Blood Pack Vol. 6.66 released!

It's that time of the year once again! A new year and a new compilation album celebrating our 6th birthday as a webzine.

Review: Various Artists – 'We're In This Together: A Tribute To Nine Inch Nails'

VARIOUS ARTISTS 'We're In This Together: A Tribute To Nine Inch Nails' TRIBULATIONS

Review: Various Artists – 'We Reject: A Tribute To Bile'


Review: Ritual Aesthetic – 'Wound Garden'


Review: Axegrinder – 'Satori'


Friday 21 July 2017

Review: Nine Inch Nails – 'Add Violence'

'Add Violence'

A big criticism of Nine Inch Nails post 'Year Zero' is the settled and somewhat comfortable sound Trent Reznor has continued to craft. Deviations and experimentation are still present, but with his fascination with analogue synthesizers there has been to a degree a stock palette that has also reoccurred in his side project How To Destroy Angels, and his soundtrack work with long-time NIN producer, and now official member, Atticus Ross.

The first release in the trilogy of EPs being released on his own Null Corporation record label, 'Not The Actual Events' did kind of confound expectations. With it's noise rock meets drone and low-fi feel it was arguably one of the most challenging NIN releases since 1994's 'The Downward Spiral', though lacking the misanthropic anger of his youth. Fast-forward to the summer of 2017 and the second EP in the trilogy, 'Add Violence', is unveiled.

Sonically the new EP is a self-contained entity with an expanded presence than we previously had. We return to the analogue synth wizardry familiar from recent Reznor releases. There is an almost chip-tune element to some of the tracks while darker ambient textures play beneath them and the vocals begin to tie the narrative arc of the EPs together with their disassociated lyrics.

'Less Than' is a fairly typical NIN track to kick off the EP, a little retro synth lead, that classic guitar sound and vocal delivery that categorises recent output, balancing the subtle harsher elements with an upbeat and pleasing rhythm. 'The Lovers' has a more minimal vibe reminiscent of How To Destroy Angels, with a simple and rhythmic melody, a little piano and Reznor's distant spoken vocal it has an air of 'The Fragile' about it's atmosphere.

'This Isn't The Place' carries on that feeling, though with a more sinister atmosphere present throughout, that fades nicely into the low-fi rock of 'Not Anymore' with its “quiet-loud” construction that is the most obvious musical link to the previous EP. Finally, 'The Background World' ties the EP together with a sinister grooving track that nicely blends the melodic synths with the dirty guitars that gradually build into a wall of distortion.

Production-wise the EP walks a fine line between the top-shelf polish of the likes of 'Hesitation Marks' and the low-fi grit of 'Not The Actual Events'. It does tend to go one way or the other and never quite settles on an optimum balance, but that doesn't affect the overall feel of the EP.

'Add Violence' perhaps defaults back to some safer territory for Reznor and Ross after the dissonant noise of 'Not The Actual Events'. It still feels experimental, as though they are continuing to exorcise their sonic demons. But this time around, more so than the last, it feels like these were originally destined for other things, but have been reworked and re-imagined to fit this narrative. It's certainly a good EP, recognisably NIN and utilising some tried and tested set pieces, but still an infectious listen. It just raises more questions about the final instalment of the trilogy and how that will tie everything together.  

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Thursday 20 July 2017

Editorial: July, 2017

It's that time again, where we announce that we are opening expressions of interest for our next 'Blood Pack' compilation album!

That's right, on the 1st January 2018 we'll be unleashing another free download compilation in the form of 'Blood Pack Vol.5'. So far the donation method for the latest album has raised nearly £100 which as been donated to DKMS, a UK charity that fights blood cancer. It's a good start but I know you're all very generous and wouldn't disagree if we were to say that the next compilation should also go to raising money for this great charity.

If you don't want to donate, that's fine too, but with 200 free downloads gone in just the first couple of days after 'Vol. 4' was released it seems like a great opportunity to raise some cash for a good cause.

Next month, as usual, I will unveil the cover art for the next compilation and send invitations out to bands/labels who may be interested in contributing a track. We'll also have open applications from September onwards so we can make this another nice big release.

If you're a band and considering donating a track and are wondering what's in it for you? First of all it is free – there is no cover charge to be on the compilation as it is a download and we're giving it away for free! We make sure every release comes with an A4 PDF brochure containing band biographies as well as relevant hyperlinks that will take people straight to your web pages. We're happy to feature new blood as well as established acts and all submissions will be considered based on their individual merit rather than whether they are well known or not.

So far we have featured a range of acts covering a wide variety of genres including Attrition, Be My Enemy, Aeon Sable, Ultraviolence, Noir, Bestial Mouths, Near Earth Orbit, Cease2xist, Ego Likeness, I††, Adoration Destroyed, Three Winters, Grypt, Petrol Bastard, ѦPѺLLYѺN'S ▼ISѦGE, Ca†hedra, Human Traffic, plus many more bands.

Sound good? So what will we need?

First of all, we'll need your track as a WAV file. We're ideally looking for something exclusive or new – it could be in the form of an unreleased song, demo, a remix, or live track etc. We'll then need a 200 word biography, your links and written permission to use the track and that's it!

General submissions will be open from September with a cut-off date to get the tracks and info to us by the end of November. Advanced copies of the compilation will go out to all contributors around Christmas, and we will also make copies available to radio shows/podcasters interested in plugging the release, with the general release being made available through our bandcamp for 1st January 2018.

