Interview: Marc Heal

“It’s funny, having worked so hard to make a living out of music I found once I’d got there that I’d broken myself in the process. I needed a break to do some, uh, emotional housekeeping.”

Live: Katatonia – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 07/05/2017

KATATONIA (+ TheGreat Discord, Ghost Bath) Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 07/05/2017

Wave Gotik Treffen - The Preview June 2017

The gathering of 2017s Wave Gotik Treffen, is but a month away. Time to get the fascinators out and the boots polished!

Review: Mortiis – 'The Great Corrupter'

MORTIIS 'The Great Corrupter' OMNIPRESENCE PRODUCTIONS

Review: Freakangel – 'How The Ghost Became'

FREAKANGEL 'How The Ghost Became' DIGITAL WORLD AUDIO

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Review: :Wumpscut: – 'DJ Dwarf 15'


:WUMPSCUT: 
'DJ Dwarf: 15' 
BETON KOPF MEDIA


As much as I love the Roman numerals of :Wumpscut: releases, it is some ways a lazy breath of carbon monoxide to know actually which CD I am looking at, and not relying on the artwork. One part always remembered is the sheer number of tracks possessed on the DJ Dwarf releases, that compile a variety of grinds and cuts from the holy butcher of gothic industrial.

‘That Was The Life That Was’ is a direct injection of percussion, perfect for applying dark lipstick, and clipping a knife above the thighs to the bass garter; as Rudy Ratzinger’s theatrical play is about to begin.

There are two things you need for a :Wumpscut: song:
1. Theatrical music of the old century Vs the new modern age of mournful brutality, which has turned into filth.
2. A combination of vocals that are brutally short, yet soft to the sweetest touch.

‘Rattengift’ takes a slower approach of these characteristics, falling into a melody of poison, then its remixed twin ‘2nd Face’ kicks in with a heavier work on the ear from the blade. ‘Gangraen (Reactor 7X Remix) gets’ the EP rolling into the 21st century dance grind. A harsh alteration of rhythm; nevertheless you can feel the trigger being stroked gently, as a throwback of vodka/met cocktail gets the ye olde reactor pumping again.

‘The Grim reaper’ takes you on a walk through Ratzinger’s trance smog violins, and carries you with disturbing rhythm. Slowly along that dance you’ll fall through the invisible wall of ‘iVardensphere’ where the old sound vanishes and a deep pound of bass brings you into a tribal industrial theme.

Advent Resilience bring some disturbing joy into this death dance, with ‘Oh Mein Kuemmerling’ pouring the blood from shoulders to hands, the beat reminds me accurately to recent project Blac/Kolor. Keeping in with that modernisation, ‘Kamerad Kapput’ is either going to make or break DJ Dwarf for you (thus put the disc in your mouth and let your teeth be the best judge!) I think to describe this song would be :Wumpscut: on snow freestyle. 

After that setting on the delightful snow, ‘Wish I Was A Failure (Reactor 7x Remix)’ decides to stab you back to a place of sweat, black & tanzified dirt; that filth is a bit harder to rub out of the veins. ‘Advent Resilience’ provides another remix that brings the same joy on bloody skin in maniac fashion, however this time with cyber elements.

Piano keys introduce you to a stomp that picks up momentum quickly and becomes more electronic ‘Oh Mein Kuemmerling (Cynical Front Remix)’. Another immediate change in tone occurs into Electro swing.  ‘Das Deutsche Schwert (Advent Resilience Remix)’ is an odd rhythm to dance with axe to put it frank, more unexpected than anything else it’s a bass thud ballad. 

‘The Grim Reaper (Nigen Remix)’ begins its ascent strung chords of dark violin percussion, however this track swings into a ballad of dubstep, this being the softest of the compositions of the genre, and is a twisted way to end it.

This DJ Dwarf release is an interesting experiment. There are core elements of blood and witchcraft similar to previous, however a sheer amount of new genres have been added. If you haven’t resorted to compact disc in the throat; then you may get Rudy’s thoughts of implementing it into his music. Here are genres are growing into the alternative scene, and you shall either love it or hate it.

Reviewed by Dominic Lynch aka DJ LX-E

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Monday, 30 March 2015

Interview: [:SITD:]

A grinding of an old turbine...



























