Interview: Marc Heal

“It’s funny, having worked so hard to make a living out of music I found once I’d got there that I’d broken myself in the process. I needed a break to do some, uh, emotional housekeeping.”

Live: Katatonia – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 07/05/2017

KATATONIA (+ TheGreat Discord, Ghost Bath) Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 07/05/2017

Wave Gotik Treffen - The Preview June 2017

The gathering of 2017s Wave Gotik Treffen, is but a month away. Time to get the fascinators out and the boots polished!

Review: Mortiis – 'The Great Corrupter'

MORTIIS 'The Great Corrupter' OMNIPRESENCE PRODUCTIONS

Review: Freakangel – 'How The Ghost Became'

FREAKANGEL 'How The Ghost Became' DIGITAL WORLD AUDIO

Friday, 30 December 2016

WILD IN THE STREETS


As we bring to an end the tumultuous...thing that was 2016 our thoughts collectively turn to asking ourselves - 'what the drokk that was all about?'. This year will almost certainly be considered the year when several of the key elements of the political and cultural settlement suffered a kind of rupture – how severe a rupture remains to be seen, but the indications are that this could be the beginning of some deeper cultural shifts over the coming year.

The sheer number of artists, musicians and film stars that have passed away this year has been possibly the most visible, and emotive indicator of the changing times. Rather than a sign of a dark, nefarious force at work it is more simply a sign that the generation of the baby boomers, of rock & roll and Hollywood and the whole gamut of post-war culture, is beginning to get older. This will of course become an increasing factor in the future, much as we would like it to be otherwise – although that does make the need to celebrate that cultural legacy even more important in the here and now.

But probably the strangest aspect of the year has been way it has darkly reflected one of rock culture's most enduring tropes. Alternative music has always tried to channel that anarchic vibe of rebellion, of insurrection, and of youthful insurgency; from biker gangs to skinheads to the counterculture to protests to illegal raves to punk rock. But for most of the time this has been simply an impression – an echo – rather than any inclination to put it into practice. And even when it was applied it was as the angry cry of the oppressed, such as the Poll Tax or Brixton riots.

However, 2016 has shown that expression being channelled in much darker ways; with street violence, racial harassment, hate crimes, terrorism, and the rise of authoritarian nationalism throughout the European continent and the US. The political upheavals of the year, from Trump to Austria to Brexit, are all linked to this same sense of aggrieved nihilism.

But where does that lead? Where does being 'wild in the streets' take us? It must come as little surprise if the peons to unrest and destruction that rock culture has written ultimately has a darker side; riots and political revolution aren't always fun, or at least not for long. If the 'man in the street' is angry, is that always such a good thing? People are often angry, but not always for the right reasons.

Maybe it is the discipline of resistance, of defence, of not yielding that are the real spirit of alternative culture; one that recognises oppression and commits itself to fight it, and that respects diversity and rights. Because sometime the alternatives to vanilla culture as just as unpalatable as conformity – after all, as a great man once said, 'when you listen to fools, the mob rules.'

Happy new year, everyone.

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Friday, 23 December 2016

Review: Various Artists – 'It Ain't Dead Yet – A Tribute To Skinny Puppy'



VARIOUS ARTISTS
'It Ain't Dead Yet – A Tribute To Skinny Puppy'
TRIBULATIONS


There is no question that Skinny Puppy have been one of the most influential acts to have emerged out of the industrial scene over the last thirty-odd years. Bands from Nine Inch Nails through to the likes of Dead When I Found Her all have a stylistic nod to Skinny Puppy within their sonic formula. It's with this in mind that Tribulations has compiled a 34-track free compilation of Skinny Puppy covers from a number of diverse modern artists.

At 34 tracks long it would be a bit much to break-down every single one but there really is something for everyone here. The gamut runs from synthpop right through to experimental noise. A few of the particular highlights include contributions from the likes of Leaether Strip, IIOIOIOII, Dead When I Found Her, Acid Rodent, Flesh Eating Foundation, Ghostlike, Kiforth, Necrotek, and Volt 9000. Each of whom add their own unique style to the originals.

Some tracks stick pretty close to the source material, while others go off in vastly different directions. It's great to hear just what artists will do when given free reign with someone else's material, and this album is a great example of that process. But for hardened Skinny Puppy fans you can be assured every contribution shows the band's work respect and love.