Be sure to keep an eye out for editorials over the next couple of months with more details. But in the meantime, if you are interested, please email us and we'll add you to our contact list!

Finally, 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 19 July 2017

Discourses on Westeros

With the much-anticipated 7th season of Game of Thrones about to begin it may be an opportune time to review what the events in Westeros have come to represent, and what they mean. What can we learn from the struggle for the Iron Throne and the conflict between the characters and realms it causes?

The first thing to note about the world of the Westerosi is that life is complicated. Politics, not in terms of grand ideologies or narratives of state but in terms of the endless micro-politics of feud, bargain and vendetta, is the real subject of Game of Thrones. With few real differences in worldview or philosophy between the Kingdoms life takes on the nature of an endless battle for supremacy or survival, as the interlocking rivalries constantly revolve and interchange.

This lack of clarity in purpose locks the characters in some kind of omnipresent moral fog. It's striking, especially on repeated viewings, how the characters begin the series nearly all suffering under some kind of misapprehension; all misunderstanding each others motives or keeping some secret so that they are all incapable of seeing each other straight. It's not until later in the series do we even begin to understand what really caused events to unfold as they did. Throughout the narrative characters are unaware of what is being said or done by others at the same time, almost as if a constellation of planets was orbiting as-yet-unseen celestial body.

The actual bread-and-butter of politics in the series deals with the realities of government. Ruling is a complicated business that entails building coalitions of support, a great deal of horsetrading, and no little bloodshed. Without this hegemony and the force to back it up, Kings are vulnerable to be deposed. The Mad King's brutality saw him lose allies until he eventually made a coalition opposing him a political necessity, as well as a reality. Robert Baratheon, despite having no claim to the throne, nonetheless wins it. The Lannisters have to continually align themselves with rival houses to peel off some of the opposing forces against them, but even they slowly alienate their supporters and become isolated. The Houses effectively operate as political parties do, garnering and consolidating their support. The layers of legitimate force are also complicated, with the King, the City and the Houses all having their own separate militia. To survive and rule in this world you have to be flexible, lithe, and probably morally corrupt.

The key exemplars of this realpolitik tend to be the most morally bereft and brutal – Tywin Lannister, Roose Bolton, Walder Frey, Cersei. Those characters who try to self-consciously demonstrate a moral rectitude – Eddard Stark, Jon Snow, Daenerys – all suffer for this to varying degrees and ultimately all have to face the fact that the mathematics of political reality still apply to them. Jon's attempts to effectively ride two horses at the same time, performing the greater good and shoring up his support in the Night's Watch, proves futile. Ned Stark discovers that people are much more complicated than he can imagine, and being a man of honour he can't imagine how complicated they really are.

The key event in the series is actually a depressingly modern event – a (literal) palace coup, at a moment of political crisis caused by King Robert's assassination. As such the Lannisters maintain power through a variety of measures which slowly hollow out the integrity of the institutions of state. Their decreasing circle of power throughout the series is in direct correlation to the amount of arbitrary violence that the Lannisters are prepared to use, most spectacularly being the bombing of the Sept of Baelor at the end of season 6. What else can Cersei do to maintain her grip on power after that? What isn't she prepared to do?

Issues of federalism and independence naturally arise. The North wishes to make it ungovernable but ultimately has to contend itself to being a vassal. Life under occupation or as a neo-colonial client state is brutal and hopeless. Those kingdoms that attempt to maintain their autonomy or neutrality, such as the Vale, simply become embroiled in a greater game. Both independence and neutrality appear to be illusory, as it is practically impossible to prevent outside influence corrupting whatever dreams of nationhood that the Kingdoms may have.

Outside the arena of conflict some attempt to maintain a constant opposition. The wildlings are an obvious example, being marked as literally 'beyond' or 'outside' the political arena and whose inability to submit limits their ability to influence events. The Iron Islands have to contend themselves with a kind of nihilistic doomed rebellion, never able to succeed in making a mark on the world and always prone to bloody and inevitable defeat.

The introduction of a supernatural element in the series presents a method where the oppressed and the outsiders are given a kind of deus ex machina to switch the odds. The dragons, previously the vanguard of Targaryen oppression, become the vanguard for the liberation of the slaves. The Lord of Light gives the Brotherhood Without Banners the power of resurrection, and brings Jon Snow back from the dead. The religion of the slaves has teeth. But when spirituality is used for political ends, either by Cersei or by Stannis, it proves to be both authoritarian and disastrous. The Faceless Men also represent a failed liberation narrative – ostensibly disciples of the religion of the oppressed, now merely a guild of assassins bought by coin and inevitably being used for the advancement of oppressive ends.

The sweep of the story is beginning to take on an emancipatory arc, as the Mother of Dragons & Breaker of Chains returns to Westeros after leaving a trail of liberation in her wake. The idea of a 'white saviour' bringing freedom to black slaves is inherently problematic, although some effort has been made to give the liberated a voice in Daenerys' actions. How will the 'rainbow coalition' of warriors, freed slaves, mercenaries and Greyjoy deserters maintain their unity in their new role as conquerors?

Whether there is any actual development towards democracy or liberation in Westeros is open to conjecture, but one thing is for sure – the world of the Westerosi is bound to stay as Machiavellian as ever.

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Interview: Blac Kolor

Black is no color...

"I do not need to make money off my music to live and that is a crucial issue for me. Automatically when that becomes the case you are under rules and pressure it pushes you towards the audience and pushes you in the direction of house music or simple techno music, so that you are present and noticed just to gain wealth." 