"I believe there is a stagnation at the moment that many new bands are coming to scene, though the headliners are continuously the same at many festivals, after ten years and this is what I see when I go to festivals. But the main thing is the scene is still living." 

Snuff machinery deals with a lower lax of German industrial. Slower vocals, that are easier for the body to break away with the main beats beyond minute of the typical industrial EBM genre.[:SITD:] is as group that bring in  vocals that reveal a beacon of hope, from the thick sulphur fumes of Germany’s heartland. Only to be engulfed by the ignition of a coal burning thump from heavy electronic drum machine tones. 
2014 gave out Dunkelziffer into the atmosphere, a composition of a typical [:SITD:] album. The tone is certainly a 2014 noise of the group with a much cleaner detail of sound & vocals, though is this relief to listener’s electronic eardrums? Or a clear sign of industrial technology making a harsh move.
Maturation of the group in comparison to the likes of similar artists, is a strong resilience against the new norm of new genres entering the alternative scene. 


Intravenous Magazine: Is there anything you would like to say towards Dunkelziffer and what is embedded inside the tracks? 

[:SITD:]: To describe it, we find it the darkest album by far! Due to the themes within that enveloped through no pre meditation, we made our style. We don’t consider the volume of electronics or lyrics in a song, it just is created and the rest flows. We stop halfway and listen back and then we discover which direction the song wants to take. Whether that is also in Deutsch or English. 


IVM: Are you together when the songs are being created? 

Carlsen: Yes and no, sometimes at 3am we could have an idea and Tom will go to his keyboard and he will send it, and I will think of lyrics that go with the flow. 


IVM: Bauer Sucht Frau or Come to dine with me? 

[:SITD:]: Both of us love trash TV, so obviously Bauer sucht Frau. 


IVM: Who is the best cook after the two? 

Tom: Probably me! 

Carlsen: No comment. 


IVM: As [:SITD:]of 2014, have you had to become Graphic designers, social media managers, video production as well as music producers, in order to deal with the increase in technology & cost efficiency? 

Tom: By ourselves, definitely not, we have our graphic designer 2- 3 months ago we produced our official video. This area is covered for. 


IVM: With the way that the scene is going, do you think it is down to the festivals, needing to mix-up the flavour with new blood? 

Tom: The only thing I think I can say is that the amount of festivals, especially in Germany is growing and growing and maybe this has a negative effect on single concerts. As an individual person may see it as a better to use his or her money if they can see multiple artists, instead of attending a concert.


IVM: Have you as music artists seen the quality in how you are treated at festivals or concerts gone down or up contract related? 

Carlsen: It is difficult to say, as we play in multiple countries and our status varies, as we are quite well known in Germany, but in North America this differs. Overall we believe
Going back to the way the scene is going at the moment, do you think is confused in which direction it will go? 

Tom: I believe there is a stagnation at the moment that many new bands are coming to scene, though the headliners are continuously the same at many festivals, after 10 years and this is what I see when I go to festivals. But the main thing is the scene is still living. 


IVM: Were you aware of the problems tonight? 

Tom: We didn't know what was the playback issue in the beginning, we had low volume, and we tried to fix this with the sound engineer; though he didn’t know the reason and after the 3rd song, it was better but only by the 4th song all systems were running.


IVM: When you were singing Carsten at the beginning do you find it frustrating to perform, that would lead you to wait until the problem is fixed? 

Carsten: Every concert is a challenge, the problem was that we were under a strict time schedule, and we would end up having to shorten the show, we wanted to keep playing.


IVM: If live music isn't nearing a comparison to what it may sound like in the studio, is this adding to frustration? 

Tom: It is always a different situation to a studio whether it be a small club or Blackfield Festival, it will never sound in comparison to the quality of a studio, but that is good quality in itself.


IVM: With platforms such as Soundcloud and the ability to analyse the statistics do you allow it to impact the song creation, from possible favourability over certain styles? 

Tom: Absolutely not, of course we are looking at that for curiosity, though it does not really affect the creation of our work.

IVM: Who would you like to be in Hannibal? 

Carlsen: What we don’t like Hannibal! Ask us about Breaking bad!


IVM: You like Breaking Bad??? Why? 