The compilation has been mastered well to assure there are no glaring differences in sound quality between tracks and even when moving between something more ear-friendly to another harsher contribution the track list progresses smoothly.

This is a really nice compilation, and for a free release really shows a lot of dedication from everyone involved. Hopefully this won't just be a one-time deal and we can expect more from Tribulations in the future, as this as certainly set a high benchmark for a good tribute album.  

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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Review: Living Dead Girl – 'Autumn'



LIVING DEAD GIRL
'Autumn'
SELF-RELEASED


London based dark pop duo Living Dead Girl release their second single/EP in the form of 'Autumn'. Consisting of three new tracks and two remixes the release continues to meld their dark and atmospheric approach to synthpop with elements of trip hop, and even a little bit of witch house. It's quite easy to hear the likes of Grimes, Ladytron and Portishead in their sombre yet ethereal mix of haunting vocals and subtle pop hooks, but Living Dead Girl are offering something a little more.

'Autumn' has an almost neoclassical feel to its construction with occasional outbreaks of modern pop spells, it's steady pace, mixture of droning and string synths and even harpsichord sounds give it a wonderfully baroque textures. 'Simulation' is a more contemporary blend of trip hop and synthpop with Jessica English's sounding soft but ever so slightly unhinged she matches the rhythm of the track. The final original track, 'The False Architect', opens with a classics muffled trip hop beat before bringing a minimal melancholy piano melody which frames English's vocals perfectly which give the track a strangely nostalgic psychedelic atmosphere.

The remixes of 'Simulation' courtesy of Neon Valley and Obsidian FX make good use of the source material with Neon Valley upping the club potential with some hard dance beats, while Obsidian FX work some glitchy insanity into the track to take it in entirely the opposite direction.

The production is very good throughout. The songs have been crafted with great care and the end result is some fresh and modern sounding electronic pop that blends a lot of elements but sometimes so minimalistic that you almost miss them.

'Autumn' is a very strong release that shows of a very well-rounded writing style and exceedingly skilful performances. Simply dismissing Living Dead Girl as an [insert genre] pop band is a little too easy. There is a great subtlety to how they build tracks up into more complex compositions which draws you in deeper when you listen to it. It would be great to hear what they do when they come to release a full-length album.  

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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Review: Planet:/Damage – 'Angst'



PLANET://DAMAGE
'Angst'
TWO GODS RECORDS


Hailing from Hungary Planet://Damage, AKA Mariusz Bari, releases his second EP in conjunction with Black Nail Cabaret vocalist/composer Emke, 'Angst'. Blending old school electronics and a mix of industrial, synthpop and ebm elements Planet://Damage presents a slightly sombre, but ultimately uplifting electronic journey on this EP/single.

'Angst' is a blend of classic 80s and early 90s industrial and ebm with some brilliant soaring synthopop vocals for a track that is compellingly dance-friendly and classically sing-a-long in equal amounts. The remix courtesy from Haujobb amps up the club-friendly elements a little more for a great ebm dance mix. While the final track sees Planet://Damage thoroughly rework the song into a sixteen minute long haunting live ambient performance that completely flips the track on its head.

The production is very old school in atmosphere as well. As such releases such as this will by default be compared to the classic artists of the late 80s and early 90s. But like a good musician, the resemblance is only in the pallet of sounds and styles. The end result is still fresh and unique.

'Angst' is a great, if quite short, release that skilfully worms its way into your brain with its synth bass lines, steady dance beats, and compelling vocals. It is a solidly composed and executed EP that, through using a single track as its basis, shows how versatile it can be.

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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Giving 2016 a Last Hurrah, and How to Radiate Light this Yule



2016 was a special year.
Was, still is.

In my October editorial, I mentioned the remarkable (as in quite noticeable) work of Death this year.
It's been a year about Letting Go, and a year where the line began to blur between the pop culture and the alternative culture, to some extent. Kids everywhere embraced Goth apparel full-throttle, started a new moody/ambient synth-pop band every week, and showed off their wild sides with posture collars, bondage-inspired harness-like bras from their neighborhood's lingerie store, and any other affordable accessories from the local sex shop.

