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'


Monday 30 November 2015

Introducing... DrakenWerks

Name of band:
Members: Draken (mastermind, composer, vocals - Live and Studio), Martyn Zerostar (live synths), Kelly Lawrence (live synths). 
Year formed: 2013 
Location: South Wales, UK 

The key to success in this industry is start off by listening. Patiently and quietly listen to everyone else, what they have to say. What works and what doesn't work. Yes, there is a degree of having to find your own way, but despite all the wonderful drama's that keep us entertained on the scene, there is a lot of good people out there who if you take the time are willing to impart their wisdom.”

Hard to categorize, DrakenWerks describes it's genre as an 'Industrial Mayhem,' an experimental melting pot of EBM-Industrial style music that is not so easy to pigeon hole. Yet this unique blend can shift one moment from hard hitting, heavy pounding dance songs through to gentle, reflective synth-pop melodies with orchestral elements the next.

Intravenous Magazine: Who are you and how did the band/project come to be formed?

DrakenWerks is an electronic music project that is the brain child of Draken, regular DJ and promoter on the Goth and Industrial scene in South Wales. Draken began from scratch, learning his art in 2011 with little musical background but was inspired by the local rock acts to do something musical based around his own passion for alternative electronic music such as EBM and Industrial.

It took Draken a few years to get things to a level where he was happy, but at the end of 2013, Draken took to the stage for the first time with DrakenWerks to support V2a (UK) and Ritualz (Mexico) when they visited Cardiff with a blinding first live performance. Since then, the project has been refined both in the studio and live, bringing in Kelly Lawrence and Martyn Zerostar for the live synths whilst in the studio, DrakenWerks in 2015 began working with producer Gregor Beyerle (formerly of Modulate, currently of Skyla Vertex and Reaper and also live keys for Nachtmahr and L'ame Immortelle) whose own touch has brought a more polished and professional touch to their existing sound.

IVM: How would you describe your sound/style, and how did you arrive at it?

It's very hard to pigeon hole your own sound / style, that's generally something other people do for your music. Draken finds it much better when writting our stuff to just go with what comes out at the time. Sometimes that is hard and dancey, other times more gentle and tender, what ever suits the particular song that is being worked on at the time. Certainly, our stuff is strongly influenced by the whole alternative electronic spectrum as a whole, but to then further define it into a sub-genre is not something we'd care to attempt because it is nearly always a subjective and opinion based thing.

IVM: Who and what are your primary influences both musical and non-musical?

Though our primary musical influences come from listening to other bands on the scene, both old and new, Industrial or Trad (we love going and seeing other bands perform and drawing from that experience), Draken also gets a lot of inspiration as well from other musical sources, particularly things like old synthpop artists like Mike Oldfield or Jean Michelle Jarre, old rock artists like Pink Floyd or Fleetwood Mac, 90's dance artists like KLF or Faithless or even older classical music (Draken is particular fond of Holst's Planet Suite). All these things could be said to end up in the melting pot that have an influence on the music Draken creates.

Non-musically, DrakenWerks draws a lot of inspiration from his own life with the things he has felt or stuff he has drawn from interacting with other people. A good example of this is 'Stress' from the new forthcoming album 'No Prisoners', a song that was literally written and recorded in a day whilst Draken was experiencing a large amount of the songs title and something many people should be able to connect too.

IVM: Do you perform live and if so where can we see you perform in the near future?

DrakenWerks has performed live multiple times over the last two years in the Welsh cities of Swansea and Cardiff, supporting acts like V2A, Ayria, Inertia and Ashestoangels as well as headlining a number of other gigs. More recently, DrakenWerks blazed into Bristol supporting industrial rockers 3Teeth in October 2015. We are currently working on the second album at the moment so we are taking a small break from the live scene but we already have one gig booked in for Swansea next May and we are working on booking a few others as well to help promote the new album a bit further a field.

IVM: What is your current release and where is it available from?

Our latest release is the single 'Suck it up M***er F***er', the title track from which is also due to be featured on our forthcoming second album, 'No Prisoners', due out in early 2016. The full version of this "single" which also features a B-Side (Candle in Darkness), a number of remixes and an orchestral re-imagining of the B-Side can be picked up from Bandcamp for just £2.99. If the more mainstream digital outlets are more to your style, the A and B-Side of this single can also be downloaded through all the usual outlets like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc.

IVM: What have been the highlights of your career so far?

We have achieved so much, but this summer of 2015 just gone has got to be our greatest highlight so far. After release the single, we've been literally gobsmacked at the huge positive response we have had with it globally. We have gained a large amount of new fans, particularly from countries like Brazil and Mexico, as well as here in the UK and across the water in Germany and it is all down to that one single. I think we can safely say we have found our sound and from this point forth it is all about refining that.

IVM: What are your plans for the future?

Our second album, 'No Prisoners', is due out early 2016. We have pretty much done everything we need to do our end of things and our producer is now working hard to get the album completely mixed and mastered properly on time. As well as featuring the singles title track, 'Suck it up M***er F***er', there are 14 more tracks also on this album, that we certainly think is our best work to date.

After 'No Prisoners', we plan to re-release our first album. 'Prototype to Destruction' was written whilst Draken was still learning the ropes and prior to ourselves bringing in a producer. Whilst we like the original album, it just isn't even in the same game as 'No Prisoners', so Draken is going back, refining the tracks and getting Gregor to mix and master those into an album called 'Prototype Rebuilt', which will also feature a couple of new tracks as well as rebuilt tracks from the first album.

We also have plans for a third album to be released towards the end of 2016 / beginning of 2017, called 'Age of Information'. Work has also already begun on this and will be continued on by the band whilst 'Prototype Rebuilt' is with our producer.

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

The key to success in this industry is start off by listening. Patiently and quietly listen to everyone else, what they have to say. What works and what doesn't work. Yes, there is a degree of having to find your own way, but despite all the wonderful drama's that keep us entertained on the scene, there is a lot of good people out there who if you take the time are willing to impart their wisdom. DrakenWerks owes it's growing success as much to that as it does to all the other things like passion, drive, creativity and ambition. If we can do it, so can many others.

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Thursday 26 November 2015

Review: Inkubus Sukkubus – 'Mother Moon'

'Mother Moon'

Inkubus Sukkubus have been a mainstay of both the UK and European goth scenes for 25 years now with their unique brand of pagan infused gothic rock inspiring a loyal following and gaining the mainstream exposure now and then. The band have an already expansive discography that includes genres classics such as 'Wytches', 'Vampyre Erotica', and 'Supernature'. Now in 2015 the band have released their seventeenth full-length studio album in the form of 'Mother Moon'.

The band pick up where they left off with perfectly sequenced rhythms, searing guitars, throbbing bass and the always sensuous vocals of Candia taking centre stage. You might not think that there is much room to manoeuvre with their sound after a quarter of a century and so many albums, but they just do that.

Songs such as 'Mother Moon', 'Shadows In the Darkness', 'My Demons', and 'Witch Child'stylistically and thematically link back to many of the strongest offerings from their previous releases and living up to their pagan rock crown. The album has a heavily acoustic leaning that is explored particularly well on tracks such as 'Loose Yourself At The Nymphaeum', 'Zephyrus', 'I Am The One', 'Dark Sisters', 'Bitter Sweet Succubus', 'No End To War' taking the album in an almost neofolk direction. The end result is an ethereal bias that is one of the most overt than on any Inkubus Sukkubus album for a while.

The production is light and airy that particularly benefits the stripped-back acoustic compositions, while the more rock flavoured cuts are up to the usual standards we've come to expect. It doesn't play hard and fast with the band's core elements but compliments them nicely.

