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

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Alternative Culture - A Part of the Future



We all want to be a part of something.

A part of a family, a part of a couple, a part of a group, a part of a team, a part of a band, a part of a crowd, a part of society. A part of those with whom we feel we belong. A part of something that's bigger than ourselves.

I want to be part of the Future.

Culture.
[The customary beliefs, social form, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group]
In a way, the culture we choose for ourselves defines who we are.
Because we can always choose. We are all born somewhere, and it means something, but we can choose what we belong to.

I choose to belong to the Future.

Alternative culture.
It's easy to think, be and do as other people, and harder to think, be and do for ourselves.
Hard, but easier than you'd think, once you wrap your mind around it.

The Other Culture.
It's when you start thinking differently that you can begin to evolve.
And the option is there for you to select, in the alternative culture, where you can choose to be proud to be different, and think thoughts no one else is thinking -where you can choose to be yourself, and live your life for yourself.

Subcultures are the many alternatives within the alternative culture. The words alternative culture act as hub for all the many customary beliefs, social forms and material traits that people can choose from in order to stand as different.

Why choose to be different? Because a very long time ago, someone, or a few people, dared to believe in a positive outcome from an alternate route.
No, that's crazy, Don't think that. No one ever did that before. No one ever went there. It might be dangerous. You might fail. 
I might, and maybe all of this is true, but I'll do it anyway because somehow, I'm feeling right about this.

And then someone created something, and someone else created something else, and out of many of these things, someone created a Wheel.
And then the world, and its people, expanded.

They probably invented the first box not long after inventing the wheel.
A place to put things, so they can be carried around, or hidden. Or just placed somewhere safe.

Outside the box is not safe. You might lose the thing, or it may break.

To think outside the box is not safe. You will be trialed, you will be tested, and the only way to feel safe in those times is to remain true to what you choose to believe in. Throughout history, it's always the revolutions that brought about Evolution (Revolution - the Wheel, it turns).

Art is the only true, authentic form of chronicling time. Indeed, the earliest recordings of events in time were depicted on stone walls all over the world, as my friend Nicholas fittingly pointed to me on Friday night, History was first told through visual art, folk songs, interpretive dances and stories.

Artists will portray what they experience and what they feel in their space and time here, through the means available to them. An artist's perspective is never tainted by an ideology behind it. It is only ever brought forth as a means of expression of feelings -a way to get the feeling out of themselves and into the world.

See this. Hear this. Feel this. Doesn't it feel strange? Doesn't it feel different?

When you start to really feel, and understand emotions like disappointment, fear, anger and failure, you can choose to learn how to face them, and it's when you start facing them that you can tame them, and change, and evolve. So you start inside yourself, and what you find in there, you can then release out for the world to see, and feel in return. Have a look within and figure yourself out first -then you can start understanding other people, and help them understand themselves.

The general human culture is all about things outside yourself. The alternative culture is about what's inside. It's not necessarily about being an artist. It's about noticing what Different feels like, inside yourself, and choosing to figure it out -and embrace it. Or perhaps to be different is an Art in itself.

In the alternative culture, we celebrate What Is Different: our ways of thinking outside the box, through the arts.
Because we believe in the Alternative.
We believe in change. We believe in Evolution.
And we want to be a part of the Future.


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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Review: Skepticism – 'Ordeal'



SKEPTICISM
'Ordeal'
SVART RECORDS


Twenty years on from their début album and Finish doomsters Skepticism return with their sixth full-length effort 'Ordeal'. Drenched in funeral doom and almost folk infused elements the band, never ones to play by the rules, recorded the entire album in its current form in front of a live audience in January of this year. The end result is a is a gripping, raw evocation of the band in their purest sense. Undiluted by clean studio takes, it is an accurate and true to life portrait of the veteran band.

Slow and heavy, the band's pace changes very little for the majority of the album. It is a monolithic slab of bludgeoning beats, grim guitar riffs, haunting atmospheric keyboards and gravelly growling vocals. Tracks such as 'You', 'The Departure', 'March Incomplete', 'Closing Music', and 'The March And The Stream' are all exemplary pieces that meld the deep melancholy of funeral doom with a wonderfully reverential air of high gothic that smooths out the rougher edges of the recording.

Even though it is a live recording there is little to colour it as such aside from the odd bit of crowd noise in a few places and the lack of overdubbing. On the one hand it asks an awful lot of the band's performance, which they do deliver on, but on the other it creates a very intimate and close kind of listening experience that you can only get from liver performance.

Skepticism have gambled and won with 'Ordeal'. The album is incredibly strong in terms of song writing and performance. The live nature of the recording has been executed to a high degree. And the band sound as raw and honest as you would expect, but with enough gloss to just make you forget at times it is indeed being performed live. It's a strong offering and one that demands attention.  

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THE GOTH WARS: LEST WE FORGET



Festivals of commemoration, marks of respect, monuments to shared history... Britain is full of them, places where we gather together and show our gratitude to those who have fallen over the years. Cenotaphs, monuments, Remembrance Day – all signs of our shared struggles and sacrifices. This month we have seen more marking of the end World War 2 and the end of the greatest and most costly exercise in humanity's self-aggrandising idiocy. But! Are there some wars we should pay more attention and respect to? That may give us more lessons for the future and warnings from the past? Like, for example, the Goth Wars?

