confession of faith - "children of a dying sun"
What we got here is a very slow, droning electro-goth/darkwave kinda thing. The first two tracks really do not go anywhere, vocalist joshua hinck sounds like someone who's taken far too much valium. He has little or no actual singing ability and sounds like a mix of the worst of Paul Barker (Ministry) and Rozz Williams. Underneath is a half-arsed beat, erratic samples and instrumentation, and some of the slowest powerchords I've ever heard. The third track, 'sallow husk' starts off like it's gonna pick up the pace a bit, but then settles into the same old drone.
And on it goes, every now and then flashing a bit of excitement, before slowing back down to the turgid drone. In fact, the sound really only picks up properly, which, if you're still awake and haven't already slit your wrists, at least features a driving beat and a small amount of emotion in the vocals. In short, I had serious problems retaining consciousness for the entire CD and hit the forward button quite. I hope to god I'm never depressed enough to actually enjoy this.
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KMFDM - "Adios" (Wax Trax)
What can anyone say about KMFDM? For years, this band has literally been at the very top of the US industrial heap, consistently brilliant and pre-dating many, if not most, of the American bands. KMFDM is one of the bands responsible for bringing the Euro EBM sound to the States, and are an undoubted influence on so many bands that followed in the wake. And now, it's over.
"Adios" is just that, a farewell from KMFDM. And for this, Sascha, Gunter Schulz, En Esch and Tim Skold, have recruited a load of special guests so they bow out on a very high note. Joining them are Skinny Puppy's Ogre, regular Ministry/RevCo/etc contributor William Rieflin and punk rock icon Nina Hagen. The CD puts them all to work, as it runs the gauntlet of alternative electro styles, kicking off with the ball-breaking industrial title track. 'Sycophant' is something that wouldn't have worked in lesser hands, an EBM/house track with an underlying reggae beat, but here it's perfect.
'DIY' is a massive indus track, wit big, brash classical sounds, and a few cheeky samples I'm sure I've heard before. 'Today' is a melodramatic, moody electro-pop track that blows Depeche Mode away. 'Witness' is a blippy, spacey bit of quirky electro, featuring a powerfully and unhinged performance from Nina. 'R.U.OK' is a classic slice of EBM, justifying their exalted position in the style. 'That's All' is a noisy rock track with a tasty techno vibe running through.
'Full Worm Garden' carries a very distinctive Rieflin stamp on it, disturbed electro, switching unpredictably from a quite mellow vibe to heavy shit indus and again to a poppy chorus. 'Rubicon' is a crashing return to dark and moody EBM, with a very anarchic set of lyrics. Finally, 'Bereit' takes them right back to where they started, with a growling German vocal and a shit-heavy hard electro vibe that wipes the floor with their latest copycats, Rammstein.
And then it's all over for "Adios" and KMFDM and all that's left for the fans is to thank them for the years of enjoyment and hope that Tim and Sascha's new project, MDFMK, is even half as good.
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The Mediæval Bæbes - "Worldes Blysse" (Virgin)
This is ethereal music with a capital E. Forget the tabloid hype, phrases like 'the classical Spice Girls' and even the rather silly name, the Bæbes have a lot to offer. These are songs, and texts put to music, collected from the Dark and Middle Ages by former Miranda Sex Garden siren Katherine Blake. It's classical choral music, but with a freshness and excitement that's rare in the starched world of orchestras and church choirs. Added to that is a melodramatic streak a mile wide, a love of dressing up and a morbid, Gothic choice of lyrical content.
Check out the cheery joyful lines like:
"scharpe and stronge is my deying,
i ne wot whither schal i
foul and stinkande is my roting"
"Thy wel and thy white throte
shulen wormes to note"
(Whadaya mean you don't understand Middle English? OK, to translate:
"my death is sharp and severe
i do not know where i'm going,
Foul and stinking I rot"
"Your skin and your white throat
shall be food for worms")
This is music for romantics, but not the roses and candlelight suppers kind, the real kind - dying of TB or consumption and writing poetry about the unfairness of it all. It's not all doom and gloom, though, the vocal harmonies on 'Kinderley' are beautiful and uplifting, as are those on 'All Turns to Yesterday', which evokes pictures of a church choir in a dilapidated Gothic cathedral. 'Icci Mundi Gaudium', 'Erthe Upon Erthe' and 'La Volta' are lively little romps through Mediæval times. The whole thing evokes a glorious scene in Camelot, with Kings and Queens surrounded by sprites and pixies and the odd White Knight getting gored to death by the evil Black Knight, and blood flowing copiously. Lovely!
