Interview: TONTTU

"Anti-Gnomemartialindustrialneofolkmetal is the means to an end, I would not describe it as much of a musical genre than the lifestyle that is optimal for our species! We offer it for everyone and they’d do good accepting it!"

Interview: Bornless Fire

“Every move is a lesson in the music business, good and bad. However, all I can say is keep thick skin and always watch your back. There are too many leeches trying to drain your blood.”

Live: Paradise Lost – Electric Ballroom, London 03/11/2017

PARADISE LOST (+ Pallbearer, Sinistro) Electric Ballroom, London 03/11/2017

Review: Caustic – 'Stimulation'

CAUSTIC 'Stimulation' UNDUSTRIAL RECORDS

Review: Noir – 'Reburning'

NOIR 'Reburning' METROPOLIS RECORDS

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Review: G.L.O.W. – 'Pain & Suffering'



G.L.O.W.
'Pain & Suffering'
SELF-RELEASED


General Language of Oscillating Wisdom, or simply G.L.O.W. the ebm project of South African musician Richard Wheeler returns with album number three in the form of 'Pain & Suffering'. The musicians previous two outings, 'Emotions' and 'Myths And Legends' displayed a lot of potential with a strong sense of melody and and all round dance-friendly execution that were hampered by some less than great production. Album number three sees Wheeler attempting to cement his presence and deliver a critical strike that takes aim at the international scene.

As with the previous albums Wheeler has improved on what came before, with a sound that definitely packs more punch and even throws in some noise elements to add a bit more in the way of an industrial and aggrotech sound to the album.

Songs such as 'Hate Crime', 'Killer Of The White Rhino', 'Pay The Price', and 'Taking Chances' best personify the strongest moments of the album with their pleasing rhythmic frameworks over which Wheeler constructs confrontational but catchy industrial.

Unfortunately though there are issues here, mainly with the vocals as on songs such as 'Acceptance', 'Asylum Of Darkness', 'Bullying=Violence' and 'My Destiny' they just don't fit quite right, and in some cases sound way to high in the mix, giving the songs a self-conscious karaoke sound. It's a shame as despite the rough production style, musically there is some great work here.

'Pain & Suffering' isn't quite the leap forward that G.L.O.W. should be making at this juncture. Even though musically Wheeler continues to improve, once again the production lets things down. There is still a lot of potential, but it seems as though the time would be right to let someone else take the reigns on the final polishing and bring out the best in his work.  

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Review: Orgy – 'Talk Sick'



ORGY
'Talk Sick'
SELF-RELEASED


During their original run in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Orgy )along with the likes of Powerman 5000, Static-X, Dope, Godhead, and Deadsy) created a micro-scene within the nu metal explosion that blended gothic atmospheres, industrial grit and radio-friendly rock to great effect. Capitalising on the interest generated by earlier acts such as Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, their sound fit easily into the turn-of the millennium clubs across the world. But as soon as it had started the band lost their momentum and went on hiatus leaving three memorable albums in their wake.

Over the past few years Jay Gordan and his newly restructured crew have attempted to kickstart Orgy with new singles, and UK and American tours. It's safe to say interest is beginning to pique and the time is right for a more substantial release. Cue 'Talk Sick'.

The latest EP offering from Orgy sees seven new tracks that blend the hard dance electronics of 'Vapor Transmission' with the sing-a-long punk rock of 'Punk Statik Paranoia'. It's a combination that will undoubtedly please long-time fans of the band. But it is also fresh and modern enough with it's dubstep bass flourishes to attract new fans.

Songs such as 'Talk Sick', 'Suck It', 'Wide Awake And Dead' and 'Monster In Me' show the band on top form as they power through hard guitar riffs, dance-friendly synths, and memorable choruses. They're not simply revisiting their past glories, and anyone looking for another 'Blue Monday', 'Opticon', or 'Fiction' may be a little disappointed at first, as this is not the Orgy of fifteen years ago, but the Orgy of today with a sound that reflects the electronic and rock scenes of today.

The production is strong and modern. It doesn't attempt to grasp at familiarity by reverting back to the band's old albums to play on nostalgia. The electronics and vocals sound great, the guitars are heavy and the beats are as hard as can be. It is a release that is of its time and keeps the band's sound relevant.

Fans of the band will easily be able to jump right into this with all its familiar hallmarks. But it is not constrained by the past. It is a new chapter in the band's evolution that builds on their legacy. Though it remains to be seen just in what direction they will take for their long-anticipated full-length follow-up to 2005's 'Punk Statik Paranoia'.  

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Review: Defeat – 'You Know What You Are'



DEFEAT
'You Know What You Are'
SELF-RELEASED


It's been two years since the last release from the Hertfordshire-based electro duo Defeat in the form of 'Seek Help', which had been a long time in the making. Recalling the likes of Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 and Front Line Assembly the album's simple but pleasing rhythmically-orientated style was instantly recognisable and undeniably catchy. Fast forward to 2015 and the duo are ready to unleash their anticipated follow-up EP 'You Know What You Are' and cement their place in the UK electronic underground.

The band's old school flavour is once again front and centre, but this time there is a bigger injection of more modern club elements which provides the band with a more well-rounded sound and more dance floor potential. The beats are bigger, the synths are fresher and there are more nods to the modern industrial sound without betraying the core of their formula.

Tracks such as 'Want', 'Twist', 'Resist', and 'Goodbye' really show off the best of the band with their blend of early 90's ebm and modern industrial elements combining to create some great dance tracks. While the likes of 'Attention Seeker' and 'Care For Me' explore a darker but no less catchy sound that draws on their roots but still giving them the modern sheen they deserve.

The remixes courtesy of X-Kin, Ruinizer and Paresis give the tracks even more club potential, especially the daringly punchy re-workings from Ruinizer. But each band brings something different to the mixes that will extend the potential of the originals.

The production on 'You Know What You Are' has come on in leaps and bounds. The songs sound bigger and crisper. The instrumentation sounds decidedly more modern, and the vocals sit within the mix a lot more comfortably than before. They have evidently worked hard to give this album the polish it rightly deserves.

'You Know What You Are' is a big step up in quality from Defeat. The band are reaching their potential and cranking out some great songs that will appeal to the current climate. It will be interesting though to see what curve balls they can throw on future releases to keep evolving their sound on the next full-length outing.  

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Review: Tapewyrm – 'Rites Of Passage'



TAPEWYRM
'Rites Of Passage'
SELF-RELEASED


UK rhythmic noise terrorist Michael Drayven, AKA Tapewyrm, returns with his first outing since 2014's 'House Of Cards' EP. His latest release 'Rites Of Passage' looks to continue the development of his song-writing and production with a big leap forward from his previous releases.

Gone are the quiet and somewhat muffled mechanical soundscapes of the début album, and instead we're presented with a much louder and arguably more aggressive take on the Tapewyrm sound. The average track length has also increased significantly with only two songs out of eight coming in at under six minutes long. You'd be forgiven for thinking that might make the tracks rather repetitive, but you'd be wrong. 'Rites Of Passage' sees Drayven trim the fat and focus on the strongest elements in his arsenal. There is no room for mediocrity any more and by honing in and expanding on hard and heavy noise.

Tracks such as 'Sacrament', 'Exorcism', 'Invocation', 'The Rite', and 'The Beast Unleashed' are easily the most punishing and confrontational Tapewyrm cuts to date. The beats are still at the end of the day rhythmically pleasing, but they're buried underneath so much distortion they become like the nightmarish percussion of daemonic hordes. The album's most accessible offering comes in the form of 'Hypnos', which pulls back the distortion for a dark and dance-friendly industrial crowd pleaser.

The production is much better here than we're used to. Previous albums had always sounded quiet and muffled to a certain degree, which really dulled the edge of the tracks. However on 'Rites Of Passage' everything is loud and practically tearing its way out of the speakers. Yes it is still heavily distorted, but you can actually hear the complexity of the tracks a lot better now.

'Rites Of Passage' is simply the strongest Tapewyrm release thus far. The songs are aggressive and complex. The production is strong, and it keeps your attention. Drayven does tend to over rely on his rhythmic skills, and it would be nice to see how he could adapt more ambient elements into his noise framework on future releases. But with this outing he his definitely hitting his stride.  

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Monday, 27 April 2015

Interview: Zardonic

Master of bass!