Many people generally categorise the Goth Wars as being a mainly localised conflict between two groups of armed non-state actors – the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy – which came to the perception of being a proxy war spanning the whole of the gothic world. But really it makes more sense to perceive it as a regional conflict involving several other insurgent groups (Ghost Dance, New Model Army, Skeletal Family, Rose of Avalanche) in a more complex geopolitical battle.

Furthermore, although we perceive the Goth Wars as being completed in a relatively short period of time - a year of conflict from 1985-86, ending with a ceasefire that (more or less) holds to this day – it makes more sense when seen as longer struggle, one which was most intense from 1985 until 1991 but actually lasted much longer than that. In fact, is it time we asked – are the Goth Wars really over at all?

The background to the conflict is now public knowledge – a failed coup led to two rival groups locked in a bitter struggle for the rights to lucrative musical and financial assets in Leeds, by then the most heavily gothicised city in the world. Although potentially dangerous the war was formally ended by a ceasefire which was eventually brokered by the United Nations and Warner Entertainment. This led to the Eldritch Faction being recognised as the legitimate government of the Sisters of Mercy and the Hussey-Adams Gang being given rights to form their own independent republic. However, that did not stop military excursions on each other's musical territory, which continued for years to come.

The Mission's detonation of a bona fide A-bomb chart hit in 1986 did much to dent the pride of the Eldritch faction, although the fact that it did not achieve the desired velocity was a relief. Undeterred, tSoM hit back with a brace of H-Bomb nukes of their own in 1987. Their pride humbled, the Mish Brigade were able to regroup to further dent the chart ground with stunning new weaponry in 1988. Both sides, by this point exhausted, refrained from further military activity in 1989.

By this point the other splinter group from the Eldritch empire, of a Marxist persuasion, were greatly enhanced by a top-level defection from a rival group of gothic insurgents and were soon making their own attempts to carve out territory between the two larger armies. The other Army involved, hailing from Bradford, was much more politically motivated and puritanical - to the extent that thousands of followers fled to seek refuge in other less demanding territory.

Between them all they would trade blows (mostly legal or musical) throughout the late '80s, but the cost was high. The Marxist faction were obliterated in 1990, and the Eldritch tendency were becoming ever more divisive by courting high-profile defections from neutral groups. Soon both main factions would undergo extensive refits and purges, and bar a brief resurgence with tit-for-tat retrospectives in the mid-'90s neither have been able to find the numbers to launch any major assaults since.

Maybe it is too soon to ask what we can learn from the Goth Wars, but I'm sure you can all agree that 'never had so much been made by so few to so few for so little' – lest we forget the hairspray, the delay pedal, the snakebite and black.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Review: Psyche & Luminance – 'Left Out / Passenger'



PSYCHE & LUMINANCE
'Left Out / Passenger'
PSYCHE ENTERPRISES 

Dark synthpop legends Psyche come together with fresh upstarts Luminance for this unusual collaborative vinyl release. The two bands both contribute to the song writing performance and production of the tracks and for two bands formed decades apart they compliment each other extremely well. The end result is a blend of classically infused synthpop and modern dance-orientated ebm that encapsulates the strongest elements of both sides.

The opening track 'Left Out' is an unashamed up-beat dance floor attack that merges Belgian ebm, with Pet Shop Boys atmosphere and a sleek electro gloss. While the second side, 'Passenger Seat' moves into much darker territory bringing through elements of Joy Division, New Order, Psyche's own back catalogue and a little electro-disco for a sinister and suspense-filled outing. 

In terms of production the vinyl-optimised mix gives the songs a great deal of warmth and emphasises the classic elements of the influences at play. But this is sill a clean and fresh modern sounding execution that will still find favour with contemporary audiences.

This is a genuinely interesting collaboration that hints at great things, so it would be a shame if this was to simply be a one-off. Both sides bring some great expertise to the table and the final product reflects them well. Collaborative efforts that go beyond remixing are few and far between and to have one of this strength begs to be explored and developed further.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Interview: AlterRed

Better than mending...

Image by Vix Vain: She Takes Photographs

“They’d usually be ideas based on our own childhood (and sometimes adulthood) fears and nightmares. Disjointed faces, carved features and dissociative identity disorder came up a lot!”

London's electro-creeps AlterRed have across the course of their first three albums weaved a rich tapestry of dark cabaret infused electro-rock and conceptual narrative, in the process becoming one of the UK's must-see live acts. Since putting their original story arc to sleep, the band have struck hard and fast with their new album 'In The Land Of The Blind...' showcasing a darker and harder sound that builds on the previous album sand develops beyond expectations. Throw in a new record deal with US label WTII Records and the future is looking bright for the band.

Intravenous Magazine caught up with AlterRed maestro Mikey fresh off the band's tour with industrial rock maniacs Be My Enemy, to talk about the new album, inspirations, visuals and the importance of live presentation.


Intravenous Magazine: Your latest album 'In the Land of the Blind...' is about to be released. What has the feedback been like for it so far?

Mikey AlterRed: Very good so far. We’re finding a lot of new fans and a new audience, and we’ve had a lot of great feedback from existing fans, which is great. Always a bit precarious when a band changes direction!


IVM: Where did the inspiration for the title of the album come from?