Everyone's shadow-side is coming to the light, it seems.
Oh, and everyone's also a witch these days.
Everyone.
It's apparently the cool new it-thing.

Now, will these tokens of the Darkness Within remain in these kids' Instagram feeds in the year to come?
Maybe not, and maybe so.
For as long as embracing the darkness comes to them as a means to better understand themselves, and leads them to evolution, these kids'll be fine.
In the end, what matters is that the Darkness Within is not shut out or repressed, like it once was. What matters is that we can believe in a society evolving into a better openness and understanding of what makes us humans whole: from our darker to our lighter aspects.

And so, as the alternative culture and the pop culture seemingly begin to find balance alongside another, we can give 2016 its last hurrah and choose to be the radiating light of the party -no matter how Goth we are.

As Yule itself is the celebration of the return of the light, and the Sun, and its warmth, and of general rebirth vibes, I came up with a few tips and tricks on how to radiate light this Yule. Get inspired by these traditions almost as old as time, and give them your own, refreshing, XXIst-century twist:
  • Celebrate the gradual return of the Sun by lighting as many candles as you see fit every night. This'll automatically bring light and warmth to your room, apartment or home.
  • Welcome apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey and turmeric as daily tokens of your diet, along with as many oranges and grapefruit you can take in a day, to guarantee a clinic-free winter.
  • Sing aloud and play music -whether caroling with your brothers and sisters, humming along to your favorite album in your car on your way to your next family reunion, or jamming with your friends during your last band practice of the year- the way the music will resonate in and out of you is sure to warm you up and help you re-energize.
  • Find some time to have guests over, even if it's just for tea-time, and have as hearty of a meal, or an abundance of snacks, at the ready for them. Better yet, organize a pot-luck and have everyone share a specialty of theirs. Indeed, most, if not all traditions of Yule from cultures past involve indulgence in the most elaborate, decadent meals of the year, and this would be regarded as a way of projecting the desired plenitude of the next year's harvest.
  • Try at least one traditional recipe. Yule tastes of very specific spices, namely cinnamon, clove, and star anise. Mulled wine, for example, is very easy to make, and a guaranteed success when served in a wine glass decked up for the holidays. A simple ribbon will do, and your guests will thank you for the extra festive touch, and its ensuing TLC.
Finally, remember that it ends and begins with a smile. Your smile.
For without light and warmth radiating from you to you, how can you dream to shine upon anyone else?
Many people have been going on about how 2016 has been a bad year -a bit of a sad perspective, really. As I mentioned before, 2016 has been a year of Letting Go, that's for sure, but this can only make way for the New. And for some, letting go hasn't just been about people or things, it's also perspectives, ideas, beliefs or concepts that we let go of. Ever heard of a rebirth?

I say light a candle, treat yourself to a cuppa, and take a moment to think of all the good stuff 2016 has brought you. That oughta make you smile.
Watch yourself enter 2017 with eyes shining bright, and plan out your year according to what you want to achieve for yourself in this beautiful year to come.
Remember Life will make sure nothing goes according to plan, and so as long as you commit to the goals you're setting out for yourself, they will achieve themselves regardless.

Love and light to you, and happy Solstice.









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Friday, 16 December 2016

Review: Ministry – 'Trax! Rarities'



MINISTRY
'Trax! Rarities'
CLEOPATRA RECORDS


Ministry have been a cornerstone of the industrial scene for over 30 years now. The band led by Al Jourgensen has seen many changes in musical direction as well as personnel, but has always pushed the boundaries of what man and machine can do. These days Jourgensen can be quite dismissive, and often disparaging of his earlier work while still finding the sound he wanted and being pulled in directions he may not have wanted to go. But that does not invalidate that early work and 'Trax! Rarities' released through Cleopatra Records celebrates that period through a collection of live tracks, demos, unreleased mixes and otherwise rare side-project cuts across four sides of clear vinyl.

Side A consists of early live tracks recorded in Detroit back in 1982 with the band sounding comfortable and commanding as they power through their take on new wave and synthpop in a surprisingly good quality capture of the band at their most melodic.

Side B continues the early innocence with five unreleased demos meant for the stylistic successor to 'With Sympathy' but eventually dropped for the darker industrial style explored on 'Twitch'. 'Same Old Madness' and 'Same Old Scene' particularly standout from the bunch.

