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, 26 May 2016

Review: Cynical Existence – 'Through My Eyes'

'Through My Eyes'

Cynical Existence started out as the solo project of Menschdefekt and Project Rotten's Fredrik Croona and has slowly grown into a full band. Keeping one foot in the harsh ebm and aggrotech of the project's birth, their new release 'Through My Eyes' sees Cynical Existence continue to grow and tweak it's sound with elements of edm, dark electro and metal coming to the fore.

The three-track single builds nicely on from the band's last EP 'Echoes' complimenting the slower, darker pace while injecting the kind of big club-filler feel that a single should have. The title track is a nice mixture of hard beats, catchy synth leads, hard guitars framing Croona's tortured vocals nicely for a heavy but still dance-friendly assault. 'Static' from the afore mentioned EP gets a nice new club edit that sees the originals full dance potential teased out a little more. Finally a remix contribution from Benajmin's Plague again for 'Static' gives the song a completely new twist with darker intro, throbbing bass, hard kicks and still maintaining the metallic guitars for a great mix that will surely find favour on dance floors.

In therms of production the single is nice and solid with an emphasis on the dance-friendly elements of the band's sound. It hasn't moved on too much from 'Echoes' and still doesn't quite have that spit and polish you'll find on a lot of releases these days, but it is gritty and nasty where it needs to be and that attitude is what counts for a lot.

This is a great single with some very nice remixes that builds on the recent EP and shows a band continuing to grow and diversify while still keeping the core appeal of their sound intact. Any fans of harsh ebm or aggrotech will enjoy this.  

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Review: In Death It Ends – 'Servitors'


In Death It Ends is an incredibly prolific project. Wrapped in secrecy and with a minimum of information ever released about any releases the project from former Rosetta Stone and Misery:Lab man Porl King has created a unique monster from parts of classic post-punk and proto-gothic/industrial and melded them with modern witch house elements. The project has kept a steady visual aesthetic through artwork and limited merchandise as well that has reinforced the intrigue amongst fans.

'Servitors' is the latest in a long-line of free releases from IDIE that recently have become a get it while you can offer through the band's website. These releases vary greatly in style with some more experimental, and some more raw and punk in construction. But each one feels valid and complete and not just something release for the sake of it.

The new EP delves into experimental electronics with the five tracks – 'Kritanta', 'Sephtis', 'Morana', 'Valdis', and 'Lefu' – built around a similar formula of a core of steady rhythms and bass lines with retro analogue synthesizers breaking up the the entrancing rhythms. The result is a nice retro flavoured new wave feel that feels dark yet futuristic but characteristically haunting atmospherically.

The production is great as usual. King maintains a wonderfully low-fi feel to the recording but simultaneously gives the album a nice sharp and modern edge with a nice sense of space expressed by every track.

Again this is another solid if short release from King that will appeal to long-time fans as well as anyone into retro-flavoured post-punk with a minimalistic experimental slant. It may be free but it is still a high-quality addition to an already burgeoning back catalogue.  

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Review: Angelspit – 'Cult Of Fake'

'Cult Of Fake'

Angelspit return with their sixth full-length album and first on new label Negative Gain Productions. 'Cult Of Fake' sees Zoog and co return in ambitious form. The album is locked and loaded with dancefloors firmly in its sight. Yet it retains a deceptively complex construction that sees their signature crunchy electropunk style revisit samples used in earlier recordings and working them into a fresher and more modern sound. The lyrical content is as witty and full of punk rock attitude as ever and there are so many potential club tracks to choose from that long-time fans will find this an easy album to get their teeth into.

Songs such as 'Thanks For Your Cooperation', 'Cult Of Fake', 'New Devil', 'Out For Blood', 'Happy Murderland', and 'Disaster Porn' are crammed full of big beats, dirty synth bass, sing-a-long lyrics and nasty leads. While the likes of 'Breath', and 'My Little Blade' delve into real old school 80s territory with 'My Little Blade' particular resembling Fad Gadget to add a different slant to the track list.

The production is tight and fresh, geared up for dance floors. B ut it is also a very listenable record. The lyrics are great and meaningful, and the vocals remain nicely mixed throughout so you still get the full benefit of their impact. That's something that sometimes can get lost in albums with a strong dance agenda but in this case it has balanced well.

'Cult Of Fake' is a great album, easily one of the best Angelspit releases so far. There is a great balance of industrial dance and vehement punk rock attitude balanced out quite nicely across all the tracks. Long-time fans will be able to pick this up with ease and it will undoubtedly still attract new fans through casual listeners purely on the strength of the songwriting and composition at work here. Definitely a must have for industrial fans.  