“I am extremely pleased with the response [to 'For Justice'] and I also like this new sound I've found. It lets me try electro things, breakbeat things, then back to drum and bass, then ambient, then pure metal, it's like a compendium of all the music that I've done and liked through my entire life.”

Venezuelan native Federico Agreda, AKA Zardonic, has been tearing up the rule book with his innovative blend of Drum & Bass, Metal and EDM for over ten years now. The masked DJ/Producer has enjoyed plying his craft all over the world and has remixed some of the biggest names in music. His latest release, the single 'For Justice' has been enjoying rave reviews from fans and critics alike, and he's looking to hit the road this spring with a European tour before going around the world with DJ Starscream on the Full Metal Jungle Tour.
We caught up with Zardonic to talk about the challenges of the past decade, his influences, opinions on the state of Drum & Bass and Metal, and try to prize a few details out of him about his next full-length album.


Intravenous Magazine: You first started out as Gorepriest, what was the concept behind that and how did that evolve into Zardonic?


Zardonic: Basically the idea behind Gorepriest was to create metal inspired music using only synthesizers. Somehow, I think Zardonic is exactly the same, the difference is the earlier was leaning more towards Ambient Black Metal a la Mortiis or Burzum, while Zardonic is an EDM act. The metal influence has always been there, one way or the other, no matter how mellow a track of mine can get. There's just something there that sounds like rock.


IVM: What are the main musical influences that inspired Zardonic?

Zardonic:
Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Rammstein, Atari Teenage Riot and Counterstrike. I'm a big fan of the industrial sound done right.


IVM: Zardonic as an entity is over ten years old now. Looking back what have been the biggest challenges and achievements of the past decade?

Zardonic:
The biggest challenge was to turn a DJ act that produced and mixed heavy metal music with EDM and make it profitable enough to cover my dues. In Venezuela. So yeah, go figure. It's not easy. Specially when every single promoter is so close-minded and wouldn't even let anything in that wasn't house, and most of the Drum & Bass guys would only do Liquid Funk parties or Jump Up stuff. I have nothing against that, but if there's something that pisses me off is the lack of variety. It leaves a lot of producers out, and then that only breeds more elitism, a la "heavy music only". Fuck that shit man. I always believed that music was music and everyone needed to hear it. The people, not only the heavy metal fans, not only the EDM fans, not only the DNB fans. Just people. Me, you, your brother, your mom and your great grandmom. The only reason the general crowd only listens to radio music is because, well, they haven't had the chance to hear anything else. And that's when you jump in and show them something. While others out there would rather stay "true to the roots", I'm about making whatever I like and having EVERYONE listen to it. Even those who are not "true" enough. And that, was a big challenge. But it's precisely what made me big. Half my fans don't even know what Drum & Bass is, and I rejoice in that, because it means the project will fit anywhere.


IVM: What are your thoughts on the state of the current Drum & Bass and Metal scenes as both a fan and an artist?

Zardonic:
With the exception of a very few artists, I hardly like anything that has been released post 2005. I'm a 90s boy. In my head, 'Antichrist Superstar' by Marilyn Manson is still hot, Deicide and Morbid Angel are still top selling artists charting on the Billboard Top 50, Devin Townsend still plays in Strapping Young Lad and Sonny More still sings in an emo band. Everything is either too much cheese, or too minimalistic, or too much noise. There was this perfect balance you would hear in tracks like, say, 'Morning Light' by Concord Dawn. That shit was heavy, energetic and very musical. Metal bands had their own vocalists with their own characteristic vocals and guitar playing styles. Now every band out there sounds like Suicide Silence or Bring Me The Horizon. What happened to the Chuck Schuldiners, the Glen Bentons, the Pat O'Briens, the Rob Barretts, the Phil Anselmos, you know? There's a huge lack of variety and everyone is desperate to jump in a bandwagon of a sound that's hot at the moment and will pass, the same as Nu Metal did, and only the pioneers and those true to themselves and willing to evolve on their own (like Deftones, for example), will prevail. Same goes with DJs, so my advice to all producers out there, stop trying to sound like Skrillex's 2010 album because he's moved on. And you should too, because you can't do it like him. And even if you do, you suck for being a copycat.


IVM: What kind of audience do you typically attract and has it evolved as your sound has?

Zardonic:
Fans are always the fans. I get people from all different scenes. Most of them are very loyal and supportive, and I feel blessed by that. There's obviously the occasional guy who is there and has no idea who is playing, and I'm perfectly fine and happy with that. He should get in to and call all of his friends. If I get to play my music to everyone at least once in my life, I'm content with that. It's a blessing to be able to show my music to the world and I'm thankful for it.


IVM: Your most recent release was the single 'For Justice', how has that been received so far?

Zardonic:
That was SURPRISINGLY well received! It's my most played track on Soundcloud and I thought I was gonna get flamed because it's not a Drum & Bass tune hahahah. But that was to prove exactly my points: I'm not really a dark Drum & Bass artist anymore. I am extremely pleased with the response and I also like this new sound I've found. It lets me try electro things, breakbeat things, then back to drum and bass, then ambient, then pure metal, it's like a compendium of all the music that I've done and liked through my entire life.

I also released recently a remix for Nightrage's 'Stare Into Infinity', great guys, great musicians, and they're on Despotz Records which are the same guys that released The Unguided. I have nothing but love and respect for those guys, they're amazing people and always connect me with kickass bands to work with. Nightrage is a good example of a band that I consider original and has its own sound, it doesn't try too hard to be like anyone else, and that's what we need more of.


IVM: Your last full length release was 'Far Beyond The Bass (The Vulgar Remixes)' in 2013, which was the remix companion of the previous year's 'Vulgar Display Of Bass' album. Are there plans for another full-length album and if so, what details can you give us?

Zardonic:
There are plans indeed and to be honest it's finished. Most people who have seen me performing live since December last year have probably heard a bit of it in my new sets. The thing about the new album is that as much as I'm extremely excited to throw it out there, there are steps you must follow in order to make things right. I even revealed a name for it that was 'The Heroes Have Failed', and now that won't be the album title any more. I'm changing it, and I don't want to reveal the new title yet. But all I can say is it will be a double CD album including one intro, nine original tracks, potentially two-three bonus tracks, five instrumental mixes, and I already have remixes by Rusty K, Evol Intent, The Outside Agency, Darksiderz, Dub Elements and more to come. So yeah. It will be a monster of a release. It is also the most raw, primitive and honest release I've ever written in terms of music, writing and production. It is the first album I've ever done that is 100% me and I did vocals and lyrics for all of the tracks. Every single track has to do with my situation at the time moving out of my home country Venezuela due to the political crisis going on there. It makes me sick. So this album is kinda the angry words of a disappointed hero.
Oh, yeah, and together with it, the new mask will be finally unveiled.


IVM: You've previously released several albums worth of material for free. What were your reasons for doing this and is it something that you'll do in the future?
Zardonic: I will always have something to give away for free as a way to thank my most loyal followers. Usually those who like my Facebook page, but I've raised the bar a bit and only send them to the members of my mailing list, not because I wanted to, but because Facebook's recent guidelines are terrible and you can't reach the people you used to. So I wasted all my time and money gathering tens of thousands of likes only to have to pay them to reach my fanbase again. Fuck that. I'd rather send out a mail campaign with the tracks and I make sure EVERYBODY gets them.
IVM: What are your studio and live set ups like and how do you typically approach creating a new track?

Zardonic: I have two Adam A5X + Sub8 combo. Helps immensely to truly know what goes on in the low end while still keeping a bit of the low mids so my music sounds like metal on hi-fi speakers and like bass music in a big rig. Bass Metal! I also have my trusty Mininova synth by Novation, Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro headphones and my screen is a 39" LG Smart TV (God Bless America), and of course my Xbox Controller. Always need a break every now and then. 


My live setup is a pair of Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS and anything equal to or above the DJM-800. Precise, fast loading, no hassle. 


When I create a new track, I usually throw many different main "riff" ideas in a project, I let my mind go wild and write whatever, even if I don't like it, then I check back for those riffs that really get me going, and I make entire tracks out of them. I call them "Inspiration Loops". Creating a new sample pack is also something that helped me a lot because I'm inspired by my own sounds and then a brand new track happens. Most of the time, to get a really good track going, it needs to make me feel powerful. Very powerful. If I don't feel I have the universe in my hands when I write a track, then the track is not good enough.
IVM: What do you look for in a track to make a truly great remix?