I came across the project back in 2014, through the feed of Soundcloud. If minimal were to get seduced with the industrial noise of despair bled into it, from a Frequency Hell this was it. Blac Kolor is a one man performance. Based in Leipzig and rooting it’s entrance into the scene from Basic Unit productions of Daniel Myer & Dejan Samardzic, it is now a fully living project that has grown to a broader audience.

This June at Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, Blac Kolor reigned over. Unleashing a blast of modern distortion, laced with violent pitches and noise to its spectators, at the Altes Landratsamt.

Blac Kolor: It was always my goal to find my own sound. I would produce some stuff. Though if I realise it is coming close to another artist or begins to turn cliché, it is torched. So over the past years I have found my own type of sound, which is for me diverse. Some say its industrial techno, however for me I cannot put a genre on it. What I realise when I produce stuff, it can go in alternate directions as no plan for a production is made. So if it deviates and goes down an alternative path, I have to live with the result.

There are some calmed down 100bpm tracks, by the same token 130bpm at the techno side of the spectrum. At the end of the day what is in my mood will make the sound. From a time perspective the noise is looked at over a long term slot; I judge the project after a couple of years and look back and say OK this is my sound. It all started with Basic Unit, with the connection with Dejan and Daniel. We developed the 'Frost' compilation and did some shows with all the Basic Unit artists.

Intravenous Magazine: Do you then see your path going in a different direction with maybe the restriction of not being independent having an effect?

BK: To be honest I don’t give a shit about that.  I do not need to make money off my music to live and that is a crucial issue for me. Automatically when that becomes the case you are under rules and pressure; it pushes you towards the audience and pushes you in the direction of house music or simple techno music, so that you are present and noticed just to gain wealth. I’m lucky enough to have my own company and so everything is cool. So I call this project black zero, and in a few years I’ll come back, maybe look at the books and see if I broke even! If the music leads in I direction it was mine and not in the hunt for profit.

For me similarity is terrible, and if I see similarities with other artists that bores me and I have to look somewhere else to redefine my patented noise.

IVM: What was it like back in the time of your first work 'Range', I remember when it came out it was pretty mad noise mix at the time.

BK: Back then I would publish random bits on sound cloud, and I would always send stuff over to Daniel. He still is my harshest critic. Then I sent over the song 'Range' and his response was, "we need to release that on Basic Unit". So we put together the EP and produced some stuff particularly for it. Then at this point I knew I had to get serious with the environment.

IVM: From your real work is there a large contrast between the two?

BK: Well we are a creative agency / think-tank, we do also animation and sound production; so there is a link . However it is really a different territory. It fills the fridge and I’m happy with being self-employed for twelve years now. Then there’s the family. So when these two are satisfied, then comes the time that I’m sitting in the studio making music. I think that is a comfortable feeling of priority for everything.

IVM: What did the 2016 release of 'Born In Ruins' bring?

BK: With 'Born In Ruins' we gained a broader audience, especially in America where I then toured in 2016. We did two shows in LA & Phoenix, and the feedback from the attendance saw how the Blac Kolor fan base had grown.

IVM: How difficult was it entering the US market?

BK: The distribution was easy, because of Daniel as he quite well connected to all the promoters in the US. So my work went directly on promotional purposes to them, and once it was Daniel who had sent it out, enough said. If you are well established with the promoters then it is very good multiplier in your reach. What was very interesting was I had obtained some die-hard fans. I realised at my gig in Phoenix when a guy brought my vinyl into the club. OK buying vinyl is one thing, but actually transporting & bringing it into the club, is a completely different thing!

IVM: Is there anything you don’t like about Blac Kolor at the moment?

BK: Being a creative person sometimes you have to deal with continuous dissatisfaction with everything you do. It’s more that you become bored very easily with yourself after the achievement has been reached. That behaviour from time to time pisses me off; as you should really enjoy the success and lie back. However that is but a dream and I have to push on.

IVM: Do you think that you need the juice?

BK: Yes it’s the petrol for my engine, but anything I really dislike right now?? I want more! (Laughs) but really I’m a lucky guy all round.

IVM: Have you got any favourite musical weapon in your arsenal?

BK: At the moment... Over the years I built up quite a few things I started off with a micro Korg. I love it still, though at the moment there are two gadgets I cannot live without. Octatrack from Elektron. The learning curve is very flat, as the workflow difficult, however the sound is amazing! Though the thing that really blows my mind is Toraiz AS-1 from Pioneer,. I come from a DJ background and since pioneer have started doing analogue synthesizers, with Dave Smith; I really dig that shit, and all my new stuff is going over it.

IVM: Is there any gear that pisses you off that you need?

BK: It’s an Elektron Analog Heat which is, I think the best distortion unit you can get, though it’s buggy, unreliable and doesn’t do what I expect it to do. But with analogue gear you have to just come to the realisation the gear will just do some shit you don’t want it to do.

IVM: Is there any artists here you are looking forward to seeing here at WGT?

BK: Hypnoskull; I really appreciate Codex Empire and today I look forward to Klangstabil. But after so many WGTs, I really just let it flow.

Interviewed by: Dominic Lynch aka DJ LX-E

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Thursday 13 July 2017

Wave Gotik Treffen – The Review // 26th

Back to the place breaths German avant-garde meets USSR. Leipzig is an alluring city, split between both worlds. If it is not the beautiful Baroque architecture that has your skin smelting in awe to your trad-Goth fabrics. It shall be the sheer scale of the soviet era buildings that dwarf many sectors of the city. These are a portion of the venues that will play host to the largest festival for the Goth sub-culture.

