Interview: TONTTU

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

Interview: Bornless Fire

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

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

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

Review: Caustic – 'Stimulation'

CAUSTIC 'Stimulation' UNDUSTRIAL RECORDS

Review: Noir – 'Reburning'

NOIR 'Reburning' METROPOLIS RECORDS

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Editorial: April, 2016



It has been a while since my last editorial, and unfortunately this will just be a brief check-in as well. March and April have been busy months personally so I have been focusing on reviews and making plans for the future. These plans include the next compilation download which I will begin working on in a couple of months time.

Well where to begin? Let's start with saying goodbye to Resistanz Festival – for the past five years the Sheffield-based event has been an annual highlight that has attracted some great names from around the world and really injected a bit of adrenalin into the UK scene as a result. There have been plenty of memorable moments and it will be sorely missed.

In other festival related news Infest is shaping up to be a great line-up this year, and there will be a new gothic festival in Leeds later this year as well. But hopefully more people out there will move in to take the space left by Resistanz and give these bands more opportunities to play.

It kind of brings me to another thought. For years now the UK gothic and industrial scenes have existed in a fairly small bubble. A law unto themselves sustained by hardcore fans with a few dedicated festivals and a few respected media outlets. But it still doesn't seem to be taken seriously. While the likes of 3Teeth and Youth Code in the US have had recent mentions in Rolling Stone magazine. UK bands still feel very much on the periphery of national coverage. Perhaps it is time to start making an assault on the more generic rock and metal festivals then? Certainly the likes of The Sisters Of Mercy have done it with Sonisphere in the past, and yes they do have a bit of gravitas still they can muster. But there are some young and hungry bands in the gothic and industrial scene who deserve much more exposure than they are getting and that quite frankly rock harder than many of the bands that manage to score slots at Download. Maybe it seems a little far-fetched to some, but if you don't ask, you don't get...

Anyway, that's my meandering thought of the day in the wake of the final Resistanz festival. There are more events coming up this year that still need your support and new or established, I hope they stick around for a long time to come.

One last thing - if you haven't already got them, go get our three download compilations FOR FREE from out 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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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Review: Legend & Sólstafir – 'Runaway Train (Live)'



LEGEND & SÒLSTAFIR
'Runaway Train (Live)'
ARTOFFACT RECORDS


Icelandic dark pop act Legend return with a dark and sinister cover of their own song 'Runaway Train' recorded live with fellow countrymen in the form of post-metalers Sólstafir. The two bands had previously released a split EP together(on which Sólstafir covered 'Runaway Train' themselves), but this release marks the first direct collaboration on a track between them. And it is a thing of beauty.

The band's come together to find a unique middle ground between their respective sounds. The dark pop hooks of Legend's original composition are still very much evident, while Sólstafir's raw experimental mindset bleeds through profusely. The end result is a raw, dark and visceral progressive-tinged rock that sounds like a blend of 'Eternity' and 'The Silent Enigma' Anathema. Absolutely beautiful.

The production is excellent considering this is a live performance captured and released in such a short space of time. This is one of those times in music where everything just clicks and sounds great together. You can't replicate that kind of chemistry really, it just has to be present and documented.

This is a great coming together of two different but ultimately complimentary acts that have a genuinely unique bond. Could this be the seeds of an Icelandic supergroup? One can only hope. This certainly shows that there is the potential for such a pairing. Perhaps after the next Legend album there may be time for an EP of original collaborations? One can only dream. But in the hear and now this is a damn fine song and should be heard.   

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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Review: nTTx – 'Objective EP'



NTTX
'Objective EP'
WTII RECORDS


nTTx craft a classic blend of industrial-tinged ebm meats synthpop. The project is the work of Toronto-based musician Gord Clement formerly of Atomzero. With only a single in the form of 'Falls Beautiful', a compilation appearance and a handful of remixes for other artists nTTX's début 'Objective EP' has a lot of ground to cover in order to make its mark. But with a sound that melds the rhythmic expertise of Nitzer Ebb with the likes of Spetsnaz, Cryo, and Covenant it looks like a place on the dancefloor is pretty much guaranteed.

Musically the tracks sit around a pretty solid core of classic ebm augmented by nice synthpop melodies and harder more aggressive industrial elements added when things need kicking-up a notch. It's a solid formula perfectly crafted for the dancefloor and the four tracks here perfectly illustrate that.

'Falls Beautiful' takes the lead with a straightforward blend of steady dance beats, ebm bass, catchy leads and sing-a-long vocals that show why this was an obvious choice for a single. 'cRave' follows with a more industrial leaning feel while keeping that pure ebm core intact for another infectious cut. 'Bastion' feels harder still with the vocals getting a bit more distorted and some nasty guitar sounds cropping up in the mix. While 'We Kissed' pulls out all the feels for an emotional and melodic closer that rounds the original tracks off nicely.

The remixes included courtesy of Stars Crusaders, Caustic and Kiss Is Kill who all add their own take to the originals. But in particular its Caustics stripped-down 'Teknotronikon' mix and Kiss Is Kill's throbbing club mixes of 'cRave' and 'Bastion' respectively that really do something fun with the source tracks.

Production-wise the EP is really well-constructed. The album is true to its dance-friendly core throughout and particularly those who enjoy the old-school industrial and ebm hits of the 90s will be able to dig this with ease. It's punchy and fresh, has that nice classic edge without falling into the trap of trying to sound dated.

There are some great tracks here and a hell of a lot of potential. There are a couple of points where I feel Clement could push himself further though to make nTTX a really great act. One is in the vocals, which sound a bit safe and turn of the millennium and could be varied up in terms of delivery. The second point is illustrated by the remixes somewhat. The core ebm structure of the songs is again a bit safe and particularly the final two remixes just go to show how different they can sound if Clement were to get a bit more experimental. But on the whole this is a damn catchy bunch of songs that will undoubtedly get his foot in the door and it will be interesting to see how this translates into a full-length release.  

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Review: Merzbow – 'Life Performance'



MERZBOW
'Life Performance'
COLD SPRING RECORDS


Out of the vaults by way of Cold Spring records comes a long overdue reissue of some very rare classic noise. Originally released on his own ZSF Produkt label, 'Life Performance' by Masami Akita (AKA Merzbow) dates back to 1985 and was originally put out on cassette. Fast-forward thirty years and Akita has dug out the original master tapes and given them a remaster for 2016.

The album title suggests this is a live performance, but it isn't. The pieces 'Nil Vagina Mail Action' parts 1-5 were recorded in Akita's own Merz-bau Studio. With a discography in the hundreds of releases (in one format or another) so far there were plenty of other candidates for the remaster treatment, but 'Life Performance' is one of those nice succinct time capsules that demonstrates some of Akita's great analogue experimentation in an era when the synth was being pushed harder than ever before.

'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 1' unloads with a wall of static noise that slowly evolves into a drone and then into heavily distorted minimal rhythm before once again becoming engulfed in a swell of static noise eventually punctuated by bass. 'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 2' begins with a dissonant sample overlayed with distorted waves and swirling static before reverting to piercing pitches and becoming engulfed in layers of heavily distorted samples. 'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 3' like the first track opens with a swell of static noise, this time punctuated by piercing notes and gurgling distorted synths that evolves into a dark droning wall of sound thick enough to bludgeon you with.

