Blood Pack Vol. 6.66 released!

It's that time of the year once again! A new year and a new compilation album celebrating our 6th birthday as a webzine.

Review: Various Artists – 'We're In This Together: A Tribute To Nine Inch Nails'

VARIOUS ARTISTS 'We're In This Together: A Tribute To Nine Inch Nails' TRIBULATIONS

Review: Various Artists – 'We Reject: A Tribute To Bile'


Review: Ritual Aesthetic – 'Wound Garden'


Review: Axegrinder – 'Satori'


Thursday 28 May 2015

Review: The Last Dance – 'Ruins'


It has been a long time coming but it's finally here. A new album from The Last Dance in the form of 'Ruins'. The pioneering darkwave band's last full-length studio output was back in 2005 with the brilliant 'Once Beautiful'. In that time the band have scattered across the globe and for a while it looked like their legacy may have been lost to the winds. But in the wake of a well received single in the form of 'Cages' in 2012, the band slowly began to regroup for something bigger. Which brings us up-to-date.

Despite a decade passing between releases it doesn't sound like they have been apart for more than a day. As the opening track 'Mesmerize' emerges from the silence, it is evident that all the classic elements that endeared the band to fans across the world are still all present and correct. The haunting vocals, throbbing bass, distinctive guitars, and catchy electronic hooks. But this isn't an exercise in nostalgia. This is a band creating music for 2015 and it shows. Songs such as 'Missing', 'KatSong', 'Cages', 'Edge Of The World', 'Scars', 'Medicine' and 'Still Waters' are some of the best darkwave songs to have come out in the past few years and the band can hold their heads up high knowing that they have come back and on top form.

The band blend uplifting music and gothic melancholia with great effect, but especially on the ballad-like duet that is 'Still', the hard and aggressive 'Thoughtless', and the piano-led cabaret of 'Everything That You Ever Wanted'.

The production is pretty strong for the most part. It is of the quality that you'd expect form a veteran act such as The Last Dance, and despite one or two parts which hit the ear a little flat it is fairly level throughout, with the choruses getting a big kick to really take them up a notch.

This is a strong return from a band that was sorely missed by many. And it is fair to say that 'Ruins' win them new fans and satisfy older ones. There's no re-workings of old songs, there's no trying to live up to their legacy, they have simply written an album that embodies who The Last Dance are in 2015 and it holds its own with the classics in their back catalogue.

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Review: Ruinizer – 'Decimation In H.D.'

'Decimation In H.D.'

The arch duke of swaggrotech Jay Ruin returns with the second instalment of his post-Cedigest project 'Ruinizer'. The Ruinizer name has made quite a few appearances over the past year as a remixer for other artists, usually resulting in a stand-out contribution each time. But if this has been your only exposure to Ruinizer so far, prepare yourself for a big shock to the system. The genre-blending, and witty 'Decimation In H.D.' picks up the chaos left by it's predecessor 'Mechanical Exhumation Of The Antichrist' as it melds electro-industrial with elements of trap, hip-hop, drum 'n' bass, dubstep, and metal to create a fresh, modern and exciting take on the genre.

Songs like 'Doomsday Device', 'Devilution' (featuring Surgyn), 'Decimation In H.D.' (featuring Avarice In Audio), 'The Face Of Chaos', and 'Fukdat' give the album a firm club-friendly footing with hard dance beats, aggressive electronics and demonic vocals making them must-haves for dance-floor consumption.

While tracks such as 'All Hail The Might!', 'Mechanichrist', 'Go To Hell' (featuring Seraphim System), and 'Somewhere Between God And the Machine' show the depth and skill of Ruin's song writing talent as they blend experimental electronics, down-tempo beats and urban hooks to create some genuinely inspired and intelligent work.

The production on the album is gritty, but clear. Again like the music it walks a fine line between industrial aggression and more modern electronic flavours. But it works, and it works well. All the elements within the songs, no matter how harsh and distorted they may be, are all easy to pick out, while the bass and beats have the power they need to penetrate the chest.

'Decimation In H.D.' is one hell of a beast. Its big, bold, brash and brutal. It melds genres with ease as it stays true to the experimental origins of industrial but brings in influences of a myriad of modern styles. The second album for any band is supposed to be tricky, but Jay Ruin has just gone ahead and kicked the door down with this one.  

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The term 'Freudian slip' is part of the modern lexicon, and shows how successfully an idea can chime with our instinctive understanding. With this term we can describe 'that awkward moment...' when people say what is actually on their minds rather than what they are trying to say; the moment when the mask of the superego slips, and lets us see the messy subconscious underneath. And, this being Freud, the messy subconscious is all about sex.

The horror and gothic genres have long lent themselves to this kind of analysis; with the blood, murder, hauntings, cruelty and other libidinal undercurrents of the horror culture we are used to dismissing films and books as a 'metaphor' for sex:. From 'The Howling' to 'The Blob', from 'Ginger Snaps' to 'The Thing', from 'Lost Boys' to 'Twilight', it's all about sex. This is standard stuff nowadays. In fact even if it's not about sex we suspect that it kinda is about sex after all (cue many a feminist critique of 'Prometheus' or 'Saw').

What we also assume is that this is an intention on the part of the artist – that such motives are an explicit subtext as intended by the writer. But what if it isn't, and what we have is simply a massive Freudian slip?

Take Stoker's 'Dracula', for example – it is generally assumed nowadays that the proliferation of phallic symbols, neo-orgasmic death scenes, tortured innuendos and being 'hard at it' in the bedroom was intentional, in which case it makes perfect sense; but Stoker actually railed against such smut and even wrote an article condemning sexually explicit horror - meaning that all this was actually accidental. Oh embarrassing!

So what, then, are we to make of what can only be described as Hammer's 'femdom' period? During a 6-year period Hammer produced three films – 'She' (1965), 'Prehistoric Women' (1967) and 'Countess Dracula' (1971) – which all riffed on the single idea of dominant, cruel women who must be obeyed. Pretty racy stuff for the '60s/'70s before the ideas of fetish and BDSM had begun to gain any cultural cache. So were these films radical forerunners of a soon-to-be resurgent theme in sexual politics? Or were they simply the baffling offshoot of a cringingly exploitative cinema aesthetic?