Side C starts with a couple of harder 'Twitch' style tracks in the forms of 'I See Red' and 'Self-Annoyed' Both of which illustrate the transitional sound between the dance-friendly sound of 'With Sympathy' and the much darker and harder albums to follow. Following on from those are two cuts from the most successful Ministry side-project to date Revolting Cocks with 'Fish In Cold Water' and a banned version of '(Let's Get) Physical'.

The final side of the album explores some more side-project works with offerings from PTP, Pailhead, the super rare 'Drums Along the Carbide' from Rev Co. and 1000 Homo DJs – OK it's just another remix of 'Supernaut', but a good dub remix is always a nice addition.

OK, while everything on here isn't necessarily unknown or unreleased – the 'Trax! Box' has already seen a lot of this material included – it is still a more affordable option and to be fair pulls out some real gems that may have otherwise got lost in the mix.

This is a release aimed squarely at the hardcore Ministry fans out there, but is a nice collection nonetheless and worthy of being pressed onto vinyl. While 'Trax! Rarities' may not deliver any major revelations, instead the way it is compiled makes it is a nice illustration of an artist's stylistic progression changing from a behind-the-scenes perspective.  

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Introducing... X-O-Planet



Name of band: X-O-Planet
Members: Manja Kaletka, Goderic Northstar
Year formed: 2016
Location: Nackenheim / Germany

"Inspired by Science Fiction in literature and films but also recent scientific discoveries and theories about the universe, the Time, the Matter and possibly extraterrestrial life, X-O-Planet picks its listeners up for a voyage through the infinite dark cosmos."


At the beginning of the year 2016 Manja and Goderic decided to slip their different musical influences in a new electronic project. At the end of the year 2016 the debut album “Passengers” will be published.


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

Manja has as yet been involved in various projects like the rock band Jesus On Extasy (album 'The Clock' 2011), the British Avant Garde music band Attrition, with which she had toured through Europe, the Neo Classic band Weltenbrand of Liechtenstein, the band Illuminate (album 'Grenzgang' 2011), the dark rock band “Dark Diamonds” (album 'Das Gift' 2009) and the Gothic project Crypt Cha (album 'Sorrow’s Away' 2005). Since 2008 Manja is the new singer of the Synthie Pop / Dance project X-Perience. Together with the two founder members Matthias Uhle and Alexander Kaiser she is working on the fifth full length album of the band. In the meantime she was involved in different pre-productions in the area of Pop and Dance music.

Goderic: Since his childhood Goderic has been learning to play church organ. Later on he started to teach himself guitar and bass guitar. Inspired by pioneers in the forefront of electronic music like Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk and Die Krupps he became more interested in electronic sounds. So he experimented with analog synthesizers and produced his first electronic compositions in which also influences of well-known EBM combos like Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb can be recognized.


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

The music of X-O-Planet is set in the area of Dark Electro. It is assembled of harder bass rhythms paired with spherical synthesizer sounds, which stem from the pen of Goderic, and Manjas warm and crystal clear voice.


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

The lyrics concern themes as Science Fiction, the exploration of outer space and interpersonal interludes, which are carried by the signs of time. Inspired by Science Fiction in literature and films but also recent scientific discoveries and theories about the universe, the Time, the Matter and possibly extraterrestrial life, X-O-Planet picks its listeners up for a voyage through the infinite dark cosmos.
Our primary musical influences are Jean-Michel Jarre, In Strict Confidence, VNV Nation, Rotersand and Solar Fake.


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

So far we've only had some very exclusive gigs at private parties. But since we both are professional musicians and we are very ambitious, we are interested in doing live performances as much as we can.


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

Our first album will be digitally released on 30​th​ dec. 2016 on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Deezer etc.


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

The highlights of Manja's career has been the whole period with the band Jesus On Extasy, the work with the British band Attrition and the membership and work with X-Perience.


IVM: What are your plans from the future?

At first we want to play live as much as we can all over Europe… and maybe further away. Second is the work on our next album.


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

Be a passenger and follow us on our voyage through time and space!


