Interview: Marc Heal

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Interview: Bestial Mouths

“The newer material is very personal in nature as it directly relates to the experiences and emotions I had been going through and feeling. Those experiences set the direction for the album title and cover art.”

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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Review: Jet Noir – 'A Cold Day In Hell'



JET NOIR
'A Cold Day In Hell'
EVOLVE OR DIE


If you're not familiar with Jet Noir you soon will be. The synth player for electro goth act Naked Lunch has struck out on her own this year with two previous singles 'The Scarlet Woman' and 'The Circle' which have created positive rumblings. With an EP round the corner Noir has released a third single showing off her mix of progressive gothic rock and trance in the form of 'A Cold Day In Hell'.

Whereas the previous two singles showcased a decidedly more electronic leaning, 'A Cold Day In Hell' is an exercise in big gothic rock. Throbbing bass, subtle electronics, heavy guitars and the ever present sensual vocals come together to create a powerful combination that flips expectations around. It displays strong blends of melody, atmosphere and arrangements that hint at a lot more to come.

The single is completed by three remixes from Attrition, Dean Baker (Cloak) and Ruinizer who all add aq different spin to the original with ease. Attrition add a nice old school darkwave veneer to it that is wonderfully addictive. Dean Baker delves into ebm and trance territory which ups its dance appeal. Finally Ruinizer knock it into leftfield with a deconstructed blend of aggrotech and urban appeal.

The production is strong and walks the line between a classic gothic atmosphere and modern sheen. It is a combination that works really well and is able to switch between sultry and scathing with ease.

'A Cold Day In Hell' is perhaps the most exciting single so far from Jet Noir. It's blend of genres, progressive elements and atmospher is executed perfectly. The song is strong throughout showing great writing and performance and it should hopefully have a lot of people sit up and take notice.

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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Review: Christian Death – 'The Root Of All Evilution'



CHRISTIAN DEATH
'The Root Of All Evilution'
SEASON OF MIST


It is undeniable that Christian Death made a major mark on the international gothic and death rock scenes. Whether it was under the leadership of Rozz Williams or Valor Kand, both line-ups produced some iconic records such as 'Only Theatre Of Pain', 'Ashes', and 'Sex, And Drugs, And Jesus Christ' to name only a few. Valor Kand successfully held fast with the band giving it a more metal overhaul in the 90s that worked well over a few albums. Yet, since the turn of the millennium that band has existed mainly as a touring band with only two albums released in that time, 2007's lacklustre 'American Inquisition' and this years new offering 'The Root Of All Evilution'.

The latest album was the subject of a successful crowdfunding campaign which shows that the band still has a core of fans ready and eager to hear new material. But does it live up to their most influential albums?

The opening track finds the and in almost prog rock with an extended spoken intro that sets up the apocalyptic conceptual arc of the album before breaking into a bout of thin gothic rock. Its a poor start, but thankfully the eastern themed 'This Cross' with its exotic instrumentation and tribal drumming brings things into focus in classic Christian Death fashion.

'Tar Black Liquid' is another track that has that classic Christian Death feel that fans will undoubtedly be craving – Maitri's vocals sound as sumptuous as ever while the straightforward gothic/death rock construction could sit next to any of the band's 80's/90's output with ease. Tracks such as 'Fema Coffins', 'Illuminazi', 'Forgiven' and 'Deliver Us' follow suit with that classic sound keeping the focus on the band's fundamentals.

The electronic elements at work on 'We Have Become' are an unexpected, but not unwelcome change of pace that makes for a great stand-out track. The closing track 'Secrets Down Below' also makes subtle use of this to give an extra element to another fine cut.

The production / mix isn't always great, but Christian death have only two modes; opulent or stripped back, and when they embrace these fully everything else just seems to click into place.

The opener may have been a bit shaky, and the visual elements may be looking a little outdated and cliché these days. But below all of that is a pretty good album that is a more satisfying listen that the band's last outing, and it could even be touted as a return to form. It may not reach the heights of their classic/infamous material, but 'The Root Of All Evilution' proves that Christian Death are still relevant and still have a place in 2015. 

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Review: Various Artists – 'Scary Music To Play In The Dark Vol. II'




VARIOUS ARTISTS
'Scary Music To Play In The Dark Vol. II'
NIGH† †ERRORS


Just in time for Halloween Nigh† †errors, the record label arm of the YouTube radio station Nightmares and 808s, returns with another free compilation of dark underground electronics certain to add some spooky atmosphere to your Samhain celebrations.

It isn't the longest compilation with just seven tracks in total, however it is more of a case of quality over quantity. Witch house, dark, and occult electronics collide for a subtle, spooky and occasionally psychedelic playlist.

First up is Ukraine's SVGAWA with 'Annelise' with it's opening Exorcist sample giving way to a down-beat stuttering rhythm and simple spooky bass that is suddenly pierced by the lead melody in a way that evokes the shower scene in Psycho. Damn Whore follow on with 'Frank Young' with a more subtle stuttering beat this time with a more discernible hip hop flavour to it mixed with some wonderfully dark and deep bass.

Flesh's eight-minute long 'Delirium' is a stunning centrepiece which opens with a nice choral sample that fades into a slow ambient leaning track, building in a way that recalls a much darker Enigma before the more overt witchy elements creep in. △Sco△'s 'Crystal Witches' in comparison is a shorter, sharper and more straightforward glitchy witchy track that has a nice melody and steady dance-friendly beat that will get bodies moving.


'Lilac' by Foxwedding and remixed by Resonata is a nice light, but creepy track that utilises vocal samples as rhythmic devices to create a disturbing psychedelic feeling that would be right at home on the American Horror Story soundtrack. The Compilation is then rounded-off by the stunning 'Death By Stereo' from Sunset Architects which starts by leaning towards dark ambience with its hanging chords, subtle beats and atmospheric samples but soon switches gear into a stripped-down witch house style that is very effective.

This is another solid compilation from Nigh† †errors that shows off some very talented underground acts. Once again with it being free it should just as attractive to those looking to satisfy their curiosity about this particular branch of electronics as fans looking for new stuff to fill up their play lists. Despite its short length it is well curated and the end result is a pleasure to listen to.  