The album may not be a revelation or grand reconstruction of their core sound. Also the acoustic bias may limit it's appeal somewhat to fans of their more gothic rock sound. However 'Mother Moon' shows that after 25 years, Inkubus Sukkubus are still relevant and able to craft something genuinely beautiful while staying true to their long- term manifesto. 

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Wednesday 25 November 2015

Review: KPT – 'Alive By Machines'

'Alive By Machines'

The recent single from KPT, 'Descent' (featuring Jekka) was a tantalising peak into the forthcoming full-length studio album from the US-based dark electronica producer. Blending the dark and deep textures of darkwave and industrial with the attention grabbing accessibility of modern edm, it promised great things from it's parent album 'Alive By Machines'. And it is a promise the album makes good on.

The album blends elements of dark ambient, dark wave, industrial, edm, and techno with ease. It is quite a unique and hard to pin-down sound, but there are definitely parts that recall the likes of Diamond Version, Aphex Twin, and Blush Response. It's a sound that would sit well on the Raster-Noton roster very comfortably as it straddles the line between experimental and accessible effortlessly.

Tracks such as 'Ventilate', 'Revol' (featuring Gus Watkins), 'Collapsed', and 'Burn' give the album a fiercely intelligent and almost confrontational backbone with heavy distortion, dark atmospheres and creepy samples peppering the tracks. On the other hand tracks like 'Open', 'Descent' (featuring Jekka), 'Disintegrate', and 'Reconstruction' frame a core edm sound with darker textures and overtones for great effect.

The production is slick and modern with even the harsher elements sounding more textural than abrasive. While the ambient and dance elements, though subtle, are used to great effect. The balance between melodic and harsh is perfect all the way through and the mix creates a nice sense of space that gives the whole album a cinematic quality.

This is a great album that will appeal to anyone who likes the more challenging end of the edm spectrum. But fans of industrial, dark electro, and ambient music will also find lots to get stuck into. KPT will certainly be a name to keep an eye out for as an exciting rising name in both the dark electronica and edm genres with cerebral releases such as this.  

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This month sees the anniversary of both the birth and death of Ingrid Pitt, who passed away in 2010. Like the recently deceased Christopher Lee, Ingrid was one of the most iconic horror actors in British cinema and today we remember her not only as one of the formidable group of women actors involved in Hammer and Amicus horror factories but also as staple of cult, sci-fi and horror culture. She was also that extremely rare thing - a female anti-heroic lead. In both 'The Vampire Lovers' and 'Countess Dracula' Pitt played the roles of powerful and sadistic predators, which was very unusual at the time (and since) and which marked her out as a rare and vivid screen presence. Add to that her role in 'The Wicker Man' and her work on 'DrWho' and Ingrid Pitt has her own corner of pop cultural history. So, what can we take from the Pitt legacy?

Well, first of all beneath the hammy British gothic exterior there are much darker realities. The horrors of myths and of legends were nothing compared to the horrors of real life, and Ingrid Pitt had a childhood which plenty of real horror in it. After several years when her family tried to evade the Nazis' attempts to enlist her father for the war effort they were eventually captured, the young Ingrid and her mother separated from her father and condemned to spend the three years until the end of the war in a concentration camp. The events of her time there – the murders, gas chambers, rats, beatings, rapes, child abduction, hangings and arbitrary cruelty – are detailed both in her autobiography and the recently released animated film 'Beyond the Forest'. Ultimately, Ingrid and her mother escaped with their lives by pretending to be dead as their captors marched the prisoners out into the forest and executed them. After a long search spanning Poland and Germany they were eventually reunited with her father.

Such a tale of unspeakable atrocities can only sharpen the contrast with the sweet, almost camp nature of most of her horror film output, and such a change in gear is illustrated by her sudden decision to stay in the UK in the late sixties as she fell in love with the cliches of the RAF and Big Ben that represented the Britain helped with her liberation from the camps.

So what we can from this is a simple line between real horror and Horror; Horror is fun, escapist, thrilling and entertaining, whereas real horror is none of these things. Whilst we may draw inspiration from real horror and place it within Horror we must always be careful that it is analysed and not celebrated. At the same time we have a responsibility to fight horrific realities. Abuse, war, torture and murder are not what we are actually relating to when enjoy Horror, and the demarcation between the Stutthof concentration camp and 'The House That Dripped Blood' is worth recognising and preserving. The latter is joyful and fun, and the other only representative of a chilling darkness.

And finally, what we should take from this is recognition. Ingrid and her family were refugees, survivors of war and potential victims of genocide, and we are currently amidst a refugee crisis that is unprecedented since World War 2. The experiences of her family should provide a source of context and compassion as we view this, and maybe inspiration too: inspiration to do something to help, and maybe even to wear a cravat or a corset whilst doing so, as a tribute to Countess Dracula herself.

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Tuesday 24 November 2015

Review: Caustic – 'Industrial Music'

'Industrial Music'

If 'The Golden Vagina Of Fame And Profit' was Matt Fanale's club album, and 'The Man Who Couldn't Stop' was his grand concept album, then 'Industrial Music' is a return to his roots. Matt Fanale's recent output under the Caustic moniker, along with his work with Beauty Queen Autopsy, The Causticles and Prude has shown the world that the king of Jizzcore is industrial's answer to Mike Patton. Moving one from his DIY, rough and ready style into ever more eclectic waters Fanale has shown he has the sight and talent to create fresh, exciting and memorable music.

After another successful Kickstarter campaign, the first full-length Caustic album in three years – and the début on new label Negative Gain Productions – sees Fanale making a stand and embracing the industrial tag. Returning to the big distorted beats, crunchy synths and aggressive vocals that characterised his Crunch Pod years, but adding the skill and experience that made 'The Golden Vagina...' and 'The Man Who Couldn't Stop' such must have albums. The cover may be a simple and straight forward design evocative of something from the heyday of Factory Records, but that black and yellow colour scheme should also serve as a warning that Fanale means business.

Tracks such as 'Bomb The Clubs', 'Scream Your Name', 'Military Facist Show', 'Fuck In A Suit', 'Toxic Waste', and 'Why Because' in essence hark back to the likes of 'This Is Jizzcore' and 'Unicorns, Kittens And Shit' with elements of breakbeat, industrial, noise, and hard ebm coming through. However the arrangements are more mature and well-rounded and there is still a nice club-potential feel on each of them. Also, lyrically the album is more dynamic, clear-minded, and vitriolic than ever and in keeping with the wry and intelligent humour of his previous two efforts. The end result is something that while it has that DIY feel to it, it is far more grown up and polished that could sit alongside classic album or two with ease..

The album also shows off the deeper and more subtle end of Fanale's sonic palette with the down-tempo and almost psychedelic 'Gravity Bong'. The dark malice of 'The Casualties' featuring the melodic counterpoint of Aaimon's Nancy. While the album's parting shot 'Bleached Asshole/The Deafening Beat Of My Heart' delves into rhythmic noise and dark ambient before erupting into the anguished and repeated screams of “
All I hear is the deafening beat of my heart.” Its an incredibly powerful track that's strength lies in its simplicity and the impact of its final sentiment.

'Industrial Music' is a very strong album that shows more of Matt Fanale exposing himself as an artist than ever before. The humour is present, but less in your face in the music. The gritty DIY feel has returned, but is executed with greater skill and expertise than ever before. With this album Fanale continues to take risks and they continue to pay off for him. It is not an album that takes any steps backwards. It continues to push forward and in doing so reclaiming industrial music as a tag to be proud of.  