'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 4' opens with a distorted vocal loop slowly becoming in a blend of static and rapid monophonic bleeps that sounds like a dial-up modem being possessed by the devil. The final assault on the senses, 'Nil Vagina Mail Action Pt. 5' continues on somewhat from the previous track with swirling tape sounds and heavy static creating a psychedelic dial-up sound.

The summing up above doesn't really do the pieces justice though. The heavy atmosphere and sustained attack of them (they're twelve-to-fifteen minutes long) are endurance testers for even hardened noise fans.

In terms of production it is hard to tell this was a mid-1980s cassette release. Yes it is primitive and analogue from the ground up, but it has been remastered really nicely and to a high quality which gives an extra level of clarity to the din of sonic dissonance.

This will be one for the collectors or very, very intrepid explorers. It isn't Merzbow's most stunning works, but it is a relentlessly hard lesson in noise music from one of its undeniable masters. It is intense but rewarding if you are a fan of noise.  

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Friday, 22 April 2016

Live Review: Acey Slade – Yardbirds, Grimsby 20/04/2016



ACEY SLADE (+ Ruby And The Knights)
Yardbirds, Grismby
20/04/2016


Grimsby might not be the first town you'd expect to be on a list alongside usual stops such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield, but Acey Slade has made sure he drops by on his low-key acoustic tour. The Brooklyn, NY musician famous for being a part of acts such as Dope, Murderdolls, Wednseday 13, Amen, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts as well as his own bands Trashlight Vision and Acey Slade & The Dark Party gets as stripped back as possible on this tour. It's just him, a semi-acoustic guitar and electro-acoustic accompaniment from Billy Liar. It's different... maybe even a bit of a gamble for someone known for raucous rock 'n' roll, but it pays off.

Kicking things off is local act Ruby And The Knights. Playing a serviceable blend of classic rock and metal sent through a deathrock filter with their classic goth aesthetic creating a nice visual hook. The songs are in places a bit generic pub rock, but the band display some great songwriting in places and their performance is solid throughout their set. The only real criticism is that despite the strong vocals for front-woman Ruby, they do get a bit repetitive as she uses the classic rock wail a bit too much. Otherwise they look to be a promising local talent.

Yardbirds, if you haven't had the pleasure, is a small biker bar with a long history of putting on live bands. It looks and smells of rock 'n' roll and despite it's intimate dimensions it is a comfortable fit for the US rocker and his smaller than usual entourage.

The tag-line for this tour is “Playing hits and talking shit” and that's exactly what you get. Despite the acoustic set-up it is evident from the very start that Acey Slade has more punk rock in his little finger than most full bands could muster in their entire being. The performances from Acey and Billy liar are bristling with energy and full of life as he hurtles through his own hits as well as those from his time in Joan Jett's band as well as Murderdolls. Particular highlights included 'Allergic To You', 'Love At First Fright', 'Welcome To The Strange', 'Crimson And Clover', 'Radio', '197666', 'Black Apples' and the brief Bowie tribute in the form of 'Moonage Daydream'. There was even space for Billy Liar to take the microphone for a rendition of his song 'Pills'.

Between songs Slade told stories, made jokes and interacted with the crowd. It felt open and personal, like a homecoming show. It was a raw, honest and fun performance that showed off the power of his skills as a vocalist and performer in general. It was a gamble playing this kind of show but it works really well and more than payed off for Slade and co.  

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Review: New Zero God – 'Short Tales & Tall Shadows'



NEW ZERO GOD
'Short Tales & Tall Shadows'
SELF-RELEASED


Greek post-punks New Zero God will not be a new name to a lot of people. They have over the past few years been working hard and the early spirit of the post punk and proto-gothic scenes alive. The band's last studio outing was 'MMXIII' which provided a solid offering of tracks that were only really held back by less than perfect production. Fast forward to last year and the band's first live album showed them on top form giving their songs a fervent energy and playing off the rough and ready atmosphere. But their latest album 'Short Tales & Tall Shadows' is a bit of a departure. Their punk roughness is smoothed out in favour of gothic theatrics. A move that is reminiscent of when The Damned made 'Strawberries'.

The band blend gothic rock, psychedelic pop, a hint of their post-punk past and a dose of dark blues, the end result is like a cross between The Damned and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. Songs such as 'King Pest The First', 'Garden Of Mazes', 'Cloud Of Dreams', 'My Reaper', and 'Bastards' are the most consistent examples of this sonic formula and also lyrically the most literary in construction. While the likes of the spoken word 'Deadly Dollhouse' and the sinister instrumental outro 'Ouroboros' add a nice experimental edge to the proceedings.

In terms of production this is by far the band's best effort so far. It has a nice retro, mid-1980s feel to it. But in terms of the mix and the overall sound it is still fresh and modern. They have maintained their grittiness through their individual performance but aimed high and improved the quality as a result.

This is the album the band have needed to make. The gothic and psychedelic elements are fantastic. Mike Pougounas' vocal performance is utterly compelling and there are a lot of sumptuous guitar lines and grooves throughout to get your teeth into. The band have made a bold move with 'Short Tales & Tall Shadows' and it has paid off in a big way. The songwriting, the performances and the execution are spot on. Hopefully this will be a path the band continues to explore moving forward.   

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Review: Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio – 'Vision:Libertine – The Hangman's Triad'



ORDO ROSARIUS EQUILIBRIO
'Vision:Libertine – The Hangman's Triad'
OUT OF LINE


Six years on form their last full-length studio album the duo of Ordo Rosarius Equilbrio return with one of their most ambitious albums to date. The band's latest album, 'Vision:Libertine – The Hangman's Triad', was originally planned as an EP, but over the course of three years it steadily evolved into an epic double album that revisits the band's earlier tribal leanings with their more recent darkly sensual tones. The themes of lust, ritual and spiritual sexuality still loom large over the eerie and sombre sonic formula as they do on all ORE releases. But this album take things deeper and darker than ever before.

The songs are as sexy as they are bleak. The haunting neoclassical and ambient electronics blended with neo-folk are given a boost by percussive and acoustic support from Empusae’s Sal-Ocin. Songs such as 'Eschatos And Hedone - The Killing of Ataraxia', 'Flesh 4 Flesh & Kingdom Come', 'The Fire the Fool and the Harlot (The Hangmans Triad)', and 'Holy Blood Holy Union' dominate the first disc with their strong rhythms and sinister classical strains. While the likes of 'The Misanthropic Polygamist (How Gods Dream)', 'Venus In Nothing But Nylons And Pearls', 'The Tribalism Of Tribadism (Evil Men Have No Songs)', and 'Four Pretty Little Horses And the Four Last Things On Earth' kick disc two into submission in similar fashion.

The album builds on the near cinematic scope of the band's previous release 'Songs 4 Hate & Devotion' and pushes the band's conceptual framework further than ever before. Their Sade-esque erotica and Crowlian symbolism collide with some of the most apocalyptic compositions in their back catalogue so far. The production keeps pace nicely and keeps a wonderfully cavernous atmosphere for the percussion while the guitars and vocals sound close and intimate.