Zardonic:
Something I can bang my head to. And I'm not saying anything that I can't bang my head to is bad. I listen to a lot of music that I could never remix. A ton of Black Metal bands are not exactly "banging" music, because you're not meant to bang your head to Dodheimsgard. However, stuff like Machine Head, Rob Zombie, Rammstein, Pantera. That's the kinda stuff that I'd go for.


IVM: Has anyone ever done a remix of one of your tracks that has just made you say "wow", and if so why?

Zardonic:
Many times actually. All the people who do remixes for me are people I know and trust to be great producers. Counterstrike's remix of 'For Justice' was one of the most mind-blowing tracks I've ever heard by them. Black Sun Empire's work on 'Hypnotized' was also beautiful. Hecq's rendition of 'Sideshow Symphony' was also amazing. That's one of the most talented artists I've ever had the pleasure to work with. He is extremely underrated and absolutely deserves more attention. Also Determinators' remix of 'Restless Slumber' was my personal favourite of all the remixes I got, even though I don't really like Dubstep, but that shit was pure evil. The Gör Flsh remix of the same track also made me lose my head. It's funny because most of the time, my favourite tracks are the tracks that sell less.


IVM: Have you always been a solo artist and would you ever collaborating as part of a band?

Zardonic:
I've had bands in the past. Honestly I like the commodities of being a solo artist, but I do think Zardonic needs to expand. I can't write tracks all the time and then jump on tours and then back and then take care of the merch, and then do mixdowns, and then blah blah, you know? So I think I'm gonna have a couple guys in the future join me for production work. Train them in my style and get them to write ideas for the project, then as soon as I get back, I sit down and finish everything.


IVM: You've travelled the world as Zardonic, where has been your favourite place so far and where would you like to go next?
Zardonic: Every single place I've visited leaves me yearning for more of it. It's always a beautiful experience. Guatemala, Argentina, Colombia, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia. Oh my beloved Russian brothers. You're always in my heart!




IVM: You'll be touring with DJ Starscream, AKA Sid '#0' Wilson of Slipknot fame. How did that come about and what can fans expect?

Zardonic:
His agent hit up my agent about wanting to have him tour with me, and my agency made it happen. First scheduled show is happening in Rome the 16th of June if I'm not wrong, as a Slipknot after-party as that's our best bet, so my European tour is paired with Slipknot's Europe tour and wherever we can make the after-parties happen, we will. I'm sure fans can expect him to go apeshit on the turntables as he's an insane turntablist, as for me, I think a heavier than usual set is in order.


IVM: Can we expect to see you in the UK any time soon?

Zardonic: Oh yeah! there's something in the works for next year already. And let me tell you, it will be MASSIVE.


IVM: Where did the idea for the now iconic mask come from and how do you feel that has benefited the image of Zardonic?

Zardonic:
Well, image does not only benefit any artist. It is everything. The music is irrelevant to the market. It is only relevant to music lovers. And I'm not saying you should get away with creating shit music because you have a gimmick. It's your responsibility to create the best music you can. But if you want to be a professional, the only thing that matters is image. Even Susan Boyle. The humbleness behind her, the authenticity, she's an old woman who had a beautiful voice and surprised all these stupid kids with a marvellous show. And THAT is a gimmick. Everybody will remember her for that, and are more likely to buy music by her BECAUSE of that. Whether they'll be satisfied with what they bought or not, that's up to them. But the money is in and your work here is done. She still does what she wants to do and that's all that matters to stay happy. So yeah, go ahead and do whatever the hell you want and don't let anyone tell you that certain music is more commercial than other music because Metallica, Marilyn Manson and Rammstein have had no limits. And while they're not Anaal Nathrakh heavy, they sure are heavier than Justin Bieber. The thing Justin Bieber has in common with all of those... is gimmick. The quality of their music, that's up to their fans to decide.


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

Zardonic: Gotta go pee. BRB :*





Zardonic's latest single 'For Justice' is available through Entertainment One and can be bought at all good digital retailers. For more information on Zardonic including tour dates and forthcoming releases, please visit his official website.


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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Review: Wik▲n – 'Nightfall'



WIK▲N
'Nightfall'
PALE NOIR


Sheffield's Wik▲n may be flying the flag for the witch house scene, but there is so much more to their sound than that. Their newest offering (their eighth EP since 2010) 'Nightfall' includes ambient, drone, noise, dark electro, and even neofolk as well as drag and witch house to create haunting soundscapes and experimental grooves. But no matter which direction they choose to go, the songs remain epic in their scope and rarely drop below seven minutes in length.

The title track kicks the EP off with a sublime blend of ambience and minimal techno blending to create a dark and surreal soundscape that is permeated by an ever present vinyl crackle to add a subtle noise element. 'Damaged Core' is a more club/dance orientated track with its prominent techno-house beats driving the track while sinister synthesizers swell and swirl throughout the mix. 'When It's Just Us' follows on with a more stripped back witchy sound that is centred around a central drone and typically drag style beat but also makes great use of counterpoint melodies to inject a little light into the gradually building cacophony.

'Gathering Moss' breaks out the folk guitar to drive this hauntingly beautiful blend of neofolk and light ambient synths. 'Deadbeat' brings things back into more traditional witchy territory with its stuttering synth bass and trip hop beat building to create a simple but effective track. The EP is finished with 'Always There' which once again begins with a nice droning synth that gradually builds into a cinematic slice of ambience before a subtle melody and beat kick in to create an infectious closer.

The production is excellent with a light and spacious feel flowing through every song. It avoids the fuzz and din of a lot of witch house releases in favour of a more minimal and light atmosphere that compliments every twist and style they care to invoke.

Wik▲n may not be a common name in the UK underground scene but they should be. 'Nightfall' is a mature, engrossing and deeply fulfilling listening experience. The band prove they can turn their hand to anything and everything here and still make it sound like a cohesive whole. This is definitely an act to keep your eye on. 

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

BEYOND THE LIMITS



It's election time once again, a prospect that usually signals a strange mix of boredom and fear in most of us. We are not listening to the debates and the rhetoric with a keen excitement for the great things that may or may not come with the result, but with a dread for the dire consequences of the wrong outcome. Either that or the whole spectacle just merges into the whole postmodern mush of everyday life, accompanied by the standard refrains of 'they're all the same' or 'it doesn't make any difference'. It certainly seems like the possibilities arising from any such exercise are pitifully slim. But setting aside the deliciously nihilistic structuralism of such sentiments there are other reasons for pausing to reconsider these notions.

This year represents the 70th anniversary of the end of the second World War. In a previous article I discussed the lasting political impact of the conflict (namely the unifying political imperative of anti-fascism) but the war also has a much more complex legacy. It was the historical arena for breathtaking heroism, as well as for moral and political cowardice, indecision and hypocrisy; and yet beyond the stories of daring raids, personality conflicts and fateful decisions is the real meaning of the conflict and the era in which it took place.

The twentieth century was an era where the apparent potential of humanity was limitless – or at least it felt that way to everyone concerned at the time. This was not simply in terms of technological advance, but also political too, it was the century where universal suffrage was finally established and slavery finally abolished, and it was also the epoch when democracy became a desired or accepted norm for most of the planet.

But it was also a time when the limitless potential of humanity was used to pursue a darker agenda. There had been tyranny of all kinds throughout history but the techno-political compound of totalitarianism was very new. No sooner had democracy become a societal norm then certain political forces began to tear up the 'rules' and push over these limits, and such did the era of annexations, revolutions and genocides really begin.

As a result the real legacy of World War 2 was that it saw the three events that would eventually define the limits of human experience and political & technological will: the Holocaust (being the genocidal use of bureaucracy and technology to systematically kill people on an unprecedented scale), Hiroshima (being the inception of a weapon capable of destroying all of mankind) and Stalingrad (being the limit of conventional warfare's feral disregard for military and civilian life). These events may have been reprised in events and atrocities over the course of the past 70 years but they remain the indelible examples where the limits of our collective human endeavours take us to atrocities which nobody can then erase.

