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

Thursday, 22 June 2017

WARRIURRRR MUSIC


So! Last month we asked the question about non-problematic forms of activism and summoned the idea of the WARRIURRRR. Digging a bit more closely into this – what are the culturrrrral manifestations of the WARRIURRRR? And what would WARRIURRRR culturrrrr look and sound like? How can we make WARRIURRRR music?

Let's start with some obvious culturrrrral examples of the WARRIURRRR. PJ Harvey is the superlative example; Diamanda Galas, Annie Lennox, Shirley Mansoon; Beyonce too. Grace Jones, Pauline Black. Eddie Izzard is a kind of WARRIURRRR too. These are uncompromisingly independent, creartive, assertive, and FEEUURSE.

Politically, Jack Monroe is a WARRIURRRR. Saffiyah Khan is WARRIURRRR. Kat Blaque the definitive WARRIURRRR of the moment. Angela Davis is the ultimate WARRIURRRR. Even Caroline Lucas is a kind of WARRIURRRR.

In terms of fictional WARRIURRRRZ some particular examples come to mind. Obviously, Ripley and Furiosa are WARRIURRRZ. Red Sonja is probably more warrior than WARRIURRRR, although the Bride is a striking (albeit unusual) example that qualifies as a WARRIURRR. Black Canary, Jessica Jones and Catwoman are WARRIURRRRZ. Uhura and Starbuck are SPACE WARRIURRRRZ. In fact, sometimes there appears to be more WARRIURRRRZ in space than there are on earth.

What do these WARRIURRRRZ have in common? Well, they are all fighters of a kind, all glittered in various shades of sass. There is a lot of strength, a lot of humour, a lot of FEEEURRSEE. Their instincts and senses are correct. They don't take the easy way out.

So, which of these elements could we bring into a WARRIURRRR music? Well, a lot of screaming is essential; noise, discordancy; pounding drums; sneering contempt, aggression, and political commentary – but without macho posturing and po-faced demogoguery.

We need some more WARRIURRRR venom in goth.

Over to you, gofficks.

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Editorial: June, 2017



AKA – A Goth melting in the heat...

It is about 30 degrees centigrade outside. As I sit here racking my brains trying to think about what to write for this month's editorial rambling I can't help but be overwhelmed by the heat and humidity in my flat. The computer fan is whirring away, I have a cold drink and the window open but the misery of Summer is still abounds as the neighbouring children shriek at ear-piercing levels right outside.

It's become a common meme now. Goths in the heat/sun. Take care of your goths this Summer, don't leave them in locked cars etc. The truth is I don't do well in the heat. At all. And I frankly never have. Anything above 20 degrees centigrade and I slowly begin ceasing to function. My mind and reflexes slow and all I want to do is lie in a pool of cold water until the heat goes.

The UK has moments of dry heat before you start saying “Its the humidity that’s worse, the heat is fine”... but I’m not a lizard and the heat, dry or otherwise, is still a bloody pain for me. Perhaps it's just our crazy British weather of cold snaps followed by heat-waves that means we can't even acclimatise ourselves properly from one day to the next, but nevertheless, I and many like me suffer through the Summer months.

I'm not sad enough to begrudge the sun and demand to live in permanent overcast misery either. But the suffocating heat and humidity of the UK summer has always filled me with a sense of dread due to the headaches, dehydration and endless... endless bad jokes about wearing black and vampires.

If you too out there are feeling the heat too much, you have my undying sympathy. If on the other hand you've stripped to the waist, cooking yourself beneath the UV rays to a crispy consistency and lamenting why it can't be glorious summer everyday... then you can kiss my arse while I yearn for the frosty embrace of an Autumnal morning.

Right, that's enough moaning for now. Again I'm going to being to round things off by thanking everyone who keeps downloading our latest compilation so far, and give double thanks to those who have donated some money for it. If you have already downloaded it please recommend it to your friends. If you haven't got round to downloading it yet (and if you haven't where have you been so far?) and can just spare a £1 donation, it will all go towards kicking blood cancer's ass! If you can't donate, that's fine too, but please do make sure you check out more from the awesome band's that made this possible! 