In 'She', the titular figure is an immortal goddess with a stunning beauty that leads to her having an army of adoring supplicants, as well as an egomaniacal cruelty which involves throwing be-chained men in loincloths into a deep pit. In 'Prehistoric Women' the tyrannical Kari rules a tribe of brunettes who have enslaved a tribe of blondes whilst all the men are kept chained in a dungeon (and no, I am not making this up), and as the 'white hunter' male archetype lead tries to resist her domineering cruelty he ends up a slave like the rest of them due to Kari's overpowering jealousy and anger. And in 'Countess Dracula' our eponymous heroine is rejuvenated by the blood of female virgins (which she naturally obtains by beating them in a cruel and domineering manner) before using her rediscovered sexual power to dominate the court. So tell me – what the hell would Freud have made of that lot, then?

Whether or not these films were picking up on cultural changes in the zeitgeist of the '60s counterculture and laying the foundations for what was to be become the fetish/BDSM scene, or were simply just an excuse to have a lot of chaining up done by women in leopardskin bikinis, is hard to tell. And of course even if the latter was the case it wouldn't necessarily mean there was nothing in them that was indeed an indicator of changes in modern sexuality. But what Freud would have to make of them is anyone's guess...

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Wednesday 27 May 2015

Book Review: Tarn Richardson – 'The Damned'

'The Damned'

It is hard to believe that 'The Damned' is Tarn Richardson's début novel. The Salisbury-based author has a writing style that is engaging, intense and full of visceral descriptions. And what is better is that this is set to be the first of a trilogy of books. 'The Damned' is a sublime work of dark fiction meets mystery, meets horror that recalls the likes of 'Anno Dracula', 'Hellsing', and 'Constantine', with a hint of 'Fight Club'. It is dark, seedy and full of gore. In fact after 25 pages or so, you will lose count of the number of fictional casualties.

The book follows the life and work of Poldek Tacit, one of the Vatican's most effective and brutal Inquisitors as he navigates the carnage of the First World War to achieve his aims. It is set in an alternative history where the inquisition is still a real force, albeit one that works in the shadows, and something terrible stalks soldiers on both sides of the trenches, as well as a clergy who are mired in conspiracy.

The book runs on two timeliness – one which follows the young Tacit as he grows up within the church, and the other which follows his present mission. There are also two other strands, that of the beautiful and free-spirited Sandrine, and the British officer Henry Frost, whose stories all eventually intertwine. The author handles the separation of the timeliness well, however it is an element that does become rather tiresome, especially seeing as there are a lot of predictable plot devices employed. However, Richardson's writing style still has you glued to the page.

Another element that walks the line is the author's use of metaphor. The text is wonderfully descriptive with a very cerebral and visceral attention to detail, and a lot of the times the metaphors and similes employed are apt. However, there is a tendency to over rely on metaphor and this does lead to some rather clumsy text in places. This isn't a common occurrence, but when it does happen it glares out of the text.

With the narrative being very character driven, Tacit and his supporting cast of allies, and enemies grow as they struggle morally with their situation and try to stay alive amidst the supernatural horror and mechanised slaughter all around them. There is no real sense of good versus evil at work here. It is a battle of wills with the different faces of mankind's desires for love, compassion, honour, loyalty against its lusts for destruction and avarice. Tacit in particular is by no means a hero, but neither is he without any redeeming features. He is the dirtiest of those who carry out the churches dirty work, and a victim of his own ruthless efficiency.

It is anachronistic at times, and the plot does have moments of predictability. But as a first novel this is a very promising and unashamedly addictive read. It is fast paced, atmospheric, it blends genres with ease and it keeps you hooked throughout. By the end of the book you will be looking forward to the further mission's of Poldek Tacit. Fans of modern horror fiction, alternative historical fiction, werewolves, and even thrillers such as the 'Da Vinci Code' will be gripped by 'The Damned'.

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Tuesday 26 May 2015

Leaether Strip, Haujobb, Conjure One, and Velvet Acid Christ all to headline the Dark Electronic music festival Aftermath

On August 27th-30th the second edition of the Aftermath Music Festival. Taking place at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto the Aftermath Festival showcases some of the top and upcoming artists in the Dark Electro, and Alternative scenes.

Headling the festival this year will be Leaether Strip, Haujobb, Conjure One,and Velvet Acid Christ. Having a musical career that spans over 25 yearsLeaether Strip (Claus Larsen) is widely considered one of the most influential artists in the Industrial/EBM music scene.

Haujobb's sound has ranged from Electro-Industrial to IDM and even Techo. Their sound has crossed over into many different genres of music and they are one of the main artists to help introduce many different styles of Electro to the fore front. Haujobb was also featured on 2014's Eye Vs Spy North American tour withSkinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, and Youth Code.

Conjure One is the brainchild of Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly and Delirium) Bringing his own brand of Ambient Pop as Conjure One. Rhys Fulber has worked with artists such as Sinead O'Conner and POE also has remixed artists such asAlice Cooper, P.O.D and The Realm.

Bryan Erickson formed Velvet Acid Christ in 1990. Since it's formation he has developed a cult like following in the Dark Electro scene. He has multiple songs in the top 20 Billboard Alternative Charts and numerous highly successful releases.

Featured also at Aftermath this year are William Control and The Dreaming.

William Control (Formally of the band Aiden) is known as a highly charismatic front man similar to the likes of Iggy Pop or David Bowie which translates to new standard of on stage performance. He is a skilled producer, having melded a majestic fusion of Electronic Darwave, Goth, New Wave Punk and Glam Rock reminiscent of artists like New Order, Gary Numan, and Depeche Mode. He also has contributed to the soundtracks for the movies Saw V, Underworld: Rise of The Lycans, and Underworld: Awakening.

The Dreaming was founded by former Stabbing Westward members Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, and Johnny Haro. Their sound is an intense blend of Alternative Rock, Metal, and Electronics that harkens back to the days ofStabbing Westward. Their newest album, Rise Again was released in February on Metropolis Records.