Residing in the same place as last year. Multitasking Frühstück & bathing, as the kitchen acts as the bathroom. Gas mask showers and coffee go are hand in hand. I would recommend house sharing. It is a lot of fun, and I believe the best way to experience the festival. The locals are very welcoming of the event, as it has become an acceptance from an economic, to a fun point of view.


Emerging from the label of Base Unit and Leipzig. Blac Kolor has been a fantastic emergence in connecting the alternative world to techno. Bringing the noise to Haus Leipzig the one-man act, did not disappoint. Distorting visuals and elementary bass pleased the crowd on the 1st day of WGT. Daniel Myer’s Bass Unit productions dominated Altes Landratsamt on day one. Mentionable acts of rendered and Hypnoskull.

Day one in the agra had the clean-cut EBM of Pouppee Fabrik, heavy noise from the old skool gang. Agra this year turned out to be the venue of disappointment. The bands were great, but it was either the quality of the sound equipment or the setup. Regardless the sound quality really underperformed this year.

The Swedish project of Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio bestowed me with the highest performance in the grandeur of the DDR that is the Volkspalast Kuppelhalle. The project had to work with the acoustics of the audio tough but aesthetically pleasing centre stage. The vocals of Tomas Pettersson & Rose-Marie Larsen wrapped the martial industrial jolts, with the fear silence and death of neofolk, the end was made with the appearance of Spiritual Front’s ‘Hellvis’ for ‘Your Sex is The Scar’.

On Saturday evening the venue plays host to ‘The Obsession Bizarre’; which embroils leather & latex. A trusty combination that will see you additionally queuing and sweltering. Indeed very nice performances, yet the greatest advantage to my eye is being able to dress as an elegant slut on a warm June evening, whilst hearing tears of electronic bass vibrate through your neck. However, the toys to play with are not worth the waiting time. Opinion; kinky posing…  LX-E’s Recommendations prior to attending is to have a glass of cold Valt Vodka.  Also, to be noted WGT is a Goth event and dressing like an elegant slut is generally accepted the whole time. Obsession Bizarre is a moment for bass hunting vibrations up your skin in well tight fabric. 


‘Too Dead to Die’, brought the murder to the dancefloor, at the Moritz Bastei. The band’s light synth is complimented with snappy rhythm and lyrics. The venue remains one of my favourite pit stops around early afternoon. Good shielding from the sun, if you go into the underbelly with good sized portions of recovery USSR food with good quality. To the top, you have the small medieval village, to replenish your Met supplies!
Later Autodaef, brought there EBM into the earth, as aggressive noise bled into the stone walls of the underground venue.

The scene was set at the Volkspalast Kuppelhalle, as obsession bizarre kicked off. As always, the venue is over-flooded with attendees, however let it later pan out, at around 2am, and it is transformed into a lighter atmosphere. Where you may dance and sweat to some great playlists.


The battery acid of the prior night had done its job in the muscles, and the additional tanz-sweat exfoliation to the skin… Priceless. However, this was not a morning for sitting around. Back for some more Met, and we’re off!

EBM/Electronica day is always Sunday. Taking a winding tram route to the east side to the Kohlrabizirkus. The Swedish duo of ‘Red:Cell’ came with a modern synth style. The audio clarity was impeccable. 

Getting a move on, back on Strassenbahn route, we hit the next venue and brought the cold dark synth of Cryo. Another Swedish artist, they are known for their melancholic, no hope noises. Inside the Stadtbad, the duo unleashed a live performance with LED microphone stands, dark visuals and Guantanamo Bay costumes. 
Point of interest, the Stadtbad toilets shall take you into a different world!

The Devil and the Universe pulled the Altes Landratsamt into the dungeons of the sinful goat. However, the goat began by cursing the stage as the wheels of the portable boxes were left unlocked and went merrily down between the photographers and the stage. Yet the show persisted on and the devils visuals and echoes of hard base, had the crowd in submission.

After a refresh and a spot of dinner, Haus Leipzig became the last port of call. The ‘Dunkelromantischer Tanz’ never disappoints, as the large stage, encompasses a ballet of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen of the night, as they perform their ballet, with a hint of drink.

Monday – Classical Aftermath

Closing the window shutters to shield from all-natural light, and those baths where they were all for nothing, the only God today was coffee. However, one last big leap into the black unknown we do.

To stay safe; the Heidnisches Dorf and Agra, are the havens. The medieval village acted as perfect recovery. Serving flesh and Met, the combination hugged the stomach like an animal finding water in the desert. 
The Heidnisches Dorf stage, takes on myth, folk and Viking type musical taste. The rough corners and mud suited perfectly. As a recovery began, ‘Andydra’ gave homage as the ethereal music brought heaven to the ears.

As the shop owners at the Agra begin disassembling the stages and the wind down happened, Eis Fabrik, made their sound on the main stage, breathing an artic wind over the hall, with their winter visuals and industrial winter.

Stay tuned for announcements on the 27th Wave gothic Treffen 2018.

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Review: Boris – 'Dear'


Celebrating 25 years of amplifier worship, Japan's Boris celebrate with full-length studio album number 24 (not counting the thirteen collaboration albums, multiple EPs and other releases). The prolific trio have amassed one of the most impressive discography's in experimental rock/metal. Ranging from cavernous drone-doom to spaced out psychedelia, and a whole host of brilliant collaborations, every release seems to upend any attempt at pre-conceived ideas of its content.