In other news, we're on the hunt for a few new regular contributors to add to our staff. If you're interested in doing some reviews or even just a monthly column, please contact us at intravenousmagazine@gmail.com and we'll take it from there. What kind of person are we looking for? Well we're after people who are motivated, committed and eager to take the time to build up a list of PR and label contacts.

For more information on writing for IVM please visit HERE.

Finally, I'd like to again extend the invitation to established scene DJs, artists, and bands to contribute guest DJ mixes that we will host on Mixcloud. What we're thinking is a series of hour-long mixes showing off new and classic acts which we will feature on Mixcloud as well as the Intravenous Magazine website. If anyone is interested, please contact us at the above email address.

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



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Live: Kraftwerk – Sheffield City Hall, 15/06/2017



KRAFTWERK
Sheffield City Hall
15/06/2017


The tickets may have said **ON STAGE 19:45 PROMPT** in typical Kraftwerk fashion, but it was still 8pm by the band finally took to the stage. Perhaps it was down to that British of habits of turning up at approximately the right time that delayed the performance as the band waited patiently backstage for the audience to take their seats. Or it could be that in their advancing years the Krafterk idiom of punctuality has softened somewhat.

The location of tonight's performance, Sheffield City Hall, might not be the average venue for an electronic artist's performance these days, but for Kraftwek it is strangely suitable. An old seated theatre layout with nice acoustics and a beautiful moulded plaster ceiling give this the feel of a classical recital. Indeed the band's robotic on-stage persona has never lent them to energetic performances, rather stoic and dignified not unlike classical performers.

The band, an oddity in their commercial heyday of the late 70s paved the way for nearly every band with a synthesizer after them. Democratising the synthesizer from the overblown heights of prog rock and putting it into the eager hands of the DIY post-punk scene as another invaluable weapon aiding in the development of synthpop, industrial, and dance music over the next few decades. Their importance cannot be overemphasised enough in the annals of electronic music, and despite not releasing any original music for quite sometime, their live shows still pull eager crowds.

If you've previously seen footage of the band recorded over the past decade, you'll be aware that they are always aided by a synchronised projection behind them. The new twist is the projection is presented in the latest 3D technology, and as such every audience member is given a pair of 3D glasses on entry. Cynically it may seem like a cheap gimmick, but in the hands of Kraftwerk it works incredibly well.

The band open with 'Numbers' and 'Computer World' before rolling out classic upon classic. Tracks such as 'Computer Love', The Man-Machine', 'Spacelab', 'The Model', 'Autobahn', 'Radioactivity', 'Tour De France' and 'Trans-Europe Express' are met with rapturous appreciation from the audience.

The band briefly leave the stage as their robotic counterparts are brought on for 'The Robots'. Unfortunately the stage curtain begins to snag and the unveiling of the automata Kraftwerk is delayed, but surely the curtain is pulled apart by the sheer force of the stage hands. However, after the curtain closes once again for the band to return to the stage the same problem hits and though one side is able to be fully opened, one does not and the stage hands have to hold it open as best they can, which does cut off part of the screen. Undeterred, the second encore sees the band roll through 'Areodynamik', 'Planet Of Visions' and a final medley of 'Boing Boom Tschak / Techno Pop / Music Non Stop' before leaving to a well-deserved ovation from the audience.

Kraftwerk these days may essentially be the Ralf Hütter show, with founding partner Florian Schneider, as well as the classic line-up, having left some time ago. But that doesn’t dull their edge any less. Tonight's show was a master-class in electronic composition and technical perfection. For a band as obsessed with technology and the future as Kraftwerk it would be wonderful to have some new material soon and new additions made to their touring set. But, as tonight shows, even when Kraftwerk are looking back they still seem light years ahead. 

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Review: Caustic – 'The Coital Staircase'



CAUSTIC
'The Coital Staircase'
UNDUSTRIAL RECORDS


With a subtly subversive to industrial legends Coil, Caustic, AKA Matt Fanale returns with a new single comprising of... minimalist techno. Yep, if you're expecting hard beats, growled vocals and infectiously catchy leads then 'The Coital Staircase' will certainly confound you.