'Vision:Libertine – The Hangman's Triad' is the result of a band pushing themselves harder than ever before, and the result is a joyous listening experience. Heavy on atmosphere and explicit of content this album feels like the culmination of a career of effort distilled into an immersive two-disc album.  

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Review: Helalyn Flowers – 'Sonic Foundation'



HELALYN FLOWERS
'Sonic Foundation'
ALFA MATRIX


It has been three years since the last full-length studio album from Helalyn Flowers, 'White Me In // Black Me Out ' was released. The band's surprise release of the 'Beware Of Light' EP last October gave a hint of things to come on the Italian duo's new album, but even that was on;y scratching the surface. The band's latest outing, 'Sonic Foundation' looks to push their boundaries further than before taking in ebm, electro rock, industrial, ambient, gothic rock, techno, and even black metal influences to create a rich blend of sounds.

The album is a heady blend of styles that N0emi and maXX handle with ease. Club-friendly electronic anthems hit hard guitars to create a strong backbone of tracks that compel you to dance as well as bang your head. The likes of 'Beware Of Light', 'Frozen Star', 'Karmageddon', 'Maths Of Chaos', and 'For All The Bad Things' lead the charge as the best examples of the previously mentioned formula.

While tracks such as 'Eerie', 'I Saved And Angel', and the bonus track 'Beware Of Light' featuring Chris Pohl (BlutEngel) throw a few more surprises into the mix with elements of sci-fi ambience, heart-tugging piano, and vampiric decadence respectively adding more depth and diversity to the experience.

In terms of production the album is spot on. It is clean and modern right across the board. The guitars are heavy, the electronics are bold and well mixed and the vocals cut through like a knife to entice some undeniable sing-a-long moments.

'Sonic Foundation' is a strong album. Perhaps Helalyn Flowers' strongest so far. The band hit hard and fast and walk a fine line between their club-friendly side and their rock and metal leanings. It could have gone painfully wrong in a few places. But it doesn't. It works and it works damn well. This is the album that solidifies Helalyn Flowers place.  

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Friday, 15 April 2016

Review: Drumcorps - 'Falling Forward'



DRUMCORPS
'Falling Forward' 

AD NOISEAM 

After nine years of wait, endless touring across the globe and a DJing junket that would make any EDM tosspot wince, the second album from  Drumcorps (Aaron Spectre) is finally here. 'Falling Forward' is a true labour of love for Spectre, and it's no wonder it took so long to come out seen as he is well known for being a perfectionist. Although many tracks on the album are under the three-minute mark, these little bursts of anger, frustration and melancholy are a worthwhile glimpse into the insanity that lies within Drumcorps mind. Mixing the usual suspects of metal, industrial, breakcore, dub and more 'Falling Forward' is a massive step forward since the début release 'Grist' and is more of a journey than an all out warzone.
Mixing rough with the smooth, tracks like 'Blacklist Whitelist' contrast brilliantly from the noize/breakcore roots to atmospheric numbers like 'We Turned At A Dozen Places, For Love Is A Duel'.

Stand out track is clearly 'Cradle To Grave', a roller-coaster ride of industrial bliss with catchy vocals and a schizophrenic beat that is incredibly addictive. Songs like 'Open Arms' and 'Choose Again' are proof that this is the intended direction for metal and with some of the instrumentals it's a wonder how Spectre hasn't been asked to work in movie or game soundtracks.

Where 'Grist' was a harsh anger-fest bent on provoking raw emotions and tinnitus 'Falling Forward' is a more balanced piece of work, offering listeners a rest-bite from the harsher songs and is far more focused than it's predecessor. 

Also check out Drumcorps mixes from Rob Zombie's remix album 'Mondo Sex Head'.

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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Review: Atrament – 'Eternal Downfall'



ATRAMENT
'Eternal Downfall'
BROKEN LIMBS RECORDINGS


Broken Limbs continues its already impressive track record with the release of Atrament's latest offering 'Eternal Downfall'. The Oakland, CA based blackened and crusty death metal outfit that blends influences such as Darkthrone, Unleashed, At The Gates, and Napalm Death into an anarchic and unrelentingly grim pressure cooker.

Spiky riffs and death metal grooves combine with a dense atmosphere of searing brutality. Tracks such as 'No Beyond', 'Aberration', 'Hericide', 'Aeon Of Suffering', 'World Of Ash', and 'Dusk Abuse' are hard, fast and heavy attacks by a band who are methodical and surgical in their musicianship. It may not be the kind of album you'd recommend to someone just beginning to explore extreme metal – as this would probably scare them off after 30 seconds – however for those who love it brutal and in particular miss the heyday of the 90s in the extreme metal genre, this will be an essential album.

The production courtesy of Greg Wilkinson is spot on. Plenty of grit in the mix but not at the expense of the quality and lots of fat bottom end to preserve the grooves. So many times a bad production job anc kill an otherwise good album stone dead, but this isn't the case here. Wilkinson has given the band the exact presentation they need to maintain maximum heaviness and still show off their collective skill.

'Eternal Downfall' is a great album. It's unrelenting, fast, and doesn't set out to do anything other than be as heavy as hell. Fans of extreme metal will easily be able to get into this, and they should. It is has a refreshing no nonsense approach that still manages to sound grand and artistically valid in its execution. It will be very interesting to watch this band develop over the next few releases.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Bombing Culture - Of Ego and Purpose

'Godself' by Alex Grey


All humans have the divine ability to create.
As a creative force, it is thus my purpose to bring forth the very best of what I can produce with this power I hold. Creativity has defined itself through me as music and words, and my ego-self through my creative purpose has deemed herself as Alex Robshaw.

The ego. We all have one. The ego wants, the ego needs, the ego dreams, the ego destroys, the ego revels and delights and goes mad; the ego lusts and the ego despairs. The ego fears and the ego dares.

All living creatures have an ego, even animals, one could argue. Through one's life experience, it is certainly a good exercise to develop an ego-less perspective, and find its balance with a perspective of self-love and self-respect.
To be humble yet proud.
To love yourself without being narcissistic.
It is the exercise of a lifetime.

And so, when observing the nature of purpose, facing the inevitable presence of the ego, I cannot help but wonder how one can equate the purpose-feeling of having to share a religion, dogma, or lifestyle, with dropping a bomb on those who've chosen to believe in something else.

As it is, most monotheist religions are driven by fear. Behave a certain way or fear the One God's wrath. And you are force-fed this theory as a child, in your sponge-brain years, or at a moment in your life where you're so vulnerable that you'll be ready and willing to put your entire faith in whatever is reaching you in, to feel like you're part of something greater than yourself.

You thus come to feel it as your purpose to share your religious beliefs (otherwise known as preaching) and your ego will feel attacked when confronted with counter-beliefs. To disagree and argue is one thing, but to drop bombs on those who disagree with you?
That, to me, is a helluva lot of ego, and not a lotta purpose.

So what of bombs?
Explosives in themselves can be useful when used to destroy buildings that are already crumbling, so as to build a new one, or to make way underground for public transportation services or living accommodations. But to use bombs to destroy people -especially in the name of an idea or a perspective (for that is what religions are, really), well, that is, to me, simply a matter of too many egos in fear, together in one room feeding off each other's weaknesses, agreeing that the only way out of their self-inflicted misery is to kill anyone who doesn't think like them.