Tom: It is the best, have you not seen what happens in the seasons?


IVM: With the way that bands in the scene are needing to change their model for cost reasons and revenue stream, is there any way in which [:SITD:] has innovated itself to deal with the challenges of keeping it alive? 

Carlsen: Not really actually, from the beginning we found a way and style to handle different situations whether good or bad, though we don’t have any special models. In our band, I am responsible alone for the music and cost and Carsten is responsible for the lyrics, so there is no special plan.


IVM: So with the emergence of platforms such as Spotify, which obviously has negative affect on [:SITD:] CD sales, not to forget file sharing. You haven’t consider Meth production as a new source of income for Band? 

Tom: The Interview is now over! 


IVM: Billy Idol or Tokio Hotel? 

Tom: Is that a serious question?


IVM: By this moment I believe I found out the secret to the industrial cooking pot of the band....Trash TV! 




[:SITD:]'s most recent album 'Dunkelziffer' is available to buy now through Asscension Records. For more information on the band, including release and tour news, please visit their official website


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Friday, 27 March 2015

RICHARD III: YOUR DEATH ATTEND



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.

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Review: iVardensphere – 'Fable'



IVARDENSPHERE
'Fable'
METROPOLIS RECORDS


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.

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



PIG Vs MC LORD OF THE FLIES
'The Compound Eye'
ARMALYTE INDUSTRIES 


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.

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

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



VARIOUS ARTISTS
'Pistes Noires* (de préférence)'
BOREDOM PRODUCT


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.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Review: Naked Lunch – 'Evolve' EP


NAKED LUNCH
'Evolve'
SUB CULTURE RECORDS 


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."


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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?

VL:
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.  

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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Review: Sentinel Of Eternity – 'Sentinel Of Eternity'



SENTINEL OF ETERNITY
'Sentinel Of Eternity'
ETERNAL RECORDINGS


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.  

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Review: Braindance – 'Master Of Disguise'



BRAINDANCE
'Master Of Disguise'
PROGRESSIVE DARKWAVE RECORDINGS


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.

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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.  


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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Review: Zoax – 'Is Everybody Listening?'



ZOAX
'Is Everybody Listening?'
CENTURY MEDIA


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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Review: The Dreaming – 'Rise Again'



THE DREAMING
'Rise Again'
METROPOLIS RECORDS


Comprised of former members of Stabbing Westward, LA-based dark rockers The Dreaming already have a lineage that creates certain expectations for this new endeavour. However, as their last album, 'Puppet' showed, the band have all the tool they need to solidify their name in their own right. Last year's lead single 'Alone' was a good indicator of where the band were looking to take their third album 'Rise Again', and it sounded very promising.

Fast-forward and the album is here, and the band are definitely living up to that promise. The album kicks off with the explosive 'Alone', which is just as strong as the bands, new wave-meets-darkwave style gets. It's a great song that sets the album up nicely and is built upon by anthemic numbers such as 'Painkillers', 'Empty Promises', 'Throw It Away', 'Blink Of An Eye' and 'Rise Again'. The album is heavy on sing-a-long choruses, emotional lyrics, dance-friendly electronics and great guitar riffs which makes it instantly accessible to anyone hearing them for the first time.

There is a set formula that the band don't really deviate from too much. But they do manage to bring things in for the odd slower and softer number. But ultimately it doesn't break ranks with the up-beat electro rock that informs the majority of the album. And while that creates a strong unified sound, it does leave a question mark as to whether this is their comfort zone and whether they will throw any curve balls at us, as they have the talent and musicianship to do it and still be great.

The album is extremely well produced and could easily hold its own against a bigger budget, major label band on the radio. The synths and guitars never swamp each other and vocals soar through the mix with ease.

With this level of song-writing the band have upped their game on 'Rise Again' and will safely put to rest any comparisons to Stabbing Westward. The album is strong, accessible, memorable and relevant. And with a label like Metropolis backing it should be a firm footing from which the band can establish themselves internationally. 

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Monday, 16 March 2015

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



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


Wednesday 13 has enjoyed a level of longevity that can only be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Alice Cooper and The Misfits. But unlike Cooper and The Misfits, since his international breakthrough with the Murderdolls on their 2002 début 'Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls' Wednesday 13 has been consistent in the quality and frequency of his releases. Even before this, he laid the groundwork for his psychotic horror inspired blend of punk and metal with bands such as Maniac Spider Trash, as well as the now legendary Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, and this formula has carried through into his solo discography, finding a willing audience with every release.