Slightly ambient, slightly psychedelic, the track builds from a simple repeating lead to an old school techno base interspersed with vocal samples, which again morphs further into something that sounds like the KLF on some serious chill pills. At eight-minutes long it's a nice sizeable offering, but a real curve-ball. It could of course be a classic example of Fanale toying with people's expectations, but it really does raise serious questions about his direction for the next Caustic full-length album.

Axhan's remix of the title track brings it nicely back towards it's nod to Coil with a grittier, slightly more primal industrial feel to it's central techno framework. Null Device bring in ethnic rhythms and a hint of new age into the mix to almost give it an air of mid-90s Enigma. Finally, the radio edit brings the single to a tidy close with a concise presentation of the original.

As you'd come to expect from Fanale's recent output, it is a really well written, surprisingly catchy and very well produced release. While there are certainly some old school nods at work on the original as well as the remixes, the single still sounds fresh and modern throughout.

This is an interesting move from Caustic, one that will have people scratching their heads until the next full-length album is released. But in the present this is a surprising yet delightful new face from on of the industrial scene's most exciting artists.  

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Film Review: Rammstein – 'Paris' (DVD)



RAMMSTEIN
'Paris'
Dir: Jonas Åkerlund
UNIVERSAL MUSIC


It may have seemed odd to a few people that 'Paris', another live DVD release, was scheduled so soon after the band's last one 'Amerika' which was only released in 2015. The answer comes in the fact that 'Paris' is not a live document in the same way that most rock/metal DVDs are. This production is a “Concert Film”, that may sound pretentious, but it is for a good reason.

'Paris', while carrying on the proud tradition of great live Rammstein DVDs, actually has more in common with the likes of Talking Heads' 'Stop Making Sense' or Led Zeppelin’s 'The Song Remains The Same'. Yes it is a concert but with 25 separate cameras, two nights of filming, and additional footage rapidly interspersed with the main show it creates something new, something that was quite rightly exhibited in cinemas prior to its DVD release.

The live mix coupled with the rapid cutting between shots, and subtle use of post-processing effects and additional footage basically turn this into one long music video. If you've previously seen Jonas Åkerlund's video for 'Ich Tu Dir Wehr' you will recognise the editing style. But still, even that doesn't quite scratch the surface of 'Paris'.

The 'Made In Germany: 1995 – 2011' tour on which this was filmed saw Rammstein not only coalesce the best of their sonic output into their setlist, but also the best of their pyrotechnics. From the face-mounted flame-throwers of 'Feur Frei' to the incredible fire-shooting metal wings of 'Engel' it is a master-class of choreographed insanity. Yet the addition of the 'B' stage out in the audience (accessible by a lowered bridge) gives the band the opportunity to a) get closer to the audience, and b) enjoy a more stripped-down performance for a few songs (...bar of course Till Lindemann's infamous ejaculating strap-on).

The songs are performed with precision and passion, the live mix is excellent, and the visuals are a feast for the eyes. 'Paris' is one of the rare examples where a live document of a performance actually does the band the justice they deserve. Rammstein have upped the game of live DVDs consistently since they release 'Live Aus Berlin' in 1999, but this may just be unbeatable.  

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Monday, 12 June 2017

Introducing... low.poly.exception



Name of band: low.poly.exception
Members: Exactly one
Year formed: 2017
Location: On the net

low.poly.exception is a secretive individual releasing dark tech themed music on the internet. with two EPs under their belt, they are preparing their first full length album titled 'Nodal Point Gang' which will be available on September 22nd, 2017 in digital and CD format.


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

The best way for me to put it is that I materialized on the net one day. from that point forward I wanted to document my journey with a soundtrack of my own composition.


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

I jokingly refer to what i make as "codewave," a sort of cold and nihilistic cyberpunk influenced electronic music. It has bits and pieces of darkwave and darksynth and a variety of other styles.


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

My primary influences are artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Android Lust, Kenji Kawai, Dryft, and more.


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

Truthfully for a ghost wandering the net, a live performance would be a bit difficult, but if you keep your eyes and ears open to social media channels you might find something close in the near future. I am working on some multimedia projects to pair up with my music.