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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Intravenous Magazine Halloween Roundup 2015



It is that time of year again children of the night. The nights are getting longer, the moon is full and all those nasty things that go bump in the night are coming out to play! Of course by that I mean it is time for Halloween, which luckily falls on a Saturday this year! That means you can take longer to get ready and still have all of Sunday to recover... depending on what it is you'll be getting up to of course.

If you're still not sure what there is to do this Halloween, don't worry. We here at Intravenous Magazine have once again accumulated a big list of suggestions to give you a few ideas no matter who... or what you are! If you want to head out and do the monster mash at a club, we have a few ideas. Want to head to the cinema? There's some great looking films out right now. Want to stay in with a good book or DVD? We've got you covered. Want something more family friendly? Yep, we've even taken that into consideration.

So without further ado here are our picks for Halloween 2015...


A Compendium Of Terror...

First off we have some features from our crypt to get you in the mood while you're getting ready to get your costume on and head out to terrorise the town...



Strange Frequencies...

If you'd rather set the mood with a little audio, huddled round the wireless listening to tales of terror then why not check out these links to some of the spookiest podcasts on the web...

Or why not listen to some vintage radio plays for some old school scares?




Mercury Theater on the Air: Dracula from The Radio Ghost on Vimeo.



Sinister Tomes...

As we say every year, we here at Intravenous Magazine are big supporters of Neil Gaiman's All Hallow's Read project which promotes the giving of scary books as a gift every Halloween. So every year we like to recommend a few scary books that you can pick up to read alone or with friends this Halloween.


'Rawblood' – Catriona Ward
In 1910, eleven year old Iris Villarca lives with her father at Rawblood, a lonely house on Dartmoor. Iris and her father are the last of their name. The Villarcas always die young, bloodily. Iris knows it’s because of a congenital disease which means she must be strictly isolated. Papa told her so. Forbidden to speak to other children or the servants, denied her one friend, Iris grows up in solitude. But she reads books. And one sunlit autumn day, beside her mother’s grave, she forces the truth from her father. The disease is biologically impossible. A lie, to cover a darker secret.


'Monster' – C.J. Skuse
At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits. As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild. Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.


'The Darkness On His Bones' – Barbara Hambly
When James Asher is found unconscious in the cemetery of the Church of St. Clare Pieds-Nus with multiple puncture-wounds in his throat and arms, his wife, Lydia, knows of only one person to call: the vampire Don Simon Ysidro. Old friend and old adversary, he is the only one who can help Lydia protect her unconscious, fevered husband from the vampires of Paris.


'Dark Screams: Volume 5' – Brian Jame Freeman & Richard Chizmar
Mick Garris, J. Kenner, Kealan Patrick Burke, Del James, and Bentley Little pry open a sarcophagus of horror and dread in Dark Screams: Volume Five, from Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the esteemed Cemetery Dance Publications.


'The Damned' – Tarn Richardson
1914. The outbreak of war. In the French city of Arras, a Father is brutally murdered. The Catholic Inquisition - still powerful, but now working in the shadows - sends its most determined and unhinged of Inquisitors, Poldek Tacit to investigate: his mission to protect the Church from those who would seek to undermine it, no matter what the cost.


'A Head Full Of Ghosts' – Paul Tremblay
The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.


'The Fifth House Of the Heart' – Ben Tripp
Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang, a vainglorious and well-established antiques dealer, has made a fortune over many years by globetrotting for the finest lost objects in the world. Only Sax knows the true secret to his success: at certain points of his life, he’s killed vampires for their priceless hoards of treasure.
But now Sax’s past actions are quite literally coming back to haunt him, and the lives of those he holds most dear are in mortal danger. To counter this unnatural threat, and with the blessing of the Holy Roman Church, a cowardly but cunning Sax must travel across Europe in pursuit of incalculable evil—and immeasurable wealth—with a ragtag team of mercenaries and vampire killers to hunt a terrifying, ageless monster…one who is hunting Sax in turn.


'Little Girls' – Ronald Malfi
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…


'Troll Hunters' – Guillermo del Toro &Daneil Kraus
Jim Sturges is your typical teen in suburban San Bernardino-one with an embarrassingly overprotective dad, a best friend named "Tubby" who shares his hatred of all things torturous (like gym class), and a crush on a girl who doesn't know he exists. But everything changes for Jim when a 45-year old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Soon Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.


'The Silence' – Tim Lebbon
In the darkness of a vast cave system, cut off from the world for millennia, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, there are voices, and they feed... Swarming from their prison, they multiply and thrive. To scream, even to whisper, is to summon death.
Deaf for many years, Ally knows how to live in silence. Now, it is her family's only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others, to find a remote haven where they can sit out the plague. But will it ever end? And what kind of world will be left?


Evil Visions...
We've already given you a definitive run-down of our 50 favourite horror films of all time. But there are plenty more new cuts on offer on DVD and in the cinema this year. If you're the kind of person whou would spend Halloween under a blanket watching a scary film, here are some new ones worth checking out.


Crimson Peak
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston
Director: Guillermo del Toro


Goosebumps
Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush 
Director: Rob Letterman



The Visit
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
Director: M. Night Shyamalan



Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan
Director: Christopher Landon


Insidious: Chapter 3
Starring: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Angus Sampson
Director: Leigh Whannell


The Witch
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Director: Robert Eggers


Maggie
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson
Director: Henry Hobson


Tale Of Halloween
Starring: Booboo Stewart, Ben Woolf, Cerina Vincent
Director: Various


Poltergeist
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kennedi Clements
Director: Gil Kenan


Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Starring: Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George
Director: Gregory Plotkin



Black Masses...

If you're a party animal who relishes the chance to get out on the town every Halloween, but haven't made up your mind as to where to spend your night yet, we've got some club nights across the UK to recommend. 


Slimelight, London – Klub Wicked: 31st October

Fulford Arms, York – Rock n Roll Zombeach Party: 31st October

Corporation, Sheffield – Satellite 'Hellraiser': 31st October

Academy, Glasgow – Club Noir Halloween Masked Ball: 31st October

Pit and Pendulum, Nottingham – Coven Nun Of A Bitch: 31st October

Grand Hall Camden, London – Belle Epoque Halloween Circus: 31st October

Coronet, London: Torture Garden Halloween Ball 2: 31st October

Whitby – Goth Weekend: 28th October - 1st November

Eddies, Brimingham: Halloween at Eddies: 31st October

The Candlelight Club, London – Halloween Ball: 31st October


Best Of The Rest...