MA: It’s from Desiderius Erasmus's Adagia or so I understand, but it has derivatives in many other sources. It’s a little bit of a jibe at popular culture and how so much of mainstream culture has become diluted to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, which in turn has resulted in the creation of so much arrogance and ego for little more than just being not quite as awful as the rest! The song 'Unpopulism', which was originally going to be the title track, is probably a more defined and pronounced rant about this. The actual title track, an instrumental, was written as a sort of soundtrack to a fictional movie trailer about a huge behemoth of an industry, issuing wave after wave of the same banal, tried and tested product to a passive, sedated consumer.


IVM: The album showcases a darker, heavier sound. What led to this direction and how do you feel it complements the material on your previous releases?

MA: I’ve been a fan of harder and heavier bands for as long as I can remember, but I became a little bit weary of them. My last band (D.U.S.T.) was an electro rock band that ended in 2007, so when we started AlterRed we wanted to try something new. Well, we did that. We played with synthpop, with cabaret, with the spooky kid sub-genre and several others too. Then in 2012 we played a live show with Sulpher, who I’ve long been a fan of, and then in 2013 we toured with William Control, and I found myself craving to perform more energetic and aggressive tunes. I’d had a bunch of ideas for songs for previous albums that didn’t really fit as they were too heavy and fast, so I figured now’s the time - let’s put these together in a set list and see how they play live. They actually fit perfectly well with some of the older stuff, particularly stuff from our first album, but are absolutely at odds with some of the others! But I don’t mind that! I’m a huge Alice Cooper and Bowie fan; both have had very diverse output over the years.


IVM: 'In the Land of the Blind…' is the first release since wrapping up the story-arc of the previous three albums. Has this significantly changed your song writing approach on the new album?
MA: Yeah it has, actually. I have found myself writing self-contained concepts now, rather than carrying a narrative over the whole album. I’ve also found myself restricting the more theatrical ideas to instrumental pieces. I think that way, the music delivers the mood but without directly imposing a narrative onto the audience. Instead the listener can decide for herself/himself what it is about.


Lyrically what have been your main inspirations behind the new album, and which authors / poets / lyricists have inspired your style over the years?

MA: Hmmm… I’m not sure if any have directly influenced me. I re-read a lot of Clive Barker still, and I find myself re-reading Huxley, then a lot of the atheist philosophers or polemicists (Hitchens, Dennet, Harris, Dawkins…) but I don’t think I could name a direct influence.


IVM: The new album will come out on US label WTII Records, through which you've already released a compilation album. How did this deal come about and what has the relationship been like so far?

MA: It came about when both Mechanical Cabaret and Deviant UK signed with them. I’ve been friends with both bands over the years and both Jay (Deviant) and Roi (MC) both recommended us. I spoke with the label, who said they’d been following our progress anyway, so it progressed from there.


IVM: Your music videos go hand in hand with the strong visuals of the album. Are there any plans for music videos in support of this album as well, and if so what can you tell us about your plans for them?

MA: Yes there are. We have one in post-production at the moment, which is Vix Vain’s directorial début. That’ll be for the track 'I Breathe You'. I won’t say too much about it but it features a sledgehammer and a piano. We’re also planning a video for 'Unpopulism'. That’ll likely be released in the winter.


IVM: You've had a long standing relationship with Duncan Catterall of Clockwork Amoeba for the creation of your videos. How does the collaborative process typically work?

MA: Yeah, Dunc played a big part in translating a lot of the narrative to video. Vix, Duncan and I would sit down with a bottle of absinthe and a note pad and spend hours going through ideas for characters, stories and imagery. They’d usually be ideas based on our own childhood (and sometimes adulthood) fears and nightmares. Disjointed faces, carved features and dissociative identity disorder came up a lot! Like Rene Magritte does Multiple Miggs! It was great fun.


IVM: In addition to the videos, the artwork and photography of Vix Vain is integral to the presentation of the band. How important is this to the AlterRed philosophy and do they come before or after the song writing?

MA: They usually happen at the same time but it varies. Sometimes I’ll mention a theme for a song and Vix will instantly come up with her visual interpretation of the theme. We have also had instances where we’ll disagree on a topic, and I’ll find myself writing about it only to receive her rebuttal in the form of the image. It can get quite interesting when two creatives disagree and argue with their output! That said, the new material is a lot less cabaret and a lot more stripped down so the new imagery is appropriate for that.


IVM: Your live shows have always had a theatrical/vaudeville element to them. How important is this live invocation and how do you go about planning the live presentation?

MA: The live performance is everything to me, actually. I like recording new songs but it’s not my first love when it comes to the music; it’s the performing live that I do this for so getting the overall show right is essential. I suspect to answer this honestly I’d need to make the distinction between the shows that accompanied the first albums and the new show. As we’re currently a little more straight forward electro-rock, the live show is less of a theatrical play, though we still find ourselves playing out many of the moves from the old show (I don’t think we’ll ever manage to perform and not “stop-start” during certain songs!). The addition of James, our new guitarist has really brought something extra to the live playing as well as the performance on the whole.

With the previous albums and shows we’d put the set together based on the songs we loved performing, which of those carried the narrative on stage, and which we could build a dramtic performance around with our other performers. Once we’d put together a 45 minute show we generally developed it, show by show. One thing I wish we’d been able to do, and I’d like to try more in future, is set more live set-pieces to add to the mood of the song… yeah, watch this space for that!