Other artists featured at Aftermath this year are Electronic-Rock artists 3Teeth,Kevorkian Death Cycle, Ego Likeness, Go Fight, and Dead On TV. Dark Electro artists Tactical Sekt, FGFC820, Ludovico Technique, and Nitro Noise. Alternative Dance artists Mr Kitty, Brudershaft, and Electrovot.

Rounding out the line up are Electro and IDM artists Stoneburner and Mend. Aftermath also features three Toronto artists Peter Turns Pirate, Glennlove, and Squid Lid.

Tickets are on sale now for Aftermath and can be purchased HERE
For more information
Aftermath's Official Site
Facebook | Twitter

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Friday 22 May 2015

Review: Drakkar – 'Run With The Wolf'

'Run With The Wolf'

There seem to be more bands with the name Drakkar than most would care to count. This review however refers to the 20-year Italian power metal veterans and their fifth full-length studio album 'Run With The Wolf'. Power metal may be scoffed at by a few, and yes it has been unfairly lampooned in the past, but its hard to deny its pedigree with bands like Helloween, Hammerfall, Symphony X, Stratovarious, and Blind Guardian at the helm. While bands such as Drakkar keep adding originality and passion to the genre.

The band's new album is both epic and direct. Soaring guitars, big choruses, symphonic keyboards, sing-a-long vocals and thunderous rhythms cut a fine shape on tracks such as 'Under The Banners Of War', 'Watcher Of The Wall', 'Burning', 'Gods Of Thunder', and 'Call Of The Dragon Blood'. While tracks such as 'Rise Of The Dark Lords', and 'Southern Cross' adding drama and poise to the track list.

The bonus CD offers up some more epic cuts with 'Coming From The Past', 'Dragonheart' and 'Pure Of Heart' standing alongside the main track list with ease. But it is the symphonic strains of the folk-infused 'Galadriel' Song' that trumps them all.

It would be nice to hear more of the folk elements coming through, and for the band to slow things down and even go instrumental to break the track list up. But on the whole it is a decent collection of songs that is well performed and well produced.

'Run With The Wolf' my not be a genre defining album. But the Italian's do it well. Everything a power metal fan could want is present and correct. It would be nice to have a little more variety, but there is something charming about their balls-to-the-wall execution. It's a fine way to mark 25 years doing what you love.  

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Thursday 21 May 2015

Review: Red Sun Revival – 'Identities'


Hot on the heels of last year's 'Embers' EP, London-based gothic rockers Red Sun Revival return with their second full-length studio album in the form of 'Identities'. The band continue to blaze a path that defines what modern gothic rock should be moving between dark and dreamy atmospheres, and heavy grooves. The band, led by Rob Leydon, have over the course of their releases crafted a presence that has seen them join the likes of The Eden House to aim beyond the confines of genres and conventions and to push their song writing further, and 'Identities' is no exception.

The album keeps the hallmarks that we've come to know of the past couple of releases: the jangling guitars, deep expressive vocals, throbbing bass and atmospheric keyboards and continues to push this simple set-up in new and interesting directions. Songs such as 'Echoes', 'The Reckoning', 'Fade In Time' and 'In Your Name' draw on the likes of The Mission, The Cure and Fields Of The Nephilim which gives the album a steady and accessible level for fans of traditional gothic rock to instantly find a rapport with.

While the likes of 'Four Walls', 'Mistakes', 'The Condemned Part I', 'The Condemned Part II' and 'The Awakening' take a more progressive stance and make good use of extra instrumentation and playing with their musical formula to create some genuinely inspired music.

The production is crisp and clear and sounds like the sort of quality you'd expect from a band who are aiming high. It has a retro slant not unlike the classic albums by The Mission, but it preserves a modern dreamy quality favoured by the likes of The Eden House.

'Identities' continues to develop the band's sounds and push them as song writers. The end result is a mature and high quality collection that hints at even better to come. This album should quite rightfully put the band on the map and fans of guitar based gothic rock should quite rightly embrace it.  

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Review: Klone – 'Here Comes The Sun'

'Here Comes The Sun'

French psychedelic/progressive six-piece Klone unleash their seventh full-length studio album in the form of 'Here Comes The Sun'. The band may not be a common name on these shores but with a penchant for hard riffs and delicate ambience, the band will undoubtedly find common ground with fans of bands such as Anathema, Opeth, Gojira, and Porcupine Tree. Progressive rock meets atmospheric metal to create an ethereal yet visceral sound.

The album is a hard one to predict, just as you think you've got the measure of things they unleash a new trick, which is a nice change of pace from the rather static album structures that many bands choose to employ these days. Songs such as 'Immersion', 'Nebulous', 'Grim Dance', and utterly stunning 'The Last Experience' give the album its heavier credentials with some wonderful riffs, strong grooves, and brilliant vocal performances. But it is on tracks like 'The Drifter', 'Gleaming', 'Come Undone' and 'Summertime' where things get really interesting with nods to Pink Floyd coming through and the ethereal aspect of the band's sound comes front and centre.

The album has a nice, modern post-prog sound to it in the same style as the recent albums by Anathema where the mix creates a great sense of space in which the instruments reverberate and create a cavernous atmosphere.

This is a strong album that fans of prog/psychedelic bands will easily be able to get into. The band have blended elements of progressive rock, metal, grunge and a pop-friendly execution to create a rich and accessible tapestry. It is passionate, atmospheric and most of all, brilliantly executed. Lets hope it sees their stock rise further outside their homeland.  

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Wednesday 20 May 2015

Latest WGT announcements still rolling in

The annual Wave Gotik Treffen festival in Leipzig Germany will take place in a few days but the artist announcements keep rolling in with the line-up swelling to 218 (at the time of writing.