Links:

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Review: Thyrane – 'Black Harmony'



THYRANE
'Black Harmony'
WOODCUT RECORDS


Re-releasing demos can sometimes be the musical equivalent of putting photos from your awkward teenage years online for all to see. But every so often there is a re-release of a demo that is actually worth it. Finnish satanic black metalers Thyrane have offered up just that, their 1997 demo 'Black Harmony' re-released on Woodcut Records is a genuinely enjoyable and interesting look back at their origins.

Almost fully formed in style, direction and confidence, 'Black Harmony' is a quintessential 90s black metal album complete with demonic vocals, riffs seared by hellfire and symphonic keyboard embellishments. The likes of Satyricon, Old Man's Child, and Emperor can all be heard across the four tracks of satanic cacophony.

Diving straight into the title track the album powers forth with skull-splitting drums, haunting keyboards and ferocious riffs. It's an unrelenting attack that keeps the pace across 'Sacrifices', 'Enthroned By Antichrist', and 'Satanic Ages Overture'. Though it only spans four tracks the demo still racks up an impressive 35 minutes in length, showing that the band could, even at this early stage, aim for more epic track lengths and achieve them with ease.

Production wise this is not bad. Considering this is a mid-90s black metal demo it is incredibly well-formed and executed with great attention to detail. The keyboards may sound a little dated, and it may not be as crisp as more modern releases, but it is nonetheless a really strong effort.

This is probably a release that passed by many pre-broadband internet black metal fans, but this is an instance of a well deserved re-release. 'Black Harmony' may have been a first step from Thyrane, but it was definitely an assertive one that set the bar for their following albums.  

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Review: TONTTU – 'Gnouroborus'



TONTTU
'Gnouroborus'
PANIC MACHINE


Like the Men In Black, the anti-gnomenmartialindustrialneofolkmetal society known as Tonttu protects us from an otherwise unseen menace, namely Gnomes. They're everywhere and they want to overthrow humanity, but with a fiendish mixture of martial beats, industrial electronics, metal savagery, and neofolk atmospheres the trio have so far held the hordes of the Gnomic terror at bay. The latest outing from the band just in time for Christmas (peak time for elves so Gnomes can't be too far behind) sees them form alliances with Miel Noir, DJV, and Terrorrot who provide remixes of the anti-gnome anthems.

The first three tracks see remix duties handled by Tonttu themselves with 'Tonttumarssi (Gnomsignomsi)', ' Saunan Tonttu (Whittaker Goes Eurovision)', and ' Jo Muinaiset Tontut Söivät Jälkiruokaa, Perkele! (WW1-3)' preserving the crazy Lovecraftian dissonance of the originals but adding some more discernible club-friendly elements, with the third track resembling the martial madness of early Laibach.

'Kolossus, Tontut ja Korpit (Anti-Tonttu)' sees DJV stick to the lyrical focus of the original track but amps up the creepiness with the near-whimsical melody and steady, swaying beats. Miel Noir treat ' Jälkiruoka - Gnomes Drowned In Black Honey' to a rather luscious sci-fi orientated martial mix that is disturbingly addictive. Finally, Terrorot take on 'Suurin Oikeutus' with a cover version of low-fi power electronics meets death metal that is the audio equivalent of being beaten over the head with a CD player containing a Berzerker album skipping and sticking at random while someone screams in your ear through a cheap voice changer.

This is at times a pretty fun remix album, and at others it is just batshit crazy. The production is pretty slick for the most part considering the different elements and sometimes outright dissonant execution of some tracks. But it holds itself together and if you like plenty of curve-balls thrown at you it definitely warrants focused listening.

'Gnouroborus' is a fun album for those who like thinks a little more left-field. It is an album that shows off not only some great remixing skills, but also the strength of the source material. It might not give Tonttu a club-hit but as long as it keeps the Gnomes at bay this winter, that's all that matters.  

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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Editorial: December, 2016



It's that time of year again, and I'm guessing that since you're reading this you survived Krampusnacht relatively unscathed. Good for you. As for me the day job is keeping me suitably busy to have slowed my output for Intravenous Magazine down for much longer than I had anticipated. Luckily at this time of year I can console myself with mulled wine and force-feed myself lebkuchen until I burst. I APOLOGISE FOR NOTHING!

But if Christmas is not your thing, fear not loyal readers for we have our annual treat lined up and ready to be unleashed. For those of you new to Intravenous Magazine you may have noticed we like to do a little free compilation to mark our birthday, and New Years Day 2017 is no exception. We have a fantastic line-up of bands covering a range of genres, some new, some established, but all with something to offer.