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Review: Katatonia – 'The Fall Of Hearts'

'The Fall Of Hearts'

Ah the sweet sound of Scandinavian misery. There is something about countries like Norway, Sweden, and Finland that just means they can do melancholia so well. Katatonia are one of those bands. For 25 years they have been exploring dark forlorn musical realms. Taking their initial inspiration from the British Doom bands Anathema, Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, Sweden's Katatonia quickly became a force to be reckoned with and by the turn of the millennium albums such as 'Viva Emptiness' and 'The Great Cold Distance' saw the band realise their full potential by diversifying and progressing their sound beyond metal and cutting into the heart of woe.

Fast-forward to 2016 and the band's tenth studio album 'The Fall Of Hearts' is upon us. Building upon their consistently strong and affecting recent output, the band continue to blend doom metal with progressive elements, post rock and ethereal atmospheres to reach deep into the soul and tease out the emotions.

Songs such as 'Takeover', 'Serein', 'Decima', 'Sanction', 'Last Song Before The Fade', 'Pale Flag', and 'Passer' are prime examples of the band's songwriting prowess. The vocals of Jonas Renske perfectly framed by driving rhythms, hard guitars and haunting keyboards. The album has a much more pronounced progressive rock sound than recent albums that benefits from the pop veneer of the production without losing its metallic undertones. The overall effect is not dissimilar from the late 90s output of Anathema but darker, harder and more sombre.

The production, as mentioned before, has a nice pop veneer to it and that's nothing to be scoffed at. This is an album that balances metal, with prog rock and rests a crown of ethereal atmospheres upon it for good measure, which is perhaps the band's most accessible to date. Therefore the album needs, and quite rightly gets the high quality modern production it needs to have the songs sounding their absolute best.

The band's run since 2003's 'Viva Emptiness' has been an enviable one with a consistent trend upwards in terms of quality of releases, and 'The Fall Of Hearts' doesn't break this pattern. The progressive elements sound excellent and add a greater dynamic to the band's atmospheric metal steeped in sadness and loss but more complex and free in execution. Long-time fans will not be surprised or disappointed with this.

Review: Rhombus – 'Purity & Perversion'

'Purity & Perversion'

Two years on from their last full-length album Yorkshire's Rhombus return with a brand new EP of gothic rock anthems more satisfying than a Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. The band have been on an undeniable upward trajectory since the release of 2010's 'Open The Sky' which saw the band firmly consolidate their musical ideas which they continued to expand on the 'Anywhere' EP and 'Here Be Dragons' album over the following years. In that time there has been a lineup change, but this hasn't held them back or limited them. Instead the band push forward their ideas and build on the solid foundation they have been toiling on over the past few years.

'Purity & Perversion' – in particular the Deluxe Version – is a great example of modern guitar orientated gothic rock. The EP was originally released last year and the original tracks have been re-recorded to include the vocals of Alixandrea Corvyn and the track list expanded to include a brand new track as well as a cover of Das Projekt's 'Adrianne Dances' and a remix for good measure. It's enough to make you sweat.

Tracks such as 'Mythos', 'Shimmer', 'Daylight', 'A Moment Today', and 'Written In My Eyes' are prime examples of the band's songwriting ability and how it has continued to grow and expand, becoming more powerful and dynamic while maintaining that core of grooving bass, sharp riffs and the mix of male and female vocals. The band's cover of gothic rockers Das Projekt's 'Adrianne Dances' takes the no frills and somewhat basic gothic rock construction of the original and rebuilds it into a track that is 100% Rhombus.

The production sounds great throughout the album. The band sound huge throughout every song and it is evident that they are learning with every single release. The synthesizers and drums give the songs an epic sense of space while the vocals, bass and guitars cut through the atmosphere to drive the songs forward.

This is another great release from a band that are solidifying their legacy as one of the country's strongest gothic rock acts for a long time. Strong, powerful and most importantly high qualirt, 'Purity & Perversion' is a must have for any fan of gothic rock. Hopefully the band will be back with another full-length release in the near future as well.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Editorial: May, 2016

I'm giving my editorial over this month just to reflect back on the awesomeness that was Joy Division. At the time of writing this it is the 36th anniversary of the death of Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis. And I thought it would be nice to take stock and look at just why this Mancunian band who were only active long enough to release a couple of albums before having to evolve into an entirely new project are so important to indie music.

Joy Division only released two albums – 1979's 'Unknown Pleasures' and 1980's 'Closer' (which came out after Curtis' death by suicide) – these two releases bridged the anger of punk music with the high art of the post-punk scene and infused the end result with tense, introspective lyrics coloured by post-industrial decay. They were a benchmark for the indie scene that was to come and were a big catalyst for what would become gothic music.