Brilliantly original, often confrontational, and always marching to the beat of their own drum, Boris are a prolific group in the avant garde world and the recent celebrations of their breakthrough album 'Pink' see the band in nostalgic mode. Returning to their drone-doom roots the album is a monolithic slab of feedback, noise electronics, wrenching vocals and claustrophobic atmospheres reminiscent of their first three studio albums.

Tracks such as 'D.O.W.N – Domination of Waiting', 'DEADSONG', 'Absolutego' (not to be confused with their 1996 release), 'Kagero', 'The Power', 'Distopia – Vanishing Point', and 'Dear' perfectly reflect that primordial sound, but with a more modern twist. The band have grown up and experimented with many different styles that manage to seep into the tracks at various points juxtaposing melody and dissonance, drone and rhythm, ambience and noise with a masterful hand.

Even at it's most grating and noisy, the band can inject melody and beauty and the production reflects this nicely. The album ebbs and flows like a classical piece with discord erupting and fading away surrounding more delicate textures but not overpowering them. Its a balance many struggle with and ultimately hide behind walls of distortion and reverb. But not Boris, they are veterans and it shows.

Fans of old school drone Boris will get a kick out of the brutality of this record, but it will not alienate fans of their more psychedelic side. It is a Boris that continues to innovate and evolve, even when looking backwards. When a band's form is as fluid as theirs it's hard to say this is a return to any one sound, but it is nostalgic to a degree yet thoroughly individual. But in any case, it is another fantastic offering from the band.  

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Wednesday 12 July 2017

Review: The Dreaming – 'From The Ashes'

'From The Ashes'

The second outing on Metropolis Records from the former Stabbing Westward team, 'From The Ashes' sees the band continue to evolve beyond their past with this remix companion to their 2015 album 'Rise Again'. Offering up harder industrial and club-orientated versions of the strongest cuts from the previous album it hints at numerous possible directions the band's next outing could take them.

Two years on from their last album is a bit of a gap for a companion/stop-gap release such as this, and it would have been nice to have a couple of new tracks one here to give it a little more selling points. Nevertheless this album is a totally in-house affair and the remixes in some cases actually trump the originals, so hopefully this will mean the next album will be somewhat informed by the work going on here.

Tracks such as 'Alone (ReAmped RMX)', 'Blink Of An Eye (Big Sky RMX)', 'Afraid (Vapor RMX)', 'Throw It All Away (Red Ox RMX)', and 'Rise Again (All Nite Diner RMX)', balance club-friendly industrial electronics with the band's trademark industrial rock style quite nicely, not sounding too far one way or the other. It's a nice balance that refreshes their material, but it isn't always successful. Some offerings such as 'Painkillers (2 Drink Minimum RMX)', 'Still Believe (Donut Shop RMX)', and 'Destroy (Tuf Luv RMX)' just sound ridiculously overblown and contrived.

The production is pretty solid for the most part, but at the band's most indulgent there are times where the vocals are swamped by the sheer amount of stuff going on in the mix. It's not the most well-rounded sounding albums but when it works, it works pretty well.

This is perhaps one of those albums that could have been condensed into an EP, or even been opened up to other collaborators to inject some stylistic variations to proceedings. Certainly the lack of new material is to its detriment, but overall there are some great remixes that will extend the album's dance floor reach further. Hopefully the next full-length studio album will drop sooner rather than later and the band can build on that momentum.  

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Review: The Birthday Massacre – 'Under Your Spell'

'Under Your Spell'

Canadian darkwave band The Birthday Massacre have proved themselves once again with an amazing record. June 9th was the day that 'Under Your Spell,' the newest album from the Toronto-based group, saw the light, showing a more poetic side of these guys and that there are still many songs to be written.

The record starts with 'One', a childish yet sinister track, which recovers the magic from their previous master piece 'Happy Birthday' but mixing it with the experience and solid structure that identifies the band nowadays and the calming voice of vocalist, Chibi. Works perfectly as the opening for the album.

With the same style, a combination of soft rock and dark enchant, the band explores different sides of such a complex feeling as love, creating addictive songs like 'All of Nothing' and 'Without You', before the wildness of 'Counterpane'; TBM should highly consider doing a music video for this one, just saying.

The band also gravitates into a more electronic-based proposal with, 'Unkind', 'The Lowest Low' and 'Games', using metaphors to describe the ups and downs of an unhealthy relationship where feelings are one-sided, receiving just silence as a response. You could even say that there’s a romantic touch in the loneliness described, in both lyrics and music.

This disc wouldn’t be complete without a the darkest and creepiest song the band could have written, 'No tomorrow', which draws a way right to a nightmarish horror movie. Could be also considered as a spiritual sequel to 'Destroya', from their previous album, 'Superstition.'

Finally, to the best style of the songs for a film’s credits sequence, 'Endless' presents a more pop side of the band, recurring to the aesthetics of 'Walking With Strangers,' but always keeping their new voice and sound on top to give a retro, 80s-like sound that makes the listener travel back in time.

Although some might have expected a heavy record, 'Under Your Spell' bends together the best of the past with the freshest face of The Birthday Massacre, creating  a real experience that feels like you were swimming in a black ocean. Memorable. One of the best products this band has released so far.