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Review: Paradise Lost – 'Symphony For The Lost'

'Symphony For The Lost'

2015 has been a good year for Paradise Lost. They released their heaviest album in 20 years in the form of the stunning 'The Plague Within' and have enjoyed a successful seven week headlining tour in the UK and Europe. Not being strangers to the live album/DVD formats the band have further chosen to commemorate their 25th year with a new double CD and DVD release in 'Symphony For The Lost' recorded live last year in the ancient Roman theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and accompanied by the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra.

Long time fans will know just how many times the band has integrated orchestration and classical instruments on their studio albums, but to hear this in a truly live context gives the band's already powerful compositions even more depth.

The first disc cover tracks that encapsulate the band's history such as 'Gothic', 'Tragic Idol', 'Last Regret', 'Joy Of Madness', and 'Soul Courageous' featuring the full support of the orchestra, and it sounds utterly stunning. The bottom end of the band's sound is filled out with the rich acoustic textures of the classical instruments as the band's guitars and Nick Holmes' unmistakeable vocals power through the mix.

Disc two covers the second half of the concert. This time without the orchestra but no less powerful for it. Tracks such as 'The Enemy', 'Erased', 'Isolate', 'Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us', 'One Second', and 'Say Just Words' showcase more of the band's middle period characterised by a more electro-rock leaning, which probably wouldn't work as well with the orchestra anyway. But still the songs are performed with the skill and finesse a band of their veteran status.

The accompanying DVD is shot in superb quality with multiple cameras that capture the true grand decay of the venue. It is one of those live documents that really does make you wish that you were there to see it in person and is a fitting tribute to the band. The accompanying documentary shows the thought, preparation and execution of the concert which adds a nice nerdy dynamic to the original spectacle.

The audio mix on both the DVD and the audio discs is excellent. The vocals, guitars and drums sound like a true reflection of the band's live presence. The crowd noise, and the on-stage banter is preserved in full without being trimmed down or muted. And the Orchestra is mixed nicely to give you the optimum balance between what would be the original sound of the song and the live power of the classical instruments.

This is a lovely package that reflects the band's 25 years of duty. This in conjunction with the ban's most recent studio effort show that Paradise Lost are a band on the top of their game and one that still has a hell of a lot to offer in the studio and live.

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Monday 23 November 2015

Interview: Deadfilmstar

Is the rock star dead?

“'A.I.' was actually not even started when the record company asked about how it was coming along. The band line-up at that time had all but gone, thing's were a real mess and there was no sense of direction. However, after the new band line-up, 'The Inevitable Rise...' had a clear direction from the start and although it was a long haul, it was worth it.”

Deadfilmstar have been a staple of the British underground music scene for many years. Their gritty industrial and metal tinged gothic rock has seen them supporting names such as Mortiis, Combichrist, KMFDM and many others. Though the band have been a visible presence and received many positive reviews for the their live performances the band's debut album proper 'The Inevitable Rise & Fall Of Fake White & The Ill Fated Tour' has only just recently seen the light of day despite being in the works for a long time.
Intravenous Magazine caught up with Deadfilmstar front-man Gary Mobley to talk about the new album, the one that was disowned and surviving the underground.

Intravenous Magazine: You are a familiar name on the UK live scene, but for those who aren't familiar with Deadfilmstar, how would you summarise the band's journey from your formation to now?

Gary Mobley: Hard! - Seriously, at a time when most of the UK Goth scene was going bleep,bleep,bleep we crashed in going THRANG!! Thankfully, nowadays it's better evened out.

IVM: You've just released 'The Inevitable Rise & Fall Of Fake White & The Ill Fated Tour', which has been a few years in the works. How do you feel now that it is finally released?

GM: Relieved! - A track from the album is featured on the cover CD of this month's Terrorizer magazine and so far reviews have been very positive.

IVM: How do you feel the songs have developed since their initial demo versions to what we have on the album?
GM: The early demo's were very much headed in the right direction and although it took an age it was important not veer away from that initial sound they had... It was also important not have the finished album sounding too polished as we wanted a raw rock sound so yeah, I'd like to think we've done the demo's justice.

IVM: The album is dark and quite angry. What were your primary influences when writing the songs for the album?
GM: Among other things, true to life experiences and endless re-runs of movies like Breaking Glass, The Privilege, White Star, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane and Pink Floyd The Wall.

VM: The album's title evokes the likes of David Bowie's 'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars'. Is there a story or concept running throughout the album, and if so would you care to explain it?
GM: Yes, but although the 'rise and fall' was deliberately ripped from Bowie and a somewhat obvious influence, it was the real life story of the late Sean Purcell from the band Raped and later the Cuddly Toys that particularly inspired parts of the album rather than the fictional Ziggy.

IVM: The album has been released under your own Death2Me imprint. What led to this decision and how do you feel it has worked for the band?
GM: It just gravitated that way. How has it worked? We got the record out!!!

IVM: This is technically your second album under the Deadfilmstar name, but the first that reflects the true industrial rock nature of the band. Is the low-fi cyber style of your first album 'A.Rtistic I.Ntegrity' something that you would ever look to revisit, and are there any songs on there that you still enjoy?
GM: No and no. I really don't like that album. Some people do and that's fine but, I'd rather it never existed. Still, I'm very grateful to Nightbreed Records for going with the release at that time.

IVM: How did you find the process of recording your latest album compared to the first one?
GM: Both were a nightmare for different reasons. 'A.I.' was actually not even started when the record company asked about how it was coming along. The band line-up at that time had all but gone, thing's were a real mess and there was no sense of direction. However, after the new band line-up, 'The Inevitable Rise...' had a clear direction from the start and although it was a long haul, it was worth it.

IVM: You've been a constant of the live scene for a number of years – how has that shaped your perspective of the music business?
GM: Let's just say, time often presents a very different picture of what you first perceived.

IVM: In that time you've built up a very impressive list of support slots with band's like KMFDM, Combichrist, Mortiis, Orgy, and Christian Death. Which have been your favourite experiences and why?
GM: They've all been great and we're very lucky to have shared the stage with bands such as these. For myself, the guy's from Mortiis will always be top of the pile.

IVM: Bands have a tendency to come and go on the UK scene, and as you've been around for a while now are there any other bands that have sadly broken up that you wish hadn't?
GM: If you mean bands I personally knew? Yes, Pro-jekt, Squid and KIK spring to mind - As well as the music, those three bands were really good to us at various stages of trying to get a foothold on the scene.

IVM: Are there any plans for a music video to support the new album?
GM: I have talked to a director that I very much admire. He likes what we are doing. Hopefully,we may see something next year.

IVM: It may be a bit premature to ask, but do you have any plans forming for the next album?
GM: Not an album but, I do have a cover of the Human League's 'Seconds' in the mix which I'm very pleased with.

IVM: Are there any live dates coming up?

GM: Not until well into early 2016.

IVM: Finally is there anything that you'd like to add?

GM: Thank's for having us!

Deadfilmstar's début album 'The Inevitable Rise & Fall Of Fake White & The Ill Fated Tour' is available to purchase now through Death2Me Records. For more information please visit the band's official website.

All photos/artwork copyright of Deadfilmstar and Ed.Fielding.

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Friday 20 November 2015

Review: Neurotech – 'Evasive'


Defying classification and resisting convention is all part and parcel of the Neurotech experience. Since 2007 composer and multi-instrumentalist Wulf takes his Slovenian based project on a ride that encompasses cyber metal, industrial, ebm, ambient, experimental, new age, trance, futurepop, and symphonic that confounds expectation at every turn. Neurotech's latest album 'Evasive' sees Wulf drop the metal edge of the band's sound to fully indulge the electronic elements without restraint. And the result is simply breathtaking in its complexity and scope.