I hate politics, or rather, I hate being political. I'm lyrical, and musical.
But when I look at children, and at the happy round belies of pregnant women, and I hear or read of news of yet another bomb dropped in a god's name, and realize how frequent these are becoming, I find the world so hopeless, and wonder what can be done in 2016 to save it.

Never underestimate the power of egos in fear, especially if they have an easy access to explosives.

Since the dawn of time, human how have feared being the smaller nation decided to conquer more lands by force, war and blood. To kill each other out of fear of not being the greater force or nation is something that's seemingly engraved in the ways of human behaviour. You're scared of them because they're different from you? Kill them, show them you're better than them by gutting them and destroying everything they are and everything they have.

It's so much easier than to choose to love and trust, to open your mind and your heart and accept that what makes this world so amazing is it diversity.

There are so many cultures, and cultures within cultures in this world, and the beauty of evolution lies in discovering yourself through them, and your own, the culture you were brought in, so as to define your own personal culture.
For I could enjoy moroccan mint tea with two Muslim women, and get a very different version of the Q'ran from each of them.  Reality is, after all, a multi-faceted jewel which reflects the light of its beholder perfectly.

*

At the core of the problem of people bombing other people to get a point across lies the problem of the children of the world, for generations upon generations upon generations, being raised in fear, not love. It's learned behaviour, and the best we can do is to understand how to unlearn, and relearn, how to respect each other and our own selves, and find that perfect balance between purpose and ego.
To love yourself without being narcissistic, and to accept things just as they are, and to find ways to solve issues through living kindness and openness.

And as for us artists -me -the ego, well, I'll just keep on making music.

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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Review: Skold – 'The Undoing'



SKOLD
'The Undoing'
METROPOLIS RECORDS


Shotgun Messiah, KMFDM, MDFMK, Marilyn Manson, ohGr, Doctor Midnight & The Mercy Cult, and Motionless In White are just some of the influential acts that Tim Sköld has lent his considerable talents to over the years. The multi-instrumentalist and producer has been the linchpin to the sound of a range of bands over his thirty year career in music.

His own solo career began after the breakup of Shotgun Messiah – his first internationally successful band – in 1996, he released a follow-up in 2002, and a third outing in the form of 'Anomie' in 2011. There may be big gaps between albums, but Sköld is a a busy guy and lets face it, they are always worth the wait. True to form his fourth solo album, 'The Undoing' is just what long-time fans will be salivating for.

The album mixes the classic heavy beats of Sköld's career with searing rock guitars and enviable electronic experimentalism. Songs such as 'Triumph Of The Will', 'The Oldest Profession', 'Break My Fall', 'Wake Up And Die', and 'Better The Devil' are hard, heavy and seedy slices of brilliant industrial rock that will keep the core of his fanbase very happy. While cuts such as 'Today Your Love', 'Escape', 'Transparencies', and 'Chasing Demons' play fast and loose with expectations incorporating experimental, glitch and almost dubstep elements for a nice anarchic yet catchy sound.

The production is as strong as you'd expect an experienced musician and producer such as Sköld to put out in 2016. Even at its most experimental it is still punchy and club-friendly, while his most guitar driven tracks are gritty and grimy affairs. This is industrial rock, bang up-to-date and as strong sounding as it should be.

'The Undoing' may have been delayed since 2014, however it is another example of Tim Sköld's solo albums being worth the wait. Unencumbered by other band members and expectations he is free to let loose and indulge his creativity to its fullest. And the result is brilliant.

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Review: Victor Love – 'Technomancy'



VICTOR LOVE
'Technomancy'
METROPOLIS RECORDS


Victor Love, the founder principle writer and producer of Dope Stars Inc. has been very busy over the last year. Not content with releasing new music with his main project, he has also been scouring his archives for unreleased gems and moulding a cyberpunk vision for himself through his solo releases. The time has finally come now for his début solo album through Metropolis records.

Unifying the electronic elements of Dope Stars Inc. with a more minimalistic, dance friendly and conceptual direction than before. The end result is a blend of scathing guitars, catchy synth leads and elements of hip hop and glitch music with elements of industrial, ebm and techno. It can easily be compared to the likes of Skinny Puppy, ohGr, Katscan, KMFDM, 'Twitch' era Ministry with Victor Love's identifiable DIY style present throughout.

The album kicks off with a ultra heavy beat collaboration with KMFDM in the form 'Bitchcraft' which sees a fatter and unabashed anthemic sound that is a brilliant statement of intent. The likes of 'Cocaine' featuring Deflore, 'I Curse You' featuring Zu, 'The New System' featuring Aborym, and 'Blind Or Dead' featuring The Enigma TNG, continue the bombastic and heavy sound that fans of Dope Stars Inc. will find the easiest to connect to, while the likes of 'Irrationality' featuring Spiritual Front, 'Surrenders' featuring Deathstars, 'Can't You Remember' featuring Hate Inc., and 'Black Dreams' featuring ORAX explore minimalistic and texturally interesting areas bringing the techno influences to the fore of the album.

The production is crisp and modern. The synth leads have a classic sound to them, and there are low-fi elements interspersed throughout, however there is nothing low-fi or old school about the production. This is a cyberpunk album that still manages to have a nice futuristic edge to it, as though this should be the soundtrack to the much delayed 'Neuromancer' film.

This is a great full-length début by a honed and hardened veteran of all things cyberpunk. The collaborations are great and the album presents quite a varied spread of sounds that will easily appeal to established fans and attract new ones. With a great EP and single released last year, this album is the final legitimisation of Victor Love as a solo artist and hopefully it will cement his reputation as the force that he is.  

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Monday, 11 April 2016

DANGERMOUSE VS DUCKULA: YAWN OF INJUSTICE



OK, calm down everyone. I know we're all very upset. I know we're all sick of hastily and expensively assembled re-launches, re-boots and re-imaginings of classic material, of the heroes of our youth being butchered and forced through a dreary corporate sausage factory where all the spirit and juice of the original is extracted and replaced with brain-numbing committee blandness and ill-judged stadium popcorn-munching media vomit. I know we are utterly exhausted by every attempt by some jumped pseudo-boy-wonder director or cultural supremo to stamp their mediocre authority on a major artistic creation by dumping a whole septic tank of postmodern baloney all over it. We can all agree that these moronic failures should be stopped before they ruin every original idea that humanity has ever had.

We need to draw the line at the latest dreadful error of creative entropy. We must mark it out as a particular example of everything that is wrong with the planet in the twenty-first century.

So - what the fuck happened with the crime against humanity that was the Count Duckula reboot? Duckula was resurrected to go ducko-o-rodento with Dangermouse in the latter's own relaunched show. The results were truly appalling. How long must we allow these shallow TV and film executives to get away with such dreadful attacks against art?  [POW! Right in the childhood! - Editron]

Granted, Dangermouse's reboot was only mildly execerable - a taller, vainer, more pompous metrosexual version of his previous self perhaps, but still essentially the same moderately successful secret agent that he basically always was. But the gross misrepresentation of the new Duckula is an abberration. The original Duckula was vegetarian, peaceful, adverse to conflict, and although deluded and conceited and filled with hubristic aspirations to artistic greatness was essentially just a harmless if eccentric landed nobleman. But the new Duckula was actually violent, megalomaniacal, aggressive, spoke in an incomprehensibly camp American accent and acted in a manner so completely at odds with his noble heritage as to be an affront to his entire lineage. This was slander, pure and simple.