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Tuesday 11 July 2017

Review: Pig – 'Prey & Obey'

'Prey & Obey'

Raymond Watts, the Lord of Lard, is just the gift that keeps on giving these days. After such a long time out in the wilderness it's great to see a return to frantic productivity giving long-time fans another hot meat injection and converting new ones with his porky perversions. The latest release in the current swine cycle is the heavy and rousing 'Prey & Obey' digital EP.

The heavy chant-a-long nature of the title track kicks things off in grandiose style with the characteristic guitar and pounding beat assault combined with subtle classical nods that never fails to get the blood pumping. 'The Revelation' follows up with a nostalgic trip back to his heaviest past collaborations with a KMFDM-style riff and growled vocals turning things up to eleven with Watts' indomitable panache. Finally, 'The Cult Of Chaos' continues down the same path laid out by its predecessors with another hard hitting lesson in proper industrial rock.

The EP is rounded off with three remixes courtesy of Leaether Strip and fellow Pig compatriots Z. Marr and En Esch. Each of which add some classic madness to the originals showing off the playfully demented side of the Pig sound in all of its glory.

Coming in at over 30 minutes this is a nice and hefty EP, and featuring not one, not two, but three original tracks is a nice change of pace considering most bands will pack an EP with one original track, one album track and a couple of remixes for the sake of it. This doesn't feel like a stop-gap release. It may be digital only but the three new tracks a just as strong as anything else featured on 'The Gospel', the production doesn't feel rushed through and even the remixes featured are very different to their sources so don't feel tacked on.

'Prey & Obey' is another great release from Watts & co. He plays with nostalgia and the expectations of the Pig sound, but still manages to create a strong, fresh and original tracks that can still knock your socks off.   

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Review: Black Line – 'Treason, Sedition, And Subversive Activities'

'Treason, Sedition, And Subversive Activities'

The coming together of two respected musical artists to create something brand new is often a joyous thing. Though these kind of projects are often loaded with pre-conceived notions rooted in their respective back catalogues, the end results can sometimes be much better than expected. Black Line is such a project. The legendary Douglas J. McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb) and musician / producer / engineer Cyrusrex, the collaboration had its roots in their previous project DJM|REX. But it became apparent quickly that their continually evolving and open studio/live line-up meant this was becoming an entirely different beast. Thus Black Line was born.

The result is a brilliant modern merging of one of electronic music's most recognisable voices, and cutting edge electronic music that melds glitchy rhythms, synthpop leads and sheer technical experimentation to create an engaging, high-spec and genuinely engaging album.

Songs such as 'Sedition', 'Keep Digging', 'No Crime', 'Shut It Down', 'Can't Breathe', 'Layers', and 'Changed' give the album a solid back bone of relentlessly catchy dance-friendly numbers that frame McCarthy's passionate vocal style with fresh sounds. But there is a deep experimental side to the album with tracks such as 'No Crime Prelude', 'Layers Interlude', 'First Moment', and 'Final Moment' showing that there is a lot more going on here than the intelligent yet dance friendly surface. The result is something that mixes the dark experimental edge of How To Destroy Angels with the sublime elegance of Noir.

The production is second to none. It may be a self-released album at this point in time but you could easily imagine a label like Mute or Raster-Noton unveiling this with great fanfare as it is. It's cutting edge, modern electronic music and is presented and produced as such.

This is a brilliant debut that promises great things moving forward the collectivised nature of the project can only yield unexpected twists and turns as they move through future releases. But in the present 'Treason, Sedition, And Subversive Activities' is a fantastically strong starting point.  

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Introducing... Borg Queen

Name of band: Borg Queen
Members: Jenny Kirby
Year formed: 2013
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada
“I was an alcoholic stripper who needed something do do to keep busy so I wouldn't drink so I decided to write some songs about my experience in the exotic entertainment industry.”

Borg Queen is an electro goth rock project from Vancouver, BC led by multidisciplinary artist Jenny Kirby.

Borg Queen released it’s first LP 'Sex, Drugs & Shiny Brass Poles' January 29th, 2017. The album is a follow up to the release of the 2014 single 'Lapdance Romance'.

Originally, the project began as a series of surrealistic paintings that were a form of art therapy, but has now evolved into a full blown multidisciplinary art project.

Borg Queen can best be described as, a one woman content producing machine! “She plays and records all the instruments and does the engineering and production. Each song has a corresponding painting done in large format acrylic on canvas. Borg Queen has evolved into an assimilation of all the different artistic mediums Jenny has trained and worked with professionally including, painting, animation, acting, set design, dance, musical theatre, production design and of course music.” 'Sex, Drugs & Shiny Brass Poles will feature 10 original paintings and 3 new music videos.

The perfect showcase of Borg Queen’s unique integration of mediums are the music videos, where Jenny takes a very hands on approach as an art director who also designs and makes the sets, costumes and props herself.

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

I was an alcoholic stripper who needed something do do to keep busy so I wouldn't drink so I decided to write some songs about my experience in the exotic entertainment industry.

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

It sounds like Annie Lennox getting gang banged by NIN, Depeche Mode and Marilyn Manson. I've always loved Trent Reznor's style of innovation and using sound design elements and audio engineering to convey artistic intent. I look at a composition like a painting made out of layers of sound with each layer telling an integral part of the story.

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

Trent Reznor, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Salvador Dali and Tim Burton.

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

Not usually, but if I do it's at events in the Metro Vancouver Area.

IVM: What is your current release and where is it available from?
'Sex, Drugs & Shiny Brass Poles' and it's available on my website, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify etc. Pretty much everywhere except Bandcamp.