Full line-up:

.com/kill (D) - Accessory (D) - Agent Side Grinder (S) - Alex Kaschte (D) - Alexander Nym (D) - Andre Ziegenmeyer (D) - Anja Bagus (D) -Antimatter (GB) akustischer und elektrischer Auftritt - Ari Mason (USA) - Arkona (RUS) - Ash Code (I) - Ashes You Leave (HR) - Ashram (I) -Astari Nite (USA) - Asynje (DK) - Automelodi (CDN) - Axel Hildebrand (D) - Beborn Beton (D) - Bella Donna (D) - Bergtatt (N) - Birdmachine (D) - Black Lung (AUS) - Blackhouse (USA) Weltpremiere - Blood And Sun (USA) - Blutengel (D) - Cacophoneuses (F) - Capella Fidicinia (D) -Centhron (D) - Cesair (NL) - Chor Und Ballet Der Musikalischen Komödie (D) - Chor, Kinderchor Und Jugendchor Der Oper Leipzig (D) -Christian Von Aster (D) - Clan Of Xymox (NL) - Client (UK) - Clock DVA (GB) - Combichrist (N) - Crash Course In Science (USA) - Cromdale (D) - DAF (D) - Dalriada (H) - Dark Funeral (S) - David Splittgerber (D) - David Wonschewski (D) - Dear Strange (D) - Death In Rome (D)Weltpremiere - Deine Lakaien (D) - Denny Wilke (D) - Der Weg Einer Freiheit (D) - Die Kammer (D) - Diorama (D) - Dirk Bernemann (D) -Distel (NL) - Donnertrummel - Doppelgänger (RUS) - Dr. Mark Benecke (D) - Dragóna (D) - Dupont (S) - Eisbrecher (D) - Eisler Trio (D) -Eisregen (D) - Eluveitie (CH) - Empathy Test (GB) - Ensemble Wilde Jagd (D) - Esa (GB) - Escape With Romeo (D) - Euzen (DK) - Evi Vine (GB) - Faey (D) - Falloch (GB) - Feuerdorn - Fields Of The Nephilim (GB) Konzert zum 30. Jubiläum - Fixmer/McCarthy (F/GB) - Frank The Baptist (USA) - Freiraum Syndikat (D) - Frigoris (D) - Front 242 (B) - Gerechtigkeits Liga (GB) - Gewandhausorchester (D) - Ghosts Of Dawn (D) - God Seed (N) - Goethes Erben (D) - Grendel (NL) - Greta Helten (D) - Haggard (D) - Harmjoy (D/USA) - Heldmaschine (D) - Hezzel (LV)- Hologram_ (F) - Hubertus Schmidt (D) - In Ruin (USA) - Ingo Martin Stadtmüller (D) - Isabel Gabbe (D) - Ivo Nitschke (D) - Jamey Rottencorpse and The Rising Dead (D) - Jäger 90 (D) - Jörg Scheidt (D) - Jo Quail (GB) - Jordan Reyne (NZ) - Kathrin Christians (D) - Kaunan (D) - Keluar (D/GB) - King Dude (USA) - Kirlian Camera (I) zwei Konzerte mit Frühwerken und aktuellem Material - Klutae (DK) - Koffin Kats (USA) - Konzertchor Wümme-Wieste (D) - L'ame Immortelle (A) - L.E.A.F. (NL) - Last Dominion Lost (AUS) - Laura Carbone (D) - Leipziger Ballett (D) - Lex Wohnhaas (D) - Liebknecht (D) - Lights Of Euphoria (D) - Lisa Cuthbert (IRL) - London After Midnight (USA) - Luci Van Org (D) - Luigi Rubino (I) - Lukas Dreyer (D) - Lukas Heinig (D) - Lydia Bennecke (D) - Lydia Gorstein (D) - Majdanek Waltz (RUS) - Markus Heitz (D) - Männerchor Leipzig-Nord (D) - MDR Rundfunkchor (D) - Megaherz (D) - Metal Cambra (E) - Michael Schönheit (D) - Midgards Boten (D) -Mila Mar (D) erstes Konzert seit 2004 - Minimal Consort (D) - Minuit Machine (F) - Mirja Dahlmann (D) - Modulate (GB) - Mono Inc. (D) - Mono No Aware (D) - Monolith (B) - Moonspell (P) - Morthound (S) - Murkeley - Mushroom's Patience (I) - Nachtmahr (A) - Nachtwindheim -nemus!-Ensemble (D) - Nosferatu (GB) - NZ (A) - Orchester Der Musikalischen Komödie (D) - Orphx (CDN) - Otto Dix (RUS) - OWLS (I/GB) -Phase Fatale (USA) - Phasenmensch (D) - Postscriptum (N) - Qntal (D) - Rabbit At War (D) - Reliquiae (D) - Rezurex (USA) - Roma Amor (I) -Samsas Traum (D) - Sólstafir (IS) - Schonwald (I) - Sea+Air (D) - Seasurfer (D) - Sektion B (D) - Shield Patterns (GB) - Skaluna (D) -Skyforger (LV) - Snog (AUS) - Soko Friedhof (D) - Sol Invictus (GB) spielen das Album "In The Rain" - Sophia (S) - Soror Dolorosa (F) -Spencer (CH) - Spiral 69 (I) - Steinkind (D) - Stoneman (CH) - Substaat (N) - Surturs Lohe (D) - Svartsot (DK) - Sweet Ermengarde (D) -Tüsn (D) - Tehôm (HR) - Tempers (USA) - Terrolokaust (E) - Terrorfrequenz (D) - Thalia Lauer (D) - The Beauty Of Gemina (CH) - The Essence (NL) spielen das Album "Glow" - The Exploding Boy (S) - The Frozen Autumn (I) - The Juggernauts (B) - The March Violets (GB) - The Other (D) - The Present Moment (USA) - The Saint Paul (D) - Thomas Manegold (D) - Thomas-Michael Gribow (D) - Tibetréa (D) - Tommi Stumpff (D) - Trio Concordia (D) - Twisted Nerve (GB) - Two Witches (FIN) - Unterschicht (D) - Unto Ashes (USA) - Uwe Nolte (D) - Valéry Suty (D) -Vannina Horbas (D) - Veil Of Light (CH) - Virelai (DK) - Vive La Fête (B) - While Angels Watch (GB) - Wrangler (GB) - XMH (NL) - Youth Code (USA) - Zackenflanke (D) - Zeena Schreck (USA) - Zombiesuckers (S) -

The festival so far boasts names such as Clan Of Xymox, Eisbrecher, Esa, Fields Of The Nephilim, Front 242, God Seed, L'Ame Immortelle, Modulate, Nachtmahr, Moonspell, The March Violets, and XMH.