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Noxious Emotion - "Symbols" (ADSR)
I wrote a while ago that I didn't think Noxious Emotion would ever be any more than a second rate, badly produced indus band. Well, slap my wrist and call me a pessimist, 'cos I have egg all over my face. This kicks ass, pure and simple. The band has decided to ignore the current trend for heavier, noisier and more complex mixes, in favour of a more classic sparse electro sound that owes more to Kraftwerk than to Ministry, and they sound all the better for it.
Sharp, edgy beats, minimalist effects and coarse venomous vocals combine to form a sound that veers from Germanic electro to classic Throbbing Gristle-esque Industrial to a darker, almost darkwave sound. Tracks like the vicious 'The Unknown', the militaristic 'Inertia', the droning, bassy 'Unit', the dancey, robotic 'Entropy', the slow, measured rant against religion, 'The Sum of…', that echoes the Christian Death classic, 'This is Heresy', the growling intensity of 'Mass', featuring a disconcertingly out of place pop/electro synth sound, the trance-like 'Time', the vaguely Gothic 'Integral', and, finally, the bizarre mismatch of the bright synth and venomous yelling of 'Indefinite & Unspecified', that's reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle (even if the melody sounds disturbingly like Donovan's 'Jennifer Juniper'), all prove that there's a lot you can do with a few elements.
The songs are interspersed with short, sharp atmospheric fillers, using distorted voice samples and noise mixes. This is a refreshingly different CD that pulls together some less than obvious influences to produce something that's a nice break from the norm.
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Rico - "Smokescreen" (Chrysalis)
This is a one track sampler of Rico's new single, so there's not much to go on, but it doesn't have what his previous release, 'Attack Me' had, which was a freshness that distracted from its unoriginality. This is nowhere near as lively or exciting, a fact that is largely due to Rico taking his lead from Tricky rather than NIN this time.
It's got all the Tricky trademarks, the hoarse, almost spoken voice; the raw edgy drum machine; the intense soundtrack, here featuring a looped siren, but it's all so obviously fake. Tricky's stuff has an honest edgy craziness about it that is often so intense its virtually unlistenable. This is Tricky-lite, tidied up for radio, with a little industrial flavour thrown in for more popular appeal (though, truth be told, he'd probably say it was "big beat"). Expectations of the album have just gotten a lot lower.
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Testify - "Crack the Mind" (Van Richter)
The first thing that strikes you about this band is that they have some good friends. This CD contains mixes by Die Krupps, Die Warzau and labelmates Plastic Noise Experience and they have previously worked with Ministry crew Keith "Fluffy" Auerbach and Howie Beno, as well as Skrew. This contains 5 new tracks and 4 remixes and is, in no way, an easy listening album. The purpose of this CD seems to be to destroy all resistance and then bludgeon the listener senseless with their industrialised metallic onslaught.
For once, though, this is a collection where the roaring grindcore style vocals are worked well into the music. All too often with these kind of extreme vocals are stuck on top of an intricate and subtle electro-indus mix, where the contrast is just too ugly. In contrast, there's nothing intricate or subtle about Testify. The indus elements simply tighten and concentrate the music's raw brutality and make it more forceful. It's reminiscent of the increase in power of the Fear Factory remix albums as compared to their regular releases.
Stand out tracks are the ultra-violent opener 'Violin', which takes no prisoners with its full-on noise onslaught, 'The War of Minds', which alternates between intensity and a lighter sound, which breaks the flow nicely, preventing things getting too monotonous, and the machine-gun beat of 'Wreck Me'. At first, it would seem that much of the diversity is due more to the remixes, but in fact, the more interesting stuff is their own new material, while the mixes are less complex and interesting. At the same time, Testify would be well advised to vary their sound a bit more for a wider appeal. However, while it may not be to everyone's tastes, this is one of the better examples of extreme industrial and Testify are worthy successors to their predecessors like Godflesh, Die Krupps and Front Line Assembly.
