has vicious undertones in a light and spacious track and 'Slipping Again Again' sounds like an upbeat ballad for a paranoid man. Ending the release is the bands' live opener 'We Are'. With it's long set up and guitar-in-space sound, it is by far the greatest track.

In all this release is a great starter for new fans, showcasing a great new mix of their older songs (brilliantly produced by Yello's Carlos Peron). This band pre-date the majority of electronic and Industrial bands out there, and this EP throws down the gauntlet to any still alive. With a new album of material on the way this year along with a developed sound including more dance, bass and orchestral tones it is clear that the age of Naked Lunch has only just begun. "we're not part of this revivalist trend of 80's band" said Tony, we are constantly evolving and moving forward."

Interview: Dope Stars Inc.

Do it yourself...

 Photo by Yury Timofeev

“The main fact is the following: to provide music for free does NOT mean you are harming your record label or that you can’t have any kind of deal with a record label. We decided to close our previous deals because that record labels didn’t want or accept this model, which makes an immense difference.”

Italian cyber-rock outfit Dope Stars Inc. led by multi-instrumentalist and producer Victor Love have been around for over a decade honing a blend of heavy but dance friendly rock. Never ones to play by the rules the band have released their last two albums, including their latest offering 'TeraPunk' for free to their fans. A bold move in a world where major labels hound illegal downloaders and many independent bands struggle to see a return from their art.
We caught up with Victor Love to discuss the new album, the band's free music policy, and their fiercely independent and DIY attitude to their craft.

Intravenous Magazine: Your new album 'TeraPunk' was released recently. How has it been received so far?

Victor Love: I can say that the album is getting a really good feedback, almost unexpected, both by fans and critics. So far most of the magazines are giving 'TeraPunk' a very high rating and also the fans seem to be really happy about this release. This time we also hired promoters and publicists in different countries that are helping us a lot and doing a very good job. Considering it is being released for free as for the previous album and looking at the first statistics of sales, streams and downloads I can say that it’s all very promising and exciting.

IVM: Been four years since last album, 'Ultrawired' was released, what has the time between been like for you as a band?

VL: We have been doing a lot of things in the recent years especially about touring. We could make our first full tour in Russia and full tour in North America. After that we took a 1 year break and then in April 2014 I started to write the new songs for 'TeraPunk'. Every experience you do is always influencing what you are doing next and sometimes also having a little break helps you to make up your mind and think better for what you are planning to do stylistically and professionally. The step of 'Ultrawired' has been changing a lot of things on the business side too since we left our labels to become independent and for 'TeraPunk' I could finally think about what kind of deals to make for the best of the album. In particular what I wanted this time is to have a real indie label supporting, producing and distributing the physical release considering that doing it directly is a lot of work and I could not manage it anymore having also a real day job and a personal life. So what I thought is to make an improvement to the model of distribution of 'Ultrawired' and offer on top of all the other options (free download, torrent, soundcloud, legal digital and so on) also the option to get the CD trough regular channels in the physical form (local stores, mailorders and so on).

IVM: You've been the driving force of the band since its inception writing and recording the albums. What are the benefits and drawbacks of this for you and how open to collaboration are you?

VL: There are all benefits from it cause it is just the only way to express the music I write with the sound I like. I have been also working with other producers in the past but I was never totally satisfied to be honest. That is not because this or that producer was not good, instead they were all very professional and with a great taste, but simply there is nobody else that can understand the sound you want better than yourself. As simple as that. Also doing it always this way helped me to increase my skills and experience, not only working for my albums, but also for other bands. To get more experience as producer is also a way to have more tools and ideas for production, hence for songwriting and arrangement. The sound, production and mix is something that is strongly connected to the songwriting. To make you understand I will make an example. The music is made of waves, frequencies and all that physics stuff. There are some passages, arrangements or simply some mixture of instruments that just does not work good for the mix, others are instead working better. Whenever a songwriter is forcing these things is basically confusing the listener because actually the average listener just have a different perception of the song compared to the one the songwriter have. This happens for example also when you work with a band in studio. Sometimes what you hear is different from what the band hear, most of the time it is just a psychological thing. For example many bands have this issue, and this happen also to me, that demos sound better than the super-produced album. That is basically cause they are used to “that” sound which they listened hundreds of times, and they just can’t get used to the new one even if super produced, perfect, crystal clean and louder. That is why the only best way to solve this issue is to do it yourself.