Having recognised these limits, political discourse has understandably retreated. The rules of the game have been set; the law applied; grand political projects are shunned; human rights and political pluralism protect individual and collective rights; and although within that rubric there are abuses and there is oppression, there are sources for moderate redress too. Accepting where our collective limits are means we are able to carry on, remember the losses caused by our endeavours, and engage in our remaining options simply and clearly.

The problem is that having reached these limits our mentality remains rooted in the zero-sum mentality of the previous era; people scream for withdrawals, invasions, deportations and detentions, removal of rights and for personal and political cruelty. And some politicians are more inclined to tear up the new rulebook than others, promising what is undeliverable without a rupture and breach of our understanding of what is reasonable; and as ever it is minorities, the vulnerable and the oppressed that suffer. As Einstein observed, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save for our modes of thinking.”

So we can and must stretch our personal horizons and push our own limits, to improve our lives and reach places of greater safety, and we either do so collectively or as individuals; but let us not complain about the lack of that unpredictability borne of the politics which takes place beyond the limits of endurance - because such predictability, and the boredom we perceive it to bring, is really very precious indeed.

And with that I am off to Whitby. Last one to the beach is a steampunk!

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Review: Ecnephias – 'Ecnephias'



ECNEPHIAS
'Ecnephias'
MY KINGDOM MUSIC


Italian occultists Encephias return with their eponymous fifth album to celebrate a decade of extreme metal releases. The band combine elements of death, black, doom and gothic metal with occult themes to create a dark and rich sound that draws on the likes of Moonspell, Rotting Christ, Paradise Lost and Type O Negative.

The album is the final part of a trilogy of albums that started with 2011's 'Inferno', followed by 2013's 'Necrogod', but in their self-titled effort the band display their most mature songwriting to date, with a greater emphasis on melody than ever before. Soaring guitars, thrashing drums and subtle atmospheric keyboards are permeated by distinctive vocal style that sound like a cross between Bo Summer (Illdisposed) and Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell).

Songs such as 'A Field Of Flowers', 'Born To Kill And Suffer', 'The Criminal', 'Wind Of Doom', 'Nyctophillia', and 'Vipra Negra' are particular highlights with their balance of heavy riffs, soft melodies and an ever present head-banging pace. The album has the mass appeal of dark rock with the unrelenting heaviness of extreme metal and should play well to fans of both camps.

In terms of production it is for the most part of the quality that you would expect from the genre, aside from in a few places with the distortion on the guitars sound rather tinny and having an unfortunate tendency to get swamped in the mix. Otherwise it is a strong and high quality effort.

This is a sinister and bewitching effort from the Italian quintet that is sure to go down well with dark metal fans. Ten years and five releases down the line they look to be on the best form of their career and hopefully this album will serve them well in propelling them through the next decade.  

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Review: Everclear – 'Black Is The New Black'


EVERCLEAR
'Black Is The New Black'
THE END RECORDS 


It's been ten years since Everclear went through a some changes in not only line up, but also with leaving major label Columbia behind. Now the band have returned with the next step in their renaissance with 'Black Is The New Black'. Funded by the fans through Pledge Music and currently being streamed on Pandora Radio, this new release is already getting a lot of good responses from the fans, and there's a reason for that.

From it's opening riff on 'Sugar noise' we get the sense that Art and the crew have come back strong. Putting to good use the experiences gained from the 'Summerland' tours and following the anniversary of the band's breakthrough record 'Sparkle And Fade'. This album is heavier, angrier and to the point, something we haven't heard since the 'Songs From An American Movie' set. It's follow up track 'The Man Who Broke His Own Heart' is  a cheeky yet lovable tune with a hook you'll be singing along to for a long while. It's almost as if Art is over his love sick ways seen in 'Invisible Stars', which was their pop-iest outing, and has an incredible return to form with an addictive chorus that will make your spirit rise. It's this along with tracks like 'American Monster' and 'This Is Your Death song' that give the impression that Alexakis is the last of the broken hearted once again, setting up his boombox outside a girl's window, forlorn to the nth degree.
Not that it's all bittersweet revenge and bitter laced rock. 'Van Gough Sun' is probably one of the softer numbers on the album where Art's self deprecating soul is laid bare. With an upbeat disposition it still doesn't become a soppy balled, yet it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end . Finishing on 'Safe' ,an emerging dark rock spectacle, it makes you wonder if Alexakis is truly happy, and if he is then this record is by far the cleverest he has ever done, creating pain, misery and self-doubt where there may not be any; a true musicians dream. 

'Black Is The New Black' is a record we can finally once again relate to, and with it comes the sound we are familiar with when we first think of Everclear. Gone is the older gent, with a twinkle of nostalgia in his eye, and replaced is the beast, fire in his belly and even more so in his soul. If you're going through a rough time and you're sick of wallowing, then strap on this album and start becoming who you used to be... maybe burn a few photos... and a teddy bear... just not her front porch. 

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Review: Sidewalks And Skeletons – 'White Light'



SIDEWALKS AND SKELETONS
'White Light'
SELF-RELEASED


Love it or loath it, witch house is here to stay and so is Sidewalks And Skeletons, AKA Bradford's Jake Lee who, on his latest release under the moniker continues to experiment and push the definition of the genre. 'White Light', the follow-up to last year's 'Future Ghosts', incorporates the classic trappings of witch house but pushes beyond them as well and even goes as far to infuse metal elements into some of the songs. It is an album that is set on expanding the palette of its creator and the experimental scope of the genre.

The album opens in a big way with the soft ambience of 'Fall' giving way to what has to be one of the strongest S&S songs thus far in the form of 'Unearth'; a wonderfully dance friendly track that features black metal style female vocals to add a demonic slant to the already dark track. 'Eternal' follows on nicely with its lighter textures that ultimately descend into bursts of nightmarish dissonance. While 'Goth' brings in some very nice synthpop elements fore a very accessible and club-friendly offering. 'Above' drags things back firmly into a more experimental territory with its slow and dark sample lifted from Marilyn Manson's 'Deformography' set to light melodic leads and swirling synths.

'Pure' provides the album with its most cinematic feeling piece, sounding like it has been cut from a science-fiction film soundtrack it creates a sense of space that is temporarily sucked away by the central sample with great effect. 'XXX' brings things back into metal territory with its Godflesh style blasting rhythms and mechanical strains that are over too soon unfortunately. Luckily 'Disappear' then emerges with some big synths and more female vocals to add a deep blast of classic witch house appeal. 'Blood' provides another wonderfully cinematic track interspersed with hard beats and scathing synths to great effect. The album finishes with the light ambience of 'Underwater Sun' which rounds things off with a delicate combination of light beats, hanging synths and delay drenched leads that combine with a deep bass.

The production, despite the strong experimental edge and the various different styles and themes at work is pretty good. It maintains its underground credentials but when it needs it, the tracks get the spit and polish they need to give then an extra kick.

'White Light' is hands down the strongest Sidewalks And Skeletons release to date, and perhaps one of the best witch house-related releases of the year. The songs are aiming for another level and more often than not reach it. It has aspirations to stay true to its roots but at the same time redefine what they are and can encompass. This is an album that should hopefully capture a lot of people's attention, and quite rightly so.  

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Review: Kiss Is Kill – 'Imposter Syndrome'



KISS IS KILL
'Imposter Syndrome'
SELF-RELEASED


The industrial rock scene has been enjoying a long overdue resurgence over the past few years and has seen the release of some great albums as a result. Another name to add to the growing list of bands is Kiss Is Kill, AKA James Chapple (Triptaka), which sees the producer strike out on his own with the début album 'Imposter Syndrome'. It's a project full of big beats, hard guitars, snarled vocals and searing synths that recalls the likes of Cubanate, Victory Pill, Be My Enemy and Pig.

The album ticks all the boxes for what a great industrial rock album should be in 2015. There are those classic elements that are beloved by old school fans, but it is fresh, relevant, and most importantly, damn catchy.

The album kicks off with the stripped-back and grooving intro to 'Moving' that pushes the synth bass and rhythms to the front before erupting into a snarling punk-infused sing-a-long. The likes of 'Ready', 'Communion', 'Revelation', 'Taste Of Home', and 'I'm Burning' provide the album with a solid backbone that sees the Kiss Is Kill formula established beyond a doubt. The most interesting tracks on the album though are the altogether more quiet 'Digging In' with it's light ambient textures giving way to a more melancholic synthpop approach, providing a nice counterpoint to the aggression on the rest of the album. The other is the album's closer 'The Shift' which effectively distils the strongest elements of all the previous tracks in to one hell of a swansong.