If you've got kids, or fancy doing something a little different this year, why not check out these fun activities across the UK.


Pinup Nightmare Halloween Special 
Lola Lo, Manchester, Thursday 29th October 

Tulley's Parks Spooktober Fest / Schocktober Fest / The Howl
Tulley's Parks, Crawley/Leighton Buzzard, Multiple dates

Nightwatchers
Tower of London, London, 28th October - 7th November

All Hallow's Eve All Nighter
Regent St Cinema, Marleybone, 31st October

Halloween Ghost Hunt
Oxford Castle, Oxford, 31st October & 1st November


The Home of Halloween
York Dungeon, York, 17th - 31st October

Illuminated Abbey
Whitby Abbey, Whitby, 28th - 31st October

Icky, Yucky, Sticky Stuff!
Eureka!, Halifax, 24th October - 1st November

Quarantine: Zombie Fright Night
Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds, 31st October

The Annual Pumpkin Festival
Canon Hall Farm, South Yorkshire, 24th - 31st October


That is just a little taste of some of the great and ghastly goings on that can be found up and down the country this week, but there are many more. So please consult your local papers, event guides, Facebook and anywhere else that may advertise events and support them. However if you're not feeling socially inclined this year, you can always check out the various podcasts, films and books that we have recommended. But no matter how you choose to spend your night, we here at Intravenous Magazine would like to wish you a very happy Halloween. 

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Friday, 23 October 2015

Book Review: Philip Smith & Joseph A. McCullough – 'Steampunk Soldiers: Uniforms And Weapons From The Age Of Steam'



PHILIP SMITH & JOSEPH A. MCCULLOUGH
'Steampunk Soldiers: Uniforms And Weapons From The Age Of Steam'
OSPREY PUBLISHING


As someone related to living history and historical re-enactment enthusiasts Osprey Publishing's illustrated books covering the various uniforms of different military eras have been a common sight for a long time. The illustrations are always detailed and as accurate as information and primary sources allow, and with accompanying text to give further depth they are a valuable go-to guide for anyone wanting to put together a look for historical events, or just for the stitch-counting anoraks of the world. Their appeal as a range of books is pretty niche, however they

The new title, 'Steampunk Soldiers: Uniforms And Weapons From The Age Of Steam' takes a sharp turn into anachronistic waters to add a little fantasy to their otherwise factual range. The titles spells it out quite clearly what the content is. Steampunk uniforms given the Osprey treatment with a little bit of statistics and alternative history added to keep it in line with their other publications.

The book is centred around the manufactured back-story of
British art student Miles Vandercroft, and the illustrations he made as he travelled the world between 1887 and 1895 to document the rise of steam power after the discovery of a new element “Hephaestium” and its subsequent effect on modern warfare. Which is a pretty loose and mildly amusing set-up that doesn't really put too much bearing on the end result.

Broken down country-by-country the book looks at the uniforms, and equipment of various units and battalions that existed in the steampunk age. Real empires and nations undergo a subtle blending of fact and fiction to add weight to the re-imagined history that would actually be the perfect foundation for an actual novel series.

The book's biggest selling points however are the beautiful and often gritty illustrations by Mark Stacey. They are as detailed as any other uniform guide in the Osprey range and by blending actual expectations of uniforms of the time and adding a steampunk twist that is practical rather than the usual cogs for the sake of cogs look that has taken over they compliment the realism the written accompaniment strives for.

It is a great book, written with authority and illustrated with great care. It presents itself like any other uniform guide, but is a little more fun for the hell of it. Fans of steampunk, alternate history, cosplay, and live action role players will undoubtedly find this not only appealing but very useful. But as with similar books of this type, the appeal will not be great beyond that... even the historical accuracy police will probably not find anything here to grab them.

But at the end of the day it is a fun, parody of sorts with some great artwork, even if it is only for a niche audience.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Book Review: Neil Gaiman / JH Williams III – 'The Sandman: Overture'



NEIL GAIMAN / JH WILLIAMS III
'The Sandman: Overture'
DC COMICS


Neil Gaiman's 'The Sandman' is one of the greatest comics ever. I'm sorry if you disagree, but it is a fact. For a child in the north of England whose only real exposure to comics was in the form of 'The Beano', it was a revelation finding 'The Sandman' in the graphic novels section of Scunthorpe Central Library and for the first time showed me what the medium was truly capable of conveying.

Gaiman created a rich, dark fantasy world with all the intellectual and whimsical prowess that he infused into his later novels to tell the story of the Dream King Morpheus and his siblings, The Endless, as they interact with human affairs over the centuries. It isn't just naughty kids getting away with the things we wish we could, or the usual battle of superhero and super-villain. Instead 'The Sandman' series deals with deep issues in a a compelling, complex and dramatic way. Always ably abetted by a host of phenomenal artists, it is easy to see why after 25 years, this series is held in such high esteem.

'The Sandman: Overture' is a six issue prequel series, finally compiled together in a deluxe hardback book, that looks at the events leading up to Morpheus' imprisonment as we find him at the start of the first part of 'Preludes And Nocturnes'. Gaiman, now 25 years more experienced and renowned as a fantasy writer, delves deep into the story, weaving a story that spans time and space and connects to a lot of later threads in the tale, yet manages to stay on track with an end in sight.

We see not only how Morpheus got into the afore mentioned situation when we were first introduced to him, but also see the origins of The Corinthian, the creation of The Dreaming and Morpheus' War Helm. The book sees not only cameos from well-loved characters such as the rest of The Endless, Lucien, Merv Pumkinhead, Mad Hettie, and also introduces new characters that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on fans.

Despite the wonderfully rich story, with it's comic format it is very accessible and easy to follow, even if you haven't delved into the rest of the series yet. To this end the stunning artwork of JH Williams III ('Batwoman', 'Promethea') adds a great detail. As mentioned before, 'The Sandman' has always featured great artwork, but some of Williams' work in '...Overture' is beyond stunning. Coupled with the work of Dave Stewart, Todd Klein, and the return of Dave McKean it lives up to the legacy. Quite simply, some of the design elements cannot be done justice in words and really need to be seen to be fully appreciated.