Looking at the crowd tonight its easy to see that despite being a 20+ year music veteran, Wednesday 13 still finds favour with a young audience as well as keeping his long-time fans happy. His latest UK tour in support of his sixth full-length solo album, 'Monsters Of the Universe: Come Out And Plague', sees Wednesday on perhaps the strongest form of his career so far.

First off though, we have support act Rival State. This New Zealand formed, now UK-based quintet seem like a good fit on paper. Their punk-tinged grungy metal formula complete with mosh-friendly riffs and sing-a-long choruses arouse the interests of a few members of the audience. Their energetic performance, especially that of their frontman, is a by the books exercise straight from the pages of rock 'n' roll 101. But despite all of this they seem rather generic.

The songs are pretty standard, and even the band's “black jeans + black t-shirts + frontman in a leather biker jacket = RAWK!” presentation just comes off as totally derivative. It's one of those situations that, while there is nothing wrong with their set, it just doesn't stand out in any way from a myriad of other bands. As a result you can't help but list in your head all the other domestic bands who would have complimented the headliners more.

When it comes time for Wednesday 13 and his band to take the stage you know you're in for a real show. From the opening bars of the intro 'Death Arise' the band embark on a furious and theatrical set that compliments the conceptual charge of the new album. Complete with masks, makeup changes and mood lighting Wednesday 13 holds the audience's attention through every song and shows just what a performer he is as he creeps about the stage like a twisted monster from outer space.

The set is heavy on new cuts from the band's latest, and heaviest, album with the likes of 'Keep Watching The Skies', 'Astro Psycho – Galactic Blood Drive', 'Serpent Society', 'Bombs, Guns, Gods – This Is A War' and 'Monsters Of The Universe' getting a welcome airing. But he also makes plenty of room for fan favourites such as 'Look At What The Bat's Dragged In', 'Skeletons', 'Hail Ming', 'Get Your Grave On' and 'Scream Baby Scream'. The encore also gave a rare airing of the Frankenstein Drag Queens classic 'Scary Song' as well as the undeniably brilliant 'I Walked With A Zombie' and ' Bad Things'.

The band were tight throughout the set and Wednesday's vocals sound as good as ever with only the lead guitar sounding a little high in the mix in places, but not enough to swamp the rest of the band. It's a very strong outing befitting a performer of Wednesday 13's calibre and one that proves he is the king of schlock 'n' roll... and long may he reign too. 

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Thursday, 12 March 2015

The best of Record Store Day 2015


It's just over a month until Record Store Day arrives again. A day where lovers of physical formats can grab bargains and a slew of limited edition vinyl, CD and cassette releases for one day only. Record Store Day came into being in 2007 when over 700 independent stores in the USA came together to celebrate their unique culture. The UK followed suit and 2015 will see the eighth celebration of the UK's unique independent sector.

There are over 200 shops across the UK participating in Record Store Day 2015 and the official website has a handy store locator so you have no excuse from visiting your nearest shop and grabbing yourself a bargain.

But 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.


ADAM & THE ANTS
"King Of The Wild Frontier / Ant Music"
7” Vinyl 

BRIAN ENO
“My Squelchy Life”
Double Vinyl

CATHEDRAL
“VIIth Coming”
Double Vinyl

DAVID BOWIE
“1966”
Vinyl

DEEP PURPLE

“Black Night / Speed King”
7” Vinyl

ELECTRIC WIZARD
“Time To Die”
Double Vinyl


ERASURE
“THE VIOLET FLAME REMIXES”
12” Vinyl

FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM
“FALLEN”
Vinyl


HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH
“Original Cast Recording”
Vinyl 

IAN DURY
“New Boots and Panties!!” Expanded Edition
Double Pop-Up Vinyl 

IGGY POP
“Shot Myself Up”
Vinyl & 7”