IVM: There has always been a strong cyberpunk connection to Dope Stars Inc.'s albums and imagery. What specific themes and influences informed the writing of the new album?

VL: Yes in the past we had many songs inspired by Cyberpunk novels and the Cyberpunk subculture as well as the whole Sci-fi world. This time instead I wanted to have some lyrics that are more connected to anyone of us, to their inner self, to life experiences, emotions, positive and negative. I thought that it was time to have an album with more personal themes instead of another album inspired by cyberpunk novels. Of course that doesn’t mean I have lost my inspiration from that kind of world that is and will always be part of me, as well as all the other sub-cultures that influence and influenced me. However as most of our fans know I always like to experiment new styles for what matters the production and music and this time I just did the same concerning the lyrics. I also did it cause I noticed that most of our past songs that got an international acclaim were indeed the ones such as 'Make A Star' or 'Bang Your Head' that have indeed some personal or raging themes. So I also wanted to experiment and see what would be the outcome of a lyrical concept like that. That is always cause I am a really curious kind of person and I mostly do anything I do for curiosity and experimentation.

IVM: What kind of gear did you use for the recording and do you typically use the same equipment live?

VL: I basically used no gear. Just a crappy usb audio card, my headphones (bayer dynamics) and my computer and few mics here and there to record in different places where I have been doing recordings. The production this time in fact was a real challenge I did with myself with the aim to see what could be the quality limit I could reach using just basic equipment and limiting the most possible the use of professional gear. What I can tell now is that almost no one noticed that and instead most of the critics said the production is great. So I guess I won already.

IVM: On 13th February you held an online event where fans could listen to the album and ask questions. How successful was it and how important is that level of interaction with fans?

VL: Actually that was just an event on facebook and what happened is that I was so damn busy doing so many stuff that I could not really follow it. I had to stay behind also a lot of different little “technical” problems that some content aggregators had. However the general outcome of the release on SoundCloud and digital (itunes, Spotify etc) was really good and we received a lot of positive feedback.

IVM: The previous album was released for free by torrent, which is a gutsy move in this day and age. What led to that decision and how successful was this for you as a band?

VL: That was a real success and that’s why also 'TeraPunk' is free. We could not manage this time to have it on TPB home page or stuff like that for obvious reasons but however what happened with 'Ultrawired' is that, even if it was downloaded by millions of people, the results of our digital sales, streams on Spotify and stuff like were much better than all our other albums. The reason is simple and mathematical. We are billions in this world and there are basically different kind of fans you can reach. The fans that will just listen, download and stream your stuff and share it with your friends. The fans that would prefer to buy it legally. The fans that would prefer to get the CD. The fans who just won’t care about where they get your music but no matter what they will send you a donation. The fans that comes to your show and eventually buy a CD or a T-shirt they previously didn’t buy. Now it is really pointless in this scenario to “limit” the free downloads simply cause you will just limit the amount of fans you can reach of ANY of the kinds listed up here. What you are doing is basically trying to forbid access to your music to the big part of them in order to let few others to pay for it. The stupid thing is that your album will be anywhere anyway and eventually will also be on Spotify were anyone can just stream it for free basically. So there is really no point in doing this. You will just be considered a narrowhead and dickhead and you are just hurting yourself and your career.

IVM: This time you've chosen to release 'TeraPunk' through the labels Distorsion Products (US) and Subsound Records (EU). How did that come about?

VL: That is the part of improvement of the distribution model we had before 'TeraPunk'. The main fact is the following: to provide music for free does NOT mean you are harming your record label or that you can’t have any kind of deal with a record label. We decided to close our previous deals because that record labels didn’t want or accept this model, which makes an immense difference. A record label is no more no less than a person or a group of persons helping and supporting you. A record label can also just press your physical CD or merchandise or whatever else and you can still keep all your rights on the masters, on the songs and on digital in order to support your project. Most of the labels around though will not accept that cause they want everything, worldwide for five or ten years and want to give you just a small percentage on it. Which is basically a way to rip you off and get the most possible money they can from your project, together with another hundred of other projects like yours, in change of a promotional campaign you have no control over costs and benefits. Instead what I decided to do with this album is to keep the digital in order to invest in promotion and have two record labels to take care of distribution and marketing of the physical copy. Of course one can say, not every band is able or willing to manage all this, to follow all these things and so on. There are bands that just want to sit and let others do all the work, which is OK, I mean, anyone can do what they want yes. In fact anyone can also decide to get ripped off by their label in change of commodities but that’s just what I didn’t want for me.