The album is well produced and maintains a gritty approach but thankfully still sounds up-to-date and doesn't fall into that popular trap of trying to sound like something from the 90s. Occasionally the guitars sound a little too low in the mix, but that doesn't affect the quality of the songs and is just a case of nitpicking really.

This is a strong début that knows its target audience and gives them what they want. Throw in some great guest performances by Phil Barry (Be My Enemy, Cubanate), Pete Crossman (Victory Pill), Scott Michael Owens (Tempest and the Diaspora), and Dave Kelly (Triptaka) and 'Imposter Syndrome' packs some serious punch. There isn't anything that attempts to reinvent the wheel, but the album is written and performed with passion and will easily find a willing audience.  

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Review: Helfir – 'Still Bleeding'



HELFIR
'Still Bleeding'
MY KINGDOM MUSIC


Helfir, the solo project of Italian musician Luca Mazzotta (NID), is heavily inspired by the melancholic tones of acts such as Katatonia, Antimatter, Anathema, Opeth, Alternative4, and Porcupine Tree and reveals a penchant for dark rock and atmospheric electronics in an intensely personal début. 'Still Bleeding' blends, dark, rock, ambient electronics, post-progressive rock, metal and acoustic guitars to create a dark and emotional journey across its nine tracks.

Swirling synthesizers, haunting piano melodies, simple and understated drum beats, acoustic guitar textures provide the main formula. But there are plenty of metal flourishes to drive the album forward and put an exclamation on the gothic leanings of the song writing. Songs such as 'Oracle', 'Dresses Of Pain', 'Black Flame', and 'Night And Deceit' provide the strongest cuts from the track listing with their proggy mixtures of hard and soft instrumentation. While the likes of 'Alone', 'Portrait Of A Son', and 'Where Are You Now?' provide comparatively softer styles, but even deeper and darker sentiments.

The album is excellently produced, and captures the level of skills that bands such as Anathema and Opeth employ to get the most out of their hypnotic and enthralling albums. It's richly layered and decadently toned with lots going on, but it never falls into the trap of sounding like a din of textures with vocals and guitars dominating.

This is a great début from Mazzotta, one that will appeal to fans of gothic, prog and ambient rock, as well as some more of the metal-inclined out there. It balances light and dark, soft and hard with ease and is a strong platform from which to launch a solo career. It would be interesting to see how it would change the dynamics of his song writing and performance to include guest vocalists and musicians on future releases. But in the here and now 'Still Bleeding' is an album that aspires to, and holds its own against some big names.  

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Review: Område – 'Edari'



OMRÅDE
'Edari'
MY KINGDOM MUSIC


Sometimes an album can just take you by surprise, and the début album from avant garde metal duo Område does just that. The bands first outing in the form of 'Edari' sees the duo blend a huge array of elements such as trip hop, ambient, metal, industrial, post-rock, and classical, often within the same song to create rich tapestries of sound and mood that are simply cinematic in their scope. They obviously owe a debt to bands such as Dødheimsgard, and Ulver but are very much their own beast whose main inspiration taken has been to push boundaries and not be afraid to experiment.

The album has a pretty mournful and delicate atmosphere that caries through the eight tracks. It's emotional and often surreal as the songs evolve through ambient moments before bringing in trip hop drums and heavier guitar work, there's even room for some moody jazz saxophone.

The likes of 'Mótsögn', 'Åben Dør', and 'Sakm Parfyme' provide the album with its most atmospheric and ambient orientated moments. While the likes of 'Mann Forelder', 'Friendly Herpes' and 'Ottaa Sen' bring in the more metal and industrial flavours, with 'Luxurious Agony' and 'Satalite And Narrow' adding some surprisingly dance-friendly trip hop beats and enticing electronics to the mix.

This is an album with many faces that requires multiple listens in order to truly get to grips with and fully appreciate what is going one. In that respect it may be a bite much for a casual listener to idly enjoy. But if you go in ready to seriously get your ears round it, then it is a ver rewarding experience.

With so many factors all vying for attention it would be all to easy for the mix to sound to swamped or just falter in places. But it doesn't. Every sound, instrument and vocal is as clear as can be, and the final production work brings out the best in the pairs song writing without a doubt.

'Edari' is a very strong début that opens up a lot of doors for the duo to progress through. The many elements and textures in their pallet just begins scratch the surface of their potential. If they continue to push themselves like the have here on future recordings then they will no doubt be talked about in the same breath as Dødheimsgard, and Ulver. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long to see where they go from here. 

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review: Sister Machine Gun – 'The Future Unformed'



SISTER MACHINE GUN
'The Future Unformed'
WTII RECORDS


'The Future Unformed' marks the first release from Chicago industrial rockers Sister Machine Gun since 2003's 'Influence'. The veteran band were on of the defining Wax Trax! acts that served to put the label on the map before they moved to their own Positron! Records for their last three outings. The band officially called it a day in 2007, but last November a teaser appeared on the Sister Machine Gun Facebook page and founder Chris Randall stated on his own page "Remember that thing I said I'd never do again? Yeah. I'm doing it. Spring '15 on WTII Records." Fast-forward and 'The Future Unformed' has arrived as promised. And with it some seriously high expectations.

Unfortunately the five-track EP may not be the revelation some were hoping for. It is evident Randall and co. have been consciously trying to update the SMG sound for 2015, but the end result is something that is a little unsure of itself. The band's approach lacks the innovation and grit of their earlier work, and plays it safe with some fairly standard song writing exercises.

The opener 'Insect' is a promising kick-off with its chugging guitars, big chorus and classic squelching synths, but it doesn't reach the heights of tracks like 'Addiction', 'Burn', 'Nothing' and 'To Hell With You'. 'Coldstar' fares a little better with it's subdued bass-heavy underbelly and atmospheric guitars creating a genuinely interesting and captivating track.

'Protest' has a nice dance pace and some memorable synth bass running through it, but it ultimately sounds like a demo from the 90's that has been dusted off and re-appropriated to fill a gap. 'Subgod' as well returns to the Wax Trax! sound of yesteryear with a more modern dance flavour thrown in for good measure, but again it sounds quite dated. The EP finishes up with 'Closure', which attempts to inject some frenetic rhythms and add a little bit more of an experimental feel, but just feels like it is pulling it's punches.

On the upside to all of this though, Chris Randall's vocals sound brilliant. His semi-spoken, semi-growled words cut through the songs and give them their only real bite.

Production-wise it is passable. With the dated construction of the songs, they could have gone two ways and one, injected a ton of grit or two, gone for some serious spit and polish. And this is somewhere in limbo between the two with it lacking the dynamic range of modern works and the punch of their previous outings.

'The Future Unformed' is a bit of a frustrating listen. The songs sound dated, and the whole affair feels like a half-hearted nostalgia kick. With the likes of Cocksure and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult releasing albums recently that are unapologetically proud to evoke the Wax Trax! sound they have injected new life into the old beast. Whereas Sister Machine Gun seem to be trying to mix the best of their old sound with something new, but missing the mark on both points. It is more of a false start than a verifiable comeback. 

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Review: Engram – 'Karl Marx'



ENGRAM
'Karl Marx'
A TWO GODS PRODUCTION


The nineteen year old collaboration between electronic veterans Martin Bowes and John Costello had until now only produced one single in the form of 2013's 'What Am I?'. The single contained three tracks of progressive, cinematic electronics that distilled elements of their 30+ year careers and even goes on to recall the likes of Pink Floyd, Brian Eno and Kenji Kawai. The single hinted at great things to come, but sadly there was no full-length follow up. However in 2015 they have dropped a new single to coincide with the UK election.

The provocatively titled 'Karl Marx' is an undeniable electro floor-filler with it's Karftwerk-esque lead and political samples descending into a dark dance flavour. It's minimal, understated and deceptively straightforward, but it is nonetheless an addictive and memorable track.

The b-side, 'Highgate (Part 1)', returns to the ambient textures explored on the first release. Swirling synths and cinematic spaces vie for attention as the track slowly builds into a trippy and disorientating mix that sounds as though it would be at home on a sci-fi film soundtrack.