JIMI HENDRIX
"Purple Haze / Freedom"
7” Vinyl


JOHNNY CASH 
“Man Comes Around / Personal Jesus”
7” Vinyl

KILLING JOKE
“LIVE AT THE HAMMERSMITH APOLLO 16.10.10”
Vinyl

MANIC STREET PREACHERS 
"The Holy Bible"
Picture Disc

MARK BURGESS 
“View From A Hill”
Book & Download Code

MASTODON 
“Atlanta”
12” Picture Disc

MINISTRY 
“Trax Box!”
7 CD / Vinyl / Book


MONTY PYTHON 
“Galaxy Song (Stephen Hawking Version) / Galaxy Song”
7” Vinyl


MORBID ANGEL
“Juvenilia”
Vinyl


ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVERS IN THE DARK
“Julia's Song (Dub Version) / 10 To 1”
10” Vinyl 


THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW
“Original London Cast”
Vinyl

PERE UBU
“Elitism for the People Pere Ubu 1975-78”
4 x Vinyl Box

PUBLIC IMAGE LTD
“LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL 2011”
Vinyl

THE RESIDENTS
“SATISFACTION”
7” Vinyl

ROBERT PLANT
“More Roar”
10” Vinyl 


ROSE MCDOWALL
“Don't Fear The Reaper”
12” Vinyl

ROXY MUSIC
“Ladytron (Previously unreleased unedited vsn) / The Numberer (Steven Wilson Stereo Remix)”
10” Vinyl 


RYUICHI SAKAMOTO & DAVID SYLVIAN
“Bamboo Houses / Bamboo Music”
7” Vinyl

SEX PISTOLS
“Never Mind The Bollocks (Picture Disc)”
Picture Disc


SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES
“Join Hands”
Vinyl

SLAYER
“When The Stillness Comes/Black Magic (Live At Wacken 2014)”
7” Vinyl

SWANS
“Swans EP”
12” Vinyl

SYD BARRETT/R.E.M 
Dark Globe” 
7” Vinyl 

T. REX
“Light Of Love”
Picture Disc

TEST DEPARTMENT
“Tested Product”
Vinyl

THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN
“Psychocandy. Live. Barrowlands.”
Vinyl


UK DECAY
“Rising From The Dread”
12” EP


VENOM
“From The Very Depths”
Double Vinyl 


THE YARDBIRDS
“Rarities EP”
7” Vinyl


We hope that makes your choices a little easier for you. A full list of releases is available to download HERE. Keep an eye on the official Record Store Day website for new release updates, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don't miss anything.

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Review: Je$us Loves Amerika – 'Falling' EP


JE$US LOVES AMERIKA
'Falling'
ARMALYTE INDUSTRIES 


Following on the wings of their previous two EPs, Je$us Loves Amerika finishes up their '3 Colours Trilogy' with 'Falling'. Unlike it's predecessors, this EP is a sombre and fitting end to the band's latest opus, with it's title track being more of an industrial ballad. With synth samples taken from The Beatles 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds', it creates a dreamscape of euphoria that gives the listener nostalgic pangs of lost love. What starts as a moment of clarity fast becomes anger within hidden emotions.

Remixes come in the form of label mates Paresis, Digicore and i!. Paresis turns the song sinister and menacing whilst Digicore makes it a stealth fuelled masterpiece and wouldn't be out of place on a trailer for a thriller flick. i!'s two mixes are a combination of the avant garde and the down-right odd (which is what you'd expect from them).

The real gem in this record though is it's finale. Called the 'vocal mix', this nine-minute dub track of 'Falling' takes on a mind of it's own. It is more evenly played out than it's original counterpart and is reminiscent to the Killing Joke remixes back in the 90's. It's only downfall is the fat synth that lands on top of it two-thirds of the way in, creating a wall of noise that simply does not work for this song, but you can still enjoy the track as an experience.

In all it makes for a good set of tunes in the '3 Colors Trilogy', if you were to put them together you'd have good enough tracks for one EP. You probably won't like all the stuff you hear, but you can easily pick and choose your favourites.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Review: En Esch – 'Spänk!'



EN ESCH
'Spänk'
DISTORTION PRODUCTIONS


It is hard to believe that thirty years into his career as one of the most recognisable names in industrial music, that En Esch is only on solo album number two. With fifteen years service with KMFDM, as well as tenures in Pigface, Slick Idiot and recent collaborations with Mona Mur, the German multi-instrumentalist only dropped his, until now, one and only solo offering back in 1993 in the form of 'Cheesy'. It may be a little overdue but En Esch's body of work speaks for itself with fans successfully funding a Pledgemusic campaign to make this album happen. And their faith is definitely repaid.