'Evasive' is cinematic in scale with a huge atmosphere surrounding each song on the album. The construction is somewhere between dance-friendly electro and ambient new age. But it's much more than that. Tracks such as 'The Tide Is Rising', 'Compass', 'I Desensitize', 'Enter The Endless', and 'Maelstrom' give the album a dance-orientated back bone with their hard beats, memorable melodies and grooving bass. While the likes of 'From Liquid To Solid', 'Between Wake And Sleep', 'Through The Divine', and 'Evasive' delve into more complicated and almost soundtrack-like pieces that emphasise the atmosphere and soul of the compositions.

The whole album is a relentless exploration of progressive electronics, cinematic sci-fi atmospheres and straight-up great dance music. It sounds like Peter Tagtgren, Vangelis, Enigma, Juno Reactor, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross brainstorming ideas for the perfect film soundtrack.

The production is lush and deep. Each song has a huge presence that equates to a dynamic whole. The synths, bass, beats each sound colossal in the mix and yet never swamp each other. The production is top quality and makes each song, no matter what its approach sound like a hit.

'Evasive' may have dropped the more familiar metal elements of the Neurotech sound, but it certainly doesn't suffer for it. With this album Wulf has indulged himself and allowed the creativity to flow unencumbered. The result is nothing less the excellent. The fact that once again this is being given away for free with no label support is just mind boggling. 'Evasive' shows the true depth of Wulf's skills and if there was any justice Neurotech would be a household name.

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Thursday 19 November 2015

To Be Goth

I'm standing in front of a venue, smoking a cigarette.
It's a goth event, and I'm wearing the Queen of Darkness herself, and I've put on my face, with my usual eye makeup flair.

The venue is at a street corner. Two guys walk past me, and stop to wait for the light to turn green. One of the guys turns around, takes a few steps towards me and says "Excuse me, Halloween was two weeks ago".
His sentence is blurted out, so I ask him to please repeat it.
"Halloween was two weeks ago. What's that on your face, why are you dressed up?"

I take a drag from my cigarette.
I turned 30 earlier this month. The guy may or may not be about the same age as me. He seems, and sounds like a tourist, or someone very foreign, very new to Montreal.
Maybe he's never seen a goth person before.

When you're 30, you've realized that it's always better to explain something first, and defend it later. You might not even have the defend anything, if you explain it properly, clearly, calmly, from the heart, with a cool head.

So I smile at him and say "This is not a costume. This is my style".
"This is not a costume? What's it for, then? Why are you like this? Why do you have that on your face, what is that?" I wonder to myself why he keeps on talking to me, asking these questions, but I keep on smiling, and say "It's makeup, and I'm wearing this because there's an event I'm going to tonight at this venue (I point to the place behind me). It's a goth event..."-"Is that a tattoo?", the guy asks, interrupting me. I repeat that it's makeup, and the more I talk to him, the more I'm feeling my voice soothing itself out, and find myself speaking slower, like I'd talk to a child. "Oh, it's makeup", he says. I nod. "It's pretty", he says. I say thank you. He wishes a good evening to me, and I take another drag from my cigarette.

Later in the evening, I tell this to my friends, and we giggle, agreeing that this guy needs to refine his pick-up lines.

I dance all night in the course of yet another Nevermore event (organized 4 times a year for 7 years now). Inside the venue, the Montreal goth scene is vibrant. Beautiful, happy people are dancing, dressed in their Very Best, Slickest Black, and they're 18 and 23, 30 and 44, and possibly 52, and definitely 61.

The older ones are always the most inspiring to me, and then ever since I've been noticing younger ones, well, I'm finding myself taking inspiration from them as well -a bright light for me to stand in and keep being inspired, so as to inspire myself, and the others, and the young.

Fashion and trends are boomerangs. I read somewhere recently that they do a 25-year revolution cycle.

I proclaimed myself as goth around 1998.
I was 13, and found solace in the Darkness, aka the Shadow-Side of life, complex as it is solid. The fashion, the art of it was so creative, gathering its artistry from the past and the future so freely, prefectly balanced. What drew me even more to the goth movement was its compelling mythiscism. What lied within and beneath the Darkness made sense to me, and I could believe in it a lot more than what I had been fed from the pop-tart culture of North America.

The Shadow-Side. The Other Side of the Mirror. The Other Side of the Sun. The Face of the Moon.

In my early 20's, someone told me "You make darkness shine. Looking at you is not staring down an abyss, it's beholding an infinite glittering night sky." This person nailed it pretty well, and I quote her to this day, for that's what a true goth is. We've dug down so deep, in search of the thread leading to the speck of light that kept our focus fixed on the way out, 'til we realized that the light really comes from inside ourselves, and that the only was out is through.
In learning to shine light in and out of ourselves, we bestow it upon everyone else.

To be goth is not to stand in the Darkness, in fear, and wanting to die. Not at all.
It's about rising through, and accepting, and embracing, the Shadow-Side of ourselves, and our lives and stories.

That's what I see, and that's what I feel, when I dance the night away at a goth event. The elders are our guides, and the young are our vigils.

And what do I think of the "New Goth" movement?

As far as I'm concerned, the goth subculture has always been, and the "revival" or "new wave" we feel like we're seeing nowadays is nothing more than another boomerang effect of pop culture. Goths have always been there, and are here to stay -and maybe that's where the fascination comes from. Where fads frantically come and go in the pop-tart culture, subcultures like the goth, punk, heavy metal and rockabilly lifestyles are very solidly remaining.

Perhaps, out of curiosity, a tiny step closer to Evolution has been taken by mass society, through open-mindedness, I dare believe. In these times we're living in, with recent events mostly coming down to people killing each other because they believe in something different, it's a very marvelous thing to see such openness to diversity -in styles, beliefs and tastes.

And maybe that's what's making the kids try on black lipstick and buy Ouija boards.

And whether it's just a phase, or a life-long commitment, what matters is that whoever tries on a little bit of goth can, in that moment, feel closer to their true selves when adorning it, and that mostly, they're not afraid anymore to be themselves, and love themselves.

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Wednesday 18 November 2015

Review: Hacking The Wave – 'Circuit Breakers'

'Circuit Breakers'

Victor Love's side project Hacking The Wave dropped it's full-length début last month in the form of 'The Dome'. It presented a stripped down yet eclectic exploration of the cyberpunk themes that Love has fostered through his work with Dope Stars Inc. and on his new solo project. The blend of genres such as glitch, chiptune, 8-bit, industrial and synth metal felt fresh and exciting and given his history as a song writer and producer it was always going to yield interesting results. Never one to rest on his laurels, Love has unleashed a follow-up single in the form of 'Circuit Breakers' to continue to hack the cyberpunk genre.

This two-track single takes the strongest points of the album – the synth melodies, searing guitars, vocoded vocals and rock rhythms and crafts two undeniable dance floor ready cuts.

The title track, which features the talents of Orax alongside Love is an anthemic blend of hard beats, addictive, synths and head-banging riffs filtered stripped down to the circuitry for a dirty dance track. The second song on offer '3D Print Me' keeps to a similar formula but drops the tempo slightly, ups the groove and heads into a little bit more of a melodic direction without sacrificing the raw flavours of its companion.

Once again with Victor Love's production talents this is a nice sounding release that perfectly balances the raw and low-fi elements of the project's palette with the more engaging rhythms and melodies. It's mixed nicely and despite the heavily vocoded vocals and distorted guitars, they stay prominent in the mix and don't succumb to being swallowed by the rest of the instrumentation.