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

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Tuesday 19 May 2015

Review: Go Fight – 'Napalm Baby'

'Napalm Baby'

Go Fight return with their sophomore outing in typical Chicago style on 'Napalm Baby'. The electroscuzz outfit fronted by Die Warzau (and occasional Pigface member) vocalist Jim Marcus and completed by a motley crew of industrial veterans push their Wax Trax! in new and interesting direction. The big beats are recognisable and the construction of the songs is very familiar to past projects, but Go Fight is definitely its own beast and is striving to be recognised as such.

With songs such as 'Sundown', 'Rocket', 'Gay On The Dancefloor', 'Make Some Noise', 'Moscow Drag' and 'Kill What You Eat' into, with their steady beats, sing-a-long choruses memorable melodies, and scuzzy basslines they will certainly have no trouble in converting the masses.

The album's main strength is in its strong use of rhythms, couple that with a strong funk element running throughout and Jim Marcus' penchant for a great vocal hook and you have a winning formula. It's sexy, sordid and brilliantly straight-forward. The band's pro-sex-anti-war message unites each track and leaves no room for ambiguity to create a linear and accessible listening experience that holds your attention throughout.

The production is crisp, clean and has a definite pop dimension to it. Overall the execution is more ebm and edm that industrial , but the big Wax Trax! style beats are ever present in the mix and drive the album.

'Napalm Baby' is a strong and accessible album that begs to be danced to. It's memorable and addictive in its simplicity. It may not be radically transforming the electro scene, but it is refreshing nonetheless with a pop sensibility and a nod to the past that makes for an endearing combination. The band have certainly carved a niche for themselves with this album and you should expect to hear a lot more from them in the future.

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Review: Encephalon – 'Psychogenesis'


Canada's Encephalon return with their third release and follow-up to 2011's full-length début 'The Transhuman condition' with 'Psychogenesis'. Blending ebm, industrial, goth and dark electro the trio embark on a cyberpunk exploration of the human condition and future technologies. Sci-fi synths, pounding beats, pulsing bass, and orchestral elements frame a much darker outing than the predecessor, but its one that is no less appealing.

The album proceeds almost like a concept album with the songs and lyrics creating a tangible narrative which runs throughout. It is intelligent, engrossing, but maintains an undeniable club appeal with tracks such as the incendiary anthem 'Illuminate', the hard glitch-laden 'Outbreaker', the frenetic 'Only Biological', the classic ebm of 'Ultimate Breed', and the epic strains of 'The Descent' pushing the album in an undeniably accessible direction.

However the album does get its claws deeper with tracks such as 'Psychogenesis Zero', 'Desertopolis', 'Genomica', 'Echophagy' and 'Atom And Eve' which maintain the catchy construction of the rest of the album, but at the same time demand a more considered listening than the others.

In terms of the production the album is very nicely produced and mixed. There are a lot of styles and subtle nods at play here which creates a rich but complex palette. Yet the album remains cohesive and every element at work on it is identifiable but feels right.

'Psychogenesis' is a strong, complex and intelligent album that blends genres effortlessly, maintains an easy to follow narrative, and is completely accessible to dance fans and casual listeners alike. Encephalon have taken their time and it has been well spent. It could be argued that it may be too dense in places for those who want an easy to get to grips with album, and not all of the tracks would be suitable for the club. But that's also the beauty of the album. It has a progressive slant that makes it stand out from the pack, and that is can only be a good thing.

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Friday 15 May 2015

Review: Various Artists – 'This Man Of Steele'

'This Man Of Steele'

This year marked five years since the world lost one it's most enigmatic and thoroughly under-appreciated artists in Peter Steele of Type O Negative. But his legacy lives on in the many bands that his band inspired, whether they are rock, metal, darkwave, or electronic – the Type O formula contained so many elements that you could always find something in there to latch on to no matter what your personal preferences. With this in mind, Dark Italia have released a tribute album to the gothic metal maestro in the form of 'This Man Of Steele' that sees darkwave, post punk, batcave, gothic, neofolk, and synthpop artists tackle the band's best know hits.

This isn't the first Steele tribute album to be released since his death. in fact released a brilliant rock/metal orientated album in 'All For None, None For All: A Tribute To Peter Steele' a year after his death that featured some stunning renditions. But not to be outdone, 'This Man Of Steele' has a lot to offer as well.

The strongest tracks on offer vary wildly in their approach but the execution is always original and clever with the doomy synths rock of Magnuss, the new wave of Dade City Days, the acoustic pop of Lenz, the synthpop of TourDeForce, the doomy neofolk of Furvus, the gothic rock of Dim Arcana, the straight mournful neofolk of Vanity, and the acoustic strains of Spiritual Front.

Some tracks of course don't work as well as others, but as with all tribute albums it is in the ear of the beholder and up to their personal genre preferences as to what will grab them the most. But on the whole this is a good display of talents and genres.

The album doesn't suffer from that lack of mastering that many free digital compilations tend to do. Instead all the levels sound right and while there are variances in the quality of the recordings due to each bands' recording set ups, it still sounds like a cohesive whole.

This is a strong, and heartfelt album that displays some genuinely inspired covers. Not everything will be to everyone’s cup of tea, and if you're expecting a lot of rock and metal you may be disappointed. But as far as tribute albums go, this is pretty damn good.

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Thursday 14 May 2015

Review: Aesthetic Perfection – 'Imperfect'


Aesthetic Perfection going acoustic? Surely not! I hear you cry. But that's exactly what Daniel Grave's latest album 'Imperfect' does. Some of Graves' biggest club hits are stripped back to acoustic guitar, piano, upright bass, and drums with no machines anywhere to be heard... and you know what? It works.

It works very well in fact. Performed in front of a live audience and captured raw and with no overdubs Graves backed by Lauren Krothe, Marquis Howell III, Tim Skold and Tim Van Horn present a much more dark cabaret inspired sound that recalls the likes of Voltaire and The Dresden Dolls.