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

Making the music videos. I'm a visual artist as well and it's really the ultimate medium for me to work in. Also, performing at a fetish event Kink Fetish Night in Vancouver. That was awesome!

IVM: What are your plans for the future?

Put together a theatrical production of my live show to tell the story of Sex, Drugs & Shiny Brass Poles. Finish the EP I'm currently working on and do more live shows at fetish type events.

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

I have a new music video that's being released June 16th called 'We're All Whores'. The track is available as a free download on my website.


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Wednesday 5 July 2017

Review: Oxbow – 'Thin Black Duke'

'Thin Black Duke'

Since 1989 Oxbow have been at the pinnacle of experimental rock. Blending noise, avant garde, jazz, blues and classical influences they have carved out an impressive discography of brilliant, and sometimes challenging, but always intelligent rock albums. It's been ten years since the band's last full-length studio effort, 'The Narcotic Story', and fans have been keeping their fingers crossed for a new album since. Finally though patience has been rewarded and the band have returned with 'Thin Black Duke'.

The wait has been worth it with the band a surprisingly ordered yet still characteristically chaotic collection of tracks. Much of the chaos is down to the irrepressible vocals of Eugene S. Robinson who often sings against the grain of the actual songs. Screeching, wrenching his vocals chords and delivering deep spoken passages as the mood takes him. It's almost like having a cast of different characters chipping into each track to tell the same story.

Sonically the album at first glance seems quite ordered and well-behaved, but there is a classical feel to it where elements erupt and build before falling away. Motifs are re-used and often small elements are developed and evolved throughout the album giving it the feeling of being a whole piece with individual movements within.

Tracks such as 'A Gentleman's Gentleman', 'Ecce Homo', 'Host', 'Letter Of Note', 'The Finished Line', and 'The Upper' show the band at their best. Maddening, captivating and intelligent as they play with genres, swerve into new areas and back again, and still keeping some semblance of a fundamentally catchy rock album at its core.

Despite having dissonance at their core, the production balances the crazier elements with the melodic quite nicely. But at this point this should be no surprise as the band have the experience and expertise to adjust their performance on the fly and find the cohesion in the parts of the song that may seem at odds with each other.

This is a welcome return from a band that has been sorely missed over the past several years. Their last outing, 'The Narcotic Story', may have been a tough act to follow but the band have delivered with this album. Long-time fans of the band will easily get to grips with this and it is a nice entry point to for new listeners as well. Let's just hope it's not another ten years before their next full-length release.   

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Review: Område – 'Nåde'


Two years after their debut album, post-industrial/post-rock duo Område return with their follow-up, 'Nåde'. Blending diverse and sometimes disparate genre styles including trip hop, ambient, metal, industrial, post-rock, and classical the duo's first outing, 'Edari' was an album full of surprises that confounded any pre-conceived notions. The only real connection between this new album and their first is the track list comprises of eight songs. The rest is an entirely individualistic whole that conforms only to it's own unique vision.

Every track here is hard to pin with so many elements at work, yet it remains quite accessible in it's structuring. It may suddenly veer off into a saxophone solo, or fade into ambient textures, but the experimental tilt of the band is focussed and sharp, everything seems more assured in its use this time round. The result is some incredibly ambitious yet endearingly catchy songs with the likes of 'Malum', 'XII', 'Styrking Leið', and, 'Baldar Jainko' leading the way. But each track here is a master-class of songwriting, channelling a wide scope of styles and influences into something engaging.

The production as well feels more focussed this time. While the debut was pretty good regarding it's mixing and mastering to keep everything from sounding swamped, this time there's an extra power behind things that gives the overall sound a cinematic quality.

Where the last album may have required a few listens to completely get your head round it, 'Nåde' grabs you right from the start. They know when to get loose and crazy and they know when to pull it back. The result is a strong and balanced album that shows off some incredibly ambitious song writing and inspired performances, but also a solid understanding of what makes a fundamentally strong album.

Even if the words “avant garde” fill you with dread, or the thought of metal guitars intertwining with jazz sax solos makes you uneasy, you'd probably still find something on 'Nåde' to get your teeth into. It's another strong outing from a band that should rightly have big things in their future.  

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Tuesday 4 July 2017

Review: Infernal Angels – 'Ars Goetia'

Italian black/death metal outfit Infernal Angels unleash their fourth full-length studio outing in fifteen years, 'Ars Goetia'. The band are a unit that evidently takes their time to write and record their albums. And individually there are some great tracks here that reflect that attention to detail, but is this the breakthrough the band are looking for?

Mixing black and death metal with a hint of dark ambient textures the band evoke the likes of Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, and Vredehammer with their bludgeoning yet melodic structure. Songs such as 'Vine: Destroyer Of The World', 'Asmoday The Impure Archangel', 'Balam: Under Light And Torment', 'Belial: The Deceiver', and 'Beleth: Lord Of Chaos And Spirals' provide the album with a solid backbone of rhythmically satisfying headbanger friendly tracks with varying tempos but always sustained ferocity.

There isn't much in the way of variation in terms of the ambience hinted at that on the intro 'Amdusias: The Sound Of Hell', save for the great section at the beginning of 'Paimon: Secret Of The Mind' with it's tribal drums and ambient drones that erupt into a great riff. It would have been nice to hear more of that as it gave the album a little more depth.