'Circuit Breakers' continues to show that there is a lot more to Victor Love as an artist and producer. The single has both club and live potential and further validates Hacking The Wave as a viable side project that needs to be explored more.  

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Review: Extize – 'Sex, Ducks & Industrial'

'Sex, Ducks & Industrial'

If you haven't had the pleasure of Extize yet, be prepared. The Franco-German electro-industrial crew have been a mainstay of the cyber-goth scene since 2007 and though their sound has diversified in recent years, their tongues have always remained firmly in cheek and there is perhaps no better example of this than their new EP 'Sex, Ducks & Industrial'.

The EP opens with the most loving trolling of the industrial genre to date with with the frantic electro-industrial 'Industrial Kombat' sampling classic dance floor tracks such as 'Pong', 'Mortal Kombat Theme', 'Zombie Nation', and 'Blut Royal' and parodying the style of likes of Suicide Commando, Faderhead, Combichrist, and Nachtmahr among others. It's too funny not to love.

 'Duck Vader' is another, slightly straight – but not by much – track that features a nice sample of the 'Imperial March' from Star Wars augmented by some dance-friendly beats and melodies. 'Into The Duckness' plays with glitch and dubstep elements mixed with edm to create another nice dance track, though it lacks the humour and immediately recognizable hooks of the previous two.

'Fvck Inducktrial' returns to the trolling front and musically reflects acts such as X-[RX] and early Combichrist – as such its another damn good club offering and again it's too damn funny not to love. 'Ducky Style' takes on dubstep in a big way and is probably the weakest offering on the album with its stripped back style it is eclipsed the rest of the songs here. 'Tanzducktator' on the other hand returns to the trolling with a liberal sprinkling of 'Gangnam Style' samples and as much German as they can cram into it – it's a strong way to finish an already fun ride.

The cover of Corey Hart's 'Sunglasses At Night' feels a little necessary to the track list. OK it works well enough as a bonus track but it doesn't really add much to the whole and doesn't sound radically overhauled enough.

In terms of production it is pretty solid. Sometimes the vocals sound a little off in the mix, but they always work in the context of the tracks.

If you've yet to experience Extize then 'Sex, Ducks & Industrial' is a pretty good place to start. There are some great potential club tracks and its mischievous humour/trolling really sets it apart from a lot of the electro-industrial scene at the moment. It's well worth the free download.  

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Review: Cynical Existence – 'Echoes'


Fredrik Croona is a genuinely interesting creative talent. Already know for his work with Project Rotten and Menschdefekt, he has worked from the blueprints of those bands on his Cynical Existence project over the course of two full-length albums and a few EPs into a solid mass of dance-orientated electronics and uncompromising industrial metal. He has since delved further into solo experiments (as he has fleshed out Cynical Existence with permanent band members), and experimented with more melodic lines of enquiry. However, this latest EP doesn't share any of those more accessible leanings. While still anchored to the aggrotech meets industrial metal sound he began to perfect on the last full-length album, the new EP 'Echoes' sees a slower, darker and definitely heavier turn in direction.

'Into Nothingness' is a nice opener with it's almost BlutEngel piano intro that is suddenly bludgeoned by the metal guitars and Croona's twisted vocals, but it does lack a little bit of urgency. The more up tempo 'No Regrets' on the other hand features a stronger dance place, addictive ebm electronics and some searing guitars that make this an immediately accessible track. 'Static' follows on nicely with another nice harsh ebm framework that combines with the dance beats and guitars to produce the stand-out track of the album.

The instrumental 'Echoes' slows things down for a darker and more atmospheric take on the harsh ebm formula that works really well and even manages to keep its dance-friendly credentials. The EP is rounded off with 'The Endless Void' which has a far more well-rounded metal feel to it despite the abundance of electronics, it's energy though is less dancy and more of a sing-a-long live track which is a nice way to close the main track list.

The EP includes two covers, one from System:FX and another from Venal Flesh. System:FX give the title track a really cool atmospheric rhythmic intro that descends into almost psychedelic electronics. Whereas Venal Flesh take the first track and create a much more dance-friendly cut that kind of feels as though it is the logical conclusion.

The production is pretty solid throughout. It hasn't got the spit and polish of some of the bigger releases in the genre, and the guitars in a few places sound a little too low in the mix, but otherwise it displays a continued improvement from previous releases.

'Echoes' may not be a radical shift in direction, or even a major shake-up for Cynical existence, but it is a solid EP with some songs that will find their home on the dance floor as well as on the stage. Its a nice glimpse into where a possible future full-length could grow into and shows that Croona still has plenty of directions to take Cynical Existence. 

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Tuesday 17 November 2015

Live: Paradise Lost – Rock City, Nottingham 13/11/2015

Rock City, Nottingham

With their heaviest album since 1996's 'Draconian Times' in tow, Paradise lost, the originators of British gothic doom metal descend upon Nottingahm's Rock City to round off their latest touring cycle. The band's credentials have ranged from Death Metal, Doom, Gothic, Industrial and come full circle again on this year's release 'The Plague Within'. The band's controversial middle period may have seen their most commercial success, and despite a cannon of strong songs their increasingly heavy outlook has successfully re-engaged their long-time fans while introducing those who may have got into the band through their industrial metal phase to doomier sounds.

But first on the bill tonight is the latest darlings of Rise above Records – Berlin/London based psychedelic occult rockers Lucifer who have been consistent support for the headliners on this seven week tour.

The band's first album 'Lucifer I' has seen them gain attention over the summer to the point where a decent portion of the crowd are interested to see them as they hit the stage. The band lead by former The Oath front woman Johanna Sadonis command a strong presence backed up with groove-laden rhythms, strong riffs courtesy of ex-Cathedral man Gary Jennings. Sadonis' vocals punch through the swirling Candlemass meets Ozzy era Sabbath backing and injects dominant melodies with ease.

The band's lead track 'Izrael' provides their final song for their set and is undoubtedly the best received of the night, but in particular tracks such as 'Morning Star', 'Sabbath', and 'Anubis' provide high spots in a solid and tight set that will see many in attendance converted.

The night's headliner's should be a band that need little introduction by now. The Halifax based arm of “The Peaceville Three” that put British doom back on the map with albums such as 'Gothic', 'Icon' and 'Draconian Times' in 2015 mark a triumphant return to their heaviest sounding album to date. And tonight's set reflects this. The band take to the stage and unleash a barrage in the form of 'No Hope In Sight' from the band's new album 'The Plague Within' before heading right back to 1993 with 'Widow'. It's a strong start further solidified with a big sing-a-long rendition of 'The Enemy'.

The majority of the set is gleaned from the latest album with songs such as 'Terminal', 'Victim Of the Past', 'Beneath Broken Earth', and 'Return To The Sun' getting welcome airings. The band's middle period gets only the briefest of look-ins with 'Erased' making an early appearance, and 'Say Just Words' rounding the encore off. But with 'Praise Lamented Shade', 'Enchantment', 'As I Die', and 'Faith Divides US – Death Unites Us' marking undeniable high points and rounding the set out more.

The band are on top form. The performance is tight and professional befitting their now veteran status. Nick Holmes' vocals sound great as they flit between death grunts, anguish shouts and deep croons. And there is plenty of self-deprecating quips and audience interaction to boot. The band have had a good year, one that has further cemented their place as one of the top British metal acts of the last 25 years. By the time the band come to leave the stage having given their musical legacy as well as their present direction a fitting showcase and showing that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

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Legendary London venue Electrowerkz faces demolition

As part of the Crossrail 2 project in London, it has been announced this past weekend that the Electrowerkz in Islington, home of the famous club night Slimelight is facing demolition as part of plans for a new Angel tube station. After the fall of iconic venues such as the Astoria, The Intrepid Fox, Sin, and Madame JoJo's to redevelopment it would be another severe blow to London's – and indeed the UK's – alternative scene if another iconic venue were to succumb.