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Tiamat - "brighter than the sun" (century media)
Tiamat haven't really had it easy. They were one of the first bands to realise the blatantly obvious fact that black metal was nothing more than the bastard son of Goth, and had a very limited appeal. Whatever people may say about Goth, black metal is never going to appeal to much more than rebellious teenagers who want to shock their parents. As a result, Tiamat started edging towards Goth in the early '90s. They had one huge problem, their English wasn't very good and, instead of sticking to their native tongue, like Lacrimosa have done, they tried and failed to compete with English bands like My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. Their writing was, at times, so bad that the songs would have suited Spinal Tap better than any self-respecting Goth band.
However, that was then, this is now, and things have changed for the better. One look at this CD single, with its mock movie poster artwork shows that, at the very least, they've acquired some style. The first and last tracks are edits of the title song, and they scream Sisters of Mercy - the chugging power-chords, the sharp keys, the tight drumbeat, the growling, repetitive vocals and the full blast female vox. This would fit quite snuggly onto "Vision Thing". It's totally unoriginal, but nicely done.
The second track borrows another idea from the Sisters - a slow dark cover of a Rolling Stones track. 'Sympathy for the Devil' was a bit of an obvious choice, but it's a definite grower that replaces the Rawk of the original with a dark moodiness. 'Children of the Underworld' is in danger of throwing them back into the black metal ghetto, but, at the same time, at its heaviest its not that far from the Nephs, and the track switches tempos and styles a few times, from brooding to driving to intense, with even a bit of techno thrown in for good measure. Tiamat have come a long way, and while they do need to work on their originality, this single is a tasty sampler of band to keep an eye on.
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Various - "Voltage II - Electronic Vivisection" (Possessive Blindfold)
Here we go, another PBR compilation also known as a rollercoaster ride. The thing about compilations is that there are usually some absolute turkey. In the case of indus, its that someone is gonna start shouting and continue right through, with no purpose, rhyme or reason.
Just to prove the point, this kicks off with Hocica, with that lovely gargling with blood vocal sound. The quality of the music isn't really worth mentioning, though it is pretty good, as the vocals are simply awful. Binar Code's 'go blank' is a soothing remedy to the awfulness, an hypnotic trance piece with an ever-shifting beat and vocals so low in the mix, they're virtually subliminal. Things proceed well with Assemblage 23's heavy EBM 'coward', which has a very nice dark vibe, before Mildreda spoil a rather tasty industrial-dance track with "those" vocals.
Sleepwalk sound like they're trying to mix darkwave with intense industrial, and though it doesn't quite work, it's not a bad attempt. X-ETEM's 'sound' is a virtual onslaught of beats that make sitting still impossible. There's nothing particularly bad about the Mezire or Infact industrial pieces, they're just rather boring. It's the kind of thing that's been done before so many times. Pain Station's 'solitude' is fairly straight-forward darkwave, and all the better for it - a dancey electro beat, awash with keys and an intense dark vocal. Then Aghast View have to ruin a driving industrial dance track by shouting too much. Next! Suicide Commando, on the other hand, try shouting over some minimalist techno, bad move. Next! Sonic Unit's 'appearing the orbit' is a breath of fresh air, eclectic and strange with loads of weird electronic noises and beeps and a nice dance beat, and best of all, no vocals at all!
Art of Decay go for noise, but thankfully in a good way, a wall of distortion with a kick-ass beat, some dark synths and a droning robotic vocal. Digital Blood's 'troubles' is a very busy track, bursting out all over the place with synths, beats and effects, making a very cool dance track ('though it's probably too busy to dance to, I haven't actually tried yet). It's all wrapped up Savak's shah mix of 'tehran project', a dub mix that just builds in a mess of beats and noise and then stops. Pointless really. After some quick calculations, this is about 50/50 good to bad. Not bad, but really could do better, and could people PLEASE STOP SHOUTING!!!
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