Kicking off with a stomping single in the form of '12345', which sees him collaborate with former band-mate and Ex Marilyn Manson member Tim Skold, he sets the album up to be a strong mix of heavy guitars and catchy electronics that recalls the heyday of the 90s Wax Trax! Scene of which he was instrumental.

Songs such as 'Give The People What They Want', 'Do Me', 'We Love To Hate', 'No Guts No Glory', 'Ich Bin Ein Berliner', 'Spaenk' and 'This Party Ain't Over' cover everything from dance-friendly electro-industrial, through to hard and heavy NDH. He even throws in a curve ball with the annoyingly addictive and demented 'I Hop'. The album presents a full cross-section of En Esch's strongest song-writing styles and some memorable collaborations with the likes of Guenter Schulz, Erica Dilanjian, MMTM .

The album doesn't throw up anything particularly different or controversial in its content compared to what we are used to from En Esch, and as such it feels instantly familiar. But at the same time when you consider the number of artists he has collaborated with over the years, there isn't a style he hasn't touched on at some point and has made its way into this album.

The album does have one or two points that need raising. Firstly is some of the intros to the songs, particularly in the first half of the album can be a little weak in places and repetitive. And secondly, it is a long album – the full 80 minutes on a CD. Now personally I think this is great when a lot of artists struggle to give you an hour of music, but in the digital age it may be too much for some people's attention spans.

At the end of the day though, 'Spänk!' Is everything we hoped it would be. It is a well written, diverse and well produced album that shows off the full extent of En Esch's skills and experience as a songwriter. Hopefully we wont have to wait twenty years for solo album number three!

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Review: Green Elder – 'Offering'



GREEN ELDER
'Offering'
SELF-RELEASED


Neofolk can be a divisive genre for some. For others though it is a a pure expression of of emotive songwriting that is simple in its construction, but heavy on its atmosphere. A natural bedfellow of, doom, black metal and industrial, there has been much cross-pollination over the years, so its no surprise that the man behind Appalachian atmospheric metal band Twilight Fauna has chosen to build his other project Green Elder around the genre.

'Offering' is a two-track EP built around two sides that musically conveys the atmosphere of the brief Summer months. The first side contains 'Mountain Storms' a track built around a simple repetitive guitar riff augmented by flourishes of samples and accordion, with very soft vocals occasionally rising up before fading back into the mix.

The second side, 'Cairn Of Starlight' builds upon the guitar lead for a more complex but ultimately lighter traditional folk framework that keeps the soft vocals the blow through like the wind. This then fades into a a delicate extended outro that captures the atmosphere of looking up at the stars on a clear Summers night.

The EP may be a completely self-produced and self-funded exercise, but in terms of its production you wouldn't know. It's light and delicate construction has been mixed down with care so as to yield the maximum atmosphere, and it shies away from any glaringly low-fi elements that can crop up in recordings of this type.

Green Elder captures what good neofolk is all about. It is simple, haunting, beautiful and inspiring. It conjures images and narratives in the listeners mind with only the most basic of tools. Fans of the genre will undoubtedly enjoy this. And hopefully there will be more to come from this project in the future. 

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Come to Daddy: 5 Things we want to see in the new Hellraiser (and 5 things we don't)

"You opened it, we came" - The Lament Configuration

For the last two years horror master Clive Barker has been giving us little to no clues to what lies in store for us with his final chapter on the reboot of his classic horror series 'Hellraiser'. Barker hasn't really been involved since the third film, calling most after 'Hell On Earth' a bastardization of his work, but 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.


Things we'd likes to see 

1) Classic Barker
Since he left the 'Hellraiser' franchise back in 1993, Barker has been keeping himself busy. With cult success from movies like 'Nightbreed' and 'Candyman' to the Books of Blood series and other works of literature. His last few films have had little notification, with 'Midnight Meat Train' possibly being the stand out of the bunch. The last thing we want is for him to write something that will easily be forgotten. To any who have read the book 'The Hellbound Heart,' you will know that it is filled with stuff that at the time could not be conceived at that point in movie history. The first chapter alone with Franks' re-birth and awakening to the world changing around him once he opened the box, was changed to a more brutal, yet still satisfying scene. We hold out hope for a bigger budget so he can realize the tales true potential.