Here's what the Slimelight NewYear's Eve event page had to say:
“We had some very nice chaps from Crossrail pop round with brochures,tape measures and clipboards with novel news about bulldozers and proposed new plans for an extra new Angel station just in case you couldn’t find the one that was there already.
This may involve the complete demolition of all the old buildings in Torrens St with cracks in including Slimelight...
In the best tradition of public consultation meetings we have decided to hold one on a really inconvenient date when you cannot get a babysitter and there may be something good on the telly, New Years Eve.
We envisage 3 floors of animated discussion groups with charts and plans on the wall you can point at.
We have also employed the services of a fine local band Empirion to entertain you in the intermission.”

Slimelight has been a weekly cornerstone of the London gothic/alternative scene since the late 1980's and has hosted gigs by now legendary bands. The Electrowerkz has undergone extensive refurbishment in the mind 2000's and provides the capital with one of it's most dynamic venues. It is an important scene landmark that should not disappear without a fight!

The full proposals are available to view on the Crossrail 2 consultation page HEREThe closing date for the receipt of comments is 8 January 2016. Responses to the consultation will be considered to help shape proposals for the scheme as they develop. A consultation report will be published in spring 2016.

Be sure to follow the link in the above paragraph to lodge your objections to the proposals to demolish 7 Torrens Street – The Electrowekz / The Islington Metal Works – before the deadline! And in the meantime, if you are a regular or a Slimelight virgin, I heartily recommend you check out this London club and show your support in person!

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Friday 13 November 2015

Dissecting the 'Friday The 13th' franchise

Warning! This article does contain plot spoilers...

Ask anyone to name the best known horror villains and you can guarantee Jason Voorhees will be one of those mentioned. The iconic hockey mask wearing and machete wielding hydrocephalic afflicted serial killer Voorhees has become just a part of mainstream culture as the classic monsters of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. Across twelve films the franchise has grossed over $465 million at the box-office worldwide and Jason has subsequently appeared in other media such as novellas, comics, cartoons and there is even a video game in the works.

The main character Jason Voorhees allegedly drowned in the calm waters of Crystal Lake due to the negligence of the workers at the local summer camp. From that day the lake was said to be cursed and when young, horny and negligent teens venture too close to the water a series of brutal murders will usually follow. It's a simple premise, but one that can be rolled out again and again.

With that in mind, and to celebrate Friday the 13th in style, we take a look at the entire series to judge the best and worst of the franchise.

'Friday The 13th' (1980)

Written by Victor Miller and directed and produced by Sean S. Cunningham. The first film stars Betsy Palmer as the murderous Pamela Sue Voorhees who psychotically sets out to avenge the death of her boy Jason some two decades previous, due to the neglectful Camp Crystal Lake councillors. After the camp shuts down, Mrs Voorhees makes sure it stays that way and unleashes her vengeance on anyone that ventures into it.

The film was the first to cash in on the success of 1978's 'Halloween' which popularised the slasher genre. Despite it's modest budget of just $550,000, the film grossed over $59,000,000 worldwide. The film is one of the strongest and best loved in the franchise despite the fact that the franchise's most iconic character barely makes an appearance in it. Jason would go on to become the main draw, but Mrs Voorhees maternal rampage in the original outing is a great story. The script may be lacking in part and the focus on scares may be at the expense of character development, but in terms of the music, special effects and focus on the killer the film became another trendsetter to those that followed.

'Friday The 13th Part 2' (1981)

After the success of the first film, a sequel became a necessity. This time with a bigger budget and a new leading killer, 'Friday The 13th Part 2' picks up directly from the first film. Set five years later another group of teens venture to the cursed Crystal Lake only to be picked off in gruesome fashion by another psychotic killer.

Jason's character is revealed to have survived his drowning twenty years before, and has lived hidden away on the shores of the lake ever since. After the death of his mother at the hands of the first film's heroine he takes his revenge against anyone that comes to the lake. The lead character lacks the iconic hockey mask in this film, but stylistically it is still great with the killer’s first person view replicated from the original and upgraded special effects creating a visual fest. The film's big reveal is as much of a classic as that of the late Mrs Bates in Psycho and far more visceral. The film again did well at the box office and despite contemporary critics being generally negative, the film helped to solidify the cult status of the franchise.

'Friday The 13th Part III' (1982)

'.. Part III' again picks up directly after the previous film's events and this time was intended to be the final part of a trilogy. Jason Voorhees, injured after his last encounter retreats to find a new mask and clothes before continuing his killing spree. The film was released in 3D and includes a disco-tinged soundtrack which as somewhat dated it.

The film did even better at the box office than '...Part 2' despite more negative reviews and served to launch Jason as a modern horror icon with the introduction of the hockey mask to his repertoire. Again the plot of the film does not vary too dramatically from the previous outings, however an even bigger budget and more attention to the script ensure a solid outing that wraps up the original story arc pretty well. If watched back-to-back the first three films support and build on each other really well with each one out doing the previous one in terms of effects. The overall story across them isn't that complicated and the character development is still pretty limited across the board, but '...Part III' provides a fitting finale.

'Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter' (1984)

Nope! Evil doesn't die that easily! Despite '...Part III's' intentions to be the last in the series, the studio knew they were on to a money spinner. And as sequels to other slasher films began to be churned out, Paramount was not going to be left behind. In walks in 'Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter' which picks up once again from the end of the last film.

Jason is dead...or so it seems. But that wouldn't make for a very good story now, so Jason miraculously avoids death once more to renew his killing spree. The initial morgue location is a nice change of setting setting, but perhaps a bit too close to 'Halloween II', so Jason soon makes his way back to familiar ground as a new batch of teens arrive at Camp Crystal Lake. Despite it's predictable flow and somewhat formulaic set pieces but it doesn't set out to parody itself, and '...The Final Chapter' still enjoys some great effects and some decent acting courtesy in particular from Crispin Glover and Cory Feldman. It was once again box office gold, and in spite of it's shaky set up is a genuinely enjoyable addition to the first three films.

'Friday The 13th: A New Beginning' (1985)

As the title suggests, the fifth instalment was intended to begin a new trilogy of films that would feature different villains. Why anyone would have thought this was a good idea when Jason Voorhees was now an iconic horror villain is beyond me. Anyway, we see a decidedly different approach with a more psychological slant on the film.

Jason kind of features in this, and at the same time doesn't, making it a bit confusing. The film tries to keep the killer secret for a portion of the film and taps into the mystery of the original nicely. However this soon goes out of the window and the result is some nice gruesome killings tied together by a pretty weak story that doesn't sit well in the franchise. The film did not do as well as its predecessors at the box office and production was allegedly hampered by hardcore drug use. It was an interesting, if unnecessary idea for a direction to take the film and ultimately the franchise. But it is one that time hasn't been too kind to.

'Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives' (1986)

Despite the fact that the previous two films set up the character of Tommy Jarvis to take over the hockey mask and machete full-time, the idea wasn't met with the greatest fan reaction. In response, '...Part VI' sees Jason Voorhees return, this time as an altogether more supernatural creature rather than the stubbornly hard to kill mortal he had previously been. The undead, superhumanly strong and just as blood thirsty Voorhees would become the standard for every subsequent film.