As always the download will be accompanied by cover art and an A4 PDF booklet with info and links for all the bands. As always we can't do these things without the support of the bands and labels in the scene so if you find something you like, why not spend that Christmas money on a CD or two from their own site?

The first of January marks four years of Intravenous Magazine since I decided to launch it to carry on the – what I thought was fairly decent – work I had been doing for Dominion Magazine. To be honest I didn't think it would take off and would just quietly fizzle out. And fast forward to the end of 2016 and I'll be damned if I let this ship sink any time soon. With that in mind I have to acknowledge that I can't keep things going as they are and so from January onwards I will be extending some invitations out to new reviewers and columnists and inject a bit more activity into the site.

Other things to look forward to – the Intravenous top albums of 2016 will be on its way as usual next month, also I'll be inviting some respected DJs and artists to contribute special mixes to our Mixcloud account. There is life in this thing yet.

But that's it from me. A short but sweet send off to a strange year – we lost so many greats, yet from a personal standpoint it has been one of positive growth and fulfilment. I hope you'll join us in 2017.

Finally, if you haven't already got them, go get our three download compilations from our bandcamp – so much free music! What the hell are you waiting for?!

And as always make sure you have these links in your favourites:



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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Review: Stereo Juggernaut – 'Shutdown!'



STEREO JUGGERNAUT
'Shutdown!'
ARMALYTE INDUSTRIES


London electro-rockers Stereo Juggernaut hit back with their latest EP, and first release on new label Armalyte Industries, 'Shutdown!'. Full of piss and vinegar as well as some pretty sweet tunes the band channel acts like Orgy, Dope, Combichrist, and Cubanate through their frenetic and dance-friendly sound. Part alternative rock, part hard dance the band go out of their way to tick a lot of boxes.

The EP starts as it means to go on with the riotous 'Devoid' on point as it schizophrenically shifts between hard guitar riffs and hard synth leads framing dance rhythms and punctuated by snarling punk vocals. The likes of 'Empty Eyes', 'Boats & Ladders', and 'Shutdown!' in particular carry this formula on with ease, and the EP progresses at breakneck speed as a result. The sound may be quite fresh and modern with the balance favouring catchy hooks to a degree. But there is enough attitude and rawness to the band's sound to give the band an appeal that will find approval with long-time hardened industrial rock fans.

Production-wise the band keeps the dance synths high in the mix for a big melodic injection they can push hard in the choruses. But surrounding that is a very organic and raw alternative rock core that remains forceful and really is the driving force behind the tracks. They keep the dirty, gritty edge but it doesn't simply become background noise but nicely juxtaposes with the strong melodies for a well-rounded sound.

They may still be a relatively new name, but Stereo Juggernaut have been working hard, paying their dues and honing their sound. And the result is pretty impressive. 'Shutdown!' is a slick anthemic release befitting these dark dystopian days. It has fire and it has substance. It is safe to say that this will be a band to keep an eye on.  

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Monday, 5 December 2016

Interview: Jim Smallman [Progress Wrestling]




This. Is. Progress...


Rob Brazier Photography

“We might not be the biggest but I certainly think that we're the best - but then again, I am biased! It feels excellent to be as acclaimed as we are. Bear in mind I'm just a fan who happens to own a wrestling company with his mates.”

This may be a bit of a departure for Intravenous Magazine, but I think you'll agree that there is a method to our madness. Alternative culture is about embracing diversity, passion and devotion to sounds, ideas, and styles not fully (or if ever) embraced by the mainstream. And professional wrestling is one such thing that ticks all of those boxes.

It's a world that isn't far removed from the music scene with the WWE's and Metallica's of the world selling out stadiums around the world, right down to the local acts and promotions putting on shows in clubs in their local areas.

But one company that has taken the UK, and infact parts of the world by storm over the past few year's is London-based promotion Progress Wrestling. With a punk rock atmosphere and penchant for innovation, it captures the spirit of the likes of ECW, filtering through a very British DIY ethic. And the results have been a boon for wrestling fans in the UK.

We caught up with one of the promotions founders, Jim Smallman to talk about the promotions near unstoppable rise, the state of pro-wrestling today, and standing out.