It is arguable that '...Overture' is an unnecessary extension to an already pretty perfect series. But once you get reading it, you are reminded by just how many questions you had after the series ended. '...Overture' answers them and adds even more depth to an already inspired universe. The subtitle 'Overture' isn't just a buzzword for the sake of it. This series is a grand declaration before the story plays out in full, echoing, predicting and yet still complete as it's own movement within the fuller story arc.

'The Sandman: Overture' is another great example from Gaiman and his team as to what the comic medium can truly accomplish. The epic scope, and intricate plot, the sumptuous artwork all come together to create a worthy addition to the series. If you haven’t' experienced the series yet. This is a good place to start. If you're a long-time fan, you won't be disappointed.  

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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Review: With The Dead – 'With The Dead'



WITH THE DEAD
'With The Dead'
RISE ABOVE RECORDS


Given the past relationship between Rise Above Records (owned by former Cathedral vocalist Lee Dorrian), and Electric Wizard (whose founding rhythm section comprised of Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening) having been a tempestuous one, the coming together of individual members of new doom metal trio With The Dead seemed like one of those “when hell freezes over” prospects. But nevertheless it has come to pass and the end result is a heavy dose of real doom that sees the distinctive voice of Dorrian set to the rhythmic talents that gave us 'Dopethrone'.

With such accomplished work in every member's respective discographies, it is evident that With The Dead is a band that has nothing to prove and is free from the shackles of everything that has come before it. Yet this isn't about resting on their laurels. With The Dead want to craft their own identity and have one hell of an album with to do it.

Opening with the blisteringly heavy 'Crown Of Burning Stars' the album asserts itself through a barrage of fuzzy riffs, thick bass, bludgeoning drums and anguished vocals. 'The Cross' follows on with a nice Sabbath-flavoured opening before descending into a meandering nightmare punctured by Dorrian's demented vocals. 'Nephthys' provides the album with its accessible centrepiece with it's nice pace, great riff and evocative lyrics it is a great introduction to not only the band but the genre as a whole.

Next is the semi self-titled 'Living With The Dead' with it's oppressive atmosphere and choking riffs it is a perfect summary of everything at work on this album. 'I Am Your Virus' swings into sludge territory with it's crusty lead riff, while subtle psychedelic effects it continues to amp up the brutal heaviness before hitting the brakes for a melodic interlude before the final beating. Rounding off the album is 'Screams From My Own Grave', a final valuable lesson in heavy that opens with a solo funeral doom drum line before the dense guitars hit, adding a little drone, and a lot more of those tortured vocals to put the exclamation point on the proceedings.

The album is grim, heavy, eerie and crushingly brilliant. There is fuzz on just about everything and the dominance of the different instruments varies a little from each song to the next creating interesting dynamics. But even with all this sheer brutality it remains melodic where it needs to, and nothing gets drowned out in the mix.

This is a stunning début from three veterans of the doom genre that acknowledges their past work, but seriously amps it up. The eerie atmospheres, use of samples, and that ever present pressure from the guitars is a simple but wonderfully effective combination that has set the bar just that little bit higher. Hopefully With The Dead will become a mainstay of the doom genre for years to come.  

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Live: The Sisters Of Mercy – Rock City, Nottingham 15/10/2015



THE SISTERS OF MERCY (+ Black Moth)
Rock City, Nottingham
15/10/2015


Despite not having released a studio album in 25 years, this hasn't stopped Andrew Eldritch and his Sisters Of Mercy from touring nearly every year since. As a studio act the band crafted three individual albums that have each gone on to spawn wave after wave of imitators in the years since; 'First And Last And Always' (which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year) with it's icy guitars and mechanical beats defined gothic rock. The Wagnerian synth-driven 'Floodland' in 1987 took the band to top 40 success in several countries. While 1990's 'Vision Thing' with it's hard rock guitars ensured their place as an international act.

Fast-forward to 2015 and the band now comprised of Andrew Eldritch, Ben Christo and Chris Catalyst are still packing the faithful in with ease. There may be criticisms levelled at Eldritch that his voice has lost it's range, and that the reworked classics have lost some of their original charm. But that is by the by. Eldritch has always been more comfortable with his baritone croon than with trying to hit the high notes, so at 56 it is unsurprising that he has dispensed with them entirely. And as for the reworked songs... the fact that this tour sold out in advance says it all.

First up tonight at the cosy Rock City venue in Nottingham is Leeds band Black Moth. With a heavy does of 'Vol. 4' era Black Sabbath in their sound it seems like an unusual fit for a Sisters support slot. However keep in mind the sisters did tour once with Public Enemy. The female fronted doom metal / classic rock act only have half-an-hour, but they use it wisely converting a large swathe of the audience with ease. Thirty minutes wasn't enough to do Black Moth the justice they deserved. Their skilful riffing, key changes and tempo switches were a pleasure to see live. It is a faultless performance from the entire band.

The Sisters Of Mercy take to the stage promptly through a haze of backlit dry ice to the throbbing bass and rhythms of 'Kiss The Carpet'. The set is comprised of a nice spread of classics with particular attention paid to the earlier material as the likes of 'Body Electric', 'Alice', 'No Time To Cry', 'First and Last And Always', and 'Valentine' sit comfortably next to their unreleased recent works 'Crash And Burn', and 'Arms'. The Sisterhood's 'Jihad' is a welcome inclusion, as are the rousing renditions of 'Ribbons', 'Dr Jeep/Detonation Boulevard', 'Flood II' and 'Dominion/Mother Russia'.

The band are on top form, Andrew Eldritch delivers a strong vocal performance and engages with the audience throughout the set. The first of two encores crams in a power ballad reworking of '1959', which Eldritch predicts “we will hate” yet it still receives a big ovation from the crowd. 'This Corrosion' and 'Temple Of Love' follow on and enjoy some of the loudest sing-along moments of the night.