IVM: The band has previously recorded videos for tracks 'I'm Overdriven' 'Better Not To Joke' and 'It's Today'. Are there any plans for tracks on new album?

VL: Yes, we just release one lyrics video for Many Thanks but in March we are going to shoot the official videos for Dressed Inside Your Fear and Along With You. Stay tuned on our website and once ready you will see it on our site and youtube channel.

 Photo by Yury Timofeev

IVM: Dope Stars Inc. has always been a fiercely independent band. How has this helped you in your musical career?

Thing is it helped me not only as an artist but also on the personal and professional level. What really matters after all is that you know that whatever you achieved you did it with your hands and with your forces. In other words you really deserved it. When I see other bands that are doing debts over debts on advances from major labels in order to push their promotions, pay their $50.000 videos and so on and yeah of course they have a lot of fans, they do a lot of shows and they are basically on tour all the year in order to pay back what their label invested, I think it’s all a bit sad and not fair both for the fans and for the bands. That is not they way it should be I think. These bands are basically slaves of a corporate system that is using them. They basically fake and exaggerate the costs of just anything they do for the band, from the studio to the video clip production till promotion, while we all know how much a studio or a clip cost nowadays. That is basically an huge waste of money, or better I should say, an huge amount of fake invoices. It is a big, enormous fiscal fraud too in my opinion. But that’s how the business work after all, not only in music.

IVM: The band has been around for over a decade now. How has industry changed for bands like DSI since your first album released?

VL: Industry didn’t change so much. Majors are still complaining for piracy, still enjoying for thirteen years old kids condemned for jail or even paying millions for a free download, exactly following a fascist kind of ideology: to punish one to educate one-hundred. There are few indie labels that understood, barely, what is happening and are trying to understand how to move ahead. There are other labels instead, like Subsound Records or Digital Productions that understood it already and do not give a shit about free downloads and stuff. The real tragedy is some labels just do not understand technology and its potential and advantages However a change is inevitable. That is why who created the universe made us mortal: to give us a way to inevitably evolve and change.

IVM: Looking back at your career, is there anything you'd change or advice you'd give your younger self?

VL: Sign the less possible deals, only if strictly necessary. Do it yourself. Distribute your music for free. Let the people choose if you are doing it right or not. Eventually change and try again. Find yourself.

IVM: Touring and playing live is still a necessity for independent bands. How do you find the touring process these days and do you still enjoy playing live?

VL: That is a necessity not only for indie bands but especially for big bands in order to pay their debts, as said before. That is a thing that really few people mention around. You have no idea how many bands there are around that are blocked in this circle. However of course touring is the most important and definitely the real dimension of a band. After all the production, music and song writing has as main target the live show that is the real playground where a band can express itself.

IVM: Can we expect to see Dope Stars Inc. back in the UK any time soon?

VL: I really hope so because UK is a very important country for us and we always had a lot of fans. However I can say that for our kind of music UK has become a bit harder than other countries, not only for us, but I have been told by really a lot of bands the same thing. That is a pity cause UK has always been a “legend” in our teenager’s mind as a place for alternative people. What we have all noticed in the scene however is that there has been a bit of a downer in the latest years for Alternative music. I personally love the UK and have great memories, friends and there are so many bands I love from UK but I would like to see that kind of UK of the 70’s-80’s-90’s that made the history of Alternative music worldwide and changed the life of so many people. It’s still great but I can’t see that kind of mood any more which I feel instead in other, unexpected, countries.

IVM: Finally, is there anything that you would like to add?