IVM: You've recently be touring with Be My Enemy. How was that for you and how did the crowd react to the pairing?

MA: Yeah, it’s been great and has gone down surprisingly well. BME are far more stompy and aggressive than us, so I was unsure how it’d work, but I think there’s a common attitude that we share when it comes to playing live, especially with our new songs, which has given the tour a certain flavour! It’s pretty punk, actually. Add to that, “Mad Max:Fury Road” came out just before the tour started, making us all act like post-apocalyptic rock-star-road-warriors! Hahaha!


IVM: Are there any more live shows planned for 2015?

MA: There are indeed, we’re opening the Saturday at Infest in a few weeks, which we’re absolutely stoked about. Then we’re hitting the road again with Be My Enemy in October, visiting Manchester and Glasgow this time (hopefully a few more). We’ve something potentially awesome pencilled in for October in London that I can’t quite announce yet, but if it goes ahead it’ll be an amazing event. Then in December we’re headlining Carpe Noctum in Leeds. We’re planning on playing this album live as much as possible in as many places as will have us! (Attention promoters!)


IVM: Going back to the trilogy of 'Mind-Forged Manacles', 'Dollstown', and 'The Time It Takes To Smile'. Given the strong lyrical and visual narratives of the album has the thought of expanding on the story as either a novel or graphic novel ever been a thought?

MA: Well the first part, Mind-forged Manacles has already been written as a short story; in fact the concept started out that way. We have had many conversations about what else we could do with it. Full-on musical, has been one suggestion that’s come up a lot, a series of short films and yes, a graphic novel even. The tricky part is having the time and energy to invest in it while we’re still pumped and on fire for the current album and show. I’m sure it’ll happen at some point though. There are too many unfinished ideas for it to let go just yet!




AlterRed's latest album 'In the Land Of The Blind...' is available to purchase now through WTII Records. For more information on the band, including live dates and future releases, please visit their official website.  

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Monday, 17 August 2015

Arts Of Darkness: Jay Barnard Photography / Deadstar Modelling

Jay Barnard Modelled with Nala
Photography by Giovani Pasta of Pastacore Alternative Photography
Edited by Jay Barnard of Deadstar Models.

“[...] I love old school “B” movies with stacks of tacky sounds effects and acting but its super cool so decided to mix the models I shoot and this together, the models star in a slasher movie of there very own.”

Alternative modelling and photography are a growing sector, and one that is increasingly being seen as a vibrant genre in its own right with many photographers and artists taking on multiple roles as performers stylists and event organisers to see that the art form continues to grow and thrive.

One such photographer is Jay Barnard who has not only begun to carve a niche for himself and a photographer and videographer, but also isn't afraid to get stuck in as a model and has even gone so far to found his own agency (Deadstar Models) in order to give other models a leg up in what can often be a daunting world.

Intravenous Magazine spoke to Jay about his art, agency, the current climate for alternative models and his many projects.

“I guess I have been into art in one for or another all my life but as in photography three years give or take but really got into it in the last two years when I found that I could be just as creative shooting models.”




From looking at his work as a both a photographer and videographer it is hard to pin down a personal style for Barnard's work. However there are certain reoccurring themes, at least from a technical standpoint.
“It's a tough one as I jump through so many styles but I always have a dark element thrown in somewhere weather its in the editing or the actual scene its self and if I can throw in blood and gore then bonus.

“I guess the only thing that continues in each piece is the fact that I do not over edit what you see generally in the image is actually there and not photoshoped into it except on the rare occasion
I keep swapping from scenes to scenes now I’m working deeply on horror style stuff but then could quickly jump into say more punky stuff or Rock. my head is filled with all this craziness then things just jump out hardly ever in order so never presume you know my next move haha.”

In addition to his work behind the camera Jay is also a keen model and his passion has extended to founding his own modelling agency to foster his work and help put other likeminded people in contact with each other.

“Deadstar Modelling initially was simply all about the alternative model creating creative shoots and creating a platform for alternative models to get good portfolios and getting exposure, I find that allot of alternative models don't like signing to agency's as they feel like there can be restricted so I decided to create a label that supports them but without all the ties of agency modelling can create at times.
“The reaction has been overbearing at times but in a good way, I don't see my self as out special just doing something I enjoy doing but since the DEADSTAR label has been created just over a year ago its gone mental and from strength to strength.
“It's really as simple as dropping me a message have a chat throw our ideas together and see what comes of it, I'm happy to work with new and experienced models, there really is no criteria no age limit, no hight or size limit if it works it works.”

Though it is hard to deny there are a lot more people embracing alternative modelling these days, Barnard still knows exactly what to look for in potential models.

“To me its all about the attitude behind the person just because you think you look alternative doesn’t mean you are, and I definitely think you can't be afraid of stepping out and being different to everyone else. In fact I believe you have to be different to the next model that steps through the door.”






In addition to his photography and model agency, Barnard has extended the Deadstar franchise into videography as well, which he is very enthusiastic and optimistic for.

“Yeah this is going to be cool if I do say so my self, I moved into film as I felt I could put a new twist into what I do, also to hit new media platforms like YouTube, make it more interesting and appealing as well as work on new skills you sit still doing the same old too long you will be left behind and forgotten.
“You can expect more craziness but with sound and movement and see models in a new light.”

Deadstar TV is kicking things off with an original web video series called 'Hell In A Cell', which he is more than happy to tell us about.