2) A sturdy origin tale
As Barker was not involved in the writing or creative background of the fourth installment to the franchise it was up to new blood to create a new twist for the origins of the Hell we had seen so far. Doug Bradley's character as the enigmatic Pinhead had been given a good origin story in 'Hell on Earth', so the only conclusion was to go even further back for a good story. 'Hellraiser: Bloodline' is about a man on a spaceship (yup, it's one of those sequels) that comes from a long family line starting with a toy maker who made the puzzle box. Known as the "Lament Configuration" (after it's creator) it is a box that once opened will bring forth the soldiers of Leviathan and send you back to their world for more than a bit of slap 'n' tickle. There are two tales told of the box. The first is told partly in The Hellbound Heart' and is given an epic backstory in the comic book series. The other comes in the fourth film, where space-age Lamerchand must call forth Pinhead and his army to put a stop to the curse on his family once and for all.
We have been tantalized by Barker that he will be doing his own origin story in the new film, where it shall be set on Devils Island with Lamerchand. Other than that it's anyone's guess on what will happen, but lets hope it's good.


3) Doug Bradley returns!
Good news people! It has already been announced that Doug Bradly, the man behind the pins, shall be returning to the role of Pinhead in this reboot. Barker has stated that there was no question on who should play the head of the Cenobite family (he bowed out when it came to the last film). It's good news for fans as he was the only thing keeping the franchise alive after Clive left for pastures red. Bradley had once admitted that the only reason why he took the role in one of the later films was because his wife said they needed a new fridge(!) so lets hope he's back on form for when the chains fly.


Lets not make this mistake again...

4) A Great score
In the first film the iconic music score was written by Christopher Young. Although it is a well known piece it was not the first choice. Originally the job had fallen to Industrial duo Coil, who wrote something so terrifying Clive Barker called it "Bowel churning"! It was rejected, but still released as an EP, and Young took on the role and wrote for the first two movies, gaining a Saturn Award for best music for his troubles. Since then he's been keeping busy, making scores for horrors such as 'Nightmare On Elm St. 2: Freddy's Revenge' & 'Drag Me To Hell'. Barker would be a fool to miss out on the opportunity to bring back that epic orchestral score that kept us awake at night. Failing that Mr. B (see what I did there) can always ask some of the more modern composers. Charlie Clouser ('Saw', 'Resident Evil 3'), Danny Lohner ('Underworld') and maybe even Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails, 'Tetsuo: The Bullet Man', 'Gone Girl') would probably jump at the chance (Reznor being a huge fan and even writing a song inspired by Books Of Blood).


5: Leviathan
Not much is known of the God featured in the second installment to the franchise. Seen as a giant diamond in the sky, the omnipotent being decides upon whom shall become one of his army of Cenobites, and even shines a black light over you to discover your secret sins. After the box was closed inside Hell, causing him to close into itself, we saw no more of this gargantuan figure. Perhaps after Barker left so did the inventive way of writing, rendering the series less of a journey through a persons soul to more being a thriller or gore-fest. We hope to find out more about this dimension and what else it may hold.


Hell has no time for health & safety, just don't look down.

5 Things we REALLY don't want to see 


1) CGI
We may be safe on this one, but it depends on what the film companies and producers say. Barker has always hated CGI, and any true fan of the film series will solidly agree that it has little to no place in the new film. When the first movie was made it was all done through animatronics, and it still holds true today. From Frank's return after drinking Larry's spilled blood, to the skeletal dragon that takes the box away, it still has a gripping effect and will engross and amaze even the new younger fans. If CGI was added it would ruin the realism and would ultimately cost more, leaving little creativity on set and less fun for the cast and crew. If you don't believe me go back to the first one, go on. Head over to your DVD collection, pick it out and watch all 93 minutes of it and tell me it still doesn't kick ass!