VL: I would just like to say that we have a new website now and you can start registering to it. Soon I will upgrade it with some special features that will be available only for registered users but in the meantime you can already create an account and get signed automatically to our newsletter too. That would be the best way to stay in touch and get all our updates in a world were social networks also started to be boring, repetitive and stinking like daily spam.

Dope Stars Inc.'s latest album 'TeraPunk' is available as a physical release through Subsound RecordsDistorsion Products, and Muzicona or for free as a digital download. For more information on the band, including release news and upcoming tour dates, please visit their official website.  

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Review: Sentinel Of Eternity – 'Sentinel Of Eternity'

'Sentinel Of Eternity'

This transatlantic trio spearheaded by French electronic composer Stephen Marty, and rounded off by vocalists Sebastian Elliott (Braindance) and digital artist Salandre. Combining a strong dance-leaning the band combines deep house elements with ebm, darkwave and synthpop to create relentless and infectious electronic anthems. The band's début self-titled album is a manifesto of moody, dark and emotional song-writing that is reminiscent of BlutEngel, Avarice In Audio and Cryogenic Echelon.

The album opens bravely with a full-length instrumental 'Cyberia' that is full of energy and great addictive beats, but seems a little long to be the opening track where a shorter intro would have had more punch. The album is more than equipped to hold your attention though with big anthems such as 'Surrender', 'Monolith', 'Awake My Senses', and 'Out Of the Ashes' that will no doubt get a lot of play in scene clubs. While the likes of 'Desire', 'The Sentinel' and 'Eternity' slow things down and provide a sensual and more feminine gloss to the album.

The album's use of male and female vocals is great and really serves to bring out different elements of the music and there are a few occasions makes you wonder if the roles were reversed and how that would effect the atmospheres of the songs.

The album is really well produced. The songs are richly textured and the vocals flow with mix to create hypnotic atmospheres while the dance appeal is always preserved. It doesn't sound like a new project. It has a sense of experience to it that most bands need to be together for ten years to achieve. But for Sentinel Of Eternity, it seems to have come together instantly.

This is a strong début with a lot of potential. The dance appeal is always front and centre, but it still flows like an album should, and as such can be easily enjoyed in a more intimate environment. Hopefully this project will be an ongoing concern for all involved and they will follow this up with more in the near future.  

Review: Braindance – 'Master Of Disguise'

'Master Of Disguise'

After nearly a decade in Development, Braindance's third full-length album in their 20+ year career finally emerges. Mixing gothic, metal, industrial and a strong middle eastern slant, the concept album – complete with an accompanying sixteen-page comic book – crams everything the band possibly can into it. It's an ambitious undertaking and shows the band are reaching for new heights.

After a short atmospheric intro the band kick off with the album's lead single 'Lost', a sprawling monster of a track that sets the scene well, but feels a bit cumbersome in its execution. 'Eye Of The Storm' fairs a lot better though with a more straight-forward and focussed approach. Tracks such as 'Hunter And Hunted', 'More Than A Moment', 'The Silence', and the 'Valley Of The Kings Trilogy' follow suit providing the album with highlight moments and a strong backbone of hard riffs and decadent electronics.

The shorter tracks 'Dysphoria' and 'Dystopia' that break up the album with a heavy use of vocal samples are an interesting idea, but the execution doesn't quite live up to it. On the other had though is the sumptuous dark and ambient closer 'Entombed' which more than makes up for these two stop-gap tracks.

It's undeniable that a lot of effort has gone into this album. The song writing is strong and the concept is surprisingly easy to follow throughout. But the production does tend to let it down. In way too many of the songs they sound too cluttered, especially with the unnecessary vocal samples liberally sprinkled throughout. One or two set the scene but the others tend to detract from some otherwise great performances. Couple this with an uneven mix and the album comes off as a little bit dated. The end result is like taking a great, atmospheric black and white photo and putting it in the wrong frame.