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

I just released my second EP 'In The Absence Of Light' at lowpolyexception.bandcamp.com with a pay-what-you-want pricing model. On September 22nd, 2017 I will be releasing my first album 'Nodal Point Gang' in digital and CD formats.


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

We're just getting started.


IVM: What are your plans fro the future?

To keep looking forward. to replicate.


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

In these trying times, there is net, or nothing.



Links:


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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Review: Sidewalks And Skeletons – 'The Void'



SIDEWALKS AND SKELETONS
'The Void'
SELF-RELEASED


2015's 'White Light' from Sidewalks And Skeletons, AKA Jake Lee, was arguably one of the highlights of the year with it's esoteric pallet of ethereal, hypnotic electronics and dark hip-hop/trap beats. 2017 sees 'The Void' pick-up the next part of the sonic journey begun on 'White Light'. This time there is a lighter, calmer and more spiritual feel to the proceedings. The beats have been dialled back. The synths are lighter and more ambient. And the whole package feels like a suitable evolution in the S&S sound.

Songs such as 'VHS Death', 'Black Flowers', 'Entity', '1996', 'Forgive', 'Morgue', and 'Fading Light' are just as hypnotic as anything S&S has produced before, but there is an euphoric and emotional softness to them, a sense of tranquillity, and yet they are recognisably part of the witch house influenced S&S sonic landscape. Whereas tracks such as 'The Void', 'Morphine', 'Drowning', 'Feel Nothing', 'Slip Away', and 'Glow' fit right in with the experimental yet accessible flavours of previous releases, incorporating samples and grooving beats to great effect.

In terms of production the album is stunning. There is no doubt that Lee is a phenomenal producer. The album is crisp and modern, the experimental sections come through clear and the whole album maintains a light open sense of space throughout. Again it shows just how quickly Lee continues to progress and up his game with every single release.

While the album may have lost that dark and heavy presence of its predecessor, and those really cool flirtations with metal, it is still a stunning release. Lee hasn't gone in a predictable direction and so the more ethereal and ambient nature of the album feels like a curve-ball, but a welcome one nonetheless. 'The Void' is a truly beautiful album that shows excessive skills and talent behind it, and more importantly ambition. An ambition to keep reaching higher with every release, and this certainly achieves that.  

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Book Review: Various Authors – 'Prom Nights from Hell'


VARIOUS AUTHORS
'Prom Nights From Hell'
HARPER COLLINS 


Whenever I think about a perfect romance story, I almost immediately think about a book with five different romances, all of them with a paranormal, dark touch, which adds the perfect dose of enchantment and dreamlike atmosphere. Not that I would like to live all of them, but be sure that there are some that I would like to experience in some level. 

I’m speaking about 'Prom Nights from Hell', a paranormal romance anthology book with five short stories from five best-selling different authors. You can hate me from saying this, but the best one for me will always be Stephenie Meyer, her story as the best one in this book, for what matters. 

Each one of those stories give you a different possibility about what could happen on a prom night if this world was interesting enough, five alternative universes we briefly explore and that could put you creativity into action. Don’t say no, it happened with me right after I was done with this book. 

I completely ignore the stories’ original order because I read this book in Spanish, so I’ll be going on each of them following that order. If you own a copy of it in English, then feel free to go and switch from one paragraph to the other, if that’s what it takes. 

The first one is 'The Exterminator’s Daughter', by Meg Cabot, an interesting tale about sworn to death enemies that reminded me of Romeo and Juliet’s romance: two characters that were supposed to hate each other, and the end up falling in love, finding the sense of their own existence in that of the other. 

It was nice, entertaining, with some minor details I didn’t like that much, as some dialogues that felt too fake, not really natural, but the whole plot managed to keep me inside that little world from the beginning to the end. Not the best one, but very well and a cool starting point for the book. 

Next, we have 'The Corsage', by Lauren Myracle, the darkest and creepiest story among them all. It’s Myracle’s own version of The Monkey's Paw, by W. W. Jacobs, but I feel there’s enough sense of originality into it. 