The production is excellent and has a clean modern style that brings the 80's themed electron crashing into the modern day while preserving the experimental edge that has been at the core of the Engram sound thus far.

Hopefully 'Karl Marx' is an indicator that the full-length Engram début is on the way. But in the meantime this is a great dance track with a wry bite of social commentary behind it that is fitting for the current political climate. Let's just cross our fingers there is more to come soon.  

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Monday, 13 April 2015

Review: Laibach – 'Spectremix'



LAIBACH
'Spectremix'
MUTE RECORDS


Laibach are a force of nature in the world of music. The band have, for 30 years, presented an unrivalled tour-de-force of avant garde art dressed as pop music set on subverting the mainstream. With albums such as 'Nova Akropola', 'Let It Be', and 'WAT' they pushed buttons, provoked, celebrated and mocked the meat on which they fed. In 2014 the collective released 'Spectre', hailed as their most complete and political album to date, the world seemed to have finally caught up with the Slovenians.

In 2015 the band release the deluxe version of the album including the bonus remix album 'Spectremix' (which is also available as a standalone release). The band are no strangers to remixes and collaborations to rework their material as can be seen with the 2nd disc of the band's 2004 “best of” collection 'Anthems' which collected some of the more notable ones together.

In a world where the remix album is a necessity for most bands to extend the shelf-life of the original, it seems strange at first that the group would play along with this new convention. But Laibach being Laibach, there is always an ulterior motive. The band have always looked to dance orientated producers and artists to allow their message to spread into dance floors in the forms of what ever the current trends happen to be.

This time around the duties fall to producer Marcel Dettmann, labelmates Diamond Version, Sandwell District’s Function, longtime collaborator iTurk, Slovenian electro-pop band Torul, Scottish DJ and producer Alex Smoke, German DJ, producer and co-founder of the Common Sense People event series Konstantin Sibold, and Slovenian producer, DJ and musician Gramatik. The result of which is a varied and intelligent blend of EDM, IDM and Techno that preserve the menace of the source material. In particular it is the likes of Diamond Version, iTurk, Torul, Function, and Konstantin Sibold provide the highlights on the album, giving the tracks suitably interesting and different sounds.

There is one issue though with the album, which is the repetition of songs. Instead of offering up all of the tracks on the original for remixing, there is just a small selection available, and the omissions in some cases are glaring. But there is no denying that even in this reworked form the tracks, no matter how different they are from the originals, they still cut through with Laibachian wit and menace. At the end of the day though, especially as a digital only release (why no limited vinyl run?!), this is one that is really just for the DJs and completeists out there.  

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Review: Garek – 'Take The King Vol. 1'



GAREK
'Take The King Vol. 1'
SELF-RELEASED


You may have seen the videos for the incendiary slices of pop-industrial that Garek has released prior to his début EP in the form of 'Cavity', 'Save The Queen' and his cover of Katy Perry's 'E.T'. If you haven't had the pleasure yet then you've been missing out. Garek presents a satisfying blend of electro mixed with industrial rock and given a radio-friendly pop veneer that recalls the classic years of Marilyn Manson, Orgy, Nine Inch Nails, and recent acts such as Aesthetic Perfection. Throw in a glamorous presentation and a genuinely artistic idiom and you have a winning formula.

The début EP, 'Take The King Vol. 1', collects the first single 'Save The Queen' alongside the cover of 'E.T', 'Cavity', and 'My Animal'. It is a short, sharp but precise introduction to the New York based artist and one that promises a very bright future to come. Hard dance beats, soaring choruses, memorable melodies and big sing-a-long moments mark this not only as a great selection of dance-friendly tracks but ones that will undoubtedly impress when performed live.

The production is absolutely top-notch and can't really be faulted. It has a grinding industrial rock underbelly, but the electro-pop influences and Garek's radio-friendly vocals cut through the mix to create an accessible and unashamedly pop-orientated sound.

The EP is brief clocking in a t just over twelve minutes in length and refreshingly doesn’t include any tacked-on remixes, instead keeping to the short but complete statement of the four tracks. But despite it's length it hits its mark with ease. Garek has a great sound that won't fail to inspire a big following and perhaps even some cross-over success down the line. Hopefully there will be a full-length effort on the horizon with which Garek can capitalise on the interest generated by this EP.  

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WGT lineup keeps growing



The roster for this year's Wave Gotik Treffan festival due to take place in Leipzig, Germany continues to grow with several more big names added to the bill recently. Currently there are 118 bands/artists confirmed for the festival's stages in May:

.com/kill (D) - Accessory (D) - Agent Side Grinder (S) - Antimatter (GB) akustischer und elektrischer Auftritt - Ari Mason (USA) - Ash Code (I) - Ashes You Leave (HR) - Ashram (I) - Astari Nite (USA) - Asynje (DK) - Automelodi (CDN) - Bella Donna (D) - Bergtatt (N) - Birdmachine (D) - Black Lung (AUS) - Blood And Sun (USA) - Captain Reckless & The Lost Souls (AUS) - Cacophoneuses (F) - Centhron (D) - Clan Of Xymox (NL) - Crash Course In Science (USA) - Cromdale (D) - DAF (D) - Dark Funeral (S) - Deine Lakaien (D) - Der Weg Einer Freiheit (D) - Die Kammer (D) - Diorama (D) - Distel (NL) - Doppelgänger (RUS) - Dupont (S) - Eisbrecher (D) - Eisregen (D) - Eluveitie (CH) - Empathy Test (GB) - Esa (GB) - Escape With Romeo (D) - Euzen (DK) - Evi Vine (GB) - Faey (D) - Falloch (GB) - Fields Of The Nephilim (GB) Konzert zum 30. Jubiläum - Fixmer/McCarthy (F/GB) - Frank The Baptist (USA) - Frigoris (D) - Front 242 (B) - Ghosts Of Dawn (D) - God Seed (N) -Grendel (NL) - Harmjoy (D/USA) - Heldmaschine (D) - Hezzel (LV) - Jo Quail (GB) - Kaunan (D) - Keluar (D/GB) - King Dude (USA) - Kingdom Of Heaven (USA) - Klutae (DK) - Koffin Kats (USA) - L'ame Immortelle (A) - L.E.A.F. (NL) - Last Dominion Lost (AUS) - Laura Carbone (D) -Lights Of Euphoria (D) - Lisa Cuthbert (IRL) - Majdanek Waltz (RUS) - Minuit Machine (F) - Modulate (GB) - Mono Inc. (D) - Mono No Aware (D) - Monolith (B) - Moonspell (P) - Morthound (S) - Mushroom's Patience (I) - Nachtmahr (A) - Nosferatu (GB) - NZ (A) - Orphx (CDN) - Otto Dix (RUS) - OWLS (I/GB) - Polaroid Kiss (GB) - Postscriptum (N) - Qntal (D) - Rabbit At War (D) - Rezurex (USA) - Roma Amor (I) - Samsas Traum (D) - Sólstafir (IS) - Schonwald (I) - Seasurfer (D) - Skaluna (D) - Skyforger (LV) - Snog (AUS) - Soko Friedhof (D) - Sol Invictus (GB) spielen das Album "In The Rain" - Soror Dolorosa (F) - Spencer (CH) - Steinkind (D) - Stoneman (CH) - Substaat (N) - Surturs Lohe (D) -Sweet Ermengarde (D) - Tehôm (HR) - Terrorfrequenz (D) - The Exploding Boy (S) - The March Violets (GB) - The Other (D) - The Present Moment (USA) - The Saint Paul (D) - Tommi Stumpff (D) - Twisted Nerve (GB) - Two Witches (FIN) - Unterschicht (D) - Unto Ashes (USA) -Virelai (DK) - While Angels Watch (GB) - Wrangler (GB) - XMH (NL) - 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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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Review: (((O))) – 'We Hate You'



(((O)))
'We Hate You'
HOLY GRIN PRODUCTONS


Despite only emerging in 2012 (((O))), AKA Nikita Vasilyev has already developed a loyal following thanks to releases such as 'Black EP' and 'Motherland'. This year the Belarus-based artist returns with the new three-track EP, 'We Hate You'. Taking its cues from LaVey and Lovecraft it's dark experimental electronics and witch house embellishments make it one of the few underground electronic bands that can be happily summed up as avant garde while keeping a straight face.