“This is a series of small videos around three to ten mins long, I love old school “B” movies with stacks of tacky sounds effects and acting but its super cool so decided to mix the models I shoot and this together, the models star in a slasher movie of there very own. The story line is about a mad man The “Doom Maker” played by my self that brings girls home and tortures them in his basement sell in all crazy manors I let my mind go wild and always ends with a model covered in blood.”

But this isn't the only ongoing project that Barnard has in the works, with his promotional team Dsgirls about to hit the catwalk at one of the UK's biggest fetish events.

“There is so many things going on I have set up a Alternative promo/model team called the DSgirls that are taking part in this years “KFS Summer Time Ball Catwalk Show” in Leeds, We are teamed up this year with Rogue Model Management based in Manchester for a catwalk show for those who saw last years that I did will know I step away from normal expected catwalk shows and stick my hint of unique creativity.
“This year like last year the models are modelling the awesome latex creations of Cathouse Latex. Its a massive deal for us and gives everyone a look on how we have moved forward compared to last year.”


The Essentials:

Intravenous Magazine: How do you typically approach creating a new piece and do you have any particular creative rituals? 
Jay Barnard: There is no rituals and the process is all in my head 24/7 then bits seep out and I go with the flow and see where it takes me.
IVM: What tools and techniques do you use day to day? 
JB: Ummmm this is a tough one I start with the set then the model shoot and see what comes of it don't even decide how to edit that piece till I see it after and I look at each picture as its own pice even if in a set. Tool wise I use a old Cannon 500d that I also film with and I still edit most of my work on shockingly enough photoshop elements 7. Don't use light room or other programme’s like that as I don't need to I spend time in getting the set and lighting the way I want it before even taking the first shot. There is no big expensive tools or equipment involved at all.


IVM: Which artists have been your biggest inspirations and/or continue to inspire you and why? 
JB: Wowzers!! Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osborne is a huge influence to me as they show me that crazy is good and to go with what feels right... a lot of my influences are by the way of the music I like as I relate to it, they put there minds into music as I do my photography and also as stated before horror and gore films even more so lately.

Photography wise I don't think I do I just do things my way without worrying what other photographers think of me and my work.
IVM: Which piece of art did you find the most challenging to create and why? 
JB: I can't think of anything to mind to be honest sometimes pieces just flow and happen others I get a block and I have to sit on it for a week or two during the editing process I guess its just a natural stereotypical artists mind weather its photography, painting, music or what ever else.
IVM: Which piece or pieces are you most proud of and why?
JB: I think it must be the recent work I have shot with model Juju called “A nurse and her Patient” as I think its an awesome dark peace mixing insanity with love and care! The scene is a dingy old mental asylum and I believe the pics speak for themselves. Very twisted sinister and gory
IVM: Do you have any show/exhibition/art book plans for the future?
JB: Show wise it has to be this year's KFS summer time ball in Leeds on 5th of September, as mentioned before Its going to be fun mixing Amazing latex with a new turn on Cat-walking I have been given the job and full control of choreography with help of an amazing burlesque p reformer called “Lolita Latex” that will also be preforming in the show along with other amazing models provided by my own DSgirls and Rogue Model Management.
IVM: If someone is new to you and your art, how do you feel they typically react to it? 
JB: Normally ether “Wow” or “What the F*#k!!” is a fair statement I’d say haha. 




To see more of Jay Barnards's work and to keep up-to-date with his projects, please visit his official website. For more information on Deadstar Modelling and Dsgirls, please visit their official website.

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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Review: New Zero God – 'Zona Pericolosa'



NEW ZERO GOD
'Zona Pericolosa'
B-OTHERSIDE RECORDS


Greek post-punk/gothic outfit New Zero God have been keeping the black flame burning for nearly a decade now with their mix of gothic keyboards, spiky guitars and powerful bass. The band's last outing was in the form of 'MMXIII' which featured solid song writing and performances, but suffered somewhat from poor production values. Their newest offering, the live EP 'Zona Pericolosa' on the other hand plays to the band's strengths.

Recorded live in Italy in April of this year, the production is still a little high on the treble and the mix isn't quite to par, but it is full of fervent energy and passionate performances that see the band on top form. The band tear through five songs from their songs such as 'Bang Bang', 'Love Means Death', 'The Love Hate Song', 'Love Commandos', and 'Damaged' which bridge the band's previous incarnation as The Flowers Of Romance with their current form and provides a nice cross-section of moods from both bands.

As far as live recordings go it is a rough and ready style that would pass for a pretty fine soundboard bootleg. The crowd noise is a little too low which detracts from the ambience – although the brief introductions make up for this – but when all is said and done it is still a nice unfiltered performance that shows just what the band are best at – and that's performing to a crowd.

'Zona Pericolosa' may not be the casual listener's cup of tea. But for long-time fans of New Zero God and their related projects it will be an essential purchase. It is a warts and all / what you hear is what you get presentation without overdubs or spit and polish, which is actually quite refreshing. Hopefully though this release will signal that a new studio album isn't too far behind.  

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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Review: Arkham Angst – 'Sounds And Images Inspired By H.P. Lovecraft'



ARKHAM ANGST
'Sounds And Images Inspired By H.P. Lovecraft'
SELF-RELEASED


Weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft was a relatively minor literary figure in his own lifetime and probably couldn't have foreseen how his works would go on to become so ingrained in the collective consciousness of western culture. Nevertheless they have and in turn have been inspiring subsequent authors, artists and musicians ever since.