The total disrepect shown towards the Count here is outrageous. Sure, Duckula may have his foibles but he was one of the most impressive political figures to emerge from the Carpathians in centuries; if it hadn't been for that notorious fake bond scandal he could have been the best president Romania ever had, and nobody has done more to promote Transylvanian culture than he has. Not since Vlad Tepes himself has a Romanian national hero been defiled in such a callous and demeaning manner. This is nothing more than a cultural atrocity.

So please - stop the madness. No more reboots, no more resurrections or relaunches. If you can't think of any original ideas then go away and play PS2 in a dungeon somewhere. Just stop it. Now.

(The writer wishes to make it known that he would rather chew off his own arm and feed it to a goldfish than watch 'Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice'.)

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Friday, 8 April 2016

Review: Nash The Slash – 'Dreams & Nightmares'



NASH THE SLASH
'Dreams & Nightmares'
ARTOFFACT RECORDS


Pioneering Canadian musician Nash The Slash may have flown under a lot of people's radars over he course of his 40 year career but his influence cannot be discounted in any way. A pivotal influence on a young Gary Numan and a host of other new wave artists for his progressive blend of synthesized sounds and garage rock attitude. The man behind the bandages, Jeff Plewman, sadly passed away in 2014, and the time is right for his classic albums to see a long overdue re-release.

'Dreams and Nightmares' was Nash The Slash's 1979 début album and sees the reclusive and enigmatic artist embark on a violin, synthesizer, and drum machine manifesto that blends the likes of Pink Floyd, Jean Michele Jarre, Walter Carlos, and Tangerine dream filtered through distopian sci-fi and surrealist art into a unique sonic tapestry.

Songs such as 'Islands', 'Ylla', 'Moon Curse', 'Til Death Us Do Part', and the wonderfully meandering 'Un Chien Andalou' (a soundtrack to the film of the same name) are stunning pieces of conceptual brilliance that show off the multi-instrumentalists raw and unbridled talent. They maintain a raw but cinematic style that is devoid of genre or trend and are still fascinating to listen to today.

Also included is the 'Bedside Companion' EP which explores earlier synthpop territory while maintaining a sense of grandiose scale with its instrumental construction. It's easy to hear how songs such as 'Fever Dream', 'Blind Windows', 'Masquerade' and 'The Million Year Panic' would shape ideas by the likes of Gary Numan, The Human League and OMD in the 1980s.

As you'd expect from an independent recording from the late 70s the sound quality is of its era, but it has been spruced up nicely for its re-release and sounds as good as it ever has.

This is a great album by a truly unique and sorely missed artist. His influence and talent defy categorisation. Always an outsider for the majority of his career these are a perfect retrospective in which modern listeners can explore his discography.  

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Thursday, 7 April 2016

Review: Goatpsalm – 'Downstream'



GOATPSALM
'Downstream'
AESTHETIC DEATH RECORDS


Goatpsalm are out to confound expectations with their free-flowing blend of dark ambient and extreme metal. Arcane and immersive yet cinematic in scope the band's new album 'Downstream' is a unique creature that is heavy on atmosphere. With funeral doom at its core the band incorporate dark ambient, black and death metal elements and folk instruments to create something that defies all classification and reason.

Opening with the stunning 'Grey Rocks' the band layer slow brooding doom, hushed vocals, haunting synthesizers, and natural noises to weave a shamanistic spell over the listener. 'Flowers Of the Underworld' opens with tribal rhythms and soft wooden pipes before crashing into a full-on funeral doom dirge augmented by female vocals and spacey ambient synths. 'White Sea' features a prolonged introduction of waves crashing and gulls screeching before slowly fading into a folk string section layered over spacey synths to create a restrained almost new age ambient track.

'Orphan' follows on nicely with its drum intro giving way to a slow blackened guitar that slowly builds into another nice slice of funeral doom with throat singing and mouth harps for good measure. 'Of Bone And Sinew' is a more up-tempo and overt blend of black and death metal elements that pulls the album into more demonic territory. 'The Waylayer (A Great Spring Hunger)' retreats back into folk influenced shamanistic ambience again for a long, weird and enthralling composition. The title track closes the album in spectacular fashion with a din of echoing drones slowly unveiling a stead drum beat before unveiling the hushed vocals and haunting guitars that eventually erupts into full-on blackened doom.

The production is wonderful. The mixtures of styles and instruments have not been a problem for the band and everything is performed, recorded and mixed wonderfully putting the atmosphere of each composition at the centre of their tasks.

This is a brilliant album. If you're into haunting ambient, occult and pagan themes, and copious amounts of slow and thick doom metal then this album will be a delight to listen to. It is mysterious, atmospheric, and utterly immersive in its scope and while at times it can be challenging, it is also very rewarding.  

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Review: Ippu Mitsui / Annie & The Station Orchestra – 'Split EP'



IPPU MITSUI / ANNIE & THE STATION ORCHESTRA
'Split EP'
BEARSUIT RECORDS


This is a genuine split of two sides. First of all we have the Japanese electronic producer Ippu Mitsui who is known for blending a range of electronic genres in interesting ways. Secondly we have Annie & The Station Orchestra with a more melodic and restrained approach to composition. Two very different artists but they compliment each other quite well.

Ippu Mitsui opens with the glitching techno and eclectic experimentalism of 'Lalanona' which recalls the likes of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher at their most rhythmic. 'Doramyo-Kick Off' is a hard and dance-orientated blend of techno synths and hard beets interspersed with experimental flourishes that don't detract from the dance-appeal at its core. 'Dodein Odori' plays with noise and experimental textures further in a more minimalistic way that incorporates simple beats and circuit bent sounds under a veil of noise. 'Impurities' closes out the first half with a display of restrained rhythmic bass and beats that border on the experimental end of witch house before descending into devilish noise.

Annie & The Station Orchestra also have a flair for the experimental but in a more melodic, considered and almost cinematic way. 'Time' marks their first contribution with a mass of simple beats, avant garde loops and simple synthesizer leads to create a melodic but intelligent composition. 'No More Pirates' emerges form its ambient and choppy loops with another simple blend of melody and rhythm that is reminiscent of the soundtrack work of Yoko Kanno. 'Heavy Artillery Ward' begins with a strong hiss of noise which again the more melodic and ambient elements emerge before a middle part which seems lifted entirely from another track. The final track on the release 'Bustippers' follows the formula of the past two tracks with a long introduction of more minimal experimental sounds before a quite pleasing mix of ambient synths, stuttering rhythms and a central loop create a melodic counterpoint.

This is one of those releases by artists who are master craters of sound. On the one hand they can sound noisy and abrasive, and on the other melodic and uplifting. So the production does just what it needs to and gives everything a nice even presentation and mix down.

This is a great release for fans of avant garde / experimental music. Two great artists for the price of one, each bringing something different but complimentary to the table. Whether Ippu Mitsui floats your boat, or you'd like to explore Annie & The Station Orchestra more this release has a lot to offer.  

