Tuesday 16 June 2015

Review: Various Artists – 'Occult Box'

'Occult Box'

US record label Cleopatra Records have a legacy tied to the darkside since 1992 and have worked with some of the biggest names in gothic, industrial, electronic, deathrock and a whole lot of other genres. Perhaps the label's most interesting and relevant compilation release in its history with past luminaries, contemporary heavyweights, and the sounds of the future coming together to celebrate ritual music no matter what the genre.

The box set is beautifully put together with a high-quality box, matching glossy booklet, promotional postcards, a cheesy but nonetheless nice pentagram necklace, five individual CDs in slipcases, and a nicely textured 7” vinyl featuring two recordings by the master Therion himself Aleister Crowley.

Musically there is a hell of a lot to get your teeth into. Classic tracks such as Rozz Williams' 'The Beast (Invocation), Front Line Assembly’s 'Assassination', Joy Division's 'Leaders Of Men', Laibach's 'Dieliebe', and Switchblade Symphony's 'Gutter Glitter' get a welcome airing and add a little familiarity to the track list. However the real gems are the live and remixed cuts from the depths of the Cleopatra vaults such as Die Krupps remix of 1000 Homo DJ's 'Supernaut', the Apoptygma Berzerk remix of Nico's 'All Tomorrows Parties', and a powerful live version of 'Surrendered' from Peter Murphy.

Best of all though, there are plenty of strong contributions from contemporary names like Mater Susperia Vision, Sidewalks And Skeletons, Gravediggaz, The Soft Moon, and Ritualz to name but a few that highlight the strength of the new school sounds. Throw in a nonstop DJ mix from model/DJ Tamara Sky and you have something for everyone.

The collection is well produced and mastered and great attention to detail has been paid to the running order to ensure each track flows nicely into the next one. Despite the different styles, recording budgets and the times in which they were recorded, it flows as well as any contemporary compilation.

OK, there may be a little bit of a “spooky-kooky marketing ploy” air about it, especially with the pentagram necklace included. But nonetheless this is a very strong collection of songs that bridges genres and time to create a sustained and engrossing listening experience. It may not be the most suitable collection for actual ritual use, however this is easily the highest quality and most well-thought out compilation since Rhino Entertainment's 'A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box' collection.

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