The latest in this long line is a collective known as Arkham Angst from Germany, who blend musical genres such as Experimental, Ambient, Soundscape, Noise, and Electronics into lush and richly textured soundscapes, with Dada-esque collages to illicit the stories they are sound-tracking.

The group's six-track début kicks off with a piano and gloopy bass driven intro, interspersed with hanging strings and subtle noise that has the feel of an old Playstation horror game soundtrack. 'The Nameless City' fares a lot better with its ambient pads creating a sense of space, while scratchy sounds, quiet footsteps and light metallic rhythms create an otherworldly sense of presence. 'The Temple' blends the ambient strings with noise textures to evoke a grimy forbidden space, while vocal samples crackle through like a broken radio and the voice of Markus Küsters gives a subtle narration in German.

Küsters gives a more overt English reading on 'The Dreams In The Witch House' which forces the ambient and experimental sounds a little further into the background initially before they let loose with a cacophony of maddening vocal samples and swirling synths. The longest track on the album 'The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward' repeats the set up and formula of the previous piece with a spoken intro seeing the music take a step back, though the cheesy wolf howls do nothing for an otherwise strong track but detract from the strong vocals. The final track 'Nyarlothotep' is a nice and noisy piece with a more overt use of rhythm that almost veers into witch house territory when the synths and vocal samples come in.

The production is a bit rough and ready for the most part with a definite favouring of the experimental end of the group's sound. But this doesn't detract from it too much. One or two pieces sound a little dated in places but other than that the sounds, mix, and execution are all pretty solid.

This is an interesting release that fans of experimental, dark ambient and noise, as well as those with a complete Lovecraft fixation will find easy to get into. It isn't the most daring or ground breaking in terms of the scope of the compositions, however they are solidly written, well performed and on the whole pretty enjoyable and accessible.  

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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Review: Pentagram – 'Curious Volume'



PENTAGRAM
'Curious Volume'
PEACEVILLE RECORDS


The US legendary doom metal pioneers Pentagram return with their eight full-length studio album in the form of 'Curious Volume'. Despite originally forming in 1971, it wasn't until the mid 1980s that the band would take a foothold in the annals of doom metal. But they have made their presence felt ever since even through multiple line-up and record labels changes. Pentagram are still referenced by many upcoming doom metal bands as a major influence on them.

So what do they have left to offer in 2015? Well, quite a bit actually. With the return of Victor Griffin on guitar (again) and coming home to Peaceville Records, the band have a fire lit underneath them again. Which is evident right from the start of the album's opener 'Lay Down And Die' is an old school riff-o-rama in classic pentagram style that still feels right at home these days considering bands such as Orchid, Uncle acid And the Dead Beats and Ghost are doing well with their own take on the formula.

The album continues in a similar fashion for the most part letting the heavy guitars lead and Bobby Liebling's distinctive vocals power through the mix. The likes of 'Dead Bury Dead', 'Curious Volume', 'Misunderstood', 'Sufferin'', and 'The Devil's Playground' are particular stand outs with their raw and to the point execution, great riffs, throbbing rhythms and great vocals they easily hold their own with the young bucks as well as stand up against Pentagrams already legendary discography.

The album enjoys that raw 1970s/80s bluesy mix that harks back not only to their own early recordings but also to the likes of Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep. It sounds timeless, rather than dated and definitely delivers what the long-time fans will be looking for.

'Curious Volume' is another strong chapter in the Pentagram story. It may not quite capture the heights of 'Day Of Reckoning', but it definitely builds on the strong foundation of 2011's 'Last Rites' with the end result being one of the band's strongest outings to date. 'Curious Volume' shows that Pentagram are still a force in doom metal and still have a lot to give.  

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Review: Various Artists – 'A Dying Breed...'



VARIOUS ARTISTS
'A Dying Breed...'
NIGH† †ERRORS


Love it or hate it, Witch House and related genres such as vapourwave, chillwave, dark trap, and other underground occult electronic styles are here to stay. Injecting their music with a mixture of house, ambient, psychedelic and trip hop elements the artists of these genres have been creating some genuinely interesting music for a number of years now. Throughout that time the Nightmare And 808s you tube station, and the associated record label Nigh† †errors, have been championing the genres and spreading the word and generating some much deserved interest, particularly with their free compilations.

The latest compilation 'A Dying Breed...' rather than an entrance point for the genres as the previous ones ('Suicide Serenade' and 'Scary Music To Play In The Dark') have been, attempts to show more of an evolutionary step. Recent works by bands such as †Я▲СΣS ΘF GΗО5†5, †RIɅLS, V▲LH▲LL, OKKVLT KɅTT, and gℓo come together to show a more progressive path that leads on from the now familiar trappings of the scene.

Tracks by the likes of ATMSSPHERO, Gnothi Seauton, †Я▲СΣS ΘF GΗО5†5, †RIɅLS, РΣ▲ϾΣ ⱧΣȊL, V▲LH▲LL, and OKKVLT KɅTT provide the album with its undoubted highlights drawing on industrial, witch house, ambient, metal, folk, trip hop, hip hop and experimental elements all adding to their appeal. While the compilation's closer by gℓo, with it's twelve minutes of delicate ambience and emotional vocal sample shows off the most progressive path of the album.