Dark, psychedelic, occult and hazy ambient electronics, samples, strong leads, and slow but dance friendly beats are the primary formula of the EP across it's three tracks. 'Father Of Lies' kicks off with its choral sound, sci-fi beeps, and almost martial beat. Which is followed-up by 'Crying Mirrors' which heads into a more readily recognizable witch house mode with it's trip-hop beats, house melody and droning electronic atmosphere. The EP is then rounded-off by 'Werewolf Radio' which again makes use of similar sounds as the previous track, but opts for a thinner and less cluttered atmosphere completed by a different set of satanic orientated samples.

The production on (((O))) releases has always been rather good. It has that distinctive underground edge to it, but not at the sacrifice of the overall audio quality. It's crisp and distinctive mix is refreshing in a growing genre where production is often an afterthought.

If you haven't had the pleasure of listening to (((O))) then 'We Hate You' is a good starting point. It's accessible, moody and psychedelic electronic that fans of dark electro will be able to appreciate. It would have been nicer to have a bit of a longer running time. But the three tracks feel like a complete statement, so it is by no means disappointing. However it does build up the anticipation that could be quenched by another full-length release. 

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Review: Anzi - 'I Let You Dive' / 'Revival'



ANZI
'I Let You Dive' / 'Revival'
CHEMISTRY MUSIC ENTERPRISES


The former lead singer of Stereo Junkies, the Finnish-born, London-based multi-instrumentalist Anzi, returns with the lead single from his second solo album. The double A-side of 'I Let You Dive' / 'Revival', taken from the forthcoming 'Black Dog Bias' is a defiant statement of intent that follows on from 2011’s ‘High Clash Motherfucker’ which saw Anzi blend industrial, punk, metal and glam influences on his self-produced debut solo effort.

'I let You Dive' is first and it doesn't pull its punches. The stark industrial rock references the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Killing Joke’s filtered through Anzi's own glam-punk leanings. It's full of dark menace and strong synth-hooks that mark it out as a potential dance floor hit.

'Revival' on the other hand is a steady, but anthemic slice of industrial rock with thunderous rhythms and chugging guitars that erupt into a big chorus that will undoubtedly become a big crow pleaser.

The production is tight with a crisp and modern sound that fills the room. The guitars, drums and electronics all sound distinct and the vocals cut through the mix like a knife. It's the kind of production job that would sit happily alongside some big budget bands.

'I Let You Dive' / 'Revival' are two different, but equally excellent songs that should rightly generate some buzz for the release of the album proper in a couple of months. If these are any indication of the content of 'Black Dog Bias', then it may shape up to be one of the most exciting industrial rock releases of the year. 

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Review: cEvin Key – 'Music For Cats'



CEVIN KEY
'Music For Cats'
ARTOFFACT RECORDS


There really isn't anything that cEvin Key can't do. The pioneering Canadian musician has made his name with Skinny Puppy and a whole host of side projects over the years. Everything from Industrial to Dub has been successfully incorporated into his musical palette. It is with this in mind that Artoffact Records have seen fit to re-release his 1998 solo début 'Music For Cats' on vinyl after years as a digital download only. So the time seems right for a retrospective review to see how the album holds up nearly 20 years later.

At the time the album was first released, Skinny Puppy had just been dissolved and Key was unencumbered by any pre-existing expectations for this first release. As such the album is a heady and experimental clash of styles that encompass classical influences, glitch, erratic and noise-driven pieces and collaborations with a number of artists including Dwayne Goettel (Skinny Puppy), Genesis P.Orridge (Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle), Philth (Download),and Mark Spybey (Dead Voices on Air).

The opening track 'Music Für Cats' immediately kicks in with a symphonic score that shows off the true depth of Key's song writing talent. This then fades into the electro-industrial sci-fi style of 'Wind On Small Paws'. The ten-plus minutes of 'Meteorite' follows on with it's crazy glitchy beats and circuit bent sounds.

There is some familiar territory though as tracks such as 'Bird', 'Blotter', 'Inside Jam World', 'Greenhouse Gasses', 'Beauty Is The Enemy', and 'Full Circle' provide more accessible listening, if still somewhat more experimental than Skinny Puppy fans would have been used to.

'Music For Cats' is an esoteric exorcism that see's Key's ideas unrestrained my commercial bias or traditional structures. It is gritty, noisy, and against the grain. But at the same time there are infectious melodies and an almost soundtrack quality in places that make it quite listenable.

It may no be everyone's cup of tear, but 'Music For Cats' is an interesting and well-crafted album full of imagination. There is little club potential and it isn't the kind of album made with mass consumption in mind. But that's kind of the point. It is Key, uninhibited by his past. Perhaps it is one for the completists, but fans of experimental electronics will also find something here to get stuck into.  

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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Review: Zauber – 'Engel'



ZAUBER
'Engel'
NERIS RECORDS


The electro-goth side project from Exponentia man Ludovic Dhenry, Zauber sees the French composer delve into more familiar territories. Working with more atmospheric synthesized sounds rather than the orchestral ones favoured by his main project, Zauber presents a deeper and more accessible side to Dhenry's grandiose compositions.

With a leaning more towards a dark and ambient palette 'Engel' doesn't suffer from the low quality that plagued previous Exponentia releases. The strings, choral vocals, and pianos all sound correct here and not so blatantly out of place. Throw in some dance beats and throbbing bass and the end result is like a prototype of BlutEngel, with out the pomp and polish. With songs such as 'Ewigkeit', 'Sturm', 'Überleben', 'Notschrei' and 'Heilige Ort' personify the best of the album's cuts with their symphonic atmospherics and steady dance footing.

However there is still an issue with the songs. It is still more accessible than the Exponentia albums, but it does still sound rather outdated in a fair few places and has a noticeably basic production style that sounds like a throwback to an early 90s demo. The mix, and mastering need work and the synths could do with updating to bring it into the 21st century.

On the whole though there are some genuinely enjoyable moments and real potential to turn this isnto a genuinely interesting project. But at the moment it just doesn't have the level of refinement to compete on a dancefloor. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Dhenry were to bring in a couple of outsiders to add their take to his compositions and add some more technical wizardry.  

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Review: Petals And Thorns – 'The Broken Mirror'



PETALS AND THORNS
'The Broken Mirror'
SELF-RELEASED


Petals And Thorns is a Cleveland, Ohio based darkwave duo that take their cues from 90s gothic rock and darkwave acts as well as elements from the likes of Switchblade Symphony, Curve, Garbage and Delerium. The bands formula is a fairly stripped back affair with dry-distorted guitars, interacting with simple drum beats and understated electronics framing fragile female vocals. It isn't overly complicated and works pretty well.

The band's début album 'The Broken Mirror' is eight tracks of poetic lyrics,toe-tapping beats, and moody, almost fairytale-like atmospheres. Songs such as 'Habitual Ritual', 'Immoral Disclosure', 'Endless Abandon' and 'Secret dissonance' provide the main highlights of the album with their strong guitar riffs, and memorable melodies. But none of them really come close to being a real commercial highlight in the traditional sense. Perhaps the most complete and rounded song on the album is the psychedelic grunge of 'Lift The Veil', that with a little remixing could be a wonderfully captivating track in the same vein as Medicine's 'Time Baby'.

Herein lies the main issue with the album. All the fundamentals are there: great vocals, strong guitars and some nice electronics... but the production is lacking and the mix doesn't bring the best out of the songs. A little more work here could have taken the whole album up a notch. Instead there is a flatness to the sound that hampers the true potential of album.

This is a first effort, and there is a hell of a lot of potential on display on 'The Broken Mirror' on which they can build. Pushing the electronics up in the mix and more power behind the vocals would benefit a few of the choruses so they are not totally dominated by the guitars, but definitely more time in the production stages would see Petals And Thorns follow-up album reach the next level.  

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Monday, 6 April 2015

Introducing... Gild The Mourn



"Our sound is a mix between 80’s Gothic Rock, 90’s Dark Wave and Neo Medieval inspired music. We’re both avid fans of fairytales and fantasy novels, and we wanted to create a music project that captured these passions, while providing a positive message for our fans." 

Name: Gild The Mourn

Members: Angel Metro, Gopal Metro
Year formed: 2014

Location: Charlottesville, VA U.S. 