2) Changing the movies' theme
The major buzz-kill for near enough every Hellraiser fan was watching the fifth film, 'Hellraiser Inferno', and finding that gone were the intricate plot lines over good and evil (and the questioning of what WAS good and evil) and in it's place was more a gritty cop thriller. What followed was a dull head-fuck that left us bored and unsurprised by it's ending (I won't give it away if you haven't seen it, I wouldn't want to waste the word count). The only good thing to come out of it were some creative Cenobites (that didn't even get a lot of air time) and the fact that the lead character of Detective Thorne was played by Craig Sheffer. The ardent Barker fan would remember the name as he had played the lead role of Boone in Barkers' earlier work 'Nightbreed'. The films after that just got even worse. Even a reprise role of Kirsty Cotton and even another glimpse into the world of the Lamerchand linage wasn't enough to keep us sated, and when 'Hellworld' came along it was a gracious attempt at a clever story, but only if it had been done ten years previous it may have gone down A LOT better... I shall even spare you from the horrific 'Revelations'. I'm just glad I live in the UK where I don't have the autistic yearning to buy the piece of stool. Venting aside, I think we may be safe on this one. The only person who hates those movies more than us is Clive Barker himself, but once again he has to face those dreaded movie execs.


3) Pointless gore or 'Jump scares'
In modern day 'horror' the genre is split into two themes. The first are the jump scares, mostly coming from "found footage" movies like 'Paranormal Activity' (yawn). The second is UBER GORE! AKA lets take an original film and take it to the hilt to see if anyone gets grossed out or pissed off at it's content (*cough* 'Evil Dead' *cough*). Both of these have no place in the 'Hellraiser' world. Sure the original trilogy had a lot of gore, but it all served a role. Adding unnecessary gore to this new film would be like a Steampunker adding cogs to a coffee mug. If it doesn't serve a purpose then it will just end up looking silly to the serious fan. Same can be said of the "jump scare". It's lazy writing and gives the viewer a little scare only to ruin the true horror ahead of them. It would be like Pinhead hiding round the corner and then going "BOO!"


Watch out, he may be hiding in that cupboard in the dark room!

4) A small release
After all the hard work of keeping the execs at bay from the script, Bradley spending hours in the chair, all the SFX people working tirelessly to make this dream come alive, wouldn't it suck if the movie was given little to no promotion and just ended up as a straight to DVD/Blu-ray/Netflix release? The biggest thing that makes a movie lose credibility is the lack of backing from people in the industry. If this movie were to get over-looked due to yet another remake in 3D being promoted by a different big film company then it would be a true kick in the nuts to all the fans out there. We want posters, figurines, hell maybe even a lunchbox! What would be heaven would be after all the dust had settled, an amazing box set would appear, featuring all the films (good and bad) along with bonus features and remastered versions of the original trilogy. Failing that, perhaps an epic release by Arrow Films, with their own artwork and a sprinkle of the fairy dust that makes their company amazing. Seen as the UK aren't getting 'Nightbreed' any time soon I think we're deserved it.

(On a side-note also making the movie 3D can sod off as well.)


5) and lastly NO SEQUEL!
This has been Barkers' idea from the very beginning. Too many times has his work been given "new life" by means of an opening at the end of every film. Clive now wants to put this masterpiece to bed and wants it to go out with a bang, so who are we to question him? We don't want to sit through what could be the most amazing horror movie we will see next year (well I'm not 100% on the release date, but then again no one is) only to have Pinhead's withered hand twitch whilst under a pile of burning rubble at the finale. Saying that, if Pinhead is to well and truly kick the bucket we would want to see it done on an epic scale!


Coming soon: 'Hellraiser 11: Franks' Revenge'

Let us trust in the creator and hold out hope that this film is going to be as amazing as the rumors have got us constantly checking for updates. On the plus side a good thing to do while you are waiting for this movie to come out is get your mitts on the quite amazing documentary coming out next month via a Kickstarter campaign. 'Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II' is an amazing feat of fan engineering. Hailing from Birmingham (UK) it features nearly three hours of interviews by everyone involved in the first two movies. They leave no stone un-turned, even including a bonus feature about the Coil incident, as well as amazing artwork and booklets. It shall be available to pre-order 6th April on the teams' website: www.leviathan-hellraiser.co.uk

As for the new film, lets hope Mr. Barker has some sights to show us...

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