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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Review: Primitive Man / Northless – 'Split LP'



PRIMITIVE MAN / NORTHLESS
'Split LP'
HALO OF FLIES


Split EPs are always great because if you know one of the bands and not the other, you never quite know what you're going to get. Sometimes though, you do know and youre left wondering how these two bands will co-exist on a single album together, and that's the case with this split release from Primitive Man and Northless. Primitive Man have been prolific in their output of filthy, fuzzy and distorted doom metal, while Northless favour a more anything goes post-metal approach instead. However in this case it works well.

Primitive Man kick the track list off with the filthy and doomy sludge of 'Empty Husk', which on its own accounts for a full fifteen minutes of the album's run time in all of its feedback drenched and monolithic glory. It is an utterly demonic and thunderous beast of a track that sounds like being dragged through the bowels of hell.

Northless offer up three shorter tracks for their contribution starting off with the cacophonous strains of 'Deleted Heartstrings' resplendent with shifting riffs, noisy distortion and hardcore influenced sludge metal at its core it is a forceful track. 'The 10,000 Year Wound' shift into doom territory while keeping those post metal guitars at the head of their attack for a more focussed and deliberate assault. 'Wasted Breath' closes the album in spectacular style at one point shifting from clear and almost uplifting before crashing back into grim despair.

The production is pretty even throughout with the feedback of Primitive Man and the reckless abandon of Northless being every engineer's worst nightmare it still sounds evenly mixed and the bands end up complimenting each other nicely.

This is quite a nice release. Primitive Man knock it out of the park with ease and despite the long pieces of feedback helping to drag the song out it still flies by. Northless show off a fierce intensity that is justly intoxicating and anyone new to them will certainly be wanting to explore them further based on this.  

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Review: Orations – 'Incantation'



ORATIONS
'Incantation'
SHEETS OF TENS 


There is always a bit of a danger with a modern band looking back to the early years of a movement that there is going to be too much focus on replicating the sound of those influential records rather than the actual songwriting. Fortunately that isn't the case with Buffalo, NY post-punk quartet Orations. Their new EP 'Incantation' owes a heavy debt to the likes of Joy Division, The Smiths, The Cure and The Chameleons, but it is fresh, original and unique. Those Mancunian bass lines and near psychedelic jangling guitars complete with a vocal performance reminiscent of early Siouxsie Sioux come together to create something very familiar, yet the band have the songwriting skills to make it their own.

Opening with 'Curses' The Cure meets The Smiths melancholic pop-friendly post-punk is sublime in its execution and does a great job at drawing you in deeper. 'Circus Of Currents' then hits you hard with a Peter Hook bass line and a Chameleons style raucous guitar line to show off the band's harder edge.

'Nosedive' then goes deeper into a much darker Joy Division meets Bauhaus direction propelled by a solid bass line and atmospheric scratchy guitars to create a wonderful proto-gothic anthem. The EP is then brought to a close by 'Strangely Safe' which returns to the sublimely dark pop leanings of the opener to round things off in a very satisfying way.

In terms of production it is evident that in terms of guitar and bass tones the band have paid close attention to those influential records, but the overall product still sounds nice and modern in its execution.

This is a very satisfying EP and those who like their post-punk to be as strong as those early records will find this release to be a real treat. Orations definitely have the skills to carve their own path, and hopefully a full-length release will solidify their presence in the scene.  

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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Review: The Glen And Joe Show – 'Lock Me Out'



THE GLEN AND JOE SHOW
'Lock Me Out'
ARTOFFACT RECORDS


Sat on ice for 30 years after being cut by Images In Vogue members Glen Nelson and Joe Vizvary and under the supervision of producer Dave Ogilvie, 'Lock Me Out' is a sublime piece of New Order style synthpop straight from 1983. A relic of the early Vancouver electronic scene it is a shame this single and its b-side 'Gravel' hadn't seen a real release until now, because they are seriously good.

The a-side 'Lock Me Out' is a classic piece of synthpop that despite its 1983 vintage still sounds brilliant today. The steady dance beats, classic synths sound and crystal clear vocals have withstood the test of time and it would have done well had it been released at the time it was recorded, and even today it more than holds its own.

The b-side 'Gravel' is an instrumental recorded at a similar time to the a-side and subsequently re-recorded last year for inclusion on this single, and again it sounds great. It has an almost Ultravox meets Moroder flavour to it that begs to be included on an 80s sci-fi soundtrack, yet remains quite dance friendly.

This is a nice but very long overdue release. Despite the tracks early 80s construction they still sound fresh, if a little retro. The mix is crisp and surprisingly modern and the production as a whole is great.

This may appeal more to hardcore collectors and completeists, however it is nonetheless a great single with plenty of potential. Hopefully this will be a catalyst for Glen and Joe to drag more out of their archive or forge ahead with new recordings. 

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Review: Frozen Ocean – 'The Prowess Of Dormition'



FROZEN OCEAN
'The Prowess Of Dormition'
APOCALYPTIC WITCHCRAFT


From the depths of Russia comes the atmospheric metal of Frozen Ocean. The solo project of Vaarwel, Frozen Ocean has been around for a decade now in which time he has explored not only metal but also downtempo electronics, triphop, drone, ambient noise, punk, shoegaze, post rock and neoclasical styles amongst other. His latest offering 'The Prowess Of Dormition' returns to a more metal orientated sound by way of the epic black metal structures we'd expect from the likes of Emperor and Immortal.

'No Blizzard' opens the album with a spacey introduction that gives way to frantic blackened metal core completed by death metal vocals and haunting electronic atmospheres suspended throughout. 'Once Aglow' follows up with the electronic elements higher in the mix for a more epic and cinematic sound while the metal core takes on a more melodic death metal mantle with some blackened elements in the vocals and guitars. 'Det Siste Snøfallet' is a fine central piece of unrelenting black metal riffs, thunderous blast beats and subtle electronics that is so strong it makes you forget there are no vocals included. The title track closes the album out in a big way with a blend of blackened guitars, melodic death metal and dark metal elements coming together for a phenomenal finale.

This may be a short album (or a long EP depending on your outlook on life) but it certainly packs a punch. Frozen Ocean may not be a well-know name but his songwriting and production skills are up their with the best. The album is crisp and modern throughout and nothing gets bogged down or lost in the mix.

'The Prowess Of Dormition' is a very strong album, and while its reach might be limited to an extent, those who seek it out will certainly find something to take away from it. Especially fans of Enslaved and Moonsorrow. It will be interesting which direction the next release will follow. 

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Review: Beastmaker – 'Lusus Naturae'



BEASTMAKER
'Lusus Naturae'
RISE ABOVE RECORDS


Beastmaker by name, Beastmaker by nature. This trio from Fresno, USA come out swinging on their full-length début. Hard Sabbath riffs, blusey grooves and demonic psychedelia form 'Lusus Naturae' delves into influences from the likes of Black Sabbath, The Zombies, Pentagram, Witchfinder General, Danzig, and Witchcraft for an uncompromising slab of psychedelic doom.

A good début album has got to grab you straight away and Beastmaker know this as 'Clouds In the Sky' opens with bells tolling before dropping a hard Iomi-esque riff straight into the mix. Songs such as 'Eyes Are Watching', 'You Must Sin', 'Mask Of Satan', 'Lusus Naturae', and 'The Strain' follow on with the riffs and solos at the heart of the song's construction but ably complimented by strong rhythms and grooves.