To be honest, it gave me chills more than any other story I’ve read so far, and trust me, I’ve seen many creepy thing in books and real life, but none of them can be compared to what happens in this one. You have to be brave in order to reach the final page. 

'Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper', by Kim Harrison, is the third instalment in the book, being the introduction to a the already finished Madison Avery trilogy by the same author, which give the already good plot a big plus, and, if I remember correctly, one of the longest in 'Prom Nights from Hell'. 
Filled with action, tension and teenage drama, it was also one of my favourites, behind Myracle’s tale. I would like to explore this world again, as it is the only one that was fully developed in Prom Nights from Hell, but haven’t had the chance (yet.) I literally devoured the pages of this story! 

As the forth one, there is 'Kiss and Tell', by Michele Jaffe, which I can only describe as a curious tale about a paranormal bodyguard and more than interesting client, which end up in a dangerous problem that could cost them their lives. 

I don’t remember this one very well, and it’s because it wasn’t that interesting when I read it. Sure, it entertained me, was worth my time, but didn’t have enough substance on its concept in order to be interesting to the reader. Think of it as a supernatural thriller intended for teenagers. Maybe not the best combination, but a curious one, nonetheless. 

Finally, as the perfect closing story for an awesome book, we get Hell on Earth, by Stephenie Meyer, which I already told you was my favourite one in Prom Nights from Hell. It had a cliché concept, an overused idea, but with such an incredible way it surprised me with every single scene. 

Some may know I’m a Twilighter, but even if you don’t like the sparkling vampires, the idea for this last chapter is completely different and uses an alternative version of Christian mythology. An interesting proposal I fell in love with since the moment I started reading it.


So, is this book worth your time and money? If you’re into paranormal, teenage romance, with doses of action and fear, then the answer is a big yes written in bold neon lights letters. Even if that’s not your kind of reading, I’m sure many of you may have a pleasant time with it and find it as an entertaining distraction from daily life.

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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Review: Ca†hedra – 'Faithless'



CA†HEDRA
'Faithless'
SELF-RELEASED


Ca†hedra is perhaps one of the most interesting underground electronic producers around today. Blending rave, psychedelic electronics, and a penchant for thick and sticky bass-lines, he cannibalises genres such as hip hop, trance, acid house, industrial and witch house and spits out something unique and always stunning.

'Faithless' carries on his haunting and atmospheric dance vision with tracks such as 'Dead Inside', 'Buried', 'Alone', 'Sudden Death, Pt.2', 'Anxiety', and 'Desolation' providing a solid mix of hard dance beats, dark psychedelic atmospheres and cutting rave leads. The songs all draw from a similar sonic pallet which gives the album a nice sense of continuation without sounding repetitive.

However the defining tracks have to be 'Illusion' (featuring Bitwvlf) and 'Hopeless' (featuring Sensei), both of which shake-up the album's formula, and in the case of 'Hopeless' adds some beautiful vocals to accompany the sinister yet melodic backing track.

The production once again is strong throughout the release. Despite the low-fi sounds often utilised the overall sound of the EP is as slick and confident as you'd expect from any mainstream electronic release. There's no over-saturated distortion, noise for the sake of it, or anything else attempting to cover-up shortcomings. Instead it's professional and and high quality throughout.

Again, Ca†hedra may not have been around for a long time, but his body of work speaks for itself. Every release gets stronger and its easy to hear the skill and confidence growing. And with a pleasing combination of dark atmospheres, strong leads and addictive melodies, there's no reason why this project can't reach greater heights. 

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Monday, 5 June 2017

Review: Beastmaker – 'Inside The Skull'



BEASTMAKER
'Inside the Skull'
RISE ABOVE RECORDS


Fresno, USA trio Beastmaker waste no time on capitalising on last year's ferocious début album 'Lusus Naturae' with another bludgeoning mix of blues grooves, psychedelic overtones and demonic Sabbath worshipping riffs. 'Inside The Skull' sees the band invoke the tried and tested doom mantra of “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”, instead they channel their energy into performance and songwriting quality rather than trying to shake their sound up for no good reason.