Producion-wise it's a fairly solid to a certain point, but does suffer from a brick wall style mix with the melodies, rhythms and vocals all sounding distinct, but overall trapped and flat as a whole. It doesn't really attempt anything dangerous or overly experimental but focusses on the raw power of their core sound.

While there are some great individual tracks here, 'Ars Goetia' feels like it is lacking something as an overall album. The songs are strong but their doesn't feel like there is a narrative that ties the demonic theme together. No individuality conferred befitting the titles of the tracks, just systematic ferocity that, when compared to tracks such as 'Amdusias: The Sound Of Hell' and the start of 'Paimon: Secret Of The Mind', shows a bit of a missed opportunity to do something really interesting instead.  

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Review: Isis – 'Live VII'

'Live VII'

At their creative zenith post-metal outfit Isis were unceremoniously overshadowed by the media's infatuation with a fundamentalist terror organisation whose name was hard to pin down but nevertheless usurped the US quintet's moniker. This toxic association has seen the band's thirteen year legacy unfairly swept aside. But with live album 'Live VII', we are reminded about just what an incredible unit they were.

The album document's their Australian performances in what would become their final year of activity. Already in this series we've seen some impressive recordings – case in point 'Live V' featuring 'Oceanic' in it's glorious entirety – but this is perhaps the most poignant of the releases. While long-time fans may crave more from the band, this feels very much like a line being drawn in the sand, with a sense of finality hanging above it.

The set is made up of the strongest cuts from the band's final full-length studio outing, 2009's 'Wavering Radiant', which of course this tour would have been promoting. Though the band dig into the catalogue for crowd pleasers such as 'Wills Dissolve', 'Carry', 'Holy Tears', and 'Celestial'. The band sound their grandiose best with the instrumentation clear and resonating in live ambience, the keyboards sound phenomenal as they slide in and out, but it has to be Aaron Turner's vocal performance which rings through clear, haunting, and at times downright savage.

There is a rough edge to the mix, but as a live document this doesn't really do the overall sound any damage. The reverb, mixed with the quiet, but still present crowd noise, and the sometimes gritty natural dissonance replicates the live atmosphere nicely. The band's performance is on point throughout, even with the notoriously hard to reproduce 'Holy Tears' and really shows a group at it's height.

It's a bittersweet album really. On the one hand it is great to hear the band sounding great in a live capacity. But it does serve to remind us that the prospects of any new original material are low. But still, 'Live VII' is an impressive document nonetheless and a fitting full-stop on what was a promising career cut short.  

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Monday 3 July 2017

Book Review: Olivier Peru / Sophian Cholet - 'Zombies, A Brief History of Decay'

'Zombies: A Brief History Of Decay'

I’ve never been a big fan of "Z fiction". Movies, books, video games… Not the type of content I’m used to enjoy, that’s it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not capable of see something good when it is in front of my. This comic was really good for sure.
'Zombies: A Brief History of Decay' is a graphic novel full of drama and emotions. Writer Olivier Peru isn’t afraid of playing with your feelings and killing every single character you start to like. It’s carnage at it’s primal look.

The story presented is far from being the most original: the world is about to end by the hands of the zombies, and human race is trying to survive the best way they can. Groups are formed, families search for each other, Friends try to protect themselves… I think you get the idea.
However, Peru plays with your feelings with no shame, putting all of his characters in different situations that make you wonder what is wrong with him, why wouldn’t he let things be just a little happier, but the truth is that life is not that pretty in these kind of situations, humans are not that simple, and 'Zombies...' is, first of all, a very human story.

Don’t expect to find a main character, they all have their own time and space in this comic, and each of them has something to add to the general plot. Because of this, depending on what kind of reader you are, you can either get lost among so many of them or see a bigger plot taking place on its pages. I must say I’m between both possibilities, ending with a love-hate relationship with this story.

What surprised me the most (besides the fact that this guy seems to be very friendly to have created something so cruel) is that even if you don’t fully understand everything in the beginning, the story is so light and fluent at that point that you just keep going on, page by page, until you’re so deep in this wretched world that you won’t stop until you’re done with it. 

To say that the illustrations are perfect and match the plot is just not enough. Graphic, no censorship allowed and with a visceral style, artist Sophian Cholet and colourist Simon Champelovier take all the risks to create a world as interesting as this story, working (almost always) with small panels that still have enough space for the dialogues and narrative. 

I had a problem with this at first, as I strongly prefer the art to tell the story by itself, but with so many words and so detailed graphics, I felt overwhelmed more than just once. As I said before, this is not my kind of reading, and neither the style I’m used to in comics, but once you get into it, things become more enjoyable.

The last thing I have to say is a big thank you to the publisher for this ARC. I’m sure as heck will be keeping an eye on both the company and the author!

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'The Heretics' releases its first trailer

Directed by Chad Archibald ('Bite', 'The Drownsman') and written by Jayme LaForest ('Bite', 'Gods of Accident',) upcoming horror film 'The Heretics' just released its official trailer, making it clear we're in front of an interesting project, yo say the least.
“'The Heretics' follows a young girl, Gloria, who is abducted by a man after he claims that a cult is hunting her. As Gloria begins falling ill and undergoing frightening transformations, we realise that the cult isn’t the only thing that she or her captor needs to fear.”
The film, which premiered at the Canadian Film Fest, stars Nina Kiri, Ry Barrett, Jorja Cadence, Nina Richmond and Will King. While it is shown in other to-be-announced festivals, feel free to see the trailer down here and wait for 'The Heretics' to come out.

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