The album really doesn't let up, with every song bringing something to the table. There's no filler, no messing around, just tight, steadily paced doom. And that is all they need. The song writing is strong, so strong in fact that you'd be forgiven for not realising this is their début offering.

The production has a nice analogue sound to it. Almost as if it was recorded on a four track tape live with a couple of overdubs. There is something very organic and honest about this album. A DIY attitude but some seriously good production skills thrown in as well.

'Lusus Naturae' is a great début. It hits hard and fast with a tonne of great material that will make you want to catch them live, and recommend them to a friend. Fans of doom, stoner rock, and occult rock will have a great time with this album, and hopefully this is just the first step on a long career path for the band.  

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Monday, 4 April 2016

Review: Blood Ceremony – 'Lord Of Misrule'



BLOOD CEREMONY
'Lord Of Misrule'
RISE ABOVE RECORDS

Toronto's Blood Ceremony have been one of the shining lights in the revival of the occult rock movement for a number of years and the band's fourth album 'Lord Of Misrule' shows that they are definitely not going away any time soon. Blending hard fuzzy guitars, vintage organ,flute and distinctive female vocals the band have honed their sound into a powerful and unique one that sets them apart from a growing number of imitators.

The new album continues the dark path the band have been on since day one. The continued evolution of the folk rock and progressive rock elements is evident in a number of tracks, yet they remain steadfastly true to the power of the riff and the allure of the bass groove. Songs such as 'The Devil's Widow', 'The Rogue's Lot', 'The Weird Of Finistere', and 'Things Present, Things Past' effortlessly blend folk and prog elements into their core formula and the result is perhaps some of their strongest work to date. While songs such as 'Lord Of Misrule', 'Flower Phantoms', and 'Old Fires' go straight for a more concise psychedelic-tinged rock approach.

The album is reminiscent of classic acts such as Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, and The Shocking Blue and continues the thematic exploration of folk-horror-lore for which this kind of music is just perfect for. The production sounds warm and analogue giving it a recognisably retro edge, but in terms of the quality and the mixing it can hold its own with any modern release.

'Lord Of Misrule' is a fantastic album, and a highpoint of Blood Ceremony's career so far. The balance of folk, prog and doom elements makes this an accessible but nonetheless stunning album that is sure to put many of their imitators in their place. It is an absolute joy to listen to from start to finish.

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Review: Psy'Aviah – 'Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars'



PSY'AVIAH
'Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars'
ALFA MATRIX


'Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars' marks the seventh full-length release from Belgian electronic producer Yves Schelpe under the Psy'Aviah moniker. Continuing with the multiple vocalist approach of his previous album, 2014's 'The Xenogamous Endevour', Schelpe continues to blend multiple electronic genres in new ways while maintaining a deeply emotional core. Synthpop, ebm, triphop, electroclash, techno, edm, and eurodance come together with nods to artists like Moby, Faithless, Enigma, and Praga Khanto create an uplifting and introspective journey.

The album kicks off with the short Enigma-like introduction 'Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars' that underlines the concept before diving into the opening track 'Alcubierre Drive' featuring Kyoko Baertsoen on vocals partnered with a heady blend of sultry pop, triphop and progressive electronics. Songs such as 'Face to Face (feat. Roeland van der Velde)', 'From Another World (feat. Bernard Feron)', 'Liberosis (feat. Alvin River)', 'Not What I Expected (feat. Fallon Nieves)', and 'Wild Ride (feat. Miss FD)' keep the dance-friendly backbone of the album intact with big beats, beautiful vocal contributions, and memorable leads powering the tracks along. While the likes of 'Lessons From The Past (feat. Mari Kattman)', 'Opia (feat. Pieter Van Vaerenbergh)', 'Peace Paradox' and 'Starstruck (feat. Diana S.)' explore the deeper and more conceptual end of Shelpe's songwriting.

The whole album is perfectly balanced between accessible and dance friendly electronic music and more progressive and even cinematic aspirations. Schelpe pulls it off with ease. The whole album is a delight to listen to and the production is wonderful sounding right up-to date and crisp throughout.

Even the bonus remix CD throws out some unexpected delights in the form of 'Wild Ride (feat. Miss FD) (Alex Dalliance remix)', 'Opia (feat. Pieter Van Vaerenbergh) (Liquid Divine remix)', 'Not What I Expected (feat. Fallon Nieves) (Cutoff:Sky remix)', 'Alcubierre Drive (feat. Kyoko Baertsoen) (KONER remix)', and 'Wild Ride (feat. Miss FD) (Girlflesh remix)' in particular taking the originals and taking them off into new and intriguing directions.

'Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars' is perhaps the most complete and sonically stunning album in the Psy'Aviah back catalogue to date. Once again Schelpe has pushed the boundaries of electronic music and continued to explore and experiment with different approaches and it has once again paid off for him. Simply, this album shows why Psy'Aviah is one of the stand-out names on the Alfa Matrix roster.

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Review: Abbey Death – 'Realignment'



ABBEY DEATH
'Realignment'
SELF-RELEASED


Valerie Abbey (Gentile) & Abbey Nex come together to form a brand new entity in Abbey Death. The duo known respectively for their contributions to luminary acts such as Combichrist, The Crushadows, Psyclon Nine, Angelspit, Genitorturers, and Black Tape For A Blue Girl meld their experience in gothic, industrial and darkwave music into a rather unique product. The band's début EP, 'Realignment' is a heady cocktail of industrial electronics, gothic style dual vocals, and darkwave guitars and beats. It is a formula that at first glance doesn't look all that special but with the experience and skills of these two central to the process it takes on an instant identity all of its own.

The EP kicks off with 'The Outside', a wonderfully dance-friendly blend of classic gothic rock elements and modern experimental electronics that is instantly addictive. 'Subtract Your Mind' moves into a more electronically dominated direction that has an air of late 90s Genitorturers meets Bella Morte vibe to it that while nostalgic in a sense, doesn't sound at all dated.

'Dirty Confessional' perhaps is the most scatter-gun sounding in its execution, however the elements are there – nice grungy guitars, and those late 90s style industrial rock electronics – it just doesn’t quite live up to the other tracks on the EP. The track list is brought to a close by the dirty and nasty 'Star Mercia' that delves headlong into Wax Trax! and Nothing era industrial rock for an instantly classic sounding finale to an enjoyable début.

In terms of the production there is a rough and ready vibe running throughout that is reminiscent of a cassette release. It isn't a bad thing though, it adds to the grungy rebellious atmosphere of the songs and actually compliments the more experimental and heavy electronic elements.

This is a very promising début from tow artists who individually already have the tools and experiences to craft great music, so together they should continue to create something truly special. Hopefully they will continue to explore this partnership on a full-length release sooner rather than later.  

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Lucky Thirteen: The IVM guide to... Doom Metal



Welcome to Lucky Thirteen, a new series of beginners guides to a number of musical genres old and new. For the first instalment we thought we'd look at one of heavy metals most fundamental but perhaps most underrated genres – Doom Metal.