The second encore keeps to the last two albums with 'Lucretia My Reflection', 'Vision Thing' and 'More' closing the set in a big way. The response from the crowd is rapturous. The energy is high, the atmosphere is electric throughout and the band feed off it. As Eldritch perfectly sums the evening up before leaving the stage for the last time; “We have played a lot of gigs. But tonight... Tonight was a party”.

Despite 25 years since a new album, The Sisters Of Mercy seem to be enjoying themselves more than ever. The songs feel well developed, the performance was tight and well rehearsed, and the execution was everything that you could have wanted. There is a reason they can still draw a crowd and it is evident for all to see tonight.

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Friday, 16 October 2015

HALLOWEEN AND OTHER RITUALS



October is here once again, and there is a chill both in the air and down the collectives spines of anyone interested in darker subcultures. No other time of year is so evocative of the spooky, the ghoulish and the occult than October, as the shortening of the day and the ageing of the year lead towards the fire rituals of November and the eventual winter solstice; not only is it the time of year for grey skies, billowing winds, falling leaves and thunderstorms but also the time of year where pre-Halloween frenzy sits in. The shops are now pleasingly full of bats, fangs, skulls, skeletons, ghosts, fake blood, chains, cauldrons, pumpkins and zombies. For the goths it's probably no surprise that this is the time of year where we do our domestic shopping.

Of course Halloween itself, based on pagan celebrations, acts as ghoulish hub for the month. But is this the time of the year when we begin to feel a stronger affinity with the essence of older, arcane myths and of forgotten ritual, especially in the north? It is often said that autumn has a poetry to it, but what is it that brings a turn to the eerie in our collective psyche? It can't simply be the fact that it gets darker in October – after all things get progressively darker from the summer and darker still later in the year. So what is it in the air when October arrives?

In Susanna Clarke's 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell' she creates an England based on a brilliantly simple premise – that the primal folk myths of northern England were based on a kind of magical reality. This is an intriguing launchpad to a bigger question: what kind of relationship exists between the contemporary gothic culture and the dark folk myths and arcane beliefs that surround it?

For example – if we may take my manor, Leeds. It has long been the home for gothic music and culture, especially during the drabulous '80s when the city centre streets were grey-black and gentrification was but a distant dream. But just 10 miles outside of the city centre are expanses of countryside with their own tales, superstitions, beliefs; and even further north there are the Yorkshire Moors, where barghests, ghouls and hobgoblins roam the night. Indeed, Ingrid Barton's 'North Yorkshire Folk Tales', and the Wray/Marshall/Firth compendiums 'The Haunted Coast' and 'The Witches of North Yorkshire' are full of examples of such myths. So to what extent is urban, cultural gothic merely a reflection of a more regional darkness based in the countryside that surround the cities?

So this Halloween, venture forth – go to haunted houses, investigate your local myths and places of dark interest and dig under the urban veneer to find the primal, beating heart of October. Westwood & Simpson's 'The Lore of the Land' is a good place to start to find where those darker echoes can be found near where you are, whether that is in Norwich, Edinburgh, London or Blackpool. Bring a flask and a notebook too. And then maybe when you're decking your home out in appropriately seasonal decoration you may get that echo of recognition for the pagan – and after all, that is where Halloween began.

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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Review: V▲LH▲LL – 'Vi††ΞЯS†ЯåK'




V▲LH▲LL
'Vi††ΞЯS†ЯåK'
SELF-RELEASED


Stockholm's V▲LH▲LL are an undeniably impressive act. Formed in 2012 they have fast become one of the most impressive underground electronic acts around today despite only having a few releases to their name. Their début full-length release last year on Artoffact Records, 'Leaning On Shadows' was a triumphant blend of atmospheric songwriting incorporating elements of witch house, neofolk, dark ambient and industrial. Just in time for Halloween comes the band's new single 'Vi††ΞЯS†ЯåK' which features two tracks of dissonant dark ambiance to send shivers down your spine.

Track one, 'Vi††ΞЯS†ЯåK Part 1: An Entrance' creaks and crackles into life as light metallic noises, breathy drones, and scratches eventually give way to a simple rhythm that fades in and out of life. The track gradually builds into more complex and witch house flavoured rhythms as it goes on transmogrifying the song from noise to nightmarish industrial.

Track two, 'Vi††ΞЯS†ЯåK Part 2: Did You Hear Something' begins with a pleasing ambient drone over watery sounds occasionally permeated by sinister strings. Light percussive noises begin to appear and unintelligible whispers float up through the mix. The track then suddenly veers into an assault of electronic beats which bring the song into rhythmic noise territory before fading back into the atmospheric sounds.

At thirteen minutes and eleven minutes long respectively the band give you plenty to get stuck into. The slow evolution of the tracks and subtle shifts throughout are closer to a classical arrangement rather than an electronic one. And with the heavy use of atmospheric and ambient elements it builds into a cohesive soundscape that could easily score a short and disturbing film.

The production, despite the occasional noise leanings, is pretty open and clean. The emphasis is on atmosphere and that is exactly what you get. A great cavernous sense of space that slowly closes in as you go from one movement to another.

This is another great release from V▲LH▲LL that continues to show off their skill and diversity. They seamlessly span experimental and more accessible genres and can craft exquisitely haunting atmospheres with ease. 'Vi††ΞЯS†ЯåK' is Halloween friendly scary music in a non cliché way that shows a real mastery of sound, melody and rhythm. Hopefully the band will follow this up soon with another full-length album to show the full scope of their abilities again. 

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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dress Up, Dress Down - Everyday is Halloween



"Halloween is my favourite time of the year" says just about anyone I know, whether it be a close friend, or some random person I may or may not meet at one or the other of my past or present day jobs, who seemingly feels the need to share this piece of information about their lives with me. And they may be telling me this around Halloween time, or not. Point is, they see a goth girl, and they're more than willing to share their love for Halloween with me.

Which is fine. Awesome, actually. But also hilarious. See, to us goths and punks and rockabilly boys and belles, every day is Halloween, and every night, even more so. Same goes for any kind of stage performer who actually puts on a show by, like me, bringing along a suitcase with the wildest, most beautiful clothing, accessories and makeup to every venue, no matter how small it is. Putting on a face, and a costume, becomes a regular thing, and Halloween becomes this exquisite, utmost celebration of the Glamour, the Shadow-side, and the Living and the Dead.