It's a testament to the strength of Graves' song writing that the songs translate so well, and the atmosphere of the live recording with liberal helpings of banter with the audience adds a greater level of intimacy to the proceedings. Songs like 'The Great Depression', 'Inhuman', 'Antibody', 'The Siren', 'Spilling Blood', and 'Big Bad Wolf' especially take to the transposition well with jazz, swing, and folk elements coming together to overhaul the tracks rather than simply strip them back.

As it is a live album there is a certain rawness to the overall sound. But it is a necessity that preserves the original atmosphere and intimacy of the show but not at the expense of the performance, which is crisp, clear and very well mixed.

This is an interesting and enjoyable side-step from Graves. It's fun, different, but most of all it's well executed. IT goes to show that if you're going to do something unexpected as a musician, you need to do it with commitment. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, and its by no means club friendly. But that isn't the point. 'Imperfect' takes the Aesthetic Perfection philosophy in a new direction, purely for the sake of it. And why not?  

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Review: Cold In Berlin – 'The Comfort Of Loss & Dust'

'The Comfort Of Loss & Dust'

Cold In Berlin have become one of the most respectable and genuinely intriguing bands in the UK underground. The band's first two albums were stunning exercises in gritty and arty gothic tinged post punk. But the band's third album sees perhaps the biggest step in their sonic evolution thus far as 'The Comfort Of Loss & Dust' slaps a heavy dose of stoner rock on top of the bands cool gothic sounds. The fusion is a slice of sheer bliss that recalls the black metal tinged post punk of Beastmilk, and the avant garde doom rock of Chelsea Wolfe, as well as occult rock bands such as Jex Thoth and Subrosa.

The Siouxsie Sioux meets Lene Lovich with a liberal sprinkle of Grace Slick style vocals of Maya cut through the cacophony of fuzz to preserve the bands gothic menace. The bass and guitar switch between doom, stoner, and punk riffs while the drums thunder above to create a thick and foreboding atmosphere of melancholia. Songs such as 'She Walks', 'The Bell', 'Dopamine', 'Coming Back For More', 'Pray For Us', 'Ghosts' and 'Natural Order' take this formula and craft songs that simply want to reach through the speaker and bludgeon you.

However the albums crowning glories have to be the short, low-fi and stripped-back 'Fucking Loud' – which comes straight out of left field to confound your expectations – and the sumptuous seven minutes and three seconds that is 'Mysterious Spells' that builds from a dark and somewhat ambient, stripped back track with semi-spoken semi-shrieked vocals into an ultra doomy bass driven monster groove.

The production is gritty, fuzzy and full of atmospheric low-fi touches. But it doesn't sound at all sloppy or rushed. It has that warm analogue feel that Sunn0))) and Electric Wizard albums favour and it works well to balance the cold gothic roots of their sound.

'The Comfort Of Loss & Dust' is a revelation. They've taken a gamble and it has definitely paid off for them. It mangles and distorts genres into a captivating new beast. One that will still appeal to their long-time fans but will open new doors for them with an appeal that fans of occult rock, stoner rock and doom will find hard to resist. This could prove to be a major game changer for the London quartet.  

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Wednesday 13 May 2015

Editorial: May, 2015

Aaaaaand just like that it was May.... though some days you'd be hard pressed to tell some days. But that means it's almost time to reveal the artwork for the next instalment of our popular free-to-download compilation series. In case you haven't seen it yet, we launched our second free digital compilation on 1st January 2015 to coincide with our second birthday as a website. It's been well received and downloaded hundreds and hundreds of times so far, and you can download all fifteen tracks for free at out bandcamp page.

As soon as the artwork for volume three has been released I'll be inviting acts to submit to the compilation. There may be opportunity for open submission closer to Christmas as with all things in life some people make promises that unfortunately life and other commitments get in the way of. And that's fine. That being said, feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page if you're interested in contributing anything.

As with last year we'll be aiming for around fifteen - sixteen tracks to be sent to us, mastered and with permissions by the end of November in order to be able to complete the A4 digital booklet (which includes biographies and hyperlinks for all the acts) in time for release on 01/01/2016. As with the first compilation we'll be looking for exclusive new songs, demos and remixes from new and exciting acts from around the globe.

It's a big job but I believe in this website and over the past few years I've been humbled by the bands, artists, labels, promoters and most importantly the readers who believe in it and keep coming back to it.

I hope you'll all continue to download, share and recommend the 'Blood Pack' compilations and most of all support the artists, bands, and labels that submit new and exciting music to them.

Luckily for me I made a head start on the artwork last year around the same time as I upgraded the look of the website, so at leas that is something that is already done. Particularly at this time of year when everything seems to go manic. Maybe it was the fact that the electorate mobilised itself over the past few weeks in the run up to the general election, or maybe its because the longer days mean everyone has the energy to do more... either way the albums and books are coming in fast and it is hard to keep track of everything!

Right, that's it for this month's ramble. If you actually read these, please share it on social media and if you're in a band, keep an eye out for further announcements regarding the compilation in the forthcoming months.

And finally, make sure you have these links in your favourites:

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Tuesday 12 May 2015

Review: Near Earth Orbit – 'End Of All Existence'

'End Of All Existence'

Artaud Seth (Merciful Nuns, Lutherion, Garden Of Delight) teams up with Ashley Dayour (Whispers In the Shadows, L'Âme Immortelle, Veneno para las Hadas) to usher in the end of days. The duo's new project Near Earth Orbit is an apocalyptic exercise in atmospheric gothic rock fixated on the threat of destruction from space.

The album is propelled by Fields Of The Nephilim style bass lines, coupled with near ritualistic beats, washes of droning guitars, and dark ambient synthesizers which frame Seth's shamanistic vocal style. There are nods to the likes of Fields Of The Nephilim, Pink Floyd, Tiamat, Tool, and the duo's own expansive back catalogues. It's a seminal and wholly original sound that is both disturbing and utterly compelling.

Songs such as 'The End', 'Abandoned World', 'Observing the World', T.H.E.M', and 'Taken' provide the album with its most iconic moments, generating sheer power and pushing beyond the boundaries of gothic rock and into more progressive yet still accessible territory. But it is the final track, the sumptuous expanse of 'Anybody Out There' that blends sci-fi ambience with haunting beauty.