The film ties into the previous two outings, maintaining that link but ultimately dispensing with the direction and opting for a more self-aware script that would be the first to find favour with critics. The plot was more intricate and where it repeated cliché’s it did so in a knowing way that didn't insult the audience's intelligence. Despite the fact the film breaks the fourth wall and contains no nudity, it did amp up the killings with sixteen gory deaths in total. It didn't do as well at the box office as some previous releases, however it remains a firm fan and critic favourite to this day. The film also has one of the best soundtracks of any of the films, as in addition to music by long-time composer Harry Manfedini, it also boasted tracks by Felony and Alice Cooper.

'Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood' (1988)

'...Part VII' marks the beginning of the longest running actor to be associated with the role of Voorhees, Kane Hodder, who would continue his portrayal until 'Jason X'. In terms of Hodder's acting and the special FX makeup, it could be argued that this is the first film to see the definitive Jason Voorhees. But other than that the film has little else going for it.

Again as in previous films, Jason is where we left him on his last outing. No ambiguity this time however. We know he can't die and is at the bottom of Crystal Lake waiting to return to the surface and gut more teenagers. Cue Tina Shepheard, a girl with psychic powers haunted by the death of her father some years earlier on Crystal Lake. She returns to the lake as part of a study into her powers and unwittingly breaks the chains holding Voorhees at the bottom of the lake. It's a plot that clutches at straws at times in order to progress the story, however it is a film containing some nice effects and an impressive fire stunt courtesy of Hodder. It isn't a terrible film, but is formulaic and loses that self-aware charm of the previous instalment, which makes for a poor follow-up.

'Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan' (1989)

'...Part VIII' is another film that intended to wrap the story up but ultimately doesn't. The plot sees Jason stalking a boat full of students as they make their way to New York. It's a nice change of scene on one hand, but again it is a film in the series that suffers from a major lack of plot and character development. And despite its title, very little actually takes place in Manhattan.

The film replays many of the clichés we've come to expect, relying heavily on the setting to add the missing dramatic twists. Which they kind of do, but again it doesn't feel like it does enough with what it has. There were apparently budgeting and scheduling problems plaguing the production which is why there is ample opportunity for a memorable urban rampage, but it unfortunately never lives up to its potential. The end result is the weakest film in the entire franchise that would have been a disappointing final outing for Jason Voorhees if it were not for the perpetual grind of the studio production gears intent on wringing the most out of every idea.

'Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday' (1993)

In steps the first and only 'Friday The 13th' of the 1990s in the form of '...The Final Friday'. This instalment sees a new studio distributing and is the first film to not have a tangible link to the previous one. We left Voorhees dead in Manhattan in '...Part VIII' and are now magically whisked back to Crystal Lake to see a trap set for the undead killer.

The trap is sprung and Jason is apparently dead... again. His remains are taken to the morgue... again. Some shaky supernatural shit happens and the killing begins... again. It's another really flimsy set up. There are some memorable deaths and the plot is so far removed from the rest of the series in terms of outlandishness that it is pretty memorable watch. But the acting isn't great, the script has lots of holes in it, and the effects at this time are beginning to look worn out. On the upside though, Kane Hodder is still an intimidating screen presence, and the film at least delivers on its promise this time. Yet the only real glimmer of light was the final shot of Freddy Krueger's gloved had pulling Jason's mask down to hell setting up 'Freddy Vs Jason'.

'Jason X' (2001)

You were expecting 'Freddy Vs Jason' to be here right? Well, sorry you'll have to wait another couple of years for that. Instead we get Jason Voorhees... in space. We left Jason in Hell and that's exactly where the 'FvJ' film starts up. While it was still in development Todd Farmer suggested setting this story in the future to keep the franchise alive. Well... at least his intentions were good.

Actually, 'Jason X' isn't a bad film. It's not great, but the upgraded special effects, the hungry young cast and the rather witty, almost spoof-life script make this a pretty enjoyable film. It's a bit of a dead-end in terms of the plot, as any direct sequel would also have to be set in the distant future – and with that gimmick already done, where else can you go? It does have a stop-gap kind of feel to it in terms of its place in the franchise. But it does tap into that turn of the millennium fear of the future and past coming back to haunt us. If it had been filmed more in keeping with a film such as 'Alien' it may have been better received, but instead it simply transposed the usual set pieces into a new location. At least this one had its humorous moments though.

'Freddy Vs. Jason' (2003)

Finally, the promise made at the end of 'Jason Goes To Hell...' comes to fruition and two of the silver screen's most memorable monsters face off in a fight of the ages! Well, sort of. It is essentially 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' guest starring Jason Voorhees. Freddy is trapped in Hell and uses Jason Voorhees as a vehicle to return to Springwood and restart his own killing spree.

It's a pretty simple set up for what essentially becomes a good ol' fashioned sloberknocker between two of horror's most iconic villains. The body count is high as lots of unfortunate teens get caught in the crossfire. The effects are great and the soundtrack features some pretty decent bands such as Type O Negative, Murderdolls, Slipknot, Mushroomhead, and The Prodigy. You could argue for that reason it is nothing but an extended music video... but what a video! One drawback was the lack of Kane Hodder behind the hockey mask, which meant Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger outshone Jason Voorhees for the majority of the film. Another was the use of the same old set pieces from both franchises. But after a decade of waiting, long-time fans didn't care and did well at the box office as a result and genuinely breathed some new life into the series.

'Friday The 13th' (2009)

2009's 'Friday The 13th' is a reboot that sees the legend already in place that somewhat reworks the themes of the first four films into one. And for that it works pretty well. With Derek Mears giving one of the best and most physical, Jason performances in the franchise to date and a strong script that kept the suspense of the originals while adding plenty of gore to appeal to modern audiences. It doesn't set out to reinvent the franchise or the genre, but it does successfully bring the legend of Crystal Lake into the 21st century.

The film is a pretty standard 'Friday The 13th' set-up with a gang of teens making an ill advised trip to Crystal Lake. Jason doesn't like this, and the massacre begins. However, as with '...Jason Lives', some decent acting, nice gory effects, and a somewhat self-aware script (minus the spoof) creates a more refreshed atmosphere. The film would go on to become the second highest grossing film in the franchise and has become a fan favourite. The film sets up a lot of potential for sequels or prequels as the legend of Jason is already in place in the context of the film before the action begins. You feel as though you're walking into a murderous local secret which although it reworks some of the established story, still fits into the franchise.

So where will the franchise go from here? It has already been six years since the last film, and a new one has been in development since that was released. It's a frustrating wait but the working title of 'Friday the 13th: Jason Returns' is listed for a 2017 release. There is very little in the way of confirmed information regarding the production, however after a successful reboot there is no reason why a new script couldn't continue to play with the chronology or make a big departure from the established formula. Time will tell, but it is safe to say that like it's lead villain, the Friday the 13th franchise will be damn tough to kill off for good...

For news, information and merchandise check out the Friday The 13th official website.

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Thursday 12 November 2015

Interview: Rome

A La Faveur De La Nuit...

"[...] I definitely don’t want to be in a political band. I like keeping an open mind, as there is not the one message. I do address specific stuff, but I want to do it in an open minded way."

In Luxembourg, there lies the tales of hollow flowers and exiled lands. There lies the tales of men's fear, recorded and embedded from the eyes of Rome. 2015 celebrates a decade of compositions that led Jerome Reuter’s music into the neo-folk scene. A decade of work, which brings in political questioning from the archives of history, brought to life in a desolate theatrical play of words and sounds. Created in a ballad of acoustical guitars and drums that vibrate tyranny towards silent death, with the softest touch.