The band's use of rhythmic bass leads, subtle hanging synths, anguished guitars, cavernous sounding drums and Curtis' distinctive paranoid bass-baritone vocals have been referenced by bands ever since. Even as the band reformed and evolved under the moniker of New Order – their change in direction to a more dance-orientated sound would go on to provide the inspiration for the more psychedelic sounds of Madchester and Acid House in the late 80s and early 90s.

There was a purity to the Joy Division formula. Their two albums and the later posthumous release 'Still', which would tie together singles and other unreleased material, were complete, succinct and valid artistic statements that struck a nerve with audiences and critics. There was an undeniable raw passion at play. Both album's forward-thinking style of production courtesy of Martin Hannett have imbued the songs with a timeless quality that puts them in the same regions as Bowie's Berlin trilogy.

Altogether the band recorded 43 songs. Played 120 shows. And were in existence for around 29 months. There are many bands who were their contemporaries who outlasted them and have done a lot more to ensure their legacies in the history of music. But Joy Division have still been absorbed into the very fabric of British alternative music. Even their aesthetics – the stark photography of Anton Corbijn, and the design work of Peter Saville – provided the band with a strong visual hook that is still recognised and reproduced today.

Arguably Ian Curtis' death by suicide and the surviving members choice to leave the Joy Division name behind when regrouping surrounded the band in an alluring and tragic mythology. But mythology is only ever on the surface. The influence of the band has been so great and so long-lasting that it is hard to deny that they were just one of those acts that comes along every now and then that just perfectly sums up everything and expresses what you can't express.

Anyway, that's my meandering thought of the day on the anniversary of Ian Curtis' death.

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:

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Review: The Open Eyed Dreamer – 'Free Your Own Mind'

The new solo project from Ghost In The Static front-man and named after the band's two part 'The Open Eyed Dreamer' album and EP, Steve Fearon sets out on his own with a far more electronic path than previous. A teaser of this direction was dropped in February with a rather brilliant cover of Marilyn Manson's 'Dried Up, Tied, And Dead To The World' and the EP expands nicely upon this.

The opening track 'Press Enter to Continue' has a dark martial element to it which is a great introduction before dropping into a blend of eclectic electronics that blend elements of ohGr and modern Skinny Puppy with Infected Mushroom. There is a nice balance between hard dance appeal and playful experimentation on tracks such as 'Simple People' and 'The Last Revolution'. While the likes of 'Waiting' (which also features Mixe1 and Gary Walker) and 'The Final Photograph' show just how far the music can be pushed.

For an EP this is a nice and complete statement of intent. The songwriting is strong, confident and not afraid to play with the listener's expectations. Lyrically Fearon is at his most expressive. The songs play with influences from ebm, synthpop, industrial, rock and techno and blends them into something that feels fresh and modern.

The production reflects this as well with the tracks having the kind of sheen to them that you'd expect from any aqct packing dance floors these days. But there is also a little grit in there, something a little punky and less user-friendly that hints at the unexpected lurking just below the surface.

This is a strong first step for this project. It has a lot to offer and shows a lot of promise in the directions it could possibly move. Hopefully Fearon will follow this up with a longer release in the near future.  

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Review: Various Artists – 'Beat:Cancer: V3'

'Beat:Cancer: V3'

Started by Mark Haigh in 2012 as a reaction to the death of a friend from lymphoma, Beat:Cancer has through it's first two compilations and subsequent live tours gone on to raise over £6000 for Cancer Research UK. Now a registered charity in its own right, the third volume in this successful compilation series returns boasting exclusive and unreleased material from 40 acts across three CDs. The album was officially released on 25
th March in partnership with AnalogueTrash Records at the final Resistanz Festival and comes in a beautiful eight-panel digipak.

With 40 bands on the album it will be impossible to comment on each one and still make this review concise, and the bands I've picked out by no way represent the only good tracks. There is a lot to explore and not much work count in which to do it!

The album pulls together a range of bands from different electronic genres be it industrial, ebm, synthpop/futurepop, aggrotech, noise and just about everything in between. Bands such as Atomzero, ESA, Freakangel, Syd.31, Cease2xist, V2A, Defeat, Machine Rox, Ruinizer, MiXE1, and Ctrl Alt Del provide great club-friendly tracks that will make this album essential for any club night.

While the likes of Beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand, D.E.P. vs MiXE1, Dirty K, Jet Noir, and Tapewyrm, go deep and dark into more avant garde realms. The compilation is a fine balance of genres that shows off the talents of a range of new and established bands who all deserve public support.