The production is stark and draws more on the conventions of ambient electronics than traditional gothic rock. The effect gives the album a futuristic slant and a distinct and clinical feel that the guitars and vocals cut through with great effect to inject the mix with a little organic warmth.

'End Of All Existence' is less of an album than an audio disaster movie. Such is the scope and excellence of the execution. Seth and Dayour have crafted a fine and original work that while following the path laid out by Seth's own recent work with Merciful Nuns, still manages to create a unique and effective identity of its own. The songs are catchy and fans of both artists will easily be able to pick up this album and engage with it. It's a promising first move from a partnership that looks set to pay off time and time again.  

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Review: Paradise Lost – 'The Plague Within'

'The Plague Within'

It's hard to believe that Paradise Lost have been around for 25 years now, but the stalwarts of the British dark metal scene have been a constant and evolving presence since their 1990 début 'Lost Paradise'. In that time they have pioneered death-doom, gothic-doom, gothic metal, dark metal and even dabbled in industrial metal to leave on of the richest and most diverse discographies in their wake. The band return with album number fourteen in their silver jubilee year with a sound that sees them come full circle.

'The Plague Within' is one of the band's heaviest offerings to date harking back to the ground-breaking second album 'Gothic'. Nick Holmes' death vocals are front and centre backed-up by a bludgeoning doom metal barrage tinged with gothic symphonic elements. It's the kind of album that long-time fans will be yearning for.

Songs such as 'No Hope In Sight', 'Punishment Through Time', 'Sacrifice The Flame', 'Flesh From The Bone' and 'Return The Sun' see the band at their darkest and most monstrous sounding with excellent riffs, haunting keyboards and imposing vocals bursting through the speakers drawing from their early death doom and gothic-doom outings. Though the stand-out tracks have to be 'Beneath Broken Earth' and 'An Eternity Of Lies'; two songs which utterly encapsulate everything to love about Paradise Lost's musical legacy.

The production is cold and bleak, recalling the likes of Ulver and Swallow The Sun. It's the band at their melancholic best brought out by the capable hands of producer Jaime Gomez Arellano. A partnership that will hopefully continue onto future releases.

'The Plague Within' is a magnum opus for the band. Uniting 25 years of melancholic evolution while pushing their sound forward once more, they exemplify their own past and future. The album is heavy, dark and full of doom metal influences executed with the skill and attention to detail that you would expect from a veteran band of their status. The album is a proud declaration that signs acknowledges their roots but gazes towards the horizon.  

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Thursday 7 May 2015

Book Review: Dave Zeltserman – 'The Boy Who Killed Demons'

'The Boy Who Killed Demons'

Being a fifteen year old boy is as insane and awkward enough without the ability to see some people for what they are... demons. And that's the cross that Henry Ludlow, the protagonist of Dave Zeltserman's new novel 'The Boy Who Killed Demons' has to bare. And of course we're not talking demons in the figurative sense but actual grotesque hell spawn walking the earth and hiding in human society, preying on mankind. On top of trying to fit in at school and keep his parents unaware, Henry has to figure out a way to combat the demonic hordes around him and keep his sanity... and life intact.

Zelterserman has ten horror and crime novels to his name, including the American Library Association short-listed 'The Caretaker of Lorne Field' and 'A Killer's Essence' and 'The Boy Who Killed Demons' calls on his wealth of experience. Written in a first person / diary format that recalls gothic horror classics 'Frankenstein', 'Dracula', and the works of H.P. Lovecraft mixed with a hefty dose of film/TV references such as 'The Live' and 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer', Seltzer takes the extraordinary and makes it tangible. The book maybe marketed as a novel for young adults, but this is a genuinely pleasurable page turned that plays with horror, mystery and humour in equal measures.

The writing style of the lead protagonist may be somewhat too meticulous for the average fifteen year old, but his occult studies and fervent crusade gives him the air of a young baron Frankenstein. Henry may not be a genius, but he is certainly of above average intelligence and obsessive. He evolves as the storyline does, wrestles with moral dilemmas, doubts and misgivings, but remains steadfast in his mission. But most importantly he comes across as a well-rounded if slightly disturbed fifteen year old would.

For a book about killing demons, there isn't much overt use of horror conventions, nor is there much in the way of graphic violence. The situations are sometimes a little too absurd to be plausible, and there a number of interesting directions the plot could have gone but failed to take advantage of. But it's main strength is in it's use of mystery. It keeps you guessing and it's lean prose, fast, dynamic pace and short chapters/diary entries keep you turning the pages. This human feel to the character creates a lot of genuinely heart-wrenching moments as he opens up to the reader at the expense of his personal relationships.

The book doesn't really shake-up the conventions of the genre, nor is it a particularly ground-breaking premise. But it is executed well enough as Zeltserman, through the character of Henry, creates a disturbing reality set against a seemingly innocuous backdrop of middle class suburbia. Henry can see it for what it really is, and this forces him to take on the role of the outsider to the detriment of his own happiness which makes him easy to identify and empathise with.

The book may not appeal to hardened horror fans. But for younger readers or those new to the genre, 'The Boy Who Killed Demons' is a safe bet for a good, compelling read that is easy to pick up and hard to put down.

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Review: The Magik Way – 'Curve Sternum'

'Curve Sternum'

Esoteric Italian duo The Magik Way have been walking their occult path for nearly 20 years. Originally forming in 1996, the band have only recently signed with Sad Sun Music in order to release their output. First came 2013's collection of promo tracks in the form of 'Materia Occulta 1997-1999', with the band's first full-length album proper 'Curve Sternum' coming this year.

The band create ritual music that blends influences such as Ulver and Einsturzende Neubauten to create visceral but entrancingly haunting pieces. Compared to what we heard on 'Materia Occulta...', with it's use of neoclassical, noise and ethereal elements, for the most part the band's instrumentation on the new album is pretty traditional with acoustic guitars and bass, drums, electric guitars and keyboards blending together to create a folk-influenced metal flavour.

Songs such as 'I Corpi Peasanti', 'A Curva Di Sterno', 'L'Orrore' and 'Il Alto Come In Basso' are perhaps the strongest and most occult feeling amongst the track listing with their down tempo presentation and near tribal rhythms coming together to create an entrancing whole.