However, for people who aren't into alternative culture and will tell me that Halloween is their favourite time of the year, it almost seems as though it becomes this occasion for this very special, hidden part of themselves to rise and show itself through the light of the candle in the carved pumpkin head. I always tend to be very delightfully surprised, as my first impression of them is that they seem more like the kind of people who'd get easily scared by Halloween, or anything "dark", really. And then I begin to Wonder Why.

Why is this person dressed in grey and beige and pale blue rejoicing so much in their opportunity once a year to dress up, and be something, or someone, they're not?
I wonder about their upbringing. I wonder about what they believe in. I wonder about the sacred kingdoms in their heads and in their hearts. I wonder about their sex lives. I wonder what they write in their journals, or what they would write, if they had one.
And I wonder about their relationship with fashion.

Clothes are, after all, something you put on every day. Why not make them a beautiful, fun expression of yourself -why not have this fabulous relationship with that which you'll be seen with over and over again? Why save this beautiful and fun experience with clothing for Halloween only?
I guess it comes down to how curious you are about ways to express yourself, and how deep your need to express yourself is. And how much effort you are willing to put everyday in looking your very best self. Then again, if you're a lover of DIY style like I am, it's never an effort, and always a party.

The other day, someone was telling me how much he enjoyed making himself look really sharp -fancy suit, ironed shirt and all, but how rare it seemed to him that occasions to dress up came about, in this day and age. I smiled and replied to him that you just have to make the occasion happen, and that any date, or dinner with friends, thus easily becomes an opportunity to be your classiest, sassiest, or sexiest self.

You don't have to wait for Halloween to have fun being yourself, you can do it every day.

And as for the tantalizing darkness and spookiness of this time of the year, well, if you can't spook yourself, how the Hell are you gonna spook somebody else?

The mysteries and celebrations of Mabon, Samhain, Devil's Night, All Hallows' Eve, and El Dia de los Muertos strike a chord in anyone who's got an older soul, who can see the shimmering lights in the darkness that envelops and embellishes the land 'round this time of the year. Seems like the glory of the Fall gets everyone in the mood to pop out and strut out their glamorous, darker selves.

Now, don't confuse your Shadow-self with your Evil self. The Evil self is really the Ego-self, that we should all make a point of learning how to tame, and wear more as adornment than as pride.
The Shadow-self is that aspect of yourself that is a reflection, and execution, of your own mysticism. Embrace the shadows, and yourself within them, for it is but another facet of your diamond-self, from which you can grasp and understand so many thing about yourself.

It is, after all, just you, still you, the beautiful, real you, with a dash of spooky, and a side of sexy.

Happy Halloween, everybody.
Kisses and cackling laughs from Montreal's Queen of Darkness.  

 

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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Review: First Aid 4 Souls – 'Smile No More'




FIRST AID 4 SOULS
'Smile No More'
SELF-RELEASED


First Aid 4 Souls is one of those acts that should be more of a common name than they are. The brainchild of Istvan Gazdag, First Aid 4 Souls has dabbled in just about every electronic genre you can imagine across a succession of solid album releases. The latest offering sees Gazdag and a group of guest vocalists, including Balazs Frank (V.e.N.), Aaron Russell (Impurfekt), and George Mortum Turoczy (Human Vault), swing back into old school ebm territory for 'Smile No More'.

The album is solidly rooted in a combination of melodic synths, dance-friendly beats and steady paces with the occasional permeation dark and ambient textures into the mix. The end result is definitely old school ebm, but with that undeniable FA4S mark that Gazdag can't help but leave. There are the usual nods to the classic bands of the genre, but 'Smile No More' asserts itself as an independent entity throughout.

Songs such as 'Chaos Cultist', 'Alien Implant', 'No More Smile', and 'Fortress' in particular distil the best of the genre through the out-of-the-box thinking of Gazdag and into a distinct delivery that makes good use of elements such as live drums, guitars and different vocalists to add variety and depth.

The production has a distinctly old school feel to it that reflects the subject matter. While it does sound appropriate for the material, it isn't as crisp and modern as some of the previous FA4S albums have delivered, and so doesn't quite sound like it has delved into its full potential, however it works regardless.

This is a nice EP that shows off yet another side to First Aid 4 Souls as an electronic product. It may not have the big ambient, psychedelic or more complex elements that we're used to from previous releases, but it sets out to do old school ebm, and in the end it does it damn well.

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Review: Hacking The Wave – 'The Dome'



HACKING THE WAVE
'The Dome'
THE DOME NETWORK


Another release from the depths of Victor Love's seemingly endless archive of sonic goodies comes Hacking The Wave, namely the début of this musical hack 'The Dome'. Differing significantly in terms for style from Dope Stars Inc. And Victor Love's new solo material, but still exploring the sprawl of cyberpunk as an umbrella genre, Hacking The Wave is glitch, chiptune, 8-bit, industrial and synth metal that results in some great crazy tunes that still make room for some of that anthemic rock that Love is known for with DSI.

The guitars are thin and grating, the rhythms simple and stripped down, and the synths sound somewhat low-fi. But put them together and it works very nicely especially when the clean vocals inject a nice melody over the more rock-orientated constructed songs. Perhaps the closest comparison would be Ultraviolence without the gabber elements. It's stripped-back, to the point and unashemedly catchy. Memorable tracks include 'Hacking The Wave', 'Illusions', 'The Dome', 'Mountains Of Sand', 'Faith', and 'Party like It's 2019', which veer from chiptune to synth metal and cyber-dance with ease.

The album adds a new twist to the styles we've come to expect from Victor Love, yet it feels familiar and continues to show off the depths of not only his songwriting ability but also his skills as a producer.

The production has a very nice punky edge which suits both the more electronic flavoured tracks as well as the more rock-orientated ones. It's strength is in its simplicity and straightforward construction that befits its cyberpunk tag quite nicely.

It may not be as strong in terms of rock credentials as Dope Stars Inc. Nor is it as electronically pleasing as Victor Love's solo material, but Hacking The Wave is a nice balance of the two that strips these elements down into a different, but nonetheless still pleasingly addictive play on the cyberpunk formula that Love continues to explore across his projects.  