The autumn colours of Vienna begin to blossom in the seventh district of Vienna. IVM makes a brief visit before sound check to interview the actor, absinthe seller, now musician on his European tour. 

Intravenous Magazine: So if we are looking at yourself are you a Hamlet or a Coriolanus kind of person?

Jerome Reuter: Yeah I’m probably more of a Coriolanus kind of guy, for the obvious reasons!

IVM: Are you currently a full-time musician?

JR: Yes; before I was basically a student, I studied languages and worked day jobs, then things started happening with music and that led me to Rome.

IVM: What brought you into the “neo-folk scene”?

JR: I was playing in many different bands, and one by one they began falling apart. I was left to my own devices and it ended with me doing what I felt like doing. Rome was my own little project, I was doing for myself and I had no intention of turning it into a band, as it never went that well. Where people have different choices to make in our lives and career options. I did what I was in the mood for; it was influenced in some way by the dark wave/ punk scene. 

IVM: Where were you when you came to this conclusion of making your own band? 

JR: In Heidelberg whilst studying. Basically the current band I was in, was falling apart, mainly due to some of the band members living in different countries, making it not that easy, including myself I was moving around quite a bit. I was not living too far away from the location, which is where I also recorded the first Rome demo. It was a big blur this time as I was participating a lot in theatre also, for a big part of 2005 I was not creating music, just concentrating on theatre. 

I had this big decision to make on which path to choose, as I knew I could only do one properly. So for that one year, it just happened I was in involved in a lot of productions, which was lot fun, though I could do without theatre and not without music. At this same point in time I had no band! (Laughs) Partly because of the theatre, but I ended up being the only one left and having a solo project, in comparison to a studio one, I did not have to worry about how many guitar tracks I am allowed to record. After the project then started to kick off I was in a tough bind, as I had to then find a way to put it on stage, so in the early days there was a lot of backing tapes, whereas now there is much more of a real band with me. 

IVM: What brought about the name Rome?
JR: Well, since I was starting afresh and I had all these nick names back in my child punk days and you would use the nickname on the record label, so I decided to shorten my name. It is kind of silly, though at the same time it is a cool name, especially when you mention history, like you mentioned Coriolanus for example. As much as it is derived from my name, it certainly has a different vibe to it.

IVM: With your 2014 release 'A Passage to Rhodesia'', how does the way Rome was initially compare to the 2014 version?
JR: It has always been different for every record really, when I looked at the discography which I was forced to this year with the anthology release, to look back is something I do not really like doing. When I look at the different albums, what I see is the different people who were involved with it, the period of my life and what inspired me and 'Rhodesia' in that regard was just a different chapter. It was with me for a while longer than others, as I had the idea quite early on. It could have been the fourth album, but the theme and the music didn’t quite gel until last year.

IVM: You touched on the Anthology, Is it a horrible feeling having to make one, is it more of sales thing for the ten years than a studio production?
JR: For the label, they had started talking quite early on about a best of and I was releasing quite a lot, so then there were thoughts of ‘should I be releasing a best of’? But then the market changed, in the old days not that too long ago, the best of CD would be the most with the highest sales figures, as the people who had not heard the band would take this and possibly get another for a friend. But now it’s not the case at all and more the complete opposite.

I did not want to go through the trouble of remixing and mastering it, to give people an excuse to purchase it, as most people will have the songs. Maybe they won’t have the rarer version, but they’re online so the term rare doesn’t really apply any more, not like it used to. It’s a great thing to have when presenting Rome to a new person; but also for me, it is a way of starting a new chapter and taking it from here.

IVM: With music creation, is there a past, present or future though behind it?

JR: There is definitely some songs and records that look towards the past, but then you have this big present aspect coming in, at the end of the day, it is just one of those you mentioned. I was always interested in history, not because it is gone but mainly because it is still very very present. I was never interested however in history that has been too far away and difficult to see the link; the historical things that inspired me, are still very close to me and my family, such as ‘Flowers in Exile’, these are not too distant and you know there is a link.

IVM: Do you consider yourself then more European in that respect?

JR: I do, I am first a European and then I am from Luxembourg. Obviously it is easier to say if you are from Luxembourg, compared to a country as big as France or Germany, which had some sort of colonial history. We do profit a lot from the European Union and were one of the six founding members. We also had a lot of people from all over come to Luxembourg; if you go from one bar to the next, the language changes and going abroad doesn’t have the same ring to it, as you’re only travelling 5 miles. Also with my background, from my father being a theatre director, we went to a lot of international film festivals, in Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia. This was right just after the wall went down, so this definitely had a big impact on me. 

IVM: Would you say then, creativity is in your blood?

JR: Of course your environment will have an impact on you, though I know a lot of people without a background with connections to creative arts that turned out to be musicians. I was around actors a lot in my life, and I liked that crowd. 

IVM: Is your work a touch of opinion, or motivation from current and past affairs?

JR: I see it as a personal thing, then again it brings about the old discussion, should music be political? I am in no position to foresee the events of the world.

IVM: In that case would you see it as more complimentary?

JR: It’s like human life, you can always have both and you cannot shut it out, but I definitely don’t want to be in a political band. I like keeping an open mind, as there is not the one message. I do address specific stuff, but I want to do it in an open minded way. My opinions have changed so much in the last ten years, I would dare not name any, as next year they will be different due to change in affairs. And now this impermanence, may be the new theme. 

IVM: Is there anything you could say to give the readers a realistic view how it is to live the life, as a successful musician in this particular genre?

JR: Well the truth is, we are still trying to figure it out. In many ways the genre is dead and you don’t want to be pinned down, as you could end up creatively dead. And as for the life, I guess some of it is in the songs, on what we go through. When you are a multi-millionaire, you cannot really sing what it is like to be at the pub with the lads, as your life has changed. Some of the truth is in the songs but also the dream of a better world is there too (laughs).

IVM: Is there a method behind the songs? A Pint?

JR: Most of the time it is me sitting down reading books with a guitar, and the words slowly fall into their place. But that is not all of it, you are working all the time and collecting ideas, and that’s the main chunk of the work, finding something and keeping it for later and then you sit down and things will fall into place. A film might create a world, and I dive into it and try to create a sound and we start from there.

IVM: So this would be like for example 'A Passage to Rhodesia'?

JR: Exactly, it took a longer while to collect I guess, the main problem was I had the idea around the time I was doing 'Masse Mensch' in 2007 and I knew right there I had an album. I then started digging and I was really confused in looking for the voice to tell that story, in a not too clichéd way. It also took me a long time to find the truth in researching sources; and that took a while and then with pre-production being on the back of the Trilogy album. For example 'Hell Money' took only a few days to make and I ended up using production time booked for Rhodesia, for work on 'Hell Money'. The artwork was very important for the trilogy. 

IVM: Once upon a time you did the living room tour. How was it?

JR: It was good, but was impossible to afford and exhaustingly difficult in relation to logistics. I am not ruling out another one, but definitely not this year! Some people really invested into us and paid for flights, for us to get to them.

IVM: What would be your cocktail, or drink?

JR: Well right now I am doing my best not to drink. We have had a few band drinks over the years, currently it is this Tequila that I am never buying, because it is ridiculously expensive. Our bass player Patrick is the barman!

One of my day jobs was selling Absinthe, and I was quite into it. I haven’t been inside the job for a while now, but my personal recommendations are:

Rome's latest album 'Anthology 2005 - 2015', is available to buy now through Trisol Records. For more information on the band, please visit the official website.
Interviewed by Dominic Lynch aka DJ LX-E

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