There are one or two tracks that don't quite hold up though such as the chant orientated 'Yod-He-Vau-He' and 'Scuotiti, Oh Vita!'. There's nothing wrong with them per se, but they sound a bit safer and more traditionally constructed where they could use some experimental flourishes to set them apart.

In terms of production this is pretty strong. It recalls the likes of Ulver and Hexvessel with it's folk elements and vocals high in the mix with the occasional synth flourishes adding a haunting backdrop to the proceedings. It's stripped-back, straight-forward and does what it needs to do.

'Curve Sternum' is a strong album that the band can build on. It would be nice to hear more experimental flourishes within the music and for them to really build on the occult atmospheres they've fostered rather than simply adding more and more folk elements. But nonetheless this is an intriguing and compelling listen that hints at interesting things to come in the future.  

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Wednesday 6 May 2015

Review: Public Domain Resource – 'Six Years'

'Six Years'

The Italian duo of Public Domain Resource return with their sophomore offering in the form of 'Six Years'. Formed in 2012, their début album, last year's 'Dead Surface', was a promising one that comprised of a complex mix of 80s synthpop with 90s ebm that was both dance-friendly and intelligent in its construction. The band's second album looks to build on this base and establish their sound as the thinking man's electronics.

The album follows a similar formula to their début with the primary influences taken from the synthpop and ebm of the 80s and 90s, though this time we see some classical flourishes, and some harder dance elements introduced.

Songs such as 'Das Boot', 'Cold Lightning', 'Kill Rolf, Kill!', 'Our Widows', 'The Rift', and 'Bombs Instead Of Songs' give the album enough dance appeal to see the band gain some ground in the club scene. While the likes of 'White Cloud', 'Warm Frost', 'The Sergeant And The Snow', 'Irish Soldier' and 'The Breath – Kyoshi's Return To Hiroshima' add a more complex and enticing listening experience that will play well live as well as for more intimate consumption.

The production once again is strong and not your typical dance style. It's still polished and well mixed, but the rhythms and vocals are not always the most prominent which gives the album a much more personal feel. The vocals may still sound a little too low in the mix in a few places though, which is a shame as this can occasionally dull their impact, but with an album that demands you actively listen to it this isn't a huge bone of contention.

The band build on the promise of their début effectively by keeping their interesting use of the sometimes jarring beats mixed with the highly addictive melodies front and centre to their sound and subtly continuing to expand their palette at the same time. The duo are great song writers and have grown more accessible in their style with this release. Hopefully this trend will continue onto album number three and see the name of the band gain more traction.

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Tuesday 5 May 2015

Review: Justin Symbol – 'Fuckhead'


New York's prince of alternative rock Justin Symbol returns with the remix companion to his recent début album 'Voidhead' in the form of 'Fuckhead'. It gets said a lot on this site that remix albums are much of a muchness these days and its now standard practice for bands and artists to extend the shelf-life of their releases and keep that all important club play going. But every now and then one comes along that moves beyond the standard “Here's five different versions of the same song, all of which you can dance to!” formula and delves deep to create something that is genuinely interesting.

With Justin Symbol's obvious debt to early Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson you'd be inclined to think he'd be aiming for something that goes in a similar direction to 'Fixed', 'Further Down The Spiral', or 'Remix And Repent'. And you'd be right. Where 'Voidhead' played it a little too safe, 'Fuckhead' cuts loose and tears up the rules.

The contributions from the likes of FLO, Psyclon Nine, Scarred, Statiqbloom, EVA, and LEUNICH are worth the price of admission alone with their radical re-workings falling into the more experimental category than the dance-friendly one. And that's just what is needed, dark electro, noise, frantic chopped sounds, and some serious stripping-back add a dark and demented atmosphere to this album.

There are of course the big club orientated remixes from the likes of Angel Nightmare, Bile, Stereo Assassin and Vonesper, and they're okay, but pretty much as you'd expect to get on a remix album these days.

Overall it is an interesting remix album that features a stronger lean towards the experimental rather than the club-friendly. It takes more chances and reaps the rewards accordingly. It would be great to hear some of this experimentalism inform the execution of the follow-up to 'Voidhead' and inject something daring into Justin Symbol's sound to take it above and beyond.   

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Review: Anzi – 'Black Dog Bias'

'Black Dog Bias'

Former Stereo Junkies front man Anzi returns with his second full-length studio album in 'Black Dog Bias'. Following on the heels of the hot double A-side of 'I Let You Dive' / 'Revival' the album continues the tried and tested blend of punk rock meets industrial with an undeniable dance floor intention. The album preserves the punk rock underbelly that fans of his former band will be familiar with, but the elements of glam rock that are thrown into the mix, as well as the heavy use of electronics continue the trend from the previous album of moving in a darker and, dare I say, more goth-friendly direction that recalls acts like Orgy. Bella Morte, and Godhead.

Opening with the lead single cuts 'Revival' and 'I Let You Dive' the album goes straight for the anthemic rabble-rousing style tracks that will be this album's calling card. The chugging guitars, thunderous rhythms and Nine Inch Nails style electronics come together perfectly to create some of the strongest work Anzi has put his name to yet. This formula is continued through the likes of 'Cortex Command', 'Fear Is No Prophecy', 'Big Enemy', and 'Nuclear Sire' which provide the album with a back bone of hard and addictive songs that will prop up his live set for years to come.

'False Saints' throws in a more overt and stripped-back punk rock execution which is somewhat unnecessary, and the final track 'Delusions' comes off as a little too saccharin with its power ballad execution that lacks any of the menace that the rest of the album fostered. These provide the album with its weakest points and simply sound like derivative rock standards that lack the gravity of the rest of the album.

In terms of production this album is pretty damn good. The rock elements sound fat and beefy, while the electronics and vocals cut through them with ease. No one element has a tendency to dominate the mix at the expense of anything, but there are a few points where things sound a little too thick.

This is a very strong second album from Anzi which proves he has the skills and abilities to be a serious contender in his own right. The album is full of strong and memorable songs that will play well to a lot of audiences and will undoubtedly be easily reproduced live. Hopefully he can continue to develop and exceed this on album number three.

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