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Friday, 9 October 2015

Editorial: October, 2015



It's October! And with me being the cheesy cliché that I am, I've already spent WAY too much on Halloween decorations – I'm talking quality ones though, not tinsel spiders and rubber bats!

But it is a slightly bitter-sweet Halloween this year. While on the one hand I'm stoked to actually be out and about in London for once (as it falls on a weekend), on the other my pre-Samhain run of horror film gorging has two sad notes to it. Firstly the loss of Sir Christopher Lee will be hammered home as I indulge in his Dracula films. But also the recent loss of director Wes Craven from brain cancer has spurred me to revisit some of his works including the 'Scream' quadrillogy.

Horror is a genre that has its ups and downs. For every single great movie there a dozen throwaway ones. Yet Craven made his name in horror with 'The Last House On The Left', 'The Hills Have Eyes', 'A Nightmare On Elm Street', 'Scream', and 'Red Eye' standing as a testament to his skills as a director, writer and producer. But over the years he also dabbled in lighter films such as 'Music Of the Heart' and 'Paris, Je T'aime', as well as releasing two books 'Fountain Society' and 'Coming Of Rage'.

Craven may have been guilty of a few stinkers in his time, however his style of directing and his common themes of playing with the nature of reality have still been highly influential to this day. He seemed to be able to tap into what the audience wanted and re-invent the horror genre in each decade. The ultraviolent exploitation 'The Last house On The Left' and 'The Hills Have Eyes' in the 70's. The reality-bending slasher franchise of 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' in the 80s, and the the self-aware de-constructed post-modernism of 'Scream' in the 90s and 2000s.

He was a real innovator who has left a lasting legacy on cinema and will be sorely missed by fans.

Now, a couple more bits and then you can get back to reading our reviews.

If you would like to be part of our next compilation album, all you have to do is check out last month's editorial. If you've not heard our previous compilations, I thoroughly suggest you do by going to our bandcamp page HERE.

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Thursday, 8 October 2015

Review: Human Bodies / Leather Chalice – 'Split EP'



HUMAN BODIES / LEATHER CHALICE
'Split EP'
BROKEN LIMBS RECORDINGS


There's nothing like a good split EP. The coming together of two bands who, while often sharing some stylistic common ground, present two unique representations of their genre in one package. These can sometimes be a complete collaboration with unexpected results, or a more straight-forward A-side / B-side affair to curb the costs for the release and foster camaraderie. The new split EP from US black metal bands Human Bodies and Leather Chalice is very much of the A-side / B-side construction.

Both bands present two strong songs each with Human Bodies opting for a nice and nasty couple of cuts of raw black metal, while Leather chalice take the genre into more experimental territory.

Human Bodies two tracks 'Only The Sigh' and 'Malice Prepense' evoke the likes of Darkthrone and early Satyricon with their lean and raw guitar riffs taking precedent with a solid back bone from the drums and classic vocals.

Leather Chalise on the other hand inject a little psychedelic occult rock effects into 'Good Intentions (Coming Home Part One)', while 'Last Gifts Of Worship (Coming Home Part Two) introduces some noise elements as well.

The tracks are pretty rough and ready with a distinct early 90s feel, yet they are completely enjoyable. They have a pure, live feel to them that is devoid of pretense and full of energy.

It is a short sharp shock that shows of the raw talents of two hungry sounding bands. The songs are fierce in their execution and full of passion. While the production may hamper some people's enjoyment (especially those more used to modern black metal albums), if you're able to get past that it is a decent effort.  

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Review: Deadfilmstar – 'The Inevitable Rise & Fall Of Fake White &The Ill Fated Tour'



DEADFILMSTAR
'The Inevitable Rise & Fall Of Fake White &The Ill Fated Tour'
DEATH2ME RECORDS


It has been a long time coming but finally the début proper from Deadfilmstar has arrived. 'The Inevitable Rise & Fall Of Fake White &The Ill Fated Tour' has been in the works since before the previous album to have the Deadfilmstar moniker attached to it 'A.Rtistic I.Ntegrity' a sidestep into dark cyber influenced sounds that bore little resemblance to their live presentation of a dirty industrial rock band. After regrouping and setting out to consolidate their name on the live circuit with support slots alongside Mortiis, KMFDM, Gothminister, Combichrist, Orgy, and a lot of festival appearances the band have honed their songs into a conceptual free-fall into the dark underbelly of rock.

Musically it is a slow and grim barrage of dirty rock with dark gritty guitars and bass are reminiscent of 'Antichrist Superstar' era Marilyn Manson. The sound is further augmented with a liberal dose of glam metal posturing rhythms and 'Broken' era Nine Inch Nails sleazy industrial dripping from it's lips, over which vocalist Gary hisses and growls like a madman.

Songs such as 'Soiled, Spoilt & Somewhat Flawed', 'The Day We Lost You', 'Hello, Cruel World' and 'RockStarDead' will be well known to anyone who has seen them live, and in their recorded form they have lost none of that raw punch. While the likes of 'Plunged Into Morning', Fake White & A Band Called the Flies', 'A Terrible Thing And Audience Can Make You Do', and 'It's Over Superstar' break out atmospheric elements such as crowd noise, power tools, water and thunder to add an extra layer of eeriness.

In terms of production it is pretty damn good. It is dirty, gritty and raw. Yet, at the same time it is nicely balanced between the harder and more melodic elements. And despite what initially sounds like a very clear and linear direction different elements of genres begin to creep out and take the songs down new tangents while staying true to that rock core.

It has been a while, but one of the UK's hardest working live acts have finally got the album they deserve. 'The Inevitable Rise & Fall Of Fake White &The Ill Fated Tour' is a sharp, gritty look into the rock 'n' roll abyss that doesn't disappoint. Hopefully this will prove to be a launchpad for Deadfilmstar.  

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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Review: Sardonis – 'III'



SARDONIS
'III'
CONSOULING SOUNDS


'III' is the third full-length release (obviously) from Belgian riff lords Sardonis. This two man atmospheric assault plays low and heavy doom that despite its stripped down construction is just as fat and fulfilling as any full size band could offer. The songs are all instrumental, but this doesn't detract from them at all. Instead there is a pure focus on the powerful riffs that is utterly compelling.