However, underneath that there is a really good album full of great riffs, strong vocals, entrancing electronics and memorable lyrics that is sure to play well on the live circuit. It just seems like a less is more policy may have helped streamline the sound and help the album keep its focus. Hopefully though we won't have to wait nearly ten years again for the next instalment from Braindance.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Further names for WGT 2015

Wave Gotik Treffen festival has kept the announcements coming hard and fast with a lot of names released that will be playing the event in Leipzig, Germany this year. Artists announced so far:

.com/kill (D) - Accessory (D) - Agent Side Grinder (S) - Antimatter (GB) acoustic and electric performance - Ari Mason (USA) - Ash Code (I) -Ashes You Leave (HR) - Ashram (I) - Astari Nite (USA) - Automelodi (CDN) - Birdmachine (D) - Black Lung (AUS) - Blood And Sun (USA) -Captain Reckless & The Lost Souls (AUS) - Centhron (D) - Cromdale (D) - Deine Lakaien (D) - Die Kammer (D) - Dupont (S) - Eisregen (D) -Empathy Test (GB) - Esa (GB) - Escape With Romeo (D) - Evi Vine (GB) - Faey (D) - Fields Of The Nephilim (GB) 30th anniversary show -Fixmer/McCarthy (F/GB) - Ghosts Of Dawn (D) - Grendel (NL) - Harmjoy (D/USA) - Hezzel (LV) - Jo Quail (GB) - Keluar (D/GB) - King Dude (USA) - Klutae (DK) - Koffin Kats (USA) - L'ame Immortelle (A) - Last Dominion Lost (AUS) - Lisa Cuthbert (IRL) - Majdanek Waltz (RUS) -Minuit Machine (F) - Mono Inc. (D) - Morthound (S) - Mushroom's Patience (I) - Nosferatu (GB) - NZ (A) - Orphx (CDN) - Otto Dix (RUS) -Polaroid Kiss (GB) - Rabbit At War (D) - Rezurex (USA) - Roma Amor (I) - Samsas Traum (D) - Sólstafir (IS) - Seasurfer (D) - Skyforger (LV) -Snog (AUS) - Soko Friedhof (D) - Sol Invictus (GB) perform the album "In The Rain" - Soror Dolorosa (F) - Spencer (CH) - Stoneman (CH) -Substaat (N) - Sweet Ermengarde (D) - Terrorfrequenz (D) - The Exploding Boy (S) - The Other (D) - The Present Moment (USA) - The Saint Paul (D) - Two Witches (FIN) - Unterschicht (D) - Unto Ashes (USA) - While Angels Watch (GB) - Wrangler (GB) -

The festival will take place this year from 22nd May until 25th May. For more information please visit the official Wave Gotik Treffenwebsite.  

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Review: Zoax – 'Is Everybody Listening?'

'Is Everybody Listening?'

London-based quintet Zoax may only be on EP number two with the release of 'Is everybody Listening?' but the bands subtly groovy heaviness has been making a few ripples. They have already got two appearances at Download festival under their belts as well as scoring support slots with the likes of Cancer Bats, Polar, and Architects. You might be forgiven for thinking that's enough of a statement to adequately sum up the band. But you'd be wrong.

Yes, the band base their sound in a post-hardcore formula, but they find themselves at the artier end of the spectrum by infusing quiet and discordant – almost jazzy – interludes as well as an ever present groove that underpins the tracks and which recalls the likes of Glassjaw and Thrice with hints of Deftones brooding.

Aside from the quiet curve-ball of the untitled intro, the album proceeds with speed through tracks like 'Lonely Soul', 'Zero Point Seven', and 'Innocent Eyes', which thrash and writhe under the emotional strains of the lead vocals that switch from screams to thinly melodic at the switch of the hat.

The band are striving for their own identity, and they certainly have the talent to do it... but the fact remains that their less aggressive side is more expressive than the post-hardcore heaviness that is their obvious selling point. They have a strongly progressive, even experimental potential that serves to set them apart, but is still stifled by an unnecessary reliance on fashionable heaviness. The band have skill and depth and would really benefit from pushing themselves in a less formula-driven direction.

There will be many out there who will cry out that with a confident display of power and emotion such as this, that the band have sprung from the Earth fully formed. True, they sound like they could be on their third album already.... but therein lies the crux of the problem. It's still too familiar. Too safe. There are the potential elements here to really make themselves stand out from the crowd, but as of now they're just rudimentary quirks to their sound. They could stick with this formula and with the backing of a label like Century Media sell some respectable units. Or, they could go for broke and really push themselves beyond what everyone else is doing and break new ground. Time will tell.

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