The idea behind Lucky Thirteen is to give you an introductory selection of bands, albums and tracks that will undoubtedly start you on the slippery slope to full-on obsession. Or it might put you off entirely.

The history and development of Doom Metal is linked to the heavy metal genre as a whole. Starting with Black Sabbath's eponymous début album in 1970 the formula of slow, heavy and dark riffs has been at the core of the sound, and while new genres have appeared and developed in their own ways, these styles, such as death metal, black metal, gothic metal, and even industrial metal have all fed back into Doom and served it's evolution making it perhaps the most diverse genre in the metal spectrum.



1. Black Sabbath – 'Black Sabbath'

As we said in the above paragraph, it all begins with Black Sabbath and in particular the first album. Coming from a blues and hard rock background the band from Birmingham established the fundamentals of all metal to follow on their début. The signature tritone of the opening track 'Black Sabbath' with its slow and sinister pace, horror-influenced lyrics, thick bass line and macabre atmosphere set the standard for the doom genre to live up to.





Essential track: 'Black Sabbath'







2. Trouble – 'Psalm 9'


Americans Trouble crafted a landmark doom album with their 1984 début 'Psalm 9'. While Black Sabbath had laid the groundwork for the genre it wasn't until the 1980s when it would begin to coalesce into a separate entity from the first two waves of heavy metal bands. 'Psalm 9' married the influence of Sabbath and Judas Priest into a psychedelic mess of grooves and riffs that is thunderous to listen to. The band's influences may be English, however this is pure American muscle.






Essential track: 'The Tempter'





3. Saint Vitus – 'Born Too Late'


Along with Trouble, Saint Vitus' first album was arguably one of the first defining doom releases that would help establish the genre as a whole. However, it is the band's third album 'Born Too Late' that would be the band's most influential and successful. The first album to feature former The Obsessed vocalist Scott 'Wino' Weinrich, 'Born Too Late' is a thick concoction of sludgy riffs and gloom that would serve to be a big influence on not only later doom bands but also on the stoner rock and grunge movements that would follow.





Essential track: 'Dying Inside'





4. Candlemass – 'Nightfall'


Candlemass' début 'Epicus Doomicus Metallicus' established the principles of “Epic Doom Metal” with their mix of slow hard power chords and operatic baritone vocals. But with the arrival of new vocalist Messiah Marcollin came a new injection of ideas and 'Nightfall' reaps the benefits. This is the album that established Candlemass as a name in the growing doom metal scene and it is quite rightly considered a classic and influential album.






Essential track: 'Samarthian'





5. My Dying Bride – 'The Angel And The Dark River'


Along with contemporaries Anathema and Paradise Lost, Yorkshire's My Dying Bride would find their roots in death metal before evolving into the resplendent gothic melancholic doom metal they found on this album. The band's sound here was built around keyboards, violins. The pace was unremittingly slow throughout and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe completely dispensed with his previous death grunts in favour of a more vulnerable and tortured style. The result is an undeniable and influential classic.





Essential track: 'The Cry Of Mankind'





6. Paradise Lost – 'Draconian Times'


Halifax natives Paradise Lost originated and perfected the death doom sound on their first couple of albums, and invented the gothic doom/metal moniker on their 1991 sophomore release. But the moniker didn't truly fit until the release of the heavy and despairing 'Draconian Times' augmented by opulent keyboards, varied pace, and a mix of hard and deep vocals, 'Draconian Times' saw the stars align for the band and realise the vision they had slowly been building towards.

Essential track: 'Enchantment'






7. Type O Negative – 'Bloody Kisses'


You could argue that the band's 1996 follow-up 'October Rust' was the technically superior album, but the impact of 1994's 'Bloody Kisses' has been the most tangible of the two. Quickly evolving from a mix of hardcore and thrash tinged with gothic elements to a sublime, sensual and at times sarcastic masterpiece of true gothic doom Peter Steele brought Roadrunner records their first gold album with this and became a legend overnight. A lot has been said about this album over the years and none of it lives up to just how brilliant it actually is.



Essential track: 'Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare All)'





8. Down – 'NOLA'


Despite already being known as the frontman for the wildly successful Pantera, Phil Anselmo had a deep love of doomy sounds. He began writing and demoing the ideas that would become Down in 1990 with Pepper Keenan (Corrosion Of Conformity). The end result was 1995's 'NOLA' a thick mass of sludgy riffs, hardcore style vocals and southern rock grooves. There have been arguments in terms of genre just where Down sit, but there is no denying this album's influence on the doom genre in the years since.




Essential track: 'Bury Me In Smoke'





9. Electric Wizard – 'Dopethrone'


By the time 'Dopethrone' was released in 2000, Electric Wizard were already a name with some weight to them. The band's third album and follow-up to the breakthrough 'Come My Fanatics...' was a definite turning point in the genre. The sound was thick, fuzzy and psychedelic. The vocals were heavily manipulated and left low in the mix. It was an all out onslaught of slow doomy riffs and abrasive aggression. In a decade where heavy often went hand in hand with blast beats, this felt like a complete swerve.




Essential track: 'Funeralopolis'





10. Sleep – 'Sleep's Holy Mountain'


Sleep are quite rightly cited as the ultimate stoner metal band. And 'Sleep's Holy Mountain' is the ultimate stoner metal album. Thick crunchy bluesy riffs and bass and watery vocals give the album a very 70s sound, but it doesn't sound dated, even by today's standards. It's thick, fuzzy sound has been the benchmark for the stoner metal scene ever since, and while bands like Kyuss and Monster Magnet were more successful, Sleep remain the kings.





Essential track: 'Dragonaut'





11. Cathedral – 'The Carnival Bizarre'


Cathedral had already been signed and dropped by a major record label by the time they released their third album 'The Carnival Bizarre' in 1995. The band's last effort had been a great blend of grooves and up-tempo writing. But for their third album everything came together perfectly with the band fully defining their sound and recording the most concise track list of their career. This album is home to some venerated classics not only in Cathedral's back catalogue but of the doom genre as a whole.

Essential track: 'Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)'





12. Anathema- 'The Silent Enigma'


The band's second album and first to feature the more diverse vocal style of Vincent Cavanagh saw Anathema branch out from death doom to incorporate gothic and progressive elements into their song writing. The end result, 'The Silent Enigma' is a true classic of the genre, even if it is possibly the last overtly doom metal orientated album the band would produce in their long career. None the less it is a strong offering of hard riffs, thunderous rhythms and near cinematic scale.




Essential track: 'Sunset Of Age'





13. Swallow The Sun – 'The Morning Never Came'


The Finns so far haven't released a bad album, which is an impressive run by anyone's standards, but for the sake of argument we're going to highlight their 2003 début 'The Morning Never Came' for this list – though any of their albums would have fit here. Taking death doom and filling ito with great riffs, a slow pace and soaring melodies, Swallow The Sun picked up where the likes of Paradise Lose, My Dying Bride and Anathema left off and updated it with some dark Arctic atmospheres.




Essential track: 'Out Of This Gloomy Light'





That's out first Lucky Thirteen list done to hopefully start you off on the long road to obsession with doom metal. If you think we missed any essential bands, albums or songs from this list please feel free to comment on our Facebook page, or even let us know what other genre lists you'd like to see. Otherwise: Tune Low, Play Slow, And Doom Out!


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