Intravenous Magazine: First of all, what makes a person decide to start a pro-wrestling promotion?

Jim Smallman: Well, we'd be fans for ages. But for us, it was to see if we could do it. Me and Jon (Briley, one of the other co-owners) were sat in our flat during the Edinburgh Fringe (as he was my agent at the time) and decided to have a go. Well, he suggested it whilst we were watching a PWG DVD. We thought it would be a fun, if costly, hobby.


IVM: Where do you begin to go about it and how hard was it to get off the ground?

JS: It was pretty difficult, even with Jon having a ton of experience of organising comedy tours and the like. We had to learn everything and ask a lot of people a lot of questions. Like "how do you get a wrestling ring?" Stuff that seems so second nature now was completely new to us when we started out. And then for the first year or so we made zero money. So it wasn't as easy a birth as you might think, even if we've never had a show that hasn't sold out.


IVM: You wear many hats with Progress as an announcer, promoter, and writer – Where does Progress end and real life begin for you these days?

JS: Progress is my life. In all seriousness, most of the day to day promotion stuff is done by Jon. Creative is handled by all three of us, and I don't think I'm really a ring announcer. I'm a comedian who gets to say the names of some wrestlers before their matches. But I do spend most of my time thinking about Progress.



IVM: What is the ethos behind Progress Wrestling as a promotion?

JS: We wanted to put on shows that we'd want to watch as fans, and also help develop a community of like-minded people. I'm really into punk music and love the ethos behind anything DIY and inclusive, so we've always aimed for that kind of vibe.


IVM: What were the thought processes behind having the Progress championship as a staff (now a belt), and shields for the tag titles?

JS: Just to be different. Anyone can start a wrestling promotion. Not everyone can start one that stands out. We've always stood out.


IVM: Progress alumni can now be seen wrestling for companies such as WWE, ROH, TNA, as well as in Japan how has this helped, or perhaps hindered Progress?

JS: It's helped us. Every time we lose someone to WWE there's someone else who knows it's their time to step into the spotlight. We never really lose people to the other companies - they all still work for us, just not at every show. Besides, when Tommy End and Jack Gallagher headed for WWE they were good enough to help highlight us on wwe.com, which is pretty sweet and only helps us be seen as a successful independent promotion that helps nurture talent.


IVM: You started at the Islington Garage, and have quickly moved to The Electric Ballroom, infiltrated the hallowed Brixton Academy, and have even been a part of Download Festival – can the rooms only keep getting bigger?.

JS: There's a glass ceiling to independent wrestling attendance figures. We sold 2500 tickets for Brixton, but we can't do that every month. Selling 700 tickets every month (sometimes twice a month) is a mind boggling achievement as it is, which I think people sometimes forget. It's super hard to find a venue bigger than Brixton that would suit us, as well - regardless of if we'd fill it. We're happy where we are.


IVM: How would you describe a typical Progress show?

JS: Loud, hard-hitting, fun. It's our job to send everyone home happy from our shows, so we give them as much varied entertainment as they can enjoy. And if you're in the crowd, it's part ECW Arena, part away end at the football and part punk gig.



IVM: The documentary film 'This.Is.Progress' premiered recently and is now available to view through the Demand.Progress. service – how has the reception been to this so far and can we expect more of these documentaries in the future?

JS: Well, we didn't make the documentary ourselves. It was made by Elixir Media and I believe that they're looking at crowdfunding to make a longer version of the documentary. The current one you can view is 20 minutes long but they've already shot loads of footage. Hopefully that will lead to something more, but again, it's not down to us.


IVM: It is safe to say that Progress is one of the top independent wrestling companies in the UK today, no small feat when there are over 100 active promotions, how does that feel?

JS: We might not be the biggest but I certainly think that we're the best - but then again, I am biased! It feels excellent to be as acclaimed as we are. Bear in mind I'm just a fan who happens to own a wrestling company with his mates. When fans rave about what we do it still means the world to me.


IVM: What has been your proudest moment so far with Progress and why?

JS: The very beginning of the Brixton show was really awesome for me, 2500 people chanting my name and my Dad and Sister in the audience (who don't get my love of wrestling) and my wife and at the time 4 week old son by the side of the stage. That was pretty mind blowing. I also rank the whole Jimmy Havoc vs Progress storyline is up there with any stand-up that I've created in my "other" career.