Consisting of members Angel Metro and Gopal Metro, the Gothic Rock duo serves to enchant and mystify you with tales long thought lost. Step into the realm of the Fae, explore the land within.


Intravenous Magazine: Who are you and how did the band/project come to be formed?
We are Musicians, Goths and Fantasy Lovers. We also may or may not be Dark Elves, but that’s a whole different story…
We started playing together in 2012, and formed Gild The Mourn in 2014.


IVM: How would you describe your sound/style, and how did you arrive at it?
Our sound is a mix between 80’s Gothic Rock, 90’s Dark Wave and Neo Medieval inspired music. We’re both avid fans of fairytales and fantasy novels, and we wanted to create a music project that captured these passions, while providing a positive message for our fans.


IVM: Who and what are your primary influences both musical and non-musical? 
Musically, we draw from a lot of different artists from Einstürzende Neubauten to Tying Tiffany. Some of our biggest influences are Severed Heads, Sisters of Mercy, Specimen, Faith and the Muse, The Bolshoi and Switchblade Symphony.

Philosophically, we draw from thinkers like Peter Diamandis, Ray Kurzweil, Jennifer Sincero, ZeFrank and Swami Satchidananda Maharaj.

Generally speaking anyone who embraces life we like, and having a spooky twist doesn’t hurt.


IVM: Do you perform live and if so where can we see you perform in the near future?
Currently, our live show is still under wraps. We will be performing in the near future, but are still working on our stage show. We’re also the proud parents of a 10 month old and are waiting until he’s at the right age before we hit the road. As anyone who has traveled for an extended period knows, it’s not easy doing long drives and we want to make sure he’s ready!


IVM: What is your current release and where is it available from?
Currently, we’re on a once a month release schedule with our songs, all of which are available through BandCamp at: https://gildthemourn.bandcamp.com/ We will be releasing a limited number of physical albums for our fans this year. Our expected release date is October, but you can sign up on our mailing list below to stay updated.


IVM: What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Well we’ve had some great highlights so far thanks to the amazing fans, DJ’s and promoters in the scene. We’ve gotten airplay across the U.S., in Europe and South America, and have topped the charts for several stations. We were named Best Newcomer 2014 by Gothic Paradise and Best of 2014 by Out ov the Coffin. We’ve also have an ever-growing following, and in turn we’ve made a whole lot of new friends, which for us is the best part!


IVM: What are your plans for the future?
We plan to do it all.
We take the bull by the horns approach in life and we definitely apply that to Gild The Mourn.

We’ll be touring the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia once our stage show is completed, because we want to unleash it on the world!

We are always open to collaboration with other bands, artists and projects and welcome enquiries about contributions, remixes, soundtracks and anything else at gildthemourn@gmail.com.

As we grow to that point, we are building an online community portal for The Fae at http://gildthemourn.com.  Friends and fans will be able to sign up to get all of the latest news about Gild the Mourn, kick-ass deals on exclusive merchandise, and, eventually, a gallery where they will be able to share their own photography, art, music and stories with the rest of the community.  We encourage anyone who is interested to visit the website at http://gildthemourn.com and sign up for our mailing list to receive progress updates and all of the latest Gild the Mourn news!

Lastly, we recently started offering an exclusive subscription service for our key patrons.  Patrons receive all of our digital releases, a physical copy of each year’s album, a t-shirt, 40% off physical merchandise, an array of rare and unique items unavailable anywhere else, and even more.  So far, the response has been amazing!  Anyone who is interested in becoming a Patron can contact us at gildthemourn@gmail.com.


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

Yes for the readers, walk among the Fae. And in the Darkest of Times, Find Light Within. If you’re interested in our work, we want to meet you! Please find us at the links below and say hi!
Links:
For anyone interested in keeping up with Gild The Mourn you can find them at the following:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gildthemourn
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GildTheMourn
Reverbnation: https://www.reverbnation.com/gildthemourn
Bandcamp: https://gildthemourn.bandcamp.com

You can also sign up for our mailing list here: http://gildthemourn.com

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Friday, 3 April 2015

Review: Torque Order – 'Trust No One'



TORQUE ORDER
'Trust No One'
SELF-RELEASED


Austin, Texas based trio Torque Order are one of many emerging bands fostering the kind of gritty and unrelenting industrial rock style that put the genre on the map in the 1990s. Influenced by the likes of Ministry, TKK, Pigface and Rob Zombie they present eleven tracks of groovy industrial rock on their début album 'Trust No One'. It's not the kind of sonic formula that is aimed at reinventing the industrial wheel, but they do their best to weld some more spikes on to it.

The album proceeds at a steady pace for the most part with the electronics driving the backbone of the songs while the metallic guitars chug along and cut through for the choruses. Songs like 'Runnning', 'Believe', 'Bulletproof', 'Betray' and 'Rise' provide the most memorable cuts from the track list with their dance-friendly pace, headbanging riffs and shout-a-long choruses. The album is rounded off by the wonderfully ambient '-' which leads into the delightfully demented 'Sail' to add a little darkly comedic edge to the proceedings.

You may be forgiven for forgiven for thinking the band are a one trick pony, but the electronic work on each track brings something new out of their sound. And with the major curve ball that is the final two tracks, it is evident that the band have a lot more to give.

Production-wise the album is pretty rough and ready with it's 90s style rawness. But it isn't low-fi by any means. It's not polished, but it isn't sloppy or hastily thrown together either and benefits greatly from a great mix-down that lets all the elements in the songs move freely.

This is a very promising début, that hints at a lot more to come. The band for the most part play it safe across 'Trust No One', and stick to their chugging guitar and layered electronics formula... but when they push themselves, they are capable of producing some seriously interesting music. Hopefully they will be quick to follow this up and really try to push themselves in new ways.  

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Review: Celldweller – 'End Of an Empire – Chapter 3: Dreams'



CELLDWELLER
'End Of an Empire – Chapter 3: Dreams'
FIXT MUSIC


It's hard to believe that the Celldweller project headed by multi-instrumentalist Klayton Scott has been around for over a decade now. Though the project has only now reached album number three (not counting the three 'Soundtrack For The Voices In My Head' albums), thanks in part to the way the second album 'Wish Upon A Blackstar' was released in five separate chapters over the course of three years, with the full album released in 2012. It was a novel approach but one that ultimately created a disjointed and unfocussed release.

Surprisingly Klayton has opted for the same approach this time around for the new album 'End Of An Empire', however the space between release dates has been greatly reduced to create a much tighter and linear progression. And it is at '… Chapter 3: Dreams' that we join the story.

If the previous album had been a scatter-gun affair then this time around it shows that Klayton has learned his lesson and kept to a more unified plan. '...Dreams' continues the sound-designed approach of the previous two instalments with the instrumental 'Faction' tracks taking the majority of the airtime around two central vocal tracks. After the short noisy intro of 'Faction 07' we jump straight into the punky strains of the Orgy meets Dope Stars Inc. anthem 'Good L_ck (Yo_'re F_cked)' – an energetic and addictive slice of rocking cyberpunk that rivals any of Celldweller's classic tracks. The darker and more maudlin 'Just Like You' follows on to slow things down and even breaks out the acoustic guitar and strings to appeal to the more gothic inclined end of the audience. The chapter is rounded of by the instrumentals 'Faction 08' and 'Faction 09', which as good as they are just sound like filler compared to the strong showings of the previous two songs. They have a great glitchy industrial rock flavour and indeed sound quite cinematic, but 'Faction 08' in particular would have benefited from some kind of vocal structure to push it over the edge.

The multiple remixes are a nice touch to give you a little more for your money, and the contributions from Combichrist and Mobthrow in particular are strong. But all the clean versions and instrumental versions tacked on just come off as overkill.

As you'd expect from Klayton this is an extremely well-produced release. Each track sounds like it has been taken from the soundtrack to a big budget sci-fi film. It is atmospheric, experimental but at the same time commercially viable in its approach.

This chapter shows that the 'End Of An Empire' album is progressing nicely and may even eclipse the eponymous début album. The fact it is being released in chapters is still very frustrating as it would be great to listen to everything in one sitting and take it all in properly. However it seems as though Klayton has got this one completely under control this time and we won't have long to wait to get the final instalment.   

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