In terms of production and mixing, with it being a compilation there are always going to be variances in recording quality. But the album has been constructed and laid out in such a way, that those variances don't seem very overt.

This is another great compilation from Nigh† †errors that shows off some of the best that the occult electronic underground's has to offer. When listened to in order with the previous albums it shows a clear evolutionary path of the past present and future. It is a solid album with some great tracks that will have fans digging for more.  

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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Editorial: August, 2015



They. Still. Live!

It has been a sad week with another spate of high profile deaths. Not just amongst the music scene but also from popular culture. And while I have lamented the recent passings of several influential musicians recently, my childhood received a major knock with the passing of former professional wrestler 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper, AKA Roderick Toombs. A man who was an integral antagonistic figure in the rise of the WWE/F in the 1980s with his trademark Scottish rage and sharp wit leading him to be affectionately known amongst fans as “Hot Rod”.

Like many wrestlers before and after Piper would briefly trade the squared circle of the wrestling ring for the silver screen of Hollywood. And in doing so would create a genuine cult classic in the form of 1988 sci-fi thriller 'They Live'.

Directed by the legendary John Carpenter ('Halloween', 'The Thing', 'Christine', 'Big Trouble In Little China') Piper takes on the role of drifter turned construction worker John Nada, who after an encounter with a blind preacher discovers the world's rulling class are aliens who control humans through subliminal messages in mass media.

It hasn't dated well. There are some seriously cheesy effects, inconsistency, and the plot on paper is b-movie at best. But it is utterly brilliant – a subversive blend of sci-fi and horror that simultaneously parodies the hyper capitalist consumer society of the late 20th century. Piper and co-star Keith David's performances are strong (even if some of those around them aren't), and one highlight of the film comes in a five-minute long alleyway brawl between the two over a pair of sunglasses. It is also the birth place of some brilliant quotes including the now infamous “I have come here to chew bubblegum, and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum” which has cropped up in comics, television shows, computer games and music ever since.

It may be an acquired taste at best, and it is certainly no masterpiece. But it is a damn enjoyable film that worms its way into your affections with dry wit and brilliant action.

Piper would go on to have a long acting career and make sporadic come backs to his first love of pro-wrestling. But even if the mainstream never get to explore the depths of his talent inside and outside the ring, then at least in 'They Live' they can get a taste of what he was good at... chewing bubblegum and kicking ass!


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Review: Mr Kitty – 'Fragments'



MR KITTY
'Fragments'
NEGATIVE GAIN


Forest Carney AKA Mr Kitty returns with his fifth full-length studio album and the first since the conclusion of his acclaimed “Dark Youth” quadrillogy that encompassed 'Death', 'Eternity', 'Life', and 'Time'. The new album 'Fragments' sees a much more open and vulnerable side to Carney's song writing coming through. Musically the icy synthpop and trippy witch house elements that characterised the first four albums remains at the core of the album, but with an air of stark and clinical futurism that recalls turn of the millennium ebm.

The album is a deeply satisfying of melodic synthesizers, throbbing bass, steady dance beats and soaring vocals drenched in delay. It feels delicate and brittle, but altogether more hopeful and optimistic than his previous albums.

Songs such as 'Mother', 'Shanghai', 'In Your Blood', 'Flowers For Boys', 'Cycle Of Violence' and 'Spirit Of The Forest' best exemplify this formula and easily blend dance appeal with introspective allure that compels you intimately explore the album further.

The best thing about this album is despite all of the potential club singles on display, 'Fragments' has that true album feel to it, as though a thin but distinct thread of narrative ties everything into a linear whole. It's certainly lighter in sound for the most part but it still remains devoid of any throw away filler tracks.

In terms of production the album is wonderfully airy and grand in the sense of space it creates. It sounds as though it should be played in a crystal cathedral. It is a bright modern mix that nods its head towards ambient music as well as pop. But as with the last album it has just that little bit of rough edge to keep its feet in alternative waters.

This is another great and solid album from Mr Kitty that heads in new directions with ease. It is more emotional, measured, and instilled with a strong sense of purpose that sees him firmly close the door on the quadrillogy and look ahead to a very bright future.  

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Review: Big Time Kill – 'Big Time Kill' EP



BIG TIME KILL
'Big Time Kill' EP
SELF-RELEASED


Boston, USA based duo Big Time Kill have set out to hit the industrial rock world hard and fast with their début self-titled EP. Blending new wave melodies with synthpop leads and nasty industrial beats and guitars, the band walk a fine line between pop sheen and grunge grit. It's a formula that will appeal to fans of The Faint, Killing Joke, Mindless Self Indulgence, and Nine Inch Nails. It's a style that should play well to both club audiences as well as on the road live.

They open with a big sing-along synth number in 'Hold On' with its pop hooks and slick new wave synths taking the lead. While 'Please' presents a more desperate and frantic sound that is spiky and fun. 'It's Nothing Personal' returns to more commercial territory with it's synthpop meets new wave core displaying a real knack for strong song writing. 'Are You Ready For Love?' returns to the harder but still hook laden waters of the first two numbers but broken down into a more straightforward approach. The EP is then rounded off by the jumpy electro meets synth rock of 'Gone' that presents the band's best soaring chorus to close proceedings.