IVM: Where do you see British professional wrestling in five / ten years time?

JS: It won't be as hot as it is right now, because there are always peaks and troughs. For the great promoters out there like ICW, Rev Pro, Southside, Fight Club Pro, Futureshock, Attack and so on, there will be unscrupulous people who think there's an easy few quid to be made and that'll hurt the industry. Hopefully we'll still be around as we've tried to build on a foundation of using British talent and living within our means!


IVM: Does British wrestling need more prominent TV coverage in order to push it to the next level, or is the internet filling in the gaps these days?

JS: Nope. TV doesn't have the effect that it did a couple of decades ago. We can be in control of our own content with www.demand-progress.com, and WWE are leading the way with their network. The way everyone consumes media has changed and the fabled television deal now makes no difference at all.



Rob Brazier Photography

IVM: Who do you consider to be some of the top British talent around today?

JS: Luckily, everyone that we use at our shows! Pete Dunne is our current champion and is about to take over the world, then you have guys like Zack Sabre Jr, Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll who already have. Jimmy Havoc is one of the very best characters in the world, then you have guys like Trent Seven, Tyler Bate, Morgan Webster, Mark Andrews... I could go on and on. And women's wrestling is great too - Jinny, Dahlia Black, Nixon Newell.


IVM: With the feel of a raucous punk rock gig at Progress events, do you consider Wrestling fans to be a subculture unto themselves?

JS: I always know that if someone likes wrestling then I'm probably going to get on well with them. At our shows you can pretty much guarantee that you'll meet someone who likes wrestling, the same music or comic books or video games as you. Being a wrestling fan is the new rock and roll. Or something.


IVM: What advice would you give to someone looking to set up a professional wrestling promotion, or become a wrestler?

JS: Setting up a promotion: Save up a lot of money, don't tread on the toes of other promotions and do things right. Think about what an audience would like to see rather than what YOU want to see. And don't book yourself as champion, for the love of god.

Becoming a wrestler: Find a good school, train a lot, go to the gym every day, expect to be in pain and broke, listen to advice from every veteran who will give you their time and when you've made your debit, wrestle EVERYWHERE.


IVM: 2016 has been a whirlwind year for Progress – what do you have in store for 2017?

JS: So many more shows. Camden, Brixton, Manchester, Birmingham, Germany, Orlando, a three day SSS16 tournament... it'll be busy. And we've already started planning some awesome surprises.


IVM: Finally, is there anything you'd like to add/plug?

JS: I'm on Twitter at @jimsmallman. Company stuff: Tickets and merchandise and news via www.progresswrestling.com, watch all our shows for $5 via www.demand-progress.com and follow us on Twitter via @thisis_progress.





You can watch all of Progress Wrestling's shows on demand at www.demand-progress.com, and for ticket and show information, please check out the Progress Wrestling website at www.progresswrestling.com.

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Friday, 2 December 2016

Review: The State – 'Public Service Announcement'



THE STATE
'Public Service Announcement'
MISANTHROPIC RECORDS


The State continue a fine tradition of gritty minimalistic industrial rock that harks back to the days of of post-punk experimentation technophobic paranoia combining into a heady mix of dark subject matter and compelling yet aggressive sounds. The band's latest single – 'Public Service Announcement' – is a claustrophobic backlash against the rising tide of political instability in the west.

The lone track on this release is a dark yet anthemic album of steady dance-friendly martial beats, snarling punk vocals, gritty guitars and enticing electronics. It harks back to the manic experimentation of Killing Joke and the dark paranoia of Sulpher. It's raw, angry, and menacing industrial rock.

The production reflects the atmosphere nicely. Low-fi, but not low quality. It sounds like a forbidden transmission coming in from a pirate radio station to spread dissenting views. It's nice and gritty where it needs it, but the electronics and guitars are nicely balanced and the beats are always discernible and infectiously groovy throughout.

This is a really nice slice of British industrial rock. Infused with an undeniably catchy post-punk vibe and slabs of menace it is an intelligent and topical offering that highlights a lot of talent deserving of credit. Hopefully we'll see a full-length follow-up from The State sooner rather than later.  

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