As with the last album, the band come out swinging with their opening track, 'Evil One', with it's hammering rhythms and hypnotic grooves. The album follows the same pattern for the most part with tracks such as 'Heaven To Hell', 'Of Gods Creation', 'Give Me A Sign', 'Nature Of The Damned', 'Psychic Visions', 'Inside the Skull', and 'Sick Sick Demon' providing particular highlights. To be honest there isn't really a bad track on the album. It delivers exactly what a stoner/doom metal/occult rock album should – monolithic riffs, heavy grooves, and some horror movie samples thrown in for good measure.

In terms of production, 'Inside The Skull' still enjoys that nice, fuzzy, retro analogue stoner doom atmosphere employed on their début. But is just a little bit more polished this time around. The production on their first outing was pretty sharp so it's no surprise this time round that they've continued to put the effort in there.

The shadows of the bands influences (Black Sabbath, Cathedral, The Zombies, Pentagram, Witchfinder General, Danzig, and Witchcraft) still proudly loom over the band, but this time round the songwriting feels more self-confident and identifiable as Beastmaker in their own right. Despite a strong début and follow-up, they are a band that are still coming to their own, but with such a high caliber song writing right from the start you'll be forgiven from thinking they're already veterans.  

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Review: Rammstein – 'Paris' (Album)



RAMMSTEIN
'Paris'
UNIVERSAL MUSIC


Rammstein are a band, against all of the odds, in a league of their own. An international success story that A) play industrial metal, and B) sing primarily in their native tongue over the much more commercial English option. But certainly since their breakthrough album, 2001's 'Mutter' they have been on an unstoppable rise, and despite their last original studio effort hitting stores in 2009 they have continued to be an in-demand live act.

'Paris', the live album accompanying the brand new concert film directed by long-time video collaborator Jonas Åkerlund, documents the band's monumental 'Made In Germany: 1995 – 2011' tour. Rammstein enjoy a live reputation that can only be comparable to Kiss in their heyday. Half the fun of seeing them perform isn't just the bombastic strains of their NDH tinged industrial metal hits but also seeing what new pyros and effects they will employ to thrill their audience. As a result their live releases are as ravenously consumed as their studio albums. 'Live Aus Berlin', 'Volkerball', and 'In Amerika' are all classics in their own right, but cinematically 'Paris' goes further than ever before.

However, this review is for the accompanying two-disc live album, and while you can't expect the subtle nuances of the visuals and direction of the concert film to be translated to the CD, you can always expect a high quality release. And that's exactly what is delivered.

The album is a beautifully clear and well mixed live album with a nice balance of “band Vs audience noise” with the Parisian audience's enthusiastic applause and sing-a-longs faithfully mixed in. As for the content of the set list, the band cover the entirety of their back catalogue, even the better cuts from 'Herzelied' get a good airing despite having been glanced over on previous tour cycles. Tracks such as 'Wolt Ihr Das Bett In Flammehn Sehn', 'Sehnsucht', 'Feur Frei', 'Mein Teil', 'Ohne Dich', and 'Pussy' show off the full gamut of the band's prowess with Til Lindemann's voice sounding commanding and imposing against the meticulously and passionately performed music.

One thing that has always been a pain with “live” albums is when footage from across a tour ins condensed together to look like one show instead of being presented as a full tour document, or worse, when that footage is overlayed with the audio from one specific show. There are none of those issues with Rammstein though. Their live documents have always been a faithfully reproduced single show captured for posterity and 'Paris' quite happily sits within not only the live portion of the band's discography, but also the pantheon of great live albums.  

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Friday, 2 June 2017

Speaking about Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #103

Cover A
I started reading the indie comic Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose last year, and I’ve become a huge fan since then. Each issue has giving me something, a different and good lesson, along with great stories and amazing artwork, which is also filled with a high voltage of erotic scenarios. 

Tarot has become a project I’m more than eager to support and follow until it is done, may it be after many years! Its most recent issue, Tarot #103, follows a simple yet powerful script and idea, with an incredibly dynamic pace, light and easy to understand. Jim Balent, the creator, writer and artist, is also not afraid of using controversial ideas such as the inaction of the Divine in unfair situations. 

Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose has created its own mythology, but this issue expands it by adding a new creature and group to the world where the story is set: the Nameless Ones, a coven that is more than clear with their intentions, their point of view about the Gods and how they should be treated. You will also be surprised with the way things turn to be this time. I’m a strong believer that words are way more powerful than actions, in most of the cases, and this idea is loud and clear for the issue, exploring a different, passive  and effective side of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose. 

Cover B
Contrary to the script, the art of this comic is pure marvel. The level of detail is as high as it can be, and the many different elements for each panel is worth a look, with some of them even adding more information about the plot with their own symbols and meanings. Feelings, emotions and thoughts are graphically reflected in many pages, with a semiotic meaning behind all of them, some obvious, others more hidden. I can also say that Tarot recovers her original dark fantasy look and matches it with its most recent moral-intended subliminal messages. 

You’ll be able to find that there’s hardly a single scene with one more present than the other, but both aspects are nicely used to be in perfect harmony. Also, Balent has taken a new step in the comic series: Jon Webb, the male protagonist, shows his private parts for the very first time, not as explicit as the female characters, but there’s nothing in there censoring male anatomy, which I consider to be good inclusive content for male readers of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose.


As always, this comic deserves the best score. I haven’t find anything bothering on it and considering this a independent comic published by a small company, that says a lot about its quality and high standards. Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, is published by Broadsword Comics, with script and art from president Jim Balent, and colours and lettering by Vice President Holly Golightly. Visit their website to buy this and other issues.

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Thursday, 1 June 2017

Review: Danzig – 'Black Laden Crown'



DANZIG
'Black Laden Crown'
NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS  


The evil Elvis, Glenn Danzig and cohorts return with their eleventh full-length studio album, 'Black Laden Crown'. It's been seven long years since the last collection of Danzig originals 'Deth Red Saboath' was released to overall favourable reviews and saw a continuation of the return to form carried over from 2006's 'Circle Of Snakes'. Though the recent output hasn't matched the dizzying heights of the first four Danzig releases, it has been in keeping with his strongest works, and 'Black Laden Crown' shows a sharpening of focus back to what made those first albums great.

It's undeniable that Glenn Danzig is very protective of his image and art and that ever present self-consciousness may cause him to second guess a lot of his previous experimentation and as a result it has fallen short of the mark. 'Black Laden Crown' however feels very much like Danzig has come to terms with growing older and as a result has played to his strengths without exposing his limitations. The raw stripped back construction is reminiscent of 'Danzig I' and the the swampy blues metal riffs and rhythmic bludgeoning pace are the main focus and Danzig's unmistakable croon becomes more textual and more powerful when utilised.

Songs such as 'Black Laden Crown', 'Eyes Ripping Fire', 'Last Ride', 'The Witching Hour', 'Skulls & Daisies', and 'Blackness Falls' hark back to the hard blues of the first two albums and the sombre tenderness of 'How The Gods Kill' which will undoubtedly satisfy a lot of fans. With Danzig changing up his vocal delivery it is also helped that for the first time Tommy Victor's guitar style feels 100% compatible with the classic Danzig sound and isn't trying to pull back into his work with Prong.

The only real misstep on the album is the lead single 'Devil On HWY 9'. In it's current form it feels rushed and unfinished (which is unlikely considering the band spent three years on this album). The vocals don't sit right in the mix and it doesn't fully gel. 'Eyes Ripping Fire' or 'Last Ride' would have been a better choice to bring the right kind of attention to the album.

In terms of production it is raw, stripped back and very rough around the edges, but aside from the afore mentioned 'Devil...' it works with the more straightforward and focused writing and performance. Danzig's vocals sit a little lower in the mix and the guitar a little higher and the balance works really nicely.

'Black Laden Crown' shows a band that is on the right path. It may not have the youthful energy of his early work, but the subtlety and passion of the performances definitely work better than on any recent output. It's an album that fits in and compliments the highlights of his career, and will translate well into his live arsenal. Hopefully this will see a reinvigorated band turn round original material a little quicker next time around.  

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