Despite the range of genres and recording budgets that are on show here, the album has been mastered really well so that there is no discernible drop in quality between tracks. Also the track listing has been arranged nicely so that there is a nice flow between songs and no sudden shock as one quite track is bookended by walls of harsh noise.

This is not only an essential compilation for any fan of alternative electronic music, but it is a great cause that is visibly making a difference. This is a cause that needs the support of the scene. The enjoyment that these compilations and tours give to fans can only be repaid by putting your hands in your pocket, getting the CDs and tickets and help to beat cancer. 

Review: Grimrik – 'Die Mauern Der Nacht'

'Die Mauern Der Nacht'

A sonic exploration of the boundaries that separate worlds, Berlin's Grimrik blend amazing synthwork with a cosmic sense of scope. The 80's retro sounds evoke Vangelis and Moroder, while the dark atmospherics harken back to the likes of Wongraven and era I Mortiis. The end result id not quite dungeon music and not quite sci-fi fantasy. It is Tolkein meets Lovecraft. The endless unfathomable void of space being harnessed atop the tower of Isengard.

In one sense it is closer to progressive electronics of Wendy Carlos and the Krautrock of Tangerine Dream as much as the atmospheric synthesizers of the black metal offshoot projects of the 90s. Songs such as 'Im Nebel', '
Der erste Kontakt', 'Vor Dem Sprung', 'Vorsichtige Schritte', and 'Letzte Zweifel' are delicate yet malevolent ambient pieces that draw the listener into a near trance of swirling and droning synths over which light melodies play in the cavernous space created. While the likes of 'Teleportiert (Reprise)', 'Im freien Fall (album version)', and 'Erlösung' add subtle beats and in the case of the final track some epic guitar work to create tracks with a little more drive and mass appeal that will entice more than just fans of ambient music.

In terms of the production it is quite retro in its flavours but still perfectly mixed and presented for a modern listener. The 80s synth sounds and electronic drums in particular sound like they have been pulled straight from a fantasy soundtrack. However it doesn't sound cheap or low-fi. If this was an 80s fantasy soundtrack it would have been a big budget one. And that's why this album sounds fresh and engaging.

This is a stunning album that anyone into progressive electronics, krautrock, dark ambient or dungeon music will not fail to enjoy. The deep level of skill in the songwriting and attention to detail in its execution make this a deeply gratifying listening experience. 

The Human Culture

The thing about cultures is that they seem to divide, yet intertwine to become one and the same: the human culture.

It's something I kind of always had subconsciously understood, but never actually truly witnessed until my grand-mother's funeral last Saturday. The funeral home had a chapel, and in the chapel stood flag posts depicting every religion of the world.
Sort-of a multi-purpose room/chapel.

It dawned upon me that what mattered is not so much the place where the service occurs. What matters is what's in people's hearts. To each culture their own way of saying goodbye. But then, we're all saying goodbye.

Each culture has its rites, namely birth, the introduction of a human being in a family, a community, a culture; marriage, the union of 2 beings through love, bringing families together; and death, the ultimate rite of passage, bringing the human being into its next plane of existence.

What makes for the divide is the words used, the clothing worn, the gods worshipped, and the traditions observed. In other words, the richness of the diversity of the world. And then, true to the nature of humans evolving, we come to make our own traditions within our families, our friends, and our communities.

As I grow older, and observe the world itself growing older alongside, I often feel like the world, and human evolution, is at a crossroads. Like we're halfway between traditions that were there before the eldest people alive were even born, and a completely new world and human state of mind, with no points of reference to be found anywhere else but in the visions of the future from old sci-fi movies.

And then on one hand, you've got people embracing the concept of putting computer chips inside human bodies, and on the other, we've got more and more parents refusing vaccines for their children, claiming they do more harm than protection.
Halfway between grassroots and space station vacations.

Cultures everywhere are blending, or more like, anyone living in one of the major cities of the world is likely, at some point or another, to pick and choose elements of all the other cultures surrounding them, and make it their own. Figuring out what rings true inside, and what doesn't, and in the midst of all these cultures, finding who we really are.
Such is the core of human culture.

We breathe in life for the first time, and before we breathe it out for the last, well, we spend our time discovering ourselves, as individuals, in a culture, through a community, a family, a society. Our culture defines who we are, or rather, we define ourselves through the many cultures we choose to embrace.

So whether you're goth, punk or rockabilly, embracing practices in paganism, Buddhism or Hinduism, or which ever culture that strikes a chord inside, what matters is that through these, you find yourself and stay true to your heart.

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