The EP is nicely produced and mix. To such a high quality in fact that it easily matches anything on the Metropolis label. The songs aren't very densely layered, but they're not stripped back either. The band have the room to play around and experiment but they always retain an accessible structure to the tracks.

This is an impressive début from a duo that have a lot to offer and big ambitions. The songs are strong, commercially viable alternative rock with great and sometimes playful electronics throughout. There is a lot of potential here, so it will be worth keeping an eye out for their full-length début.  

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Review: My Dying Bride – 'Feel The Misery'



MY DYING BRIDE
'Feel the Misery'
PEACEVILLE RECORDS


There's nothing quite like a good dose of musical misery, and nobody does it better than Yorkshire's gloomy doomsters My Dying Bride. For a quarter of a century their slow anguished litanies of sex and death infected fans around the world with a bleak melancholy that reflects the gothic and haunting isolation of the ragged landscapes of the county. Just as with their fellow harbingers of Gothic Doom Paradise Lost have done with their most recent outing, My Dying Bride have marked their quarter of a century and their twelfth album with a heavier sound that looks back to their early years for inspiration. Throw in the return of original guitarist Calvin Robertshaw and all the ingredients are there for one of the darkest and most majestic albums in the MDB canon to date.

'And My Father Left Forever' clatters into life with a classic My Dying Bride riff the band are immediately on top form as Aaron Stainthorpe's anguished vocals exhale tortured laments bolstered by atmospheric synthesizers and sorrowful violins setting the overall form of the album. The band are at their most monolithic here with eight long and densely layered tracks. 'To Shiver In Empty Halls' breaks out the demonic death vocals over the slow menacing guitars and steady bludgeoning drums interspersed with some delicate piano.

The likes of 'A Cold New Curse', 'Feel The Misery', 'I Celebrate Your Skin', and 'Within A Sleeping Forest' this formula of heavy riffs, stunning guitar work, and lofty atmosphere with the odd death vocal thrown in for good measure. While songs such as 'A Thorn Of Wisdom' and 'I Almost Loved You' turn the band's typical approach around a little emphasising gothic elements such as the prominent bass, violin, and keyboards, or

The album as a whole is not a grand departure from their recent work, but the emphasis on looking back to the band's earlier releases certainly has had an effect. It isn't just heavy in terms of guitars and drums, but atmospherically, lyrically and in a few places even experimentally it is heavier. It is executed and produced with the skill and experience that a band of My Dying Bride's stature should always be delivering.

Whether you are a long-time fan of the band or have only recently begun to scratch the surface of their discography, 'Feel The Misery' is an album that ticks all the boxes. Heavy, haunting and most of all deliciously gloomy, it is 25 years of My Dying Bride distilled into one intoxicating elixir.   

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Book Review: C J Skuse – 'Monster'



C J SKUSE
'Monster'
HARLEQUIN


Ah, the girl's boarding school. It's the ideal setting for a good horror story really. If it's not the very real terrors of tyrannical teachers, or the verbal and physical violence perpetrated by hormonal teens locked away in a regimented environment, then the sheer ambience of an old stately home-turned school should be enough to set the imagination racing to things that go bump in the night. The girls boarding school setting may be a little higher in profile in the public mind a the moment thanks to series three of American Horror Story. But in 'Monster' instead of witches and ghosts, C J Skuse treats us to a modern tale of isolation, social politics, adolescence... and a large sinister beast roaming the snow covered countryside disembowelling animals and people.

It's a tried and tested backdrop maybe, but Skuse is a masterful storyteller whose writing style is bang up-to-date and very accessible for the younger reader. With the emphasis more on the thriller aspects of the story, the horror elements as a result become more mysterious and atmospheric.

The book is written in the fist person through the eyes of potential head girl Nash. Her brother is missing in South America, her parents have had to leave her in the old boarding school over Christmas with her rival Diana, her nemesis Clarice, a young “pup” called Tabitha, the “weird girl” Reagan, and her new found ally Maggie, all of whom are under the watchful eye of the school matron until they are picked up by their parents.

The book really hooks the reader in the first few pages as Nash spies a beastly shape in the snow that almost hypnotises her. From that point on the plot evolves through Nash's internal monologue and the conversations with her peers, with the occasional grisly death and louche character coming in to add twists. It's a book that does a good job of keeping you guessing until the end, which is an increasingly hard thing to do these days.

Skuse is a great descriptive writer who makes small observations and details speak volumes about a character or place. The teenage girls interact and speak as you'd expect a modern teenage girl at a boarding school to do, and their observations will undoubtedly ring true for her target audience. While the well-placed use of humour and wit serves to ground the story nicely.

One thing that did stick out in the novel though was the heavy referencing of pop culture. Referencing thing such as Snapchat, Britain's Got Talent, Vernon Kay, and Harry Potter grounds the story quite firmly in the 2010's. But as pop culture can move on quite rapidly, such references may inadvertently date the text so that in five years time, the next wave of readers may find less relevance in those cultural citations. If those references were a little less specific, the time of the story could be a little more vague and enjoy a bit more longevity.

'Monster' is a fast-paced, dramatic, endearing and often tense book that is just as much about the characters as the potential horror lurking around them. As far as young adult novels go, this is a gripping and satisfying read that has everything needed to become a best seller and will endear itself to readers beyond their teenage years.

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