The tracks have a nice warm analogue sound that recalls the likes of classic acts Black Sabbath, Trouble, Saint Vitus, and Pentagram as well as modern luminaries such as Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Yob. The songs, despite never dropping below the six minute mark at their shortest are compelling from start to finish. Whether its slower numbers like 'Battering Ram' and 'Forward To The Abyss' or faster cuts such as 'The Coming Of Khan' and 'Ruined Decay' with their nice blast beats.

The album's finest track has to be the afore mentioned 'Forward To The Abyss' though with its sombre intro creating a beautifully mournful atmosphere with ease before erupting into a sludgy, bluesy trudge through misery with just a little hint of black metal added for good measure.

There is plenty of low-end to the band's sound and the production captures a certain rawness to the recording that gives it that classic feel. However it is crisp, clean and could easily hold its own alongside some of the big names in the genre.

This is a damn fine album. Sardonis are a refreshingly simple band that draw all of your focus to the interplay of their two instruments. They don't hide behind overly technical or progressive elements, and neither do they simply let the reverb do half the work for them. This is a doom riff master class from start to finish. There is no bullshit, or pretence. Just hard, heavy doom metal in it's purest distillation.  

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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review: Mortiis – 'Doppelgänger'



MORTIIS
'Doppelgänger'
SELF-RELEASED


It has been five years since
Håvard Ellefsen AKA Mortiis' last outing on the 'Perfectly Defect' digital only album, and over ten years since the last physical full-length studio album proper 'The Grudge'. But there is light at the end of the tunnel with a new album in the form of 'The Great Deceiver' announced for release early next year, and to celebrate Mortiis has unleashed a new single in the form of 'Doppelgänger' to whet our appetites.

The single caries on the industrial rock formula that characterised 'The Grudge' and 'Perfectly Defect' with a combination of hard guitars, anguished vocals and a steady, near dance-friendly beat liberally sprinkled with darkly groovy synths.

The single also includes a remix courtesy of Wumpscut which reworks the track into something that would be quite comfortable on 'The Smell Of Rain' album, which is never a bad thing.

Mortiis is making all the right noises with 'Doppelgänger'. In terms of the production it sounds nice and fresh and stirs in a little of that 90's Wax Trax! / Nothing Records flavour for good measure.

This is a promising single that hints at a nice and heavy, yet approachable industrial feeling full-length album to come. Throw in the fact that the download comes with a copy of the cool accompanying promotional music video, and this release is well worth checking out.

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Review: Dope Stars Inc. – 'The Saw Saga'



DOPE STARS INC.
'The Saw Saga'
SELF-RELEASED


Victor Love has been damn busy this year. Between a new Dope Stars Inc. album, his new solo project and all his other projects, he's now delving into the archives to create a definitive anniversary edition of 'Neuromance' as well as this EP which features one unreleased song plus the band's tracks that were featured on the soundtracks to the Saw films. It is clear that Love is a man on a mission at the moment and long may it continue.

'The Saw Saga' may not have much in the way of new material, but as a free release it is one that still has plenty of meat on its bones. The previously unreleased 'I Won't Feel' is a solid quiet-loud track that is solid single material that for some reason didn't see the light of day along with the rest of the 'TeraPunk' material. 'Make A Star' was one of the best cuts from the 'Neuromance' album with it's big single feel. While 'Getting Closer' is a harder and more riotous anthem that spikes the adrenalin. Finally Beatcrusher' from 'Gigahearts' injects more of the synths for that unmistakeable cyber feel that Dope Stars Inc. have perfected.

Despite the tracks coming from different album sessions they all flow together quite nicely. The quality of the production is pretty constant and this feels like an EP of new material rather than a trip into the archives.

It may be one for the fans more than anything else, but this is still a pretty solid EP by anyone's standards. There are three tried and tested great songs, and one brand new one that arguable deserved to be released sooner. But best of all, it's free and it begs the question as to what gems Love has unearthed for the anniversary re-release of 'Neuromance'?

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Review: Coil – 'Backwards'



COIL
'Backwards'
COLD SPRING RECORDS


If any album was the epitome of a difficult birth then it was Coil's 'Backwards'. First conceived 23 years ago as the follow-up to 1990's seminal 'Love's Secret Domain', the album was in a production limbo originally slated for a 1993 release on Torso Records, but then after further studio sessions it was earmarked for a release on Nothing Records. The demos eventually emerged as a studio bootleg, but the album proper never appeared. The music saw release in a heavily altered form on 2005's 'The Ape Of Naples' and then as the remixed and reworked 'The New Backwards' in 2008. Finally though, thanks to Danny Hyde, the album sees an official release as originally intended.

With its heavily experimental and dark ambient leanings the album is a bridge of sorts between 'Love's Secret Domain' and 'Music To Play In The Dark'. The album sees a stunning collection of vocal performances from the late Jhonn Balance which are simply haunting. Tracks such as 'Backwards', ‘A Cold Cell’, and ‘Fire Of The Mind’ will be familiar to fans having appeared on 'Live Three' and various compilations respectively. But this release showcases the tracks as they were supposed to be heard.

The songs on display on 'Backwards' such as the afore mentioned three, as well as the sombre cuts 'Amber Rain', 'CopaCaballa' and 'Paint Me As A Dead Soul', the schizophrenic rhythms of 'Be Careful What You Wish For' and 'AYOR (It's In My Blood), and the near psychedelic 'Heaven's Blade' are all undeniably strong tracks that are long overdue an official inclusion in the Coil canon.

The production is kind of in keeping with the band's early-to-mid 90's output. Rough, experimental, but hypnotically beautiful. It's been mastered well but it feels very much of its era and not an attempt at a full overhaul of the original recordings. In that respect it is very satisfying and sounds right at home amongst the band's 90's releases.

'Backwards' needed an official release. Coil is too much of an important band to have great unreleased albums like this that aren't in the public arena to be listened to and exert an influence on the next generation of electronic artists. If you are a hardcore fan who has been waiting for this release to complete your collection, you won't be disappointed. Neither will you be disappointed if you are new to the band and still exploring their interplay of light and dark as this release is a fine example of Coil walking the line between experimental and commercial. Quite simply